Philadelphia’s mayor promised that, given the opportunity, he will speak to Pope Francis about LGBT people and the injustices they face. In a statement summarizing his potential message to the pope that was released last Friday and reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mayor Michael Nutter said:
“We encourage ending the systematic and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people through the message of love, hope, and acceptance. . .For the many LGBT individuals who seek the Lord and have good will, we ask that you end judgment of these individuals by those within the church through teaching and pastoral practice currently in place.”
Nutter also pledged to raise specific LGBT justice issues, including housing and employment discrimination and youth mental health, noting his three decades of LGBT advocacy. The mayor’s comments are a response to an op-ed challenge from Jim Kenney, the Democratic mayoral candidate, encouraging Nutter to host a meeting of Pope Francis and LGBT Catholics. Kenney noted Archbishop Charles Chaput’s expulsion from a Catholic parish of Equally Blessed’s events for their pilgrims from LGBT Catholic families. (New Ways Ministry’s workshop on gender identity was also evicted from the same parish; all events have been re-located to Arch Street United Methodist Church in downtown Philadelphia.) As reported by The New Civil Rights Movement, Kenney stated:
“Being a good host doesn’t require being a doormat and, more importantly, being a good elected official means fighting for the rights of everyone you represent.”
Nutter’s statement was welcomed by LGBT advocates, including New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, who was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer article:
“Pope Francis is the pope of surprises. . .And I think it’s very possible that he will listen to the mayor and take his ideas into consideration.”
Pressure for Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics or at least address issues is growing, including an invitation to attend the LGBT Family Papal Picnic next Saturday that will feature fired church worker Margie Winters. The event will “celebrate their faith and share their stories in the hopes of someday being invited to the table with other Catholic organizations globally and to eventually participate with the World Meeting of Families,” according to an organizer.
Given Mayor Nutter’s position, it is likely he will have at least a few moments to speak with Pope Francis and fulfull his pledge to raise up LGBT people, particularly Catholics. Though church officials have tried to restrict such events, next week will feature a full schedule of LGBT related events that you can access here. For more commentary on the hopes and controversies related to the World Meeting of Families, click here.
For the latest news regarding the 2015 World Meeting of Families, visit the appropriate category on the right hand side of this page or click here for all the Bondings 2.0 posts covering the preparations for this event.
For those attending the World Meeting of Families, or anyone who wants to come to Philadelphia at the end of September, consider attending New Ways Ministry’s half-day workshop on gender diverse families entitled TransForming Love: Exploring Gender Identity from Catholics Perspectives, on Saturday, September 26, 2015, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Arch Street United Methodist Church, 55 North Front Street, Philadelphia. For more information, click here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry