An advocate for abandoned LGBTI teenagers published a Palm Sunday open letter to Pope Francis asking him to visit a homeless center in New York City.
In the full page New York Times’ advertisement Carl Siciliano, executive director for Ali Forney Center, notes that one of the reasons many LGBTI youth are homeless is because of rejection from families.
‘At the heart of the problem is that the church still teaches that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that being gay is disordered,’ Siciliano writes, as reported by the Washington Blade.
‘I hope that if you understand how this teaching tears families apart and brings suffering to innocent youths, you will end this teaching and prevent your bishops from fighting against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of society,’ the executive director continues.
Over the years, children advocates have pointed to the high number of gay homeless youth. A 2012 study, sponsored by the Palette Fund, True Colors Fund, and Williams Institute, found LGBT youth comprise approximately 40 percent of the clientele served by agencies working with teens.
Siciliano, a Catholic and former monk, has a record of taking on the Catholic Church hierarchy. In a 2012 letter exchange with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Siciliano charged the cardinal’s public stances on gay issues make it easy for parents to turn against children who do not identify as straight.
The executive director repeats this claim in his letter to the pope. However, he maintains that as a Catholic he appreciates the pontiff’s messages of service to the less fortunate.
‘I greatly respect you as a leader who has shown deep concern for the plight of the poor.’
According to the Washington Blade, the advertisement was paid for by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings.