Faithful Gay Catholics Arrested at Bishop’s Conference Remain in Jail

Soulforce Press Release: November 13, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592
soulforcemedia@aol.com

(Washington, DC) – Three faithful gay Catholics who were arrested at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. yesterday, November 12, 2002, remained in jail overnight last night and no details of their plight will be available until after a pretrial hearing takes place sometime later today.

Even though the hotel is a public accommodation, Kara Speltz (Oakland, CA), Ken Einhaus (Arlington, VA), and Mike Perez (Seattle, WA), were booked on charges of unlawful entry after they were arrested while kneeling in the Hyatt lobby during the annual United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

All three are lifelong Catholics who attended the Bishops’ Mass on Monday night at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. where they were denied the Eucharist without explanation or just cause. The civil disobedience that led to their arrests would not have taken place had the three been given the Eucharist the night before at the Bishops’ Mass.

Kara, Ken, and Mike entered the lobby of the Hyatt Regency at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, November 12, and were surrounded by friends from Soulforce and Dignity USA. Rev. Mel White, director of Soulforce, Inc., stood in the lobby with them and asked, "is there not one bishop with the courage to feed your flock and comfort God’s children?"

White also called on Bishop Gregory to honor the request he made in his opening address on Monday, November 11, ". . . to provide for the true nourishment and comfort of God’s people . . . through the Sacraments."

No Bishops came forward to offer Kara, Ken, and Mike the Eucharist and they were handcuffed and led away after refusing to obey the order by D.C. Metro Police to leave the hotel.

"After spending time in jail, we certainly hope that upon their release at least one bishop will have the moral courage to comfort them and offer Kara, Ken, and Mike the Eucharist they continue to be denied," said Richard Murphy, Catholic co-chair of Soulforce. "Additionally, a public apology would certainly be in order considering the spiritual wounds the church has inflicted on her children."

Soulforce is in Washington D.C. during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the third year in a row to protest the spiritual violence caused by Roman Catholic teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.


Soulforce, Inc. is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual minorities.

For more information, see www.soulforce.org

Faithful Gay Catholics Arrested at Bishops’ Conference Released After 30 Hours in Jail

Soulforce Press Release: November 13, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592
soulforcemedia@aol.com

(Washington, DC) – Three gay Catholics who were arrested in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. the morning of November 12th were released this evening after spending 30 hours in jail and agreeing to stay away from the Hyatt.

Kara Speltz (Oakland, CA), Ken Einhaus (Arlington, VA), and Mike Perez (Seattle, WA), all lifelong Catholics and supporters of Soulforce, were released on their own recognizance after pleading not guilty to charges of unlawful entry. All three will have to return to Washington for a November 21 status hearing to set a trial date.

Although a hotel is usually considered a public accommodation, they were arrested by D.C. Metro Police and charged with unlawful entry while kneeling in the Hyatt lobby during the annual United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The three were requesting to be served the Eucharist.

Kara, Ken, and Mike had been denied Eucharist at Monday night’s Bishops’ Mass at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. without explanation or just cause. On Tuesday morning, November 12, they entered the lobby of the Hyatt Regency at 11:30 a.m. and were surrounded by friends from Soulforce and Dignity USA. Rev. Mel White, director of Soulforce, Inc., stood in the lobby with them and asked, "is there not one bishop with the courage to feed your flock and comfort God’s children?"

No bishops came forward to offer Kara, Ken, and Mike the Eucharist and they were handcuffed and led away after refusing to obey the order by D.C. Metro Police to leave the hotel.

The civil disobedience that led to their arrests would not have taken place had the three been given the Eucharist the night before at the Bishops’ Mass. Kara, a 65 year old grandmother who has been arrested over a dozen times for civil disobedience related charges, had never been denied the Eucharist until Monday night.

"There were no mattresses, no blankets, no pillows, and very little to eat," said Kara Speltz, Catholic co-chair of Soulforce. "It was the hardest jail time I ever served."

Soulforce is in Washington D.C. during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the third year in a row to protest the spiritual violence caused by Roman Catholic teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.


Soulforce, Inc. is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual minorities.

For more information, see www.soulforce.org

3 Gays are Refused Communion with Nation’s Bishops

Former aide to Maida claims mix-up in D.C.

Article from Detroit Free Press
November 13, 2002
By David Crumm and Patricia Montemurri
Fress Press Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — A former aide to Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida barred three gay Catholics from taking communion with the nation’s Catholic bishops and sparked a nonviolent protest that disrupted the bishops’ national conference on Tuesday.

