Annual Report of the President of Dignity Canada Dignité


Dignity Canada Dignité (DCD)

President’s Report: 2021-2022

I would like to welcome all delegates and guests to our third online House of Delegates meeting. We have now experienced several more months living and dealing with Covid-19, since our last meeting on September 18, 2021. If we didn’t fully recognize it before, we have become acutely aware that we are living, biological beings and face some of the same medical challenges that previous generations faced, as well as what those in poor parts of our planet face on a regular basis.  In this report I will briefly describe the major activities of the national body in the last 12 months.

Bill C-4 (prior to the election Bill C-6): An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)

In November, 2020, DCD submitted a formal brief to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in support of then Bill C-6. The Bill C-6 went to the Senate on June 22, 2021 , just a few days before the summer recess, where it died when the federal election was called.

In the new parliamentary session following the general election, the government re-introduced a more restrictive version as Bill C-4.  The then Leader of the Official Opposition, the Hon. Erin O’Toole, instructed his MPs to allow the Bill to pass unanimously in the House of Commons, as it also did in the Senate and came into force on December 30, 2021.  Its remarkably fast track through Parliament can be viewed here.

Dignity Canada Dignité and the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality

The Vatican officially launched the Synod on Synodality in October 2021. Without knowing which Canadian dioceses would be participating and how they would, we became aware that Dignity USA, Future Church, New Ways Ministry and other reform-minded organizations decided that they would conduct listening sessions to enable their supporters to express their views on at least some of the questions posed by the Vatican.  We contacted Mark Guevarra at the end of January, and asked him for his assistance in DCD’s conducting listening sessions online.

Mark facilitated three sessions for us.  The session on February 26th comprised 10 DCD members.  All were male who lived in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.  Two sessions were conducted on March 5th and 21st, and comprised five and three participants, respectively, from the DCD email list. Among these eight, five were female and three were male, and they resided in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto.

The questions that were posed:

What have been the joys and obstacles in your journeying together with the Church? [Later] Is there anything else you would like to share, or what are your dreams for the Church?

I drafted a summary for each session, which was sent back to the participants for their review and possible correction.  In the end, I created two syntheses: one for the February 26th session and one for the March 5th and 21st sessions combined.

In the first week of April, I sent electronic copies of the two syntheses to the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican and to the diocesan contact person at the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Both acknowledged receipt. The CCCB and the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall advised us to send them to Toronto.

“Fraternal Open Letter to Our Brother Bishops in Germany”

On April 11, 2022, more than 70 bishops from around the world released a "fraternal open letter" to Germany's bishops warning that the changes to Church teaching advocated by the German "Synodal Path" may lead to schism. These 70 bishops seemed shocked with anything that might challenge Christian anthropology and sexual morality; and the reliability of scripture.  They would certainly not consider any changes to the institution’s official teaching condemning LGBTQ romantic behaviour, as expressed in paras. 2357-2359 in the catechism.

Recognizing how documents and pronouncements from the German synodal gatherings are consistent with DCD’s goals to see the official teachings remedied, I considered it important to write to the four Canadian bishops who signed on to the open letter.  The open letter and a sample of DCD’s individual response to the four bishops are attached to this report. The DCD letter was also submitted to and published in Island Catholic News (ICN).

Member of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC)

Dignity Canada Dignité officially became a member of the GNRC in April 2021. I have been involved with the GNRC Contemplative Spiritual Formation Committee since December 2019. I recorded a promotional video for the committee which can be found here.

Member of Dignity Network Canada

DCD is also a member of the Dignity Network Canada which is a group of civil society organizations across Canada involved in supporting the human rights of people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) globally. The Network is governed by a Board of Directors and has a number of working groups to advance its collective work.

It acts as a Canadian hub for communication and knowledge-sharing across organizations on global LGBTQ and SOGIESC human rights issues, especially emphasizing the perspectives of international partners. It convenes and hosts gatherings, conferences and meetings on Canada and global SOGIESC human rights; encourages and supports public awareness, education and research related to global SOGIESC human rights issues; and it engages and supports advocacy efforts both nationally and internationally to advance SOGIESC human rights and inclusion.

In February 2019, the federal government announced $30 million in dedicated funding over five years, followed by $10 million per year to advance human rights and improve socio-economic outcomes for LGBTQ people in developing countries. This investment is intended to support Canadian LGBTQ organizations in their efforts to collaborate with partners in developing countries. It will also serve to support local and regional organizations and equality movements in developing countries, as well as partnerships and multilateral initiatives that contribute to policy, advocacy and research efforts in this area. See the Act Together for Inclusion Fund (ACTIF) https://dignitynetwork.ca/act-together-for-inclusion-fund/

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. Frank Testin
October, 2022