Dignity Toronto Dignité
Dignité meets on the second Saturday of each month at 2 pm at the
519 Church Street Community Centre located on Church Street (one block north
of Wellesley Street).
For more information contact
firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to visit our webpage at
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Dignity Toronto Dignité Activities 2016-17
meet at 2pm on the second Saturday of each month at the 519 Community
Centre on Church Street. Members are also invited to meet for lunch at
1pm if they wish at an inexpensive restaurant on Church Street:
"Gingers". Our meetings are structured as follows:
welcome and introduction from the chairperson of the meeting.
2 . A
"check-in" where each person present introduces him/herself, adding
whatever they wish to let us know something about them at this time.
"reflection" prepared by a volunteer among the group. (These have ranged
from traditional prayers to readings, poems, and the presentation of art
3. A general
opportunity to share any "church news".
4. A general
opportunity to share any "social justice news".
5. A topic
of interest to the group is addressed by a presentation/video/audio with
discussion of the content.
Individually spoken prayers (of petition and of thanksgiving) with the
call and communal response: "In our joys and in our sorrows - May love
recitation of the "Our Father" (the long version) followed by a shared
sign of peace.
end at 4:15pm. Attendance is usually around 9 to 12 persons. There are
currently 10 paying members out of a pool of perhaps 15-16 total
possible attendees. On average 9 out of 10 attendees have been male.
additional to the meeting at the 519 there is usually also a monthly
meal on a weeknight to which members are invited. Generally this is in
the form of potluck at a member's home, and sometimes it is at a
are announced in an email to listed people who have expressed interest
in being included. One member who does not have email is reminded by a
phone call. There are 61 people on the email list.
addressed in our meetings this year have been:
Richard Rohr OFM on the topic of Franciscan spirituality and discussion
12th: Interview/conversation with Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson on
confronting power and sex in the Catholic Church recorded March 2012.
10th: John Dear's tribute to Daniel Berrigan (audio) at the "Call to
Action" conference in Albuquerque NM on November 12th (dealing with
active and prophetic non-violence in the pursuit of peace).
14th: Dr Greer Gordon on the topic "Compassionate Catalysts: Being
Christ in the World" (audio) at the "Call to Action" conference in
Albuquerque NM on November 13th
11th: The first episode of the PBS Frontline series "From Jesus to
Christ: The First Christians" on DVD.
11th meeting was cancelled so that members could attend the retreat
organized by the Our Lady of Lourdes group: "All Inclusive Ministries".
And instead of the usual one gathering at a member's home that month two
gatherings were held at which the 2nd and 3rd parts of the PBS Frontline
series "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" were screened.
Rita Cotterly, Ph.D. on the topic "Sexual and Spiritual" (audio) at the
"Call to Action" conference in Albuquerque NM on November 12th
Richard Rohr OFM on the topic of justice and contemplative prayer in
the era of Donald Trump (video).
The fourth episode of the PBS Frontline series "From Jesus to Christ:
The First Christians" on DVD. (Note - the second and third episodes were
screened at a member's home for those interested in seeing them as we
didn't want to take up 4 of our monthly meetings with this series.)
Instead of a
potluck in June we met at a Church St restaurant for dinner prior to the
AIDS Vigil in Barbara Hall Park.
Part I of a two part study of contemplation with videos by Richard Rohr.
8th: Part II of a two part study of contemplation with videos by Richard
Rohr. Frank also provided notes for the videos.
9th: Part I of a two part discussion of the topic "sex and us" beginning
with the viewing of a video documentary about the lives of gay men
living in New York in the decade of freedom from police oppression
brought about by the Stonewall riots of 1969.
announcements are prepared by Frank and include announcements of other
events which might be of interest as well as passages on various
announcement of the October meeting included a "Food for Thought"
passage concerning justice and injustice quoting Marcus J. Borg's
"Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and
Power - And How They Can Be Restored." This quote from John J McNeill's
"Taking a Chance on God" was also included in the email: "Only
a sadistic God would create millions of humans as gay with no choice in
the matter and no hope of changing and then deny them the right to
express their gayness in a loving relationship for the rest of their
lives under the threat of eternal damnation."
announcement of the November meeting included a "Food for Thought"
passage quoting John J McNeill's "Sex as God Intended" concerning God's
special message conveyed by the LGBT community that we must learn to
accept, enjoy and celebrate our bodies and their sexuality with
gratitude to God.
announcement of the December meeting introduced the topic of
non-violence. Also there was a "Food for Thought" passage concerning the
Bible and gay sexuality quoting Daniel Helminiak's book "What the Bible
Really Says about Homosexuality".
announcement of the January meeting included a "Food for Thought"
passage quoting Pope Francis's message for the World Day of Peace (which
John Dear helped with) which focussed on Jesus' non-violent message.
