Dignity/Detroit, an organization of LGBT Catholics, will be celebrating their 39th anniversary this weekend, though the event threatens to be shadowed by a protest staged by conservative Christians who object to the fact that a Catholic college hosts the group’s meetings.
Dignity/Detroit, a chapter of Dignity/USA, is celebrating their anniversary with a Mass, in the Sacred Heart Chapel of Marygrove College, a school run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary of Detroit and a longtime advocate for LGBT equality, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. The Mass is scheduled for Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 6:00 p.m.
The Associated Press reports that a coalition of conservative Christian groups are planning to protest the event:
” ‘By allowing the use of its campus chapel by a homosexual activist group that is harshly critical of Catholic doctrine regarding marriage and homosexual behavior, Detroit’s Marygrove College is violating a Vatican directive expressly banning the use of facilities at Catholic colleges by such groups,’ the association said in an email.”
But the Mass will go on. The Archdiocese of Detroit has take a neutral position on the matter:
” ‘There are hundreds of Masses celebrated in the Detroit archdiocese every weekend,’ archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath said. ‘It’s always Archbishop Vigneron’s expectation that these liturgies are conducted in full conformity with the Catholic Church‘s teachings and practices.’ “
And Dignity remains undaunted by the threat of protest:
“The group also was aware that protests were expected Sunday, said Dignity USA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke. She said the group simply hopes to be able to pray in safety.
” ‘Our faith is very important to us,” Duddy-Burke said. ‘Most Catholics would be appalled to know that fellow Catholics cannot easily access our sacraments, have a Mass. We also believe we are all children of a loving God and should be able to worship in peace.’ “
In a Detroit Free Press article, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters expressed support for Dignity/Detroit, Marygrove College, and Bishop Gumbleton:
“Sister Mary Jane Herb, president of the Monroe-based Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns who founded Marygrove College, said the Dignity mass is welcome at the campus. Retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton will be the celebrant of Sunday’s anniversary mass, and other priests rotate to officiate.
“ ‘The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, support the openness of Marygrove College to host Dignity Detroit’s 39th anniversary celebration,’ said Herb, citing a 1997 statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about homosexuality.
“ ‘In this statement, the bishops stated that gay and lesbian persons are ‘God’s precious creation,’ and the bishops ask us to accept and love these individuals as gift(s) of God,’ Herb said in a statement. ‘By joining with retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton as celebrant, Marygrove College is attending to the pastoral needs of all God’s children.’ ”
New Ways Ministry encourages all its supporters in the Detroit metropolitan area to show up at the liturgy to support the Dignity chapter. It will be wonderful not only to support the group in their time of duress, but also to celebrate 39 years of ministry, service, prayer, and community with them. For more information, visit the chapter’s website. Marygrove College is located at 425 McNichols Road, West, Detroit, Michigan 48221.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry