An Open Letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan from LGBT Catholics and Family Members

In media interviews given on Easter Sunday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who also serves as President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that the Catholic Church should be more open to gay and lesbian people (bisexual and transgender people were not mentioned). He said "I love you, and God loves you." When pressed about what could be done to make lesbian and gay people more welcome, the Cardinal said he did not know. Below is DignityUSA's response.

April 1, 2013

Dear Cardinal Dolan,

During this season of rebirth, as we celebrate the joyous season of Easter and reflect on the call issued by Pope Francis to meet the needs of those who are impoverished and disadvantaged in our world, we welcome your Easter call to make our Church more welcoming to gay and lesbian people. This is an effort that will demand humility and openness from all, and one on which we are ready to embark with you and other Church leaders. It is also an effort that will demand action, and not simply a change in tone, although that is certainly a step that we would welcome.

As you may know, DignityUSA is a national organization that has been working for more than four decades for justice and the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the life of the Church and in society. Through our chapters across the country, we have engaged with many thousands of LGBT Catholics as they have sought to be faithful both to the Church they love and to their God-given natures.

As stewards of that sacred record of lived experience and of our living tradition of more than forty faith-filled communities, we would suggest that the best way to undertake the project of making the Church more welcoming to LGBT people is to begin a process of face-to-face dialogue. In good Catholic tradition, let us gather to break bread and pray together, so that we initiate this dialogue grounded in the faith and sacraments that unite us.

We also invite you and other members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to read and consider the DignityUSA Letter on the Pastoral Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People, issued in 2007. This document, developed with input from LGBT people, our family members and friends from around the country, offers ten things Church officials, pastoral ministers, and communities can do to make our Church more welcoming of LGBT people and our families. Most are entirely consistent with both Gospel imperatives and current Catholic teaching. While we recognize that other points may be controversial, we believe this letter could be the basis for a fruitful and respectful dialogue.

We sincerely hope and pray that your recent comments mark the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between the Bishops and LGBT Catholics, as well as the majority of U.S. Catholics who have shown themselves to be increasingly supportive of LGBT people. To that end, we feel it is important to set a definite date to resume a dialogue that has been suspended for far too long. We suggest a meeting before Pentecost, or at the earliest possible date, in either New York City or Washington, D.C. If you would let us know your availability, we will make every effort to arrange our schedules to accommodate yours.

We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and begin the vital work you called for, and look forward to the blessed healing in the Body of Christ that this work could bring about.

In Christ,

Lourdes Rodríguez-Nogués          Lewis Speaks-Tanner             Marianne Duddy-Burke

President                                       Vice President                         Executive Director