There was also a reflection on Meister Eckhart's quote "I pray God to
rid me of God".
for the February meeting announced that the annual business meeting and
election of the executive would take up part of the time and membership
information was provided. There was also an extensive quotation from
Patrick S Cheng's "From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer
announcement of the April meeting included a "Food for Thought" passage
quoting Richard Rohr's "Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of
announcement of the May meeting included a "Food for Thought" passage
quoting Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's "For Christ's Sake: End Sexual Abuse
in the Catholic Church...For Good."
announcement of the June meeting included a "Food for Thought" with
passages from Ilia Delio's "Making All Things New: Catholicity,
announcement of the July meeting included an introduction to the topic
"What is contemplation". The "Food for Thought" section quoted passages
from Diarmuid O'Muchu's "Inclusivity: A Gospel Mandate".
announcement of the August meeting included a "Food for Thought"
section quoting passages from John McNeill's "Both Feet Firmly Planted
in Midair: My Spiritual Journey."
announcement of the September meeting included a "Food for Thought"
section quoting passages from Daniel Helminiak's book "What the Bible
Really Says about Homosexuality".
22nd Frank sent a letter on behalf of the chapter and its supporters to
Cardinal Collins with copies to the other bishops of the archdiocese
taking the cardinal to task for his ill-conceived comments about
homosexuality in a radio interview he had given on CBC Radio in which he
equated it with a tendency or inclination to which one can become a
slave. The letter suggested books and videos where the Cardinal could
get some education on the subject as well as offering a meeting with
Church officials to talk about our lives, sexuality and the church. No
response was received.
conclusion, the chapter is continuing to offer a place of hospitality,
fellowship and resourcefulness for LGBT Catholics and their friends in
the GTA, where they can find mutual support, a chance for some personal
development, as well as the possibility of responding communally to
situations in church and society which threaten our well being and that
of those more vulnerable than us. The chapter is appreciative of the
free use of a meeting room at the 519 Community Centre.
2015-2016 Report from
Dignity Toronto Dignité
We continue our quest to accompany our members on
their journeys, as varied as they are, as well as to challenge the
injustices both within and outside the Roman Catholic establishment,
especially as they relate to our loves and lives as LGBT Christians. We
continue to meet on the second Saturday of each month at the 519 Church
Street Community Centre since April 2012. The space is provided free of
charge. Our current executive consists of: Michael Armstrong, Steve
Taylor and Frank Testin, and we have 12 paid members.
Meetings at the 519 Centre:
At our monthly meetings, we have developed a
particular format which starts with a check-in (adopted from the
Winnipeg chapter), a reflection presented on a rotation basis by
members, and usually a discussion based on a live presentation, DVD,
audio recording or printed materials. We’ve also adopted the practice
of closing the meeting with a shared prayer of petitions/thanks and the
Lord’s prayer. Generally, we have 7-12 persons in attendance.
In the last year, we held discussions on the
- Four talks on the
Laudato Si encyclical presented by one of our supporters.
See promotional item
here for the
series. We are very fortunate to have such a gifted person to make
- DVD "Do I Sound Gay?"
documentary premiered in September 2014 at the Toronto International
Film Festival. It follows a gay man in his early '30's who, after a
break-up, seeks the assistance of two voice coaches in New York and
Los Angeles to help him sound 'more masculine.' The film examines the
self-concept we may have of ourselves and social stereotypes both
inside and external to the LGBT community. Interviewees include Tim
Gunn, San Savage and George Takai.
- You Tube recording of
Bishop John Shelby Spong delivering a talk at Elmhurst College in 2011
on his own journey understanding and accepting LGBT persons.
- DVD of the
presentation by Joan Chittister in April 2016 at the Forum on Theology
and Education held in Oakville. The theme of the event was "Evolution
and the Spiritual Life" with Diarmuid O'Murchu, and the
question Joan addressed in the particular DVD session was: Who is God
in an evolutionary world?
- DVD of a talk by
Miriam Therese Winter on "Vatican II: Church Forward"
sponsored by Call to Action in October 2012.
- At one of our
meetings, we listened to and discussed two 10-15 min. audio recordings
made by Richard Rohr on Franciscan alternative orthodoxy. At another
meeting, we viewed a recording of Richard Rohr commenting on the
liturgical changes that were imposed by the Vatican in late 2011.
- You Tube recording
entitled "Owning our Faith", a 14 min. documentary made
at St. John the Apostle church in New York City that has an outreach
to LGBT persons. The documentary has a series of interviews with a
cross-section of LGBT persons and some of their relatives, and the
documentary seeks to "foster dialogue about and encourage greater
inclusion and acceptance of LGBT people in the Church." It was made in
anticipation of the Ordinary Synod on the Family in October 2015.
Potluck Suppers: We have been holding
monthly potluck suppers at members’ homes, usually on the fourth Tuesday
of the month. (4-7 persons).
Ecumenical Good Friday Walk: We helped to
plan for the event, and at least three members participated in the group
of about 200. The theme this year was "I Thirst" and all stations
focused on various aspects of the availability and use of water. It
started at the edge of Lake Ontario at the base of Bay Street and ended
at the Church of the Holy Trinity, an Anglican parish with a strong
outreach to the homeless, located next to the Eaton Centre.
