November 26, 2001
Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, President
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
222 South Third Street
Belleville, IL 62220
Dear Bishop Gregory:
First, let us congratulate you on your election as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as you assume the leadership of such an important and influential organization. We are sure this must be an exciting and challenging time for you.
For the last year and a half, we have been attempting to carry on a dialogue with your predecessor, Bishop Fiorenza concerning the issues of Church teachings on homosexuality. Both last year and this year, we stood vigil while the USCCB was in session at its annual meeting. Last year, during the Bishops’ conference Bishop Fiorenza arranged to have us meet with Bishop Quinn, Bishop Galante, and two others. At that meeting we were told there was nothing they could do to change Church teaching. However, let us not loose sight of the rich history of the development of our Catholic doctrine and the role of dialogue with the faithful.
Last year, following the principles of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience developed by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., 100 people were arrested during our nonviolent vigil at the Shrine. In January, we took our concerns to the Vatican for the Feast of the Epiphany and the closing of the Jubilee year, seeking dialogue with Cardinal Ratzinger or his representative. However, despite our letters and visits to the Cardinal’s office, we received no replies and were refused a meeting. A few weeks ago, just prior to our arrival in Washington, D.C., we sent 300 copies of our "Open Letter To The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Regarding ‘Natural Law’ Theology ," requesting that it be distributed to the bishops. From what we understand it was not distributed, so we offered it to conference attendees as they came and went from the Hyatt Hotel. We are enclosing a copy of that open letter in case you did not receive a copy.
We understand that there will be a number of very important issues that you will focus on as you begin your term as president, not the least of which is how the Catholic church will relate to its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members and their families. To that end, we request a meeting with you, at your convenience in January or February, to begin a dialogue in earnest. Would you please call us at (949) 455-0999 or write us at the above address in order to set a date to talk, in order that we might work together to end spiritual violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. We will do everything possible to accommodate our schedules in order to meet with you.
We look forward to working with you on this important issue, which affects thousands of Catholics who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
Mel White, ED
Karen Weldin, DO
Richard Murphy and Kara Speltz, Catholic Co-Chairs
cc: Most Reverend William S. Skylstad