Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). While this commemoration is not widely marked here in the United States, in other nations, particularly in Europe, it is an important time to oppose prejudice and discrimination.
Catholic participation in IDAHOBIT has grown over the past few years. According to Progetto Gionata, an Italian LGBT Christian group, reports that this year prayer vigils marking the occasion (over the course of a week) will be held in Catholic churches in seven Italian cities and one in Spain. The cities and churches are:
- Milan: Santa Maria della Passione
- Reggio Emilia: Regina Pacis
- Pistoia: Santa Maria Maggiore di Vicofara a Pistoia
- Catania: SS. Crocifisso della Buona Morte
- Florence: Madonna della Tosse
- Bologna: San Bartolomeo della Beverara
- Genoa: San Pietro in Banchi
- Seville: San Pedro de Alcántara
Most notably on this list are the additions of Genoa and Palermo, two places where bishops put a stop to such prayer vigils in previous years. Notably, the Archdiocese of Palermo has an archbishop, Corrado Lorefice, appointed in 2015 by Pope Francis.
Progetto Gionata also reports that at least in one location, a high-ranking diocesan official will lead the prayer vigil:
This is not the only news for this year, for the first time religious orders and Catholic associations will also publicly take part in the vigils. In Genoa the vigil will not only be hosted by a parish but, last minute changes notwithstanding, the general vicar for the dioceses Nicolò Anselmi will participate. “I think this is the most visible sign of how the Church is beginning to really ask itself the questions brought forth by the Synod in regards to providing pastoral welcoming for LGBT people and their families” says Innocenzo Pontillo, from Progetto Gionata.
Last month, at New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” participants heard Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, speak about how homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia translate in his country into oppression and violence. After his talk, New Ways Ministry asked symposium participants if they would pose for a photo that would be used on IDAHOBIT to show over 300 U.S. Catholics who oppose such prejudice and discrimination. Here it is:
Catholic doctrine is so clear in opposing harmful attitudes and actions based in phobic reactions to people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Catholic parishes around the world should be opening their doors on this day to sponsor prayer vigils to counter such destructive practices. The growing number of parishes, including those listed above, are great pioneers in this movement.
It may be too late to organize and IDAHOBIT action for this year. But one thing you can do is make a pledge that you will work to get your Catholic parish, school, or other institution, to host a prayer vigil on May 17, 2018. It’s not too early to start now!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, May 17, 2017