On behalf of so many LGBTQ members of the Roman Catholic community, we welcome the statement by Pope Francis on the acknowledgment and acceptance of gay civil unions.
As a Catholic gay community leader, my fiancé and I attend our local parish church on a weekly basis. You can usually find us at 10:00 a.m. mass every Sunday sitting in the front row on the side of the altar. We sit there purposely.
For too long we would sit in the rear of a church for fear of rejection as a gay couple. We quickly understood the importance of challenging that fear and took ownership of our place in our church. This simple act, albeit intentionally personal, went on to show to others that each of us should be proud of our love and devotion to God. It is just to believe that everyone is deserving of sitting in the front row.
Today, we are often stopped by parishioners asking for our assistance to help host discussions with family members so they can become more accepting of their gay children. We see too often that families are torn apart because the authenticity of their child is often questioned. In having these discussions, so many members of our community can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Since the beginning, we have heard statements from clergy condemning homosexuality as sinful and intrinsically evil. In our Latino community, many still believe that whatever the local priest says is the literal word of God. Today, we have hope. We have a compassionate and loving Pope Francis who is leading the church through difficult times to bring healing to the many who have been disregarded by church leaders as sinners. Pope Francis truly cares about humanity and the sanctity of our spirit.
We know that the conservative and fringe groups of the Catholic Church will disagree with our Pope and possibly attack him for it. Let it be clear, we are here to defend him. It is important that we come out to families and our parish priests, educating them about who we are. For you see, we are the church.
As LGBTQ Catholics, we pray for continued strength for our Pope Francis to continue to lead our church through these challenging times. And as soon as we are able to attend service in person, we invite you to join us in the front row where we all belong.
Statement by Richard L. Zaldivar, Executive Director / Founder