The Human Rights Campaign is organizing a series of vigils called Pray, Listen, Discern — Raising the Voices of LGBT Catholics including one in St. Paul on Thursday.
The vigils come as Extraordinary General Assembly Synod of Bishops is underway in Rome. The assembly is only the third of its kind in history and “will thoroughly examine and analyze the information, testimonies and recommendations received from the particular Churches in order to respond to the new challenges of the family.” Many commentators believe issues like the ordination of women and LGBT inclusion in the church will be discussed.
The assembly began meeting on Sunday, Oct. 5 and runs through Oct. 19. During that time, HRC has organized vigils in seven cities whose dioceses are led by anti-LGBT bishops. The St. Paul vigil will be held on Thursday, Oct. 9.
“On behalf of all of those who have been excluded from the church — from the LGBT faithful and divorced families, to those who have been fired for simply being who they are — we offer them Holy Mary’s wisdom and God’s clarity,” Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, director of HRC’s Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives, said in a statement. “The church laity is not misguided; it is not unknowing of the word and mandate of God. On the contrary, we continue to listen to God and, just like his son, we also aim to create an inclusive church that can serve us all. We urge the bishops to climb down from their towers and hear our voices raised in prayer.”
The first vigil was in San Francisco, and in addition to Thursday’s event in St. Paul, vigils will be held on Oct. 13 in Springfield, Ill.; Oct. 14 in Chicago; Oct. 15 in Cincinnati; Oct. 17 in Philadelphia; and Oct. 19 in Baltimore.
Embattled Archbishop John Nienstedt will be the target of the vigil on Thursday.
In an event invite, HRC wrote: “We will be in St. Paul on Oct. 9, 2014, to bring attention to the continued homophobia and transphobia of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, and calling for him to return to the roots of the Gospel, the basis of our faith and recognize our humanity and our right to seek civil recognition of our relationships and our families.”
Nienstedt is listed among HRC’s “Best of the Worst” and has a dossier on him:
“Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts…formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin,” Nienstedt said in 2007. “Surely they must be aware that they have turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive.” He has said that, “Homosexuality must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed, etc.,” and that it “is a result of psychological trauma.” When an anti-marriage equality amendment was on the Minnesota ballot in 2012, Nienstedt used more than $600,000 of church funds to support the amendment. The amendment failed, and the state legislature passed marriage equality soon thereafter, for which Nienstedt blamed “satan.” Recently he has come under investigation over alleged sexual misconduct with other men, including other priests, a charge he denies.
The St. Paul event is being organized by Dignity/Twin Cities, HRC, and Call to Action-MN.