Protests to Take Place at Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Washington, DC November 10 – 14, 2002
Soulforce Press Release: October 31, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
(Washington, DC) – Soulforce leaders today announced plans to protest and vigil November 10 – 14, 2002 outside of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for the third year in a row. The demonstrations will take place at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Avenue NW, in Washington D.C., to protest the scapegoating of gay priests and the escalation of Catholic anti-gay policies and teachings.
The theme for this year’s protest is "God’s Gay Children Bring Gifts – Bless Them." This was also the theme used in January 2001 when Soulforce supporters traveled to Rome to protest the Vatican’s anti-gay policies and teachings.
Vigils will begin Sunday, November 10 at the Hyatt from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Vigils will continue Monday – Thursday, starting at 7 a.m. each day.
Each day at noon, from Monday, November 11 through Wednesday, November 13, a variety of gifts will be brought to the Hyatt and bishops will be asked to bless them. The gifts are symbolic of the gifts and talents that GLBT people bring to the Church.
- On Monday, Nov. 11 (Veteran’s Day), gifts will be brought for homeless and disabled veterans.
- On Tuesday, Nov. 12, gifts will be brought for people living with AIDS.
- On Wednesday, Nov. 13, gifts will be brought for marginalized, abandoned and abused women and children.
The Catholic Church has been the subject of much criticism and media attention recently involving a scandal and cover-up which scapegoats gay priests in an attempt to protect the hierarchy of the church over the well-being of children. According to the Catholic News Service, the Vatican has recently prepared a draft proposal that will prohibit gay men from becoming priests. Many experts estimate that 50% of priests in the Catholic Church are gay.
"The Vatican has no concept of the gifts gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people bring to the Church," declared Kara Speltz, Soulforce Catholic co-chair. "Banning gay priests will create a huge spiritual vacuum in the Church and have a chilling effect on laity. A ban will be a stated and blatant rejection of the many gifts that GLBT people bring to the Church."
In 2000, over 100 people were arrested in a non-violent civil disobedience during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Last year during the conference, no arrests were made, but vigils were held in front of the Hyatt for three days in protest of anti-gay policies and teachings.