CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, AUGUST 15, 2011— When more than 1.25 million young Roman Catholics converge on Madrid August 17-21 for World Youth Day, two young North Americans will be on hand to remind participants that Catholics are called to honor the dignity of every human being—including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexuals or transgender.
Nicole Sotelo of Chicago, and Emily Jendzejec of Boston, will be present at teach-ins, prayer services, the massive all-night vigil on August 20 and the papal Mass on August 21, with prayer cards and rainbow pins reminding fellow Catholics that they must oppose discrimination against LGBT people not in spite of their faith, but because of it.
World Youth Day, which is held every three years, is the largest gathering of young people in the world. Although focused primarily on worship and spirituality, the event includes teach-ins offered by bishops and organizations that have opposed any advancement of civil rights for LGBT people.
Sotelo, 33, and Jendzejec, 27, are members of Call To Action, the largest Roman Catholic Church justice organization in the United States, and a member of Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Roman Catholic groups that advocate on behalf of LGBT people, their families and friends.
“We love the Catholic Church, and we love our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends,” said Sotelo, Call To Action’s director of communications. “We are working toward the day when our church will treat all of God’s children equally.”
“Young Catholics around the globe are growing up in a world in which prejudice against LGBT people is diminishing in some places, but persecution and violence is escalating in others,” said Jendzejec, a student at Harvard Divinity School. “It is essential that they understand that their faith requires them to be advocates for justice for all people—especially those who are stigmatized by society.
Equally Blessed is a coalition of faithful Catholics who support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people both in the church and in civil society. Equally Blessed includes four organizations that have spent a combined 112 years working on behalf of LGBT people and their families: Call to Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.