National coverage of the Equally Blessed pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

Twenty LGBTQI Catholics and their family members traveled to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia from September 20-25, 2015, as part of the Equally Blessed Pilgrimage. Here is a sampling of some of the coverage we’ve received.

LGBT Catholic Coalition Prepares For Papal Visit In Philadelphia

Francesco is a practicing, young adult Catholic who plans on going to Philadelphia to discuss, with as many people as possible, the importance of trans inclusivity within the church, to raise visibility of trans Catholics and to show how diverse the trans community really is.

“I hope to be the voice and the visual for trans Catholics who are not able to come out. I want to help put a face on the word ‘transgender,’ so people and (the Catholic) hierarchy can start to see us as fellow members of faith,” Francesco said. Read more at Pride Source

Gay Catholic families plan pilgrimage to see pope

For Garber, Francis’s papacy has been “kind of like a roller coaster.” She said she is going to Philadelphia mainly to honor her transgender son, CJ, who died in 2009 from what Garber believes was an accidental heroin overdose at age 20. Read more at the Boston Globe

Why everyone wants a piece of Pope Francis for themselves

“I’m hopeful if anyone might shift thoughts or attitudes, it might be him,” said Claire Dente, 52, a social work professor who is a lesbian and will be attending a conference about gender identity and Catholicism timed to the pope’s visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 26-27. Dente, a lifelong Catholic, said Francis’s inclusive language “is reminding us of what the real meaning of being a Catholic is — being attentive to people in need.” Read more at the Washington Post

Awaiting Pope Francis’ visit, LGBT Catholics and supporters in U.S. are hopeful

Both of Manriquez’s daughters are lesbians; both are married; both have children who were baptized in the church; both, she said, “were loved before they were even imagined.”

But this is a church whose official teaching says being gay is “intrinsically disordered.” A church that threw its time and money into the fight against same-sex marriage. That in some parishes denies Communion — the faith’s central sacrament — to non-celibate gays, lesbians and transgender people. Read more at the L.A. Times

Uneasy LGBT conversations at family meeting

Equally Blessed was holding session in a Methodist church around the corner from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the main venue of the World Meeting of Families, because the group had been first denied a booth on the inside and then barred by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput from using a Catholic parish nearby.

Winters said, “We ask the church to reflect on its own identity, an identity now associated with the discriminatory treatment of the LGBT community. We are your sisters and brothers in faith.” Read more at the National Catholic Reporter

Catholic LGBT families introduce themselves ahead of Pope’s visit

On the opening day of the World Meeting of Families, Catholic LGBT people and their families introduced themselves to the media and the wider world. GLAAD is working with Equally Blessed, who organized the pilgrimage of the LGBT families. At a press conference at Arch Street United Methodist Church, some of the pilgrims told bits of their story of accepting themselves or a loved one. Read more at GLAAD

LGBT Catholics, families hold out hope for papal meeting

“I truly believe that our Creator did not only give us the gift of this physical body,” Matsuo told the Blade. “I believe that the mind is the most precious gift that was given, and mine just happened to be a transgender mind.” Read more at the Washington Blade

Marginalized faithful strive for inclusion in church

Among the thousands of pilgrims flowing into Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit are 14 families.

Each of them has at least one member who is lesbian, gay, transgender, questioning/queer or intersex (LGBTQI). Organized by a group called Equally Blessed, they want to make visible relationships that are not on display at the World Meeting of Families. In doing so, they’re coming up against one of the biggest debates in the modern Catholic Church. Read more and listen to the audio story at NewsWorks

Ahead of pope’s visit to U.S., friction over same-sex marriage

“We want to be a visible presence, with the message that LGBT families are part of the church,” said Duddy-Burke. “I would expect most people who are coming have LGBT family members … Most of them are going to recognize that what the church teaches is harmful.” Read more at KEPR TV

At LGBT picnic, a pope’s words – if not his presence

Over hot dogs, burgers, and ice-cream sandwiches, LGBT activists at the picnic told of visiting the World Meeting of Families last week, challenging in workshops what Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA called the “horrible dogma” they hear.

The real work for activists was in hallways, she said, where other Catholics approached with questions. “I think there was a real yearning for our presence there because of just how narrow the teachings were and how exclusionary they were to many people,” said Duddy-Burke, who lives in Boston. Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer

Hundreds shut out of sole session on gays at World Meeting of Families

Inside the session, it was standing room only, with some people sitting on the floors and in the aisles. All were silent as Ron Belgau, the sole openly gay man allowed to make a presentation here, took the microphone and, with his mother Beverley, described how he follows a “traditional Christian sexual ethic” that says homosexual activity is sinful. Read more at Religion News Service

Just say no to sex. Forever.

Then came Marianne Duddy-Burke, a married lesbian, mother and executive director of DignityUSA, the advocacy group that focuses on LGBT rights in the Catholic Church.

“Thank you for telling your story in such an open, vulnerable and honest manner,” she told the Belgaus, to thunderous applause. “There is a lot of commonality in our beliefs and struggles. Where we part ways is in believing that being LGBT is in some way a disorder rather than a gift. I think who we are is the way God creates us to know and love God to serve the world.”

As for celibacy, she said, “It is a holy and healthy and valuable choice for some people, but it is not a gift given to everyone. Most of us are ordered towards love, intimacy and to creating some kind of families of our own.” Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer

A Catholic Reflection on the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

Last Friday, I caught up with some of the pilgrims that HRC sponsored to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, days after the height of Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C. It was a wake up call to all the work still needed to be done within the Roman Catholic Church. Read more at the HRC blog

Equally Blessed pilgrims welcomed despite challenges

Francis has asked Catholics to work on the margins.  Equally Blessed boldly occupies this space, on the periphery and in the field hospital of the Catholic church. Once again, we found ourselves on the front lines of compassion and justice. So while we were rarely given the resources and access to fully dialogue with our fellow Catholics, it was necessary for us to be there. The pilgrims’ prophetic ministry was not in what they were able to say, but in who they were able to be — their whole and holy, complete and healthy selves — amidst a backdrop of hierarchical control tactics and fear. Read more at the National Catholic Reporter

A Pastoral Pope, Slipping Conservatives’ Grasp

Those who know Francis said they did not expect his other remarks this weekend to give fodder to conservatives or, for that matter, directly address the issues in the church that liberal Catholics have championed. Read more at the New York Times

LGBT Pilgrims Reflect on World Meeting of Families; Others Question Meeting’s Impact

Much has happened since the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit: the Kim Davis controversy, news of the pope’s meeting with a gay couple, and the Synod on the Family. Yet the good news shared by Equally Blessed’s pilgrims and the encounters they experienced should not be forgotten in the near future. Indeed, their example of dialogue and witness, accompanied by Pope Francis’ vision for the church, constitute a path forward for U.S. Catholics when it comes to LGBT issues. Read more at Bondings 2.0