When Pope Francis visits the US next month, he will be greeted at The White House, address a joint session of the US Congress and address the General Assembly of the United Nations.
But will he make the time to meet with LGBTI Catholics?
Nearly 30 groups and individuals, led by GLAAD and DignityUSA, have sent a letter to the leader of the Catholic Church urging him to do so and explaining that there is ‘institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people and families.’
The letter explains that the church’s teachings and pastoral practices have resulted in ‘a compelling pastoral need’ for ‘great healing and reconciliation.’
The letter is signed by GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and DignityUSA’s Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke. It is endorsed by 28 additional organizations and people and was mailed directly to Pope Francis earlier this month.
It points out that in the US and around the world, these members of the church are experiencing alienation as well as higher rates of poverty and violence, and discrimination in employment, housing, educational opportunities, and access to health care.
The letter makes a special plea for younger members of the church who lack support at home, at school, or from faith communities.
‘They suffer bullying, experience depression, self-mutilate, attempt suicide, use drugs, become homeless or enter foster care at rates far higher than non-LGBT youth,’ the group states. ‘This is a crisis that the church can help to address through effective pastoral care and programs that provides love and support for these youth.’