Advent Retreat/Workshop - The Francis Factor:
How St. Francis and Pope Francis are Changing the World. Using
edited video recordings from a conference with the same title that was
held in early September 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we co-sponsored
the retreat on November 28th with the Expansive Spiritual Gathering
group at MCC-Toronto. Each sponsor had 7-8 attendees. The conference
speakers were Ilia Delio, Shane Claiborne and Richard Rohr, and our
retreat was held in the Triangle Program classroom at MCC.
Pride Parade: Due to the lack of interest,
we did not have an entry in this year's parade.
Letter to the CCCB: After reading the
letter of condolence which we discovered on the CCCB website written by
Bishop Douglas Crosby, OMI, President of the Canadian Conference of
Catholic Bishops, to the bishop of Orlando about the massacre that
occurred there on June 12th, we wrote Bishop Crosby expressing the
concern that he had not mentioned that the tragedy had occurred in a gay
bar and how devastating that was for LGBT persons everywhere. In his
reply to us on August 11th he commented:
As you are aware, the Catholic Church sees all people, regardless of
their sexual orientation or choice of lifestyle, as possessing an equal
and inherent dignity bestowed on them by God our Creator. The murder of
any human being, regardless of his or her race, colour, creed, class,
age or membership in a particular community, is always a grave violation
of God’s commandment. Any targeted violence against innocent persons,
created in God’s image, is therefore inherently wrong and always
appreciate your concern in this matter and thank you for taking the time
to write. I believe that we share a common concern for the safety and
well-being of all people, including those who feel most vulnerable. I
also agree, and this is the faith of the Church, that all persons, “be
accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (Catechism of the
Catholic Church #2358).
Members of the Toronto Chapter wanted to
convey to Pope Francis their gratitude for his affirmative comments
about the spiritual journeys of LGBT church members. We suspect that he
is receiving push back from bishops who were appointed by his two
predecessors due their dogmatic perspectives, as well as their
supporters. In future correspondence, we plan to point out how the
institution can prevent the spiritual and emotional injuries which he is
calling on the church as field hospital to heal.
His Holiness, Pope Francis, Bishop
00120 Vatican City
Dear Pope Francis,
We are writing you on behalf of Dignity
Toronto, an organization for gay and lesbian Roman Catholics, their
friends and family and supporters. Dignity is led and governed by its
members and is not supported by the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic
Church. Dignity Toronto is one of many Dignity chapters within Canada
and the United States.
As lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender baptised Catholics we have been waiting to hear many of
the points you made in your interview, specifically as it applies to
us and our sexual orientation. It gives us solace to hear that the
Church does not want to judge us if we are persons of “good will” and
that “it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a
person”. As we are part of God’s creation, we strive to live our lives
according to God’s Divine plan.
Your Holiness, there were many areas
you covered in your interview that when carried out will make the
Church more caring, understanding and inclusive. Your reflections on
community, discernment, consultation, the Church being made up of all
of God’s people, the people’s yearning for pastors not legalistic
clergy, and paying attention to the poor - give us great hope that the
Church you envision is one that will lead the Church forward in love
and compassion. We also share your view that the Church must consult
with women in all of its important decisions.
Pope Francis, we commend you on the
intentions to change the focus of the Church and bring it forward to
be more compassionate and inclusive. Your task will not be easy. As
part of that Church, we want you to know that our hopes and prayers
are with you.
Yours most sincerely,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Dignity Toronto Dignité Mission Statement
To provide a safe place for LGBT/Q Catholics and allies to bear
witness to the integrity and holiness of our lives and relationships,
including opportunities for members to share our experiences as LGBT/Q
and allied persons. This requires us to foster diversity and
inclusion. In response to Jesus’ invitation to become more fully
human and alive, we aim to integrate our sexuality with our
spirituality, and to nurture self-acceptance.
To work in collaboration with other Catholic organizations seeking
reform in our church’s governance and official teachings, especially
in the area of sexual ethics. Acknowledging the large gap between
what is officially taught and the actual beliefs, values and lives of
most church members, we develop proposals for sexual theology, taking
into account scripture, reason, scientific knowledge, tradition and
the real-life experiences of our members.
To bring about an increase in justice, transparency and accountability
within the institutional church, we support the increased involvement
of laity in governance structure, including decision-making roles.
We advocate the acceptance of qualified persons in all church
ministries, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or marital
status, and commend Catholic parishes which offer LGBT/Q-affirming
To work with others within and outside our church to live out the
Gospel values of charity, justice, compassion and community in
helping those living in poverty, suffering illness or despair, or
others living at the margins of society.
We are all the people of God who endeavour to practice Jesus’ messages
of non-violence, love and goodwill in dealing with any oppressors
while working toward the non-violent elimination of conflicts among
nations, injustices in our society and elsewhere in our global village
and reversing the degradation of our sacred environment.
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