Rainbow rosaries? The gay movement’s newer, nicer strategy to lobby the pope

'This is really about how to carefully call the hierarchy into the next relationship phase with LGBT people.'
Tue Sep 22, 2015 - 3:07 pm EST
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September 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Homosexual activists are planning a new strategy to gain traction for their cause during Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. this week. The movement is purposely trying to dial it down in an effort to win favor for their cause in the Catholic Church and avoid the risk of offending the pope.

Plans have been ongoing for months to send a message during the papal visit, including rainbow flags and rainbow prayer cloths, according to Religion News Service. And there’s also been a Tumblr page set up with images of homosexual Catholics and an online petition asking the pope to denounce instances where U.S. Church entities have removed employees or volunteers who publicly violate Church teaching.

“We’re not looking for a confrontation opportunity,” said Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, head of Latino and Catholic initiatives for the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign. “We’re looking for dialog that leads to the full inclusion of our people in the church.”

Homosexual advocates have been emboldened since the often repeated and misinterpreted comment made by Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?” hit the media in 2013.

The full comment, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?,” communicates mercy for someone who has genuine repentance of sin, but the last portion is selectively quoted to imply that Pope Francis accepts homosexuality.

Various homosexual groups and individuals have written to Pope Francis imploring him to address their respective cases when he comes to the United States.

But while the Holy Father has been perceived to be more open to accepting homosexuality than other Church leaders, he has not moved to officially change Church doctrine, which he cannot do according to the Church’s own tenets, because it is divinely inspired and unchangeable.

This has frustrated many homosexual activists, and for now, during the papal visit a more strategic approach is planned, though large-scale protests were previously under consideration.

“But I think for a lot of these Catholics, especially those who feel a sense of hope with Francis, this is really about how to carefully call the hierarchy into the next relationship phase with LGBT people,” said Ross Murray, director of programs for homosexual advocacy group GLAAD.

The less militant approach, along with employing a pro-homosexual version of the rosary, a popular meditative form of prayer using stringed prayer beads to count prayers, are the prescribed plan for homosexual activists for this week’s papal visit.

A collection of LGBT activist groups, New Ways MinistryDignity USAFortunate Families and Call to Action, calling themselves “Equally Blessed,” had planned to use the parish center of Saint John the Evangelist Church in downtown Philadelphia for a “supplemental conversation” to the triennial international Catholic event. The activists are conducting a workshop on transgenderism, a news conference and group meetings.

However they were informed by the parish pastor they could not use the space because the expectation during the World Meeting of Families was that any parish-sponsored activities would feature content that is in line with Church teaching.

The groups plan to conduct their activities at a nearby Methodist church.

Still, 14 families with gay and transgender members and other gay people with rainbow rosaries plan to engage where they can at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the location of the Catholic family event.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has said that individuals identifying as homosexual are welcome at the World Meeting of Families, but promoting anything that contradicts Church principles is not.

The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are disordered, and that those who experience them must strive to be chaste as everyone is called to be, and therefore must remain celibate, since marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman. The Church therefore holds that homosexual activity is immoral and never acceptable. 

“They don’t hear how their words are not only hurting the LGBT community, but also the LGBT community’s families,” said Nicholas Coppola, a Catholic who identifies as homosexual and who was removed from his position as a Confirmation teacher, lector and altar server at his parish after it was learned he had “married” another man.

Coppola’s Long Island, NY parish is one of many that, along with schools throughout the U.S., have taken steps to strengthen their Catholic identity as homosexual activists assail Church teaching.

Homosexual activists are holding out hope that their tactic will spur Pope Francis to act in favor to their cause.

“We have to remember that the church is not just a hierarchy,” said John Freml of Equally Blessed. “The bishops are very vocal and very loud, but they represent a very small portion of the Catholic Church.”

“The pope is known to wander,” Rivera said. “We hope that maybe, just maybe, our lively colors will call on him… and that he’ll wander over to us.”

  catholic, homosexuality, pope francis, world meeting of families

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