WASHINGTON - Catholics for Equality, the country's largest national political organization of Catholics who put their faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families, representing the views of over 75 million American Catholics, asks Catholic parishes across the country during the Easter Season through to Pentecost, to take weekly steps to discuss and respond to the heightened anti-gay and 2012 election year political activity of our bishops, and to take steps to prevent divisive and harmful political activity from being conducted in our parishes and being introduced into the liturgy of our Mass.
Week Two Action:
Catholics for Equality urges you this week to hear the calling in the liturgy to be the Good Shepherd and invite members of your parish to dinner to discuss the bishops' heightened anti-gay and 2012 election year political activity and how it affects LGBT members of your family and your parish.
Connection to This Week's Liturgy: Fourth Sunday of Easter
The gospel this week talks to us of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. This is a beautiful story that calls to all of us to bring the good news of Christ's love to all of God's children equally. In this gospel the Good Shepherd gives His work freely and never leaves His flock, taking special care to tend to the most distant sheep. This story speaks to us today.
In each of our parishes we know people who are still struggling to accept our LGBT family and parish members as full and equal children of God, deserving of equal protection under our civil laws.. Instead of thinking ill of them or avoiding them, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls to us this week to treat those parishioners as He did the distant sheep, and to share with them the reasons, as a faithful Catholic, you believe in and stand up for equality.
At the direction of the Vatican, Catholic parishes across the United States are being ordered by the bishops to participate in anti-gay and 2012 election year political activity. Some parishes are being asked to engage in petition drives to put anti-gay referendums on the election ballot. Other parishes are being used to politically mobilize Catholics to vote against pro-equality ballot measures. Some parishes are being used to mobilize voters to defeat pro-equality candidates for Congress and the presidency. In most parishes across the country pastors are being ordered to read letters during Mass, instructing Catholics to support these anti-gay and election year political campaigns.
Faithful Catholics agree, the Mass is not the place for political activity. Any intrusion of politics during the liturgy runs against American Catholic tradition, which has long respected the separation of church and state principles that have allowed Catholics to participate fully in public life. We are afraid that this intrusion into politics at Mass will weaken respect for Catholics in American public life, especially among our young people.
Aside from the information available on our website regarding LGBT issues and arguments for explaining why our Catholic faith calls us to support equality, please make sure your guests are aware of the campaign tool kit we've created for addressing anti-gay and 2012 election year political activity and statement you will encounter in your parish.
Please enjoy your calling this week to follow the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Social gatherings are supposed to be enjoyable -- even ones that involve serious issues. We hope your event will leave each of your guests, including YOU, with a renewed appreciation for our Catholic faith community and our role in standing up for all of God's children, including our LGBT brothers and sisters. To accomplish this, we offer the following suggestions to help you plan and execute your event.
1. Invite a mix of guests. The goal of your dinner (or brunch) is to bring together faithful Catholics who all share our Catholic faith and possibly have many other things in common, but who come to subject of LGBT equality from different places. Some may be LGBT, some may have family members who are LGBT, others may not have a close personal connection to the issue -- or if they do, they're unaware of it. The goal of these informal gatherings is to bring together people who can learn from each other.
2. Don't limit your gathering to just dinner or only parish members. Please do not feel like this action is limited to inviting parish members to dinner. It is not. For you it may be more appropriate to invite parish members to brunch at a restaurant after Mass the following week. It may be more appropriate for you to create an event around your Catholic family in a familiar venue. Or it could mean inviting Catholic co-workers for drinks after work. There are many possibilities and places where we can be the Good Shepherd for equality this week.
3. Respect all views. Most faithful Catholics are struggling to find the appropriate response to the bishops' efforts of politicize our parishes and the Mass. It is important for you as a good host to provide a safe space for your guests to share their real feelings about this issue, and not feel intimidated to say something just to avoid confrontation or condemnation. Between now and election day there will be many more opportunities to talk with your guests about this issue and it's important to keep the door open for those who are still in the process of forming their own conscience to continue the dialogue.
4. Follow up with your guests. Again, the Good Shepherd story applies to this action. After your event, please take time during the week to personally connect with each of your guests. It's important to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to express their feelings on these issues and so often, those who didn't talk a lot will feel more comfortable talking with you in a more private space.
Catholics for Equality empowers pro-equality Catholics to put our faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families.
Catholics for Equality was founded in 2010 to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom and equality at the federal, state, and local levels for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family, parish and community members.