"Open to us the Gates of Justice!"
SOULFORCE DENVER PRESS RELEASE: October 26, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Christopher Hubble, Soulforce Denver Leader
Phone: 303-641-0824, email@example.com
Contact: Kate Burns, Soulforce Denver Co-Leader
Phone: 303-806-8444, firstname.lastname@example.org
DENVER, CO (October 26, 2005) – In response to the Catholic Church hierarchy’s continued scapegoating of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Soulforce Denver will stage a nonviolent, silent vigil at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday, November 12th to bear witness about the intrinsic dignity and worth evident in the lives of LGBT people and their families. The vigil will be preceded by a day-long public education workshop at MCC of the Rockies (located on the southeast corner of 10th and Clarkson in Capitol Hill, Denver).
In spite of the positive teachings about LGBT people contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church — and progressive gestures on the part of some members of the Catholic Church leadership — the Catholic Church hierarchy continues to scapegoat the LGBT community with antigay rhetoric that belies the Church’s evangelical, Gospel mission to do justice and embrace Her exiles within the pews.
Soulforce Denver group co-leader Kate Burns comments, "we sought an ongoing conversation with the Archbishop so that we might bear witness to him about the intrinsic dignity and worth evident in the lives of LGBT people and their families. We remain committed to beginning nonviolent negotiations with Archbishop Chaput — but he has refused to begin that conversation. Soulforce Denver must take a stand when it comes to basic human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, andtransgender individuals, couples, and families. All people deserve to participate in religious and political life free from spiritual violence."
The people of Soulforce Denver are grateful that the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls for "respect, compassion, and sensitivity" (#2357) toward LGBT people. Unfortunately, more recent public statements by members of the Catholic Church hierarchy inspire "unjust discrimination" and spiritual violence against our beloved families and friends.
From the very first weeks following the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy, we have watched in amazement as the Vatican:
- Forced the resignation of Fr. Tom Reese, S.J., the editor of the progressive Jesuit Catholic Weekly, AMERICA;
- Announced that there would be no investigation into the charges of abuse by Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, (founder of the religious order the Legionaries of Christ);
- Attempted to destabilize the Spanish government in order to prevent the enactment of same gender marriage;
Soulforce Denver local group leader Christopher Hubble comments, "Even Denver’s Archbishop Chaput has participated in the demonization of our community by associating our private, loving, intimate acts with pornography and by attempting to scapegoat us for the collapse of the institution of marriage. We ask the Archbishop to consider whether his more recent public statements and actions really demonstrate ‘respect, compassion, or sensitivity’ towards LGBT people."
"These acts of spiritual violence have devastating effects in the lives of LGBT Catholics! During the last few years, our community has endured a continuing escalation of anti-LGBT violence incited by irresponsible public statements and other actions of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Queer youth suffer the most. According to numerous studies, between 20%-50% of homeless youth in American urban centers identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender."
Two recent Vatican announcements of the impending visits to U.S. seminaries to root out gay priests and the Vatican’s approval of a new document of "instruction," stating that men with homosexual tendencies should not be ordained as Catholic priests, continue a policy of scapegoating gays rather than dealing directly with the pedophile scandal and the abdication of responsibility within the Church. According to a Sept. 19th Catholic World News Brief "The text, which was approved by Pope Benedict at the end of August, says that homosexual men should not be admitted to seminaries even if they are celibate, because their condition suggests a serious personality disorder which detracts from their ability to serve as ministers."
"Of course we’re in the seminaries!" says Soulforce founder Rev. Dr. Mel White. "Where but in the priesthood would a gay Catholic, called by God go to serve, blessed to live in the only churchsanctioned male community? What a miscarriage of justice to believe the world will not see this witch hunt as the Vatican’s ‘shiny object’, held up to divert the world’s attention from the larger issues facing the Church. It is the Vatican’s actions that are morally disordered and anarchical to the teachings of Christ."
Since Soulforce’s founding in 1998, we have been on the front lines of the fight for recognition and rights of the LGBT community. Soulforce took international media attention this month by holding a vigil at St. Peter’s Square in memory of Alfredo Ormando, a 39-year-old Sicilian who burned himself to death in protest of the Vatican’s anti-homosexual beliefs.
About SOULFORCE DENVER
One of 23 local, licensed chapters of Soulforce, Inc., SOULFORCE DENVER is part of a nationwide movement whose purpose is "freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance."
About Chris Hubble
The Local Group Leader of Soulforce Denver, Chris’ affiliation with Soulforce began in 2000 when, on July 4th of that year, he was arrested with Soulforce during a civil disobedience at the Episcopal convention held in Denver, Colorado. Chris is also a member of the Soulforce national leadership team, helping plan and organize the nonviolent direct action at Focus on the Family, May 1st and 2nd, 2005.
About Kate Burns
A Colorado native, Soulforce Denver Group Co-Leader Kate Burns lives with her life partner, Sheila Schroeder, and their pet iguana in the Denver area. A freelance writer, Burns creates books for middle- and high-school students to help them explore many viewpoints about controversial topics. Her books include History Makers: Gay Rights Activists and At Issue: Gay and Lesbian Families. Burns also teaches writing and gender studies at local universities and community colleges.