Gay Catholics implore pope to listen and love [Apr 10]

by Religion News Service

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Gay Catholics implore pope to listen and love

WASHINGTON (RNS) Gay and lesbian Catholics on Thursday (April 10) urged Pope Benedict XVI to see their lives and hear their testimonies during his U.S. visit next week, even as many acknowledged that may be unlikely.

With humor and intensely personal stories, the gay and lesbian Catholics declared their love for the faith and their longing to be accepted in a church that considers homosexual activity an "intrinsic evil" and homosexuality "objectively disordered."

Benedict embraces the church's traditional prohibitions against homosexuality; he has called gay unions "pseudo-matrimony" and wrote in 2003 that same-sex adoptive parents do "violence to these children."

But the gay and lesbian Catholics said leaving the church isn't always an option.

"There's nothing that could push me away from the church. Nothing," said Heather Mizeur, a Maryland state legislator, who said she encouraged her partner to convert to Christianity.

"All the 10 Commandments boil down to love," she said. "We are rooted in love as Christians."

New Ways Ministries, a Maryland-based support group for gay and lesbian Catholics, has tussled with Benedict before. In 1999, Benedict -- then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- silenced the nun and priest who ran the group for positions that were "doctrinally unacceptable."

But gay Catholic advocates say time is on their side. "I believe that change will happen." said Gregory Maguire, a novelist whose book "Wicked" was made into a major Broadway production. "The youths on this issue are smarter than we are."

New Ways director Francis DeBernardo said the pope has walled himself off from rank-and-file gay Catholics. "Unfortunately, this leader does not understand the issue of homosexuality or does not understand gay and lesbian people," said DeBernardo.

But Maguire said the pope could fix that by sitting down with gay Catholics, perhaps over dinner.

"As Christ sat with the suffering, come sit with us," he said. "Chicken or fish? Red wine or white? ...You are welcome any time, and you can take us as you find us, though a little advance notice would allow us to clear the bikes out of the driveway and tidy up the living room." -- Jonathan Rubin

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