Greenbelt Interfaith News
    U.S. News

    November 1997

    Catholic Document Begins to Change the Lives of Homosexuals
    By Heather Elizabeth Peterson
    Greenbelt Interfaith News

    The American Catholic Church's new pastoral letter on homosexuality continues to garner comments, reports Robert Miailovich, president of the gay Catholic organization Dignity/USA. Mr. Miailovich's report came at Dignity's Mid-Atlantic regional meeting, which took place on October 19 at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in northwest Washington, D.C.

    "Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers" was released by a committee of the American Catholic bishops on September 30. The letter says that homosexual behavior is a sin but that parents should treat their gay children with love and compassion.

    "From the parents' point of view, it is a wonderful document," said Mr. Miailovich, speaking of the response of parents with gay children. "It's pastoral as hell; there's a minimal amount of legalism. We wanted to acknowledge that – but the letter's not perfect."

    Mr. Miailovich said that the overall reaction within Dignity has been cautiously positive: "It was a ‘Yes, but' kind of response." The real question, he said, is whether the letter will have any impact on the local level. "Will the parishes in the country take this to heart?" he asked.

    Charles Cox, executive director of Dignity/USA, told the delegates that the letter has already started to affect the lives of homosexuals. He said that he received calls from two gay men and one lesbian who live in Kansas and Iowa. None are Catholic; all three, after hearing of the letter, decided to tell their parents that they are gay.

    One of the callers, who is a few weeks short of his 18th birthday, told Mr. Cox that his parents said, "You can stay [at home] till you're 18, and then you're out." Nevertheless, Mr. Cox regards these events as a sign of hope. "The letter is having an effect beyond our immediate border," he said.

    Mr. Cox summarized Dignity/USA's reaction by saying, "We couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to educate the public about how faith is an important part of our lives."

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    © 1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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