of the President of Dignity Canada Dignité
This report focuses on five noteworthy items in the 2017-2018
First, we support LGBT persons in other countries who face
persecution due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation and/or gender
our Dignity Canada Dignité
email list (DCD list), we informed our
members of the international Intimate Conviction conference held in
Kingston, Jamaica on October 12-13, 2017 which examined Christianity and the
unjust anti-sodomy laws in Commonwealth countries. We encouraged them to watch
the presentations which were available on line at the conference’s website.
our list, we encouraged our members to write to federal government officials in
advance of the Leaving No One Behind: The Equal Rights Coalition Global
Conference on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development held August 5-7,
2018 in Vancouver, B.C. DCD sent an email to the Prime Minister’s office and we
added our name to another email sent on behalf of 33 organizations.
Second, we responded in a number of ways to the firing of a
parish assistant in the Archdiocese of Edmonton in February. We sent a strongly
worded letter by registered mail on February 14th to Archbishop
Richard Smith condemning the dismissal. We also sent three items to those on the
DCD list informing them of the bishop’s unjust action, giving them links on how
they could read or watch the media coverage of this action (Mark had multiple
interviews), and encouraging them to contact the archbishop’s office.
Third, there have been controversies in at least two provinces
related to LGBT students in the school system.
In Alberta, a coalition of
private schools and lobby groups sought an injunction to stop the implementation
of a new law that would prohibit schools from informing parents, without student
consent, that their children had joined the school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).
In June a judge turned down the request, noting that GSAs do not infringe on
parental or religious rights.
In Ontario, the new
Conservative government is requiring that teachers revert back to the 1998
sex-ed. curriculum, with minor changes, and to discard the sex-ed. curriculum
introduced in 2015. In addition, a “snitch” line has been set up so that
persons can report teachers who are not complying with the 1998 curriculum.
Civil-rights and teacher groups are taking legal action to restore the 2015
curriculum for the health and welfare of Ontario students as well as teacher
Fourth, in the USA some conservative Catholic members of the
hierarchy and conservative Catholic groups are blaming gay priests, and Pope
Francis, for clergy sexual abuse or its coverup. Others, such as Pope Francis
and Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, point their fingers at clericalism – the
privileges and honour given to priests, as if they are somehow more holy or
loved than the rest of us. See Appendix A for a chronology of events that
unfolded in the second half of August.
Fifth, Pope Francis remains an enigma in terms of the church and
the homosexual. For example, in May Juan Carlos Cruz, who is a Chilean clerical
sex abuse survivor, reported that in a private conversation, the pope affirmed
the man’s gay sexual orientation. He reported that Pope Francis said that “You
are gay and that does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like
this, and I don’t care.” On the other hand, in a closed-door meeting with
Italian bishops that month, the pope allegedly affirmed an existing Vatican ban
on gay men entering the priesthood.
In conclusion, I thank all chapters and members for being the
hands and feet of Christ in this time and place. We support one another in many
different ways, both large and small. As our energy and health allow, we reach
out to others both at home and abroad to bring about a more loving and just
Chronology of Events in August
Related to Sexual Harassment and
There are at least three events that have happened in quick
The report of a grand jury in
Pennsylvania issued on August 14th concluded that bishops and other
leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual
abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not
to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it. The report
covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000
identifiable victims. It also stated that there are likely thousands more
victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward. In
fairness, almost all of the investigated cases occurred before 2002 when the
dioceses adopted new rules and procedures.
On August 17th, the
Catholic News Agency reported the results of interviews with seven priests
mainly from the Archdiocese of Newark. The interviews revealed that Cardinal
Theodore McCarrick and later Archbishop John Myers, when they were in charge of
the Newark Archdiocese, either engaged in sexual harassment or assaults of
seminarians and priests, and allowed others to do so. The interviews were akin
to #MeToo in the Newark Catholic institution.
On August 20th,
Pope Francis issued a letter on clerical sexual abuse of children and vulnerable
adults and cover-ups. It has its strengths (e.g., critique of clericalism) and
weaknesses. One weird item is that, among other things, the Pope asks all
Catholics to fast and pray, in order to bring these abuses to an end. In
contrast, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson has described in two books
how many systemic factors need to be examined and changes possibly made to
address this multifaceted problem.
On August 26th as the
World Meeting of Families in Dublin was drawing to a close,
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the USA, released
a long letter accusing Pope Francis and other church officials of their inaction
in primarily dealing with the complaints against Cardinal
and blamed all of the Catholic Church’s current problems on supposed “homosexual
networks” within the Church. He and his supporters, including other members of
the hierarchy, have asked for the resignation of Pope Francis and the removal of
all gay priests. Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry wrote that Archbishop
Vigano offers no hard evidence of the supposed “homosexual networks,” and relies
instead on hearsay and with an expectation that his words will be accepted as
I recently ran
across this quote and I think that we have followed it in our efforts:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
of Avila (1515-1582)
Dignity Canada Dignité is Canada's
organization of Roman Catholics who are concerned about our
church's sexual theology, particularly as it pertains to
gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. We work in
collaboration with other Catholic organizations seeking
reform in our church's leadership and teachings.