Is Bigotry Alive and Well in the Roman Catholic Church?

I wish to raise two comments about bigotry within the Roman Catholic Church? The first comment deals with a recent international conference just held in Detroit dealing with welcoming LGBTQ Catholics, and the second deals with the response of Equally Blessed to the cancelling of a venue for their events when Pope visits Philadelphia in October.

The International Conference; “Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction was ” Designed for bishops, priests, religious, school superintendents, diocesan personnel who minister to those with same-sex attraction and for all those who want to be welcoming and to accompany those who have Same Sex Attraction recently held in Detroit. In my opinion, this was a show case of subtle hate. The major sponsors of this event were the Archdiocese of Detroit, and “Courage.”

The conference speaks volumes to how deeply planted homophobia is in the Roman Catholic Church. No LGBT Catholic organization was invited to take part: however, there was a positive protest of anti conference LGBT Catholics outside the Conference site.

At the Conference “Courage” an organization that supports the Church’s culture of homophobia was given a front and the center presence. Allowing it to promote the organization support of reparative therapy, among other things.

The Conference acted like an echo chamber of the Church’s homophobia, no dialogue was allowed concerning the daily lives of LGBTQ Catholics, their families, or any recognition of the experiences they can bring to the pastoral efforts of ministry to the LGBTQ Catholic Community.

Only those individuals who have been groomed in the Church’s culture of homophobia where able to comment about the conference, if you disagreed with the Church’s anti gay platform you were branded a heretic.

Catholic Magazines such as “Crisis Magazine” promoted Deacon Jim Russell who said of the Conference “Simply said, being “gay” is not enough; being a “gay Catholic” is not enough; being a “celibate, gay Catholic” is not enough. And even being a “chaste, celibate, gay Catholic” is not enough.” Any differing opinions must be silenced for the good of the Church.

In such a climate how can the Church be taken seriously about addressing its deep seated culture of homophobia?
My second comment deals with a group claiming to represent the LGBTQ Catholic Community. A local parish in Philadelphia had agreed to host pro gay events during Pope Francis’s visit in October. Later under pressure from the Archdiocese they were told they were not welcome.

LBGTQ Catholics must be able to depend on its leadership to speak plainly and unambiguously on the issue of Pastoral outreach to the LGBTQ Catholics. In my opinion, it is not helpful when any of these groups support a closeted mentality in the selection of their leadership. We must first look in the mirror to make sure we are representing an out of the Closet mentality when we address our pastoral needs.

A coalition of LGBT Catholic groups known as Equally Blessed (EB) had scheduled events at St. John the Evangelist Church’s parish center, as had an individual group, New Ways Ministry. But last week officials with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told the church’s pastor the organizations couldn’t hold their events at the Catholic parish, and he conveyed that to the groups, reports Philadelphia newspaper “The Inquirer.”
The response to this rejection was to seek a friendly non Catholic environment to hold their events. The problem with such groups is they are afraid to engage the Church’s homophobic behavior within the pews of the Catholic Church. In so doing they miss the opportunity to speak to the Catholic faithful.

The Rainbow Sash Movement has put out a call for demonstrations during the Pope’s visit, we do not engage in accommodation to the Church’s homophobia, nor do we support any effort that seeks to find the good in the Church’s homophobic culture. Our difference with Equally Blessed is that we seek a honest dialogue about the culture of homophobia in the Church rather than a wink and nod approach.

The Detroit Conference, and the cancelled Equally Blessed events do not speak to the integrity of our life experiences in the Church. We join with other progressive Catholic Organizations in calling for reform in the Church around issues of homophobia and sexism. We can’t be afraid to speak our truth to the authority of the Church within the Church.

Joe Murray
Executive Director
Rainbow Sash Movement

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Open Letter to Dignity/Chicago on the Closet Mentality of its Board of Directors

I have made it clear to the both current president of Dignity/Chicago who is a closeted individual, and the Chicago Dignity Board of Directors that such a situation flies in the face of what Harvey Milk said of the closet. Harvey Milk, the slain gay rights advocate, predicted in the ’70s, coming out makes all the difference. When they know us, he argued, they will no longer fear and hate us. Indeed, they will want us treated fairly.

I might add that Retired Detroit Auxiliary Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton a friend of our community said of his brother’s death to AIDS/HIV that if you want to make change in the Church LGBT Catholics have to come out of the closet. In other words we must self identify in the pews of our Church, not in the pews of none Catholic Churches.

In my opinion, both Milk and Gumbelton’s view have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. The sea change of opinions came about because many within the LGBT Community had fought this mentality, and found the courage to come out.

Currently there is no federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing. That is why we support amending the 1963 Civil Rights Act to include “sexual orientation.”
The Bishops by their actions have made it clear they will oppose such legislation. It is time we get serious about opposing these Bishops they have brought great harm to us, and we must find creative ways to further develop the conversation within the Church.

The Late Cardinal Francis George compared our LGBT Movement to the KKK. Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington said of the Supreme Court’s decision on Gay Marriage ““The law of the land is the law of the land,”“We certainly follow what the law says. That doesn’t mean we change the word of God. That doesn’t mean we change the scriptures, or the church’s millennia-long tradition of what marriage is.”

Archbishop Cupich of Chicago tried to distance himself from the homophobic statements of other Bishops by a softer tone. While his brand of homophobia is gentler it is none the less homophobia.

If the Rainbow Sash Movement remained silent in this matter it would be tantamount to endorsement of hypocrisy.

Joe Murray
Executive Director
Rainbow Sash Movement

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Supreme Court rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

For Immediate Release

Supreme Court rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

Joe Murray, Executive Director of the Rainbow Sash Movement said “To days Supreme Court decision was a long time in coming. Now that we have the law of the land on our side we must use that law like the Victims of Sexual Abuse have used it to bring the Church to a more reasonable position. We all worked for this decision and it is only rightthat we celebrate with joy, hope, and charity in our hears. To those who opposed Gay Marriage you lost, and the time now is to both move on and heal.

We now call on our Catholic Bishops to enter in a open and respectful dialogue on LGBT families. You can shut us out of the Philadelphia meeting, but you can no longer discriminate against us, and get away with it.

Now we have to move forward to amend the 1963 Civil Rights Act to include Sexual Orientation.”

Contact Person

Bill O’Connor
Rainbow Sash Movement

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Open Letter to the Papal Legat

Joe Murray
1340 N. Dearborn
Suite 16 B/C
Chicago, Il 60610

June 16, 2016

Most Rev. Carlo Maria Vigano
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W
Washington, DC 20017


Your Excellency:

I hope this open letter finds you in good health.

Pope Francis and many faithful will be coming from September 22 to 27, 2015, to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The Rainbow Sash Movement (LGBT Roman Catholics) looks forward to this joyous event even though you have chosen exclusion over inclusion when it came to LGBT families and their children.

We recognize that there has been tension between the Holy See, and the international LGBT community. Your refusal to invite LGBT Catholic families to this gathering deeply saddens us, and calls us to respond to this exclusion. I think this speaks to the true nature of your pastoral concern which is pandering to the evil of homophobia, and not a sincere proclaiming of the Gospel.

Your inability to enter into a dialogue with Catholic LGBT groups comes across as unreasonable. Therefore, we have put out a call for demonstrations to take place during the Papal Visit.

It is our intention to show our presence to the Holy Father in way that is both respectful of his Petrine Office while at the same time calling for justice for LGBT Families and those who live and die with HIV/AIDS.

We will wear Rainbow Sashes in the reception of the Holy Eucharist to self-identify ourselves as LGBT Roman Catholics. Others will choose other options to show their opposition to Church based bigotry and hypocrisy.

I would remind you that his holiness has yet to address the many faces of AIDS within the Church, among the poor of this world, and families. Your silence of those living with HIV/AIDS only compounds the intolerance of this event.

We are calling on other LGBT organizations and our allies to show their opposition to such pious intolerance, by joining us in this call to action at this event.



Joe Murray
Executive Director
US Rainbow Sash Movement

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Dignity Catholic LGBT Betrays the Community

Letter to the Editor

This is a difficult situation to talk about. Yes, the Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM – LGBT Roman Catholics) would prefer not to address the situation, as I am sure other members in the community would not. Dignity is promoting a closet mentality by selecting a closeted man as their president, and the Coalition of Welcoming Church’s  would prefer to ignore the whole situation.

Let me just say that Dignity and the Coalition of Welcoming Churches do wonderful work in our Community and that is a solid reputation my letter does not question the good works they do, but sometimes we all miss the mark. Justice is a minimum that we are obliged to do to the other. But mercy is the maximum, it goes beyond justice.

Yet the RSM must shine the spotlight on this situation, not only for the mental health of the closeted Dignity President, but also the negative message it sends to Dignity’s members, and the LGBT Community.

Promoting a closet mentality is unacceptable for any LGBT organization, or communities of faith who claim to be our allies such a position must be found to be unacceptable for whatever reason.

Certainly Dignity can find an” out and proud member” or even supportive ally to serve as its president, rather than a closed man. I believe that closeted people can help in many aspects of our movement, but never in a leadership position. Such a position can only be viewed as unreasonable and missing the mark .

I have reached out to both Dignity, and the coalition of “Welcoming Churches “ Of which Dignity is a member in order to better understand  the situation, and possibly to start a dialog

The response from Dignity has been silence, while from the Coalition I got a email response from . Rev. Jacki Belile, CPC, Founder and Director, Living Well Ministries Minister of Congregational Development, Eden United Church of Christ, Project Manager, Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches President, Ministers Council, ABC-Metro Chicago While I appreciated her sensitivity and perhaps the complexity of the situation I cannot in good faith ever it is not a Gospel Value to support a closeted leadership for any reason.

In my opinion, both organizations have missed the mark when it comes either understanding how dangerous a closet mentality is to this community, or the ramifications of such a positive position has on our young people, leadership, and those individuals who have committed suicide; it Is dangerous..

Joe Murray
Executive Director
Rainbow Sash Movement

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The Catholic Church faces its Waterloo in the Irish Gay Marriage Vote

The Catholic Church faces its Waterloo in the Irish Gay Marriage Vote

Ireland has become for many an example of the many faults of the Roman Catholic Church. Its trending mentality show us that a focus on archaic dogmatic belief with it’s accompany focuses on obedience and not reason, show us that the Church has become totally irrelevant in today’s western world. So if you were paying attention to the Church’s relevance in Irish modern society their support of Gay Marriage was a for drawn conclusion.

The Irish vote also shows us how important our allies are. The LGBT Irish population is rather small: however, when you add supportive parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and so many other straight allies we become the majority. Yes even courageous clergy who would not go along with the Church’s opposition to Gay Marriage sparkled in this vote.

If the Church is realistic it will not turn its back on the need for true reform. While the Rainbow Sash Movements focus is on the need of the Church to be more inclusive, and less dogmatic not only in Ireland but in the rest Western sphere of influence change is the lifeline.

We understand that women have really bore the brunt of the Church’s backward thinking and this situation can no longer be tolerated either in the pews or in the leadership of the Church..

We call for the leadership of the Church to focus less on hierarchal authority and more on Jesus Christ’s Gospel value of love.

Certainly the Teaching Authority of the Church must be drawn into question if this is not the case. Such authority is useless if it is not based in the authority of the “Keys to Kingdom” to change and update our Catholic views.

The passage of Gay Marriage in Ireland is like a pebble thrown into pond whose ripple effects across the spectrum will even be more important than Gay Marriage. The Irish Challenge for the Church is to either engage in conversation with the world, and its own lay population, or to become a cult..

The Irish vote should challenge us in the U.S. Church to further engage our Church in open on honest dialogue when it comes to our values. Those values should be relevant to the people the Church claims to serve.

The Challenge now for the International Rainbow Sash Movement to challenge blind loyalty as the surest road to cultism.

US LGBT Catholics can no longer allow the Church’s homophobia and sexism to go unchallenged. Such a currency of both hypocrisy, and bigotry should be challenged by justice and compassion. The time for change is now.

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Cardinal Francis George Died

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Cardinal Francis George passed on to new life on Friday, April 17, 2015 at his residence in the Gold Coast of Chicago.

He will be most probably be remembered for his war on LGBT rights, and his handling of the clergy sexual abuse.

The cause of his death was cancer.

The Cardinal lead the Archdiocese for 17 years.

He was a quiet, cerebral man. He was appointed to lead the Archdiocese by Pope John Paul II. He was the first native Chicagoan to hold that position.

He had played a prominent role in responding to the clergy sexual abuse scandal, both locally and nationally, he lead the bishops conservative wing in their opposition to Obama Care, and was the Bishops leader in making war on the LGBT Community.

In 2004 members of the Rainbow Sash Movement were denied Communion by the Cardinal, he continued to deny Communion to LGBT Catholics up until his death at Holy Name Cathedral at Holy Name Cathedral, He justified his denial by saying of gays “When you come with a statement about yourself, that’s not the way to receive it,” said Cardinal George in an interview on the “Catholic Community of Faith” radio show May 28, 2004.
He was also credited for promoting the Zero Tolerance policy after initially opposing it for clergy who sexually abuse young children.

He opposed the women’s priesthood movement both locally and nationally. Women had their place an it was not in the priesthood and/or leadership roles.

The foster care program of Catholic Charities closed in 2011 after he refused to comply with an Illinois state requirement that charities that receive state funding must not reject same-sex couples as potential foster care and adoptive parents.

He became president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops between 2007 – 2010, and it was in this position he lead the homophobic attacks on the LGBT Community.

It was also during this time that a fellow-Chicagoan, Barack Obama became president of the United States. The Cardinal’s first action to President Obama was to send him a blunt letter in 2008 warning him not to consider expanding abortion rights as part of Obama Care.

The bishops conference supported government health care reform, but early on Cardinal George took the lead in the group’s opposition to Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act because of its mandate that employers include coverage of birth control in their health plans.

Even among his own clergy he was known as “George the Corrector” because of his style of leadership that could not handle any form of public criticism.

Joe Murray, Executive Director of the Rainbow Sash Movement (LGBT Catholics) said Francis Eugene George was born in Chicago on Jan. 16, 1937. He attended Catholic schools and showed an early interest in joining the priesthood. His father was an engineer with the public school system, and his mother had worked at an advertising agency, according to The Chicago Tribune. Both were active Catholics. His survivors include an older sister, Margaret.

In taking command of the Chicago archdiocese, the third largest in the American church, with 2.3 million members, Cardinal George was among a wave of theologically conservative bishops appointed by John Paul. At a forum sponsored by Commonweal, a liberal Catholic magazine, in 2004, he declared, “Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project,” adding, “It has shown itself unable to pass on the faith.”

Murray further said our prayers are with the family of Cardinal George at this time, and it is our hope he rests in peace, but Chicago LGBT Community bore the brunt of his war on LGBT people and I think he will not be missed in that community. George was a human being and as such had his faults as well as his gifts.

Bill O’Connor
Rainbow Sash Movement

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