Catholic Leaders, Including Bishop Stowe, Begin Pride Month with Blessing Service

Several Catholic leaders joined DignityUSA to mark the beginning of Pride Month with a prayer service focused on blessing, including one bishop.

The leaders included Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv. of Lexington, Kentucky, Miguel Díaz, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland. The event was co-sponsored by a number of Catholic groups including New Ways Ministry, the Women’s Ordination Conference, and the Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Crux reported that Stowe offered a blessing to the 200 or so participants who gathered virtually, saying, in part:

“‘May God, the source of life and love fill you with the job of knowing your great dignity and worth as God’s child who is created with love and filled with blessings from the first moment of your existence. . .May God who sustains us all in life continue to walk with you and share in your joys and sorrows while calling you to something ever greater. . .May god bless your capacity to love and be loved and to share that divine presence with a broken and struggling world. May God almighty give you his peace.’”

McAleese, a longtime LGBTQ advocate whose son is gay, likewise invoked God’s blessing on those gathered to “have love that never ends.”

Díaz said those in attendance needed to live as a “prophet of God’s love,” praying:

“‘Blessings so that you may overcome life’s challenges, and ascend the mountain of God’s love. Blessings on your families, your friendships, your loving unions. . .May they all participate in and celebrate the mystery of God’s triumph, in queer love.'”

DignityUSA leaders who spoke during the prayer service, which lasted just over thirty minutes, included Meli Barber, the organization’s vice-president, Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director, and members of the Families with Dignity caucus. Other speakers included Mary Hunt and Diann Neu of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, Ruby Almeida and Christopher Vella of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, and Fr. Bernárd Lynch, a longtime Catholic advocate for LGBTQ people.

Though the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-gender couples was not the focus of the prayer service, it was on people’s minds. Barber opened by acknowledging that the ban was partially responsible for “sparking this event,” adding, per the National Catholic Reporter:

“‘We heard from many Catholics, in our town halls, on social media, and through other channels, that they disagreed with the Vatican. . .We thought we’d offer a way for people to come together in celebration of the inclusive church and world we are all working to build, and you all responded with enthusiasm.'”

Poignantly, seeming to refer to the Vatican use of “God cannot bless sin” in its ban, Duddy-Burke ended the service by saying:

“‘Go with pride, which is not sin for you, but salvation.'”

Looking to continue the celebration of Catholic LGBTQ Pride? Join New Ways Ministry for “From the Smallest of Seeds…”, a virtual interactive prayer service being held on June 13, 2021 from 3:00 – 4:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. To register or for more information, click here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 4, 2021
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