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U.S. priests protest to hierarchy on Church language against gays

In an "Open Letter to the Hierarchy of the Church", 23 Chicago priests are protesting at "the increase in the use of violent and abusive language" directed at gays and lesbians by the Vatican, bishops conferences and some bishops.

Referring to the Vatican document released last year, they asked: "Has any other group within the Body of Christ been so assaulted and violated by such mean-spirited language?" The Vatican document urging Catholic politicians and others in positions of authority to oppose any measures that might make gay unions legitimate represents a clear "demonization of these children of God," said the letter. By way of example, the priests cited expressions in that document calling homosexuality a "serious depravity," "grave detriment to the common good" and "intrinsically disordered".

"Does anyone consider this vile and toxic language invitational?" they asked.

What is needed, said the priests, is "a new atmosphere of openness to dialogue, which includes the lived experience of many Catholic members".

The full text of the letter – which has been sent to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and to Chicago's Cardinal Francis George – can be found at the link below.

The National Catholic Reporter asks in its editorial: "So what's going on with U.S. priests?"

No small irony attaches to the fact that at a time when speaking out or raising tough questions could quickly derail a cleric's career, more and more priests are uniting to publicly confront their bishops over leadership matters and to take stands on some of the most difficult issues confronting the church.

We're not certain why this recent flurry of activity has taken place, but it is one of the healthiest signs we have observed in the priesthood in some time. In an institution aching for leadership, some priests are finding the courage to step up and, in a true example of pastoral service, to raise the deep concerns of the people they serve.

Perhaps no step has been as remarkable or courageous as that taken by 23 Chicago priests who signed a letter strongly objecting to "the increase in the use of violent and abusive language" in Vatican declarations directed at gays and lesbians.

NCR – Priests protest language on gays

Full text of the Open Letter

NCR Editorial: Priests' tough questions are a service to their people

9 Jan 2004