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Gay activists call for ‘love and justice’ after Vatican blessings ban

L.G.B.T. activists rallied outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Easter Sunday in response to the recent Vatican document banning church blessings for same-sex couples.

Called a responsum, the document, issued on March 15 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Francis, reinforced the Vatican’s official position that it is “illicit” for priests to bless same-sex unions.

Members of the Irish L.G.B.T. group Lavender and Green Alliance and Catholic DIGNITY NY were present.

“On this Easter Sunday, L.G.B.T. Catholics, our families and friends are here for love and justice,” said Brendan Fay, an Irish gay activist and the rally’s organizer. “We honor the love of same-sex couples and we call for equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people not just in civil society, but within our Catholic church.”

Unfurling a large rainbow flag, the universal symbol of L.G.B.T. equality, designed by Gilbert Baker, the group called for reform of church teaching that renounces homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder” and opposes same-sex marriage.

Activist Brendan Fay with an icon of the “rainbow madonna,” by Polish civil-rights activist Elżbieta Podleśna. (Photo by Gary Rissman)

“The Church blesses goats and dogs, cars and cats,” Fay said. “At Easter there is a special blessing of the eggs. Yet the love of same-sex couples is called sin and unworthy of a blessing? This is a theology that leaves a trail of hurt and harm.”

Thomas Moulton, a pediatric hematologist oncologist who met Fay, his spouse, at a DIGNITY Mass in 1996 said, “Recent studies indicate the link between anti-L.G.B.T. religious teachings and higher levels of distress and suicide rates among L.G.B.T. youth. We invite church leaders to join us in dialogue, witness committed couples in love and to support L.G.B.T. youth and families with L.G.B.T. children.”

The activists held images of pioneer Catholic priests Mychal Judge and John McNeill. McNeill, an openly gay Jesuit theologian and psychotherapist, authored the groundbreaking book “The Church and the Homosexual” in 1976, challenging Church teaching on homosexuality, which he said fostered violence and prejudice.  Father Judge, who died on 9/11, was recalled for his compassion during the AIDS crisis and his friendship with the L.G.B.T. community in New York.

The sound of the group chanting, “Equal rights! Equal blessings!” and singing Easter hymns echoed across Fifth Ave. to the cathedral.

New York Police Department officers and Catholics who were lined up to enter the house of worship looked on at the L.G.B.T. activists engaged in prayer and song. Some gave thumbs up in support.

Former nun Donna Bungo said, “My life today in a committed loving relationship with my spouse Kathleen is as blessed as my years in the Franciscan community.”

“To be to be neutral or silent at this moment in history is to participate in our own suppression and institutional second-class status,” Fay said. “We work passionately for the day, when exclusion and discrimination will be history, when our Church will be a place where L.G.B.T. people are welcome and when our committed love and marriages will be publicly blessed, supported and affirmed as good.”

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