January 23, 2004
Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E.,
Washington, DC 20017-1194
Dear Bishop Gregory:
Peace and blessings to you in this new year. I wanted to take a moment to first thank you for coming out during the USCCB Bishop’s meeting in D.C. and speaking with our Soulforce* members as we stood in prayerful vigil outside of the conference. It was indeed a reconciling moment, and hopefully the beginning of a real dialogue between the U.S. Catholic Bishops and your gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Catholic families. We do recognize this as an initial step. I am also sending a copy of this letter to Bishop Skylstad, as we understand that November will be the end of your term as President of the USCCB, and that Bishop Skylstad as Vice President will most likely be the next President.
We are heartened by the letter of the two dozen courageous and prophetic priests from the Chicago diocese calling for an end to the abusive and violent language that is being directed at our community. They asked a question that we have asked for the last four years – "Has any other group of people within the Body of Christ been violated by such mean-spirited language?" They went on to ask, "Does anyone consider this vile and toxic language invitational?"
We join them in their request "that all those in official positions of teaching authority in the Church refrain from any more statements directed AT the gay and lesbian members of the Body of Christ, and instead begin an earnest dialogue WITH those same members of the Body of Christ." Soulforce would broaden that to also include in the dialogue bisexual and transgender people, who are also members of the Body of Christ.
Among other things, we wish to discuss with you the recent decision by the USCCB to support the Federal Marriage Amendment. As I mentioned to you on the vigil line that evening, I do not believe the USCCB is aware of just how dangerous this proposed amendment is.
There is so much good that can be accomplished in beginning this conversation. We implore you to meet with us, in your role as pastor, to begin this much needed dialogue as quickly as possible. I will be in Iraq for several weeks, but I will try to reach you, either at the USCCB office or your chancery office in Bellville, when I return, to see if we can set up a time to continue this discussion.
We continue to pray for and with you and ask you do the same for us as we all try to live Jesus message of love. We remain ever faithful to the gospel of Jesus.
Yours in Christ,
Chair of the Soulforce Catholic Denominational Team