The turning away of the three Catholics at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Monday night also drew criticism of the priest, the Rev. Michael Bugarin, Maida’s former secretary who now is director of the John Paul II Cultural Center near the basilica.

Bugarin apologized Tuesday, saying he made an unfortunate mistake. He said he wrongly believed the three were with an activist group whose members the priest had been warned should not receive the sacrament because they would be doing so "as an act of protest."

"I regret that there was a misunderstanding on my part, and I regret the whole situation," Bugarin said. For Catholics, partaking in the Eucharist is the ultimate sign of unity with God and the rest of the church. For a churchgoing Catholic to be prevented from taking communion can be very serious and humiliating.

The incident also highlights the growing tension between the increasingly antigay rhetoric of many Catholic leaders and the lives of countless gay parishioners among the nation’s 64-million Catholics.

Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, an advocate for gay Catholics, said Tuesday that Bugarin’s action "was wrong."

"A priest can’t judge the state of a person’s conscience when he stands up for communion," Gumbleton said.

Marianna Thompson, communications director for the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., who tried to comfort one of those denied communion as the woman wept, said: "What was done to these people was inappropriate. They were Catholics who were acting appropriately, and they were left in disbelief and very great distress."

The three denied communion are lifelong Catholics: Mike Perez of Seattle; Ken Einhaus, a 1989 University of Michigan graduate living in Arlington Va., and Michigan native Kara Speltz, now a eucharistic minister in a Berkley, Calif., parish.

They were in Washington to join in silent vigils on behalf of Soulforce, a gay rights group protesting outside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is meeting at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill through Thursday.

On Monday night, the trio joined in the annual mass open to all Catholics at the basilica. Einhaus and Speltz wore tiny ceramic crosses decorated with rainbow hues, an ornament they said they often wear. Perez wore no pendants or pins.

Bugarin said he misinterpreted the rainbow crosses. He said staffers in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., had instructed priests not to give communion to members of the Rainbow Sash movement, who previously had worn rainbow sashes and publicly stated they would seek the sacrament as a protest against church teachingson homosexuality.

"If they’re receiving it in active opposition . . . of the church’s teaching, I have an obligation to hold up the dignity and belief that we have in the Eucharist," Bugarin said.

On Monday night, Einhaus said he stood in stunned silence when Bugarin waved him aside.

"Why?" Einhaus said he asked.

"You know why," Einhaus said Bugarin told him.

Thomas Bull of Arlington, Va., who was sitting near Bugarin, said the priest "was so cold. You couldn’t see any sense of compassion in him."

Thompson said it’s hard to convey to non-Catholics "what a visceral experience this is to be turned away like that."

Speltz was still weeping and shaking as bishops marched past her at the end of mass. Only Thompson stopped to comfort her, Speltz said.

On Tuesday, the three who had been denied communion showed up at the Hyatt and confronted the bishops as they left a meeting in the ballroom. Perez, Einhaus and Speltz knelt silently on the floor in front of the exiting bishops, holding out their hands as if to receive communion.

The Rev. Mel White, a Protestant minister and founder of Soulforce, shouted: "Won’t some bishop come and serve our brothers and sister the Eucharist they were denied last night?"

Soon, White and the three were surrounded by Washington police, handcuffed, arrested and charged with unlawful entry to the hotel.

Maida declined to comment.


Contact DAVID CRUMM at 313-223-4526 or crumm@freepress.com or PATRICIA MONTEMURRI at 313-223-4538 or montemurri@freepress.com.

An Open Letter to Bishop Gregory and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

November 12, 2002

From the Rev. Dr. Mel White, Executive Director, Soulforce, Inc.

Sirs:

Last night, at your traditional yearly Mass at the National Shrine, three lifetime Roman Catholics, a lesbian and two gay men, stood to receive the Eucharist but were denied the Body and Blood of Christ apparently because the usher recognized them as members of our Soulforce team. I did not attend the Mass, but I was present when Kara Speltz, Ken Einhaus, Mike Perez and our other Soulforce delegates returned to our conference room in the Holiday Inn for our Monday evening debriefing. One by one the three gay Catholics struggled to share their feelings about that awful night when once again their Church had turned against them.

We tried to comfort Kara, Ken, and Mike, but they would not be comforted. We could only surround them with our love and wait while they sobbed out their stories to us. If you had been sitting in that circle last night, you would understand better why we are demanding that you serve them the Sacraments today.

For eight hours Sunday and all day Monday our three friends had stood silent, prayerful vigil in the rain with dozens of other Soulforce delegates in front of the Hyatt wearing their Stop Spiritual Violence shirts and carrying their Stop Spiritual Violence signs. Missing another meal, they had rushed directly from standing vigil to attend your Mass at the Shrine.

Out of their own deep respect for the Mass and for the Church in which the Mass was held, they had covered the words on their shirts with sweaters or jackets. They were carrying no protest signs, wearing no protest buttons. They were not present at your Mass to protest your antigay teachings and actions, but to have their tired spirits fed. They came in search of comfort and found rejection and humiliation instead.

Earlier in the day, we read Bishop Gregory’s keynote address calling his brother Bishops to "comfort the people of God." Yet hours later, at least three of your flock were turned away from the Table out of which comfort flows. Once again, instead of comfort the Roman Catholic Church has caused God’s people suffering through an act of spiritual violence against her own.

We are afraid that you will defend this act of rejection by quoting Roman Catholic teachings about "receiving the Sacraments unworthily." We are afraid that once again you will deny our claim that on a daily basis the spirits of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics are crippled by your teachings and actions against them. And we are afraid that you will ignore our demand that you serve Kara, Ken, and Mike today the Body and Blood they were denied last night.

But we come hoping that in the presence of more than two hundred bishops and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church there is at least one among you who will see the injustice and make it right. We apologize in advance for the inconvenience our unannounced public-stand may cause the staff and guests of the Hyatt Hotel. We also apologize in advance to security personnel and the D.C. Police Department if you call them to intervene. But for three years now, large Soulforce delegations have been present for your Bishop’s Conference in Washington, D.C. Volunteers have been willing to donate weeks of time and tens of thousands of dollars to stand vigil and risk arrest in hopes that you would end your antigay teachings that homosexuals are "intrinsically evil" and, in the words of John Paul II, "deplorably dangerous."

Instead of re-examining your ancient teachings in the light of all the modern scientific, historical, psychological, pastoral and biblical evidence, you have continued to teach untruths that lead to intolerance, suffering and death. Now, it appears that you will use those out-dated teachings to support your false claim that gay priests are to blame for the current crises in your community.

We are here to proclaim the Truth that homosexual orientation is just another of God’s mysterious, creative gifts. We are here to remind you that gay priests, bishops and cardinals have always served (and continue to serve) the Roman Catholic Church with integrity and commitment. We are here to urge you to help end this cycle of suffering in one simple, symbolic act. Serve the Eucharist to three of God’s gay children and begin healing the Body of Christ that has been wounded again and again by Church leaders who know in their hearts what is right but just can’t muster up the courage to do it.

Sincerely,

Mel White, Executive Director, Soulforce, 636 Thomas Road, Lynchburg, VA. 24502

P: (434) 237-3743
Email: RevMel@soulforce.org
www.soulforce.org

DC 2002 – Alert #4

11/5/02

Dear Soulforce volunteers:

We’re less than a week away from our time together in Washington, D.C. and our leadership team is still feeling the powerful effects of the lives we changed in Lynchburg. For pictures and stories about Lynchburg, check out our webpage, www.soulforce.org. I hope you have been spreading the word about our gifts for our "Neighbors in Need." It’s not too late to invite your friends and family to participate in this gift giving to those in need. The plans are coming together in such a way that we can only give thanks for the clear presence of God’s will in our lives.

Remember that it gets very cold standing outside vigiling, so bring, hats, gloves and long underwear to keep yourselves warm during those hours of vigiling. If for any reason you can’t make it, now is the time to let us know as we are in the process of putting together our squad teams.

Whatever your spiritual process, now is the time to make it a primary focus in preparation for this time, so take some time out of your busy schedules to put on your "spiritual armour." We do not do this work by ourselves!

Remember to bring your shirts from prior actions, because we’re not having a shirt made up for this one. Gary and Mel will bring some of the shirts from our "Out and About in Lynchburg," for those who have never participated in an action, and will need a Soulforce Tshirt.

We are grateful for your presence and your prayers and we look forward to doing justice with you in Washington, D.C.

Philippe, Richard, and Kara
CATHOLIC CO-CHAIRS

Case Against the Catholic Church

Compiled by Soulforce, Inc., November 2002

In the last year the following have appeared in various news sources concerning the Catholic Church’s attempt to deny gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people their basic human rights:

1) Business Day, Johansburg, Oct. 9, 2001
Catholic Bishops in South Africa Come Down On Gay Adoptions

A Catholic bishop says his church will never approve of a court ruling that same gender couples may adopt children, reports the latest edition of its Southern Cross newspaper. Judge Frans Kgomo granted a recent application by Pretoria judge Anna-Marie de Vos and her life partner, Suzanne du Toit, declaring invalid and unconstitutional sections of the Child Care Act and Guardianship Act that prevented them from jointly adopting their two children.

Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference spokesman Bishop Reginald Cawcutt said his church supported the rights and duties of a one-parent family and even the right of an individual to adopt. "(But) it is God’s plan that a man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This notion of family should be considered the normal reference point," he said.


2) Reuters – December 18, 2001
Caribbean bishops oppose Jamaica proposal on gays

KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) – Roman Catholic bishops in the Caribbean have protested against recommendations that Jamaica decriminalize homosexual acts, calling such behavior immoral, the country’s main newspaper reported on Tuesday.

"There is an obvious consistency in the Old and New Testament salvation history about the moral unacceptability of homosexual relations," Monsignor Richard Albert, speaking on behalf of Caribbean bishops, was quoted as saying by the Daily Gleaner.

The bishops spoke out after a government-appointed committee on rights reform recommended last week that homosexual acts in private between consenting adults should be decriminalized.

Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica and frowned upon by many people in the island nations of the English-speaking Caribbean. Former colonial power Britain has been urging governments to liberalize anti-gay laws.


3) LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL, March 8, 2002
Vatican denounces conference on gays

A national conference promoting the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church that begins today in Louisville has drawn a denunciation from the Vatican.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for promoting and defending Catholic doctrine and morals, has gone as far as forbidding any Masses to be held at the conference.

But the conference sponsor plans to celebrate Mass tomorrow, contending that it is permissible under church law. New Ways Ministry, the sponsor of the conference at the Galt House, ”does not promote the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church,” which teaches that sex outside of marriage is sinful, Bertone wrote to Archbishop Thomas Kelly, head of the Louisville archdiocese.

”Because of the confusion and scandal which will inevitably arise from this event,” Bertone asked Kelly to tell participants they ”do not have permission to celebrate the Eucharist as part of their conference.”

But Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways, said Mass would be celebrated by Bishop Leroy Matthiesen, a bishop emeritus from Amarillo, Texas. DeBernardo said the organization checked with canon lawyers and determined that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot forbid such a Mass, and that Archbishop Kelly himself did not ban it.


4) NYSCC MEMORANDUM OF OPPOSITION — February 2002
Re: S.720 Goodman / A.1971 Sanders, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation

For many years, the Legislature has considered various bills that would add sexual orientation as a protected classification under New York’s Civil Rights Law and Executive Law (Human Rights Law). The Catholic Bishops of New York State historically have opposed such measures, and continue to do so today.

Catholic teaching on human sexuality also stresses the belief shared by many faiths that sexual activity is to be reserved for a man and a woman in the context of marriage. As the Catechism explains, "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not simply something biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."

The legislation under consideration, while well intentioned, runs contrary to this rich teaching. It does not simply recognize our society’s obligation to treat all people with fairness, respect and charity. It raises the status of homosexual men and women to the level of protected class. In effect, by passing such a law, the state would be affirming and endorsing behavior that is inconsistent with traditional morality. This would undermine the sacred institutions of marriage and family by opening the door for a challenge to existing marriage statutes. This could well lead to the sanctioning of "same-sex marriages" in our state, and, by virtue of legal precedent, in states throughout the country.

Traditionally, legislative and judicial protections against discrimination are given to those members of a class of persons identifiable by characteristics particular to that group. This bill confers such protection to individuals based on their sexual behavior rather than for some innate characteristic. Conferring special rights to any group – heterosexual or homosexual – for these reasons is a dangerous precedent well beyond the scope of traditional discrimination protections.

By conferring special status on homosexual men and women, as is done with this legislation by the amendment to the Civil Rights Law, the state would be going far beyond a legitimate desire to avoid unjust discrimination. It would be making a value judgment that homosexual activity is morally equivalent to heterosexual activity.

But our theology of human sexuality does not hold the view that either homosexual sexual activity or heterosexual sexual activity outside of marriage can be considered the moral equivalent to sexual activity between a husband and wife. And for that reason, the New York State Catholic Conference must continue to oppose this legislation.


5) June 29, 2002 Associated Press
Lesbian teachers reportedly face dismissal

MILFORD, Conn. — Two staff members at an all-girls Catholic school face dismissal because of their lesbian relationship, according to news reports. Citing sources it did not identify, the New Haven Register first reported that administrators at Lauralton Hall told the two staff members, who are well-liked, that they must resign or be fired. The relationship came to light when the women planned a commitment ceremony. The Catholic Church does not perform weddings for gay couples. The Roman Catholic Church condemns homosexual behavior but accepts homosexuals as individuals, said the Rev. John Gatzak, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Some lawyers said state discrimination law prohibits firing a person based on sexual orientation and provides no explicit exceptions to religious groups. But attorney Andrew Cohen told the Register that Lauralton Hall was justified in its action because federal law gives a religious institution freedom to preserve its integrity by employing people based on the institution’s beliefs.


6) 365Gay.com Newscenter in Toronto July 26, 2002
Cardinal Attacks Gays & People With AIDS

July 26, 2002 (Toronto) The man regarded by many as a likely successor to Pope John Paul launched into an attack on gays and people with AIDS in a Toronto Parish Thursday. Cardinal Francis Arinze was in Toronto for World Youth Day celebrations. He told about 200 Catholic young people that it is their duty to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying.

"That it is not progress, it is decadence," said the Nigerian cardinal. Arinze, 69, said that if two men or two women tried to marry in the times of the Old Testament, " the Earth would have opened and swallowed them without a trace."

In New Testament times, "people do that sort of abomination and nothing happens to them immediately."But that does not mean nothing will happen to them in the long run, he said.

Arinze, who is president of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said no one has ever died of chastity "but some have contracted disease because they offended against chastity," referring to people with AIDS.


7) July 26, 2002 365Gay.com Newscenter
RC Church Launches Anti-Gay Adoption Campaign

(London) The Roman Catholic Church has launched a campaign designed to pressure the British government into rejecting legislation giving gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt. The bill, which is due to become law later this year, has passed the Commons and is now in the House of Lords. A vote is expected in the fall.

The church has made the Adoption and Children Bill a priority saying it threatens the institution of marriage. It says the campaign will encourage the faithful to voice their opposition to peers, and include an advertising campaign stressing the importance of heterosexual marriage.

A spokesperson for the church said gays and lesbians are "too unstable to forge lasting relationships. If people aren’t prepared to make a lifelong commitment to each other then how can they commit to adopting a child?"


8) Gay People’s Chronicle 8/07/02

Columbus–Bishop James Griffin of the Roman Catholic diocese of Columbus spoke out against extending health benefits to domestic partners of city employees in a July 3 letter to a committee studying the issue. "The task is to design a plan which does not denigrate the institution of marriage," Griffin said in the letter.

An eight-member panel was appointed in May to study the possibility of granting health benefits to household members of city workers, including same-sex partners, grandchildren and parents.

According to the diocese’s director of social concerns, Mark Huddy, the bishop is opposed to any couples cohabiting outside of marriage, regardless of the genders of the people involved. Columbus passed domestic partner benefits for city employees in 1998, but repealed them two months later to avoid a referendum threatened by religious conservatives.


9) September 5, 2002 – CNN
Bishops say U.N. is pushing gay rights

South American bishops have attacked international organizations, including the European Union and the United Nations, for lobbying governments to legislate against Roman Catholic teachings.

At the end of a global conference, Catholic bishops from 25 countries said governments are being pushed to approve laws in favor of gay rights, as well as divorce and adoption.

"Latin American governments have been pressured to legislate against Christian family unity by strong groups like the United Nations and the European Union who want to impose their experiences here," Monsignor Carlos Aguiar of Mexico, president of the Catholic council for Latin America told CNN.


10) October 2, 2001 The Traverse City Record-Eagle
Priest denies comparison of gay and civil rights

TRAVERSE CITY – A Catholic priest from New York told city commissioners that there’s "no valid analogy" between the civil rights battles of the ’60s and today’s gay rights movement. Harvey has for the past 20 years has run "Courage," a spiritual support group based in New York for homosexuals wanting to follow teachings of the Catholic faith.

He said it’s wrong to compare the gay rights movement with civil rights issues. Such a debate, he said, creates a "one-sided emphasis" on personal rights without recognizing that homosexual activities are "serious sins," at least according to the Catholic Church, and that government laws protecting homosexual behavior can create "unavoidable conflict" for persons trying to follow their faith.

Proposal 1, if adopted by city voters in November, would prohibit the city from enacting any ordinance or policy which makes specific reference to sexual orientation. The cities of Kalamazoo and Huntington Woods are voting on similar measures next month.


11) November 1, 2002 MERIDEN, Conn. (AP)
Roman Catholic parishes across the state will be seeing a petition opposing gay marriages.

The petition, written by the Knights of Columbus and supported by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, will be circulated at Catholic churches across the state at Masses this weekend.

In an Oct. 15 letter to archdiocese pastors, Cronin asked that the petitions and an accompanying message be read at weekend services, which he said would be attended by Knights of Columbus representatives. Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press.