Rome Photos: Day 4 (2 of 2)

Jimmy Creech, chair of the board of Soulforce, Rev. Mel White, executive director, are led in singing "Marciamo Nella Luce di Dio", the Italian words to "Marching in the Light of God", which we have learned this week in Rome. JD Sebastian leads the group on his guitar, as he has all week long.

We stand vigil in front of St. Peter’s, at the Vatican.

We stand vigil in front of St. Peter’s, at the Vatican.

Our vigil attempts to visit the Creche in front of the Vatican to leave our pictures there and to bless the baby Jesus. We are prevented from moving toward the Creche for our blessing by the police.

Mary Louise Cervone, president of Dignity/USA asks to place our demands on the door of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDR), Cardinal Ratzinger’s office.

We are told it is not possible to place our demands on Cardinal Ratzinger’s door, so Mary Louise throws them to the ground in St. Peter’s Square, declaring "Then we will deliver them right here". Note the tape on the back of the envelope, which was intended to affix it to the Cardinal’s door.

Police surround the Soulforce/ Dignity USA vigil, as onlookers watch.

Police lock arms around the Soulforce/Dignity USA vigil, to prevent the group from moving.

Vigilers sit in a circle on the ground when the police prevent them from moving, with the banner reading "No More Tithes/Offerings Until the Anti-Gay Teachings/Actions End" in the center.

Several onlookers join the vigil in solidarity.

The vigil has now grown considerably as many people in the crowd have stepped up to join the circle surrounding the Soulforce/Dignity USA banner lying on the ground in St. Peter’s Square.

Bread is blessed and Communion is distributed to vigilers and many in the crowd, who partake in solidarity with the vigil.

Soulforce/Dignity USA vigilers raise their hands in blessing toward the Papal apartments and the window from which Pope John Paul II blesses those in St. Peter’s Square.

As the vigil ends, three hours after it began, members of the vigil thank the police, who have been gentle yet firm in their resolve not to let our group move closer to the Creche and St. Peter’s church.

Emotions are strong as the vigil ends and Soulforcers embrace at the end of a long day.