LGBT Catholics and their supporters will gather in vigil at the U.S. Bishops Conference November meeting to remember the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre and to call on the bishops to acknowledge the reality of LGBT lives.
The vigil, sponsored by DignityUSA, will be held on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 10:30 AM – 2:00 pm, outside the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, 700 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore. Maryland. The demonstration’s twin themes are “A Vigil to Remember the Pulse Victims And Our Murdered Transgender Kin” and “A Call to our Bishops to Dare to Speak our Names:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Gender Queer”
An announcement from DignityUSA explained the purpose of the vigil:
“The Catholic Bishops response (or lack thereof) to the Pulse [the name of the Orlando nightclub] shooting demonstrated that most Bishops still refuse to even say the words ‘Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer’ and refuse to acknowledge the reality of LGBT lives. The bishops have also ignored the crisis of violence against our transgender siblings. In response, DignityUSA is calling on the bishops to ‘call us by name.’ “
Participants at the rally will pray the rosary. Many will be holding rainbow rosary bead sets. More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page. For more information, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
With few exceptions, most of the U.S. bishops who responded to the nightclub shooting in which 49 people were killed did not make mention of the fact that the targeted victims were LGBT people. In his official response to the shooting, U.S. Bishops Conference President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz did not mention the LGBT factor in the incident and made only a general call to an “ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every single person.”
San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s statement made the LGBT people even angrier than statements that made no reference to the the victims’ gender identity or sexual orientation. He said: “[R]egardless of race, religion, or personal lifestyle, we are all beloved children of God.”
Even Orlando’s local Catholic leader, Bishop John Noonan, of Orlando did not acknowledge the gay and lesbian dimension of the attack in his response. A diocesan Vigil to Dry Tears, which took place soon after the event, had no evidence that the victims were members of the LGBT community.
There were exceptions, of course. Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich was one of the first to speak up, addressing the regular Sunday Mass of the Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach:
“For you here today and throughout the whole lesbian and gay community, who are particularly touched by the heinous crimes committed in Orlando, motivated by hate, driven perhaps by mental instability and certainly empowered by a culture of violence, know this: the Archdiocese of Chicago stands with you. I stand with you.”
Similarly, Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernadino, California, said in his response statement that he wanted to “make clear our condemnation of discriminatory violence against those who are gay and lesbian, and we offer our prayers to that community.”
Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, indicted the Catholic community as partly responsible for anti-gay violence:
“[S]adly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.
San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy made a similar statement, saying:
‘This tragedy is a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country.”
The Catholic community in the pews, and around the world, however, were much more supportive of LGBT people in the wake of the shooting. The following blog posts recount some of their actions and statements :
- Filipino Bishops Sharply Condemn Anti-LGBT Violence After Orlando Massacre
- Vigil for Orlando Victims Displaces Gay-Negative Lecture at Catholic School
- In Orlando’s Wake, Catholic Ministry Calls on Church Leaders to Condemn Anti-LGBT Violence (New Ways Ministry’s response)
- One Month After Orlando Massacre, Sr. Jeannine Gramick Decries Silence On Violence
- Catholics Recommit to Bridge Building after Orlando Tragedy
- Two Priests Offer Spiritual and Social Responses to the Orlando Shooting
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 5, 2016