Open Letter to Archbishop Cupich



Archbishop Blase Cupich
Archdiocese of Chicago
835 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611You’re Grace:  

Your Grace: 

Merry Christmas! 

My intention in writing this public letter to you is to gain clarity from you as both shepherd and teacher in Archdiocese of Chicago concerning some of your public pronouncements on LGBT people in the Church. 

While I am both Gay and Catholic, the later has been more difficult to maintain in a Church that shows public hostility to LGBT people. Such an environment can only further foster misunderstanding at best and un-justified discrimination at worst.  Morally it makes no difference if this is done intentionally, or not. 

Recently you attended the Synod on the Family in Rome; you have said things that both confuse, and give my pause for hope. It is not my intention to put words into your mouth rather to ask for clarification of words you have already spoken.

“When people who are in good conscience working with a spiritual director come to a decision, then they need to follow that conscience. That’s the teaching of the Church. So in the case of people receiving Communion in situations that are irregular that also applies. The question then was: Does that apply to gay people? My answer was: they’re human beings too. They have a conscience. They have to follow their conscience.” 

“It’s not up to any minister who is distributing the Eucharist to make a decision about a person’s worthiness or lack of worthiness. That’s on the conscience of those individuals,”

Further you said: “They have to be able to have a formed conscience, understand the teaching of the Church, and work with a spiritual director and come to those decisions. And we have to respect that.” 

Like Pope Francis you have been the object of substantial criticism. This criticism has at times been unfair. Words can be used as weapons, and used as rocks and stones to demonize others by diminishing their reputation in order to belittle their position. Reasonable people of good will must condemn such behavior loudly and unequivocally when it tries to pass itself off pastoral care.  

In the spirit of understanding, and not wishing to take your words out of text and context, my goal is to seek clarity, precision and understanding. I hope you would agree with me that like race and gender, sexual orientation is not a choice, and should not be given such moral equivalency in our theology implied or not. 

So let me test my understanding with this question;  Do you welcome LGBT Married and un married couples to receive Holy Communion within the Archdiocese of Chicago, or not? The reason for this question is because in many Archdioceses such couples are being denied, based on Church Teaching. 

I pray for you as I hope you will for me. People of both good wills and reason can disagree. But before we can reach that point we must be willing to listen to each other respectfully.


Joe Murray
Executive Director
Rainbow Sash Movement (LGBT Roman Catholics)


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Synod on the Family ends

The Roman Catholic Synod on the family concludes itself this weekend. We have seen a brutalizing theological slugfest about the two hot button issues in the Church, and society, among the 270 bishops attending the conference. The idea that we are a unified Church without decisive fishers is in the past. The real struggle at the Synod on the family is the warfare between the Traditionalists and the Progressive Bishops. This has become a public slug fest that may have effects on the Church in the 21st Century..

Since the days of Vatican II the Traditionalist have ruled the roost: however, that has a possibility of changing giving the Progressive wing of the Church the upper hand. Don’t look for any change in Dogma, but look for a more focused discussion Pastoral Praxis. This may very well be the key of change at some point in the future.

I am very pleased with what is being reported about Archbishop Cupich resent comments, about gay couples. I would give both him and the Pope and the other Progressive Cardinals/Bishop a A plus on public relations.

An obvious sign of trouble came when the papal nuncio in Washington arranged for the Pope to meet Kim Davis The move has said to have embarrassed the Pope and scored a couple of points for the conservatives.

Another issue attracting a lot of attention is Cardinal Kasper’s proposal on the divorced and remarried Catholics. This like the question of homosexuality has got most of the African Bishops out of sorts. This is a real struggle between the third world church, and the Western Church. But I think both sides would agree world wide the family is in crisis.

According to Cardinal Burke, no friend of the LGBT Community, is “serious error” since it makes doctrine and pastoral practice appear to be in conflict with one another. In fact would not such a conflict tend to question the Church’s teaching on the homosexual person. Would this not be like a elephant given birth to a mice.

“The pastoral practice exists to help us to live the truths of the faith, to live the doctrine of the faith in our daily lives. You can’t have a conflict [between these],” said Burke in an interview with LifeSiteNews yesterday.

Mean while back in Chicago there may be good news for the Archdiocese Gay and Lesbian Outreach Ministry. Clearly Cupich’s recent statements have indicated he has made a healthy attempt to reach out and listen to LGBT Catholic Couples.

There is even some movement on the issue of ordaining women Deacons.

Let’s hope this Synod is not seen as a revolution in gestures and words, but not on substance. Now we must wait and see.

Joe Murray Executive Director Rainbow Sash Movement

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A response to Mark Siegel Publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News

Mark Segal Are You a Roman Catholic?

I read your letter of invitation to the Pope, and like most media organizations you are alive with praises Pope Francis’s . My concern in writing this letter is to say that Pope Francis totally supports Church doctrine. No amount of good works will change that. I believe this is something that brings us to question whether you are a Roman Catholic.

I am sure the senior home that you would like the Pope to visit is a wonderful expression of good works, and certainly the Pope would be impressed by those good works, but being impressed by others good works is not necessarily a recipe for change in the Catholic Church dogmatic make up. Change will come to the Church only when LGBT Catholics and supporters learn to speak of their own Catholic experience, and come out of the closet within the Church.

A second point you also recently wrote a letter to the Pope about Archbishop Chaput’s style of leadership that appears to be out of step with the tone that is being set by Pope Francis. In that letter you indicated there were no demonstrations being planned for the Pope’s visit again a statement that is simply wrong. Various LGBT Catholic organizations are making plans as are women from the women priests’ movement. As matter of fact the women’s priests’ movements are having their conference just prior to the Pope’s visit.

We do not doubt your good intentions, but you should leave speaking up for the LGBT Movement in the Church to those who are active in that movement.


Joe Murray
Executive Director
Rainbow Sash Movement

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ETWN Promotes Homophobia in Prgramming

Eternal Word Network (ETWN) is promoting a hate filled program this Monday evening at 11PM Eastern Time. The Program is titled INVITED TO COURAGEOUS LOVE-THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND HOMOSEXUALITY. According to the programs promotional material Seven members of Courage share their personal stories about same-sex attraction and how they transformed their lives by understanding and embracing the freedom of chastity.

This is one of ETWN ways of promoting homophobia in a way that says homosexuals should stay in the closet within both society and the Church. Here we see a unique way the Cable Network is promoting homophobia through pious words. A rose is rose and all its pious words will not change that.

We at the Rainbow Sash Movement (Out LGBT Roman Catholics will be contacting the FCC to complain about ETWN’s abuse of public air ways from promoting hate against LGBT people. We encourage our supporters to do the same.

The nonsense that is being promoted by this cable network is share fabrication to promote is cervix orthodoxy. Our response to this type of lies is to speak our truth to authority. We cannot allow ourselves to be manipulated by ETWN’s homophobic programming.

There is no difference between what Kim Davis did in denying LGBT couples marriages certificates, and what ETWN is promoting the end result is the same..

We challenge ETWN to have more balanced program that means having married LGBT couples on the program to speak for the vast amount of LGBT Roman Catholics in the Church. ETWN why are you afraid of the truth?

The Board of Directors, Rainbow Sash Movement

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Homophobia, Pope Francis, and Pastorial Ministry

Dealing with Homophobia in the Church calls for courage, transparency, and a focus on the common good without such a focus any talk of a pastoral ministry will be seen as pious hot air. LGBT Catholic organizations can no longer only focus on their organizational agenda outside of the frame work of the common good if they are to be authentic Roman Catholics. What needs to take place in the Church is sincere reform.

In any such a discussion, neither the Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRC), and/or GLAAD should have no part.  If our voices are to be seen and understood as Catholic we must self identify as such and not be shackled by a political agendas.

If the papacy cannot bring itself to address the rampant homophobia that affects every element of its sacramental life of the Church; than the possibility of such a ministry existing must be challenged. Only through dialogue and transparency will such a ministry be able to come into being.

Ministry to LGBT Catholics must have a pastoral and not a dogmatic approach. Only by changing our tone on the subject of homophobia will such a ministry be taken seriously. The only question that needs to be answered by the hieratical leadership is the Church capable of seriously addressing a pastoral ministry to LGBT Catholics through dialogue and transparency.

The Pope and his Bishops must learn to listen to their LGBT sheep, and not be afraid to walk with us pastorally.

The Rainbow Sash Movement does not presume to know about the complexities of such a pastoral ministry. We rather think such deliberations need to be done with our priests, and hierarchal leadership. LGBT people both single and married must be part of that process if Church is to be taken seriously.

While we applaud President Obama White House for inviting a Gay Catholic  to meet the Pope, we are concerned that this meeting not be cosmetic, but rather pastoral.

LGBT Roman Catholic organizations cannot focus on what part they will play in such a dialogue rather they like the Bishops must learn to listen or we talking to ourselves. That is called a monologue not a dialogue.

Rainbow Sash Movement Board of Directors

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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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