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The Time is Now

By Jim Smith, DignityUSA Associate Director

“A man can kill with a knife of steel, with a gun, a bomb or a lance. But there's a new law, there’s a new law - a man can kill with a glance.”

Some of you may remember this tune, sung in Catholic churches in the 70’s. Twist that last phrase just a bit and you describe a new law in 2014: “a man can be killed because of a glance.” Surfacing now in some countries are laws and bills that criminalize LGBT persons for associating with other LGBT persons or with LGBT-supportive organizations. People right now are being rounded up, taunted, even imprisoned, for any public displays of association, affection, or support.

We have often raised the roof with another tune from the past, -Tom Conry’s “Anthem,” -singing as Christ’s Body that “we are justice for the poor, we are rage against the night, we are hope for hopeless people, we are light.”

Do we feel the rage, though? Consider that Nigeria’s Roman Catholic bishops sent a letter to Nigeria’s president after he signed a horrific anti-LGBT law, praising the President’s “courage” and the necessity of the new law. Consider a wealthy group of Catholics attending a February 2014 conference sponsored by the Catholic organization Legatus, in which they heard speakers also praise the new law and laud the Nigerian bishops for their “courage.” Consider also that attending and speaking at that conference were Archbishops Chaput (Philadelphia), Aquila (Denver), and Wenski (Miami).

Will Dignity members and communities rage? Will we live our 2013 Convention theme, and as our theme song goes, “let justice roll like a river?” Here are just a few ways we can act:

  • Dignity chapters that march or have a booth at the local PRIDE celebration this year can carry a banner claiming our solidarity with LGBT persons across the globe whose very lives are in jeopardy. Chapters that have a booth can carry a petition to be signed and sent to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on International Justice and Peace.
  • Dignity members and chapters near and in Philadelphia, Denver, and Miami can write a letter to the Archbishop in their city/region asking them to publicly reject the statements offered by speakers at the Legatus Conference in which they partici- pated.
  • Dignity members on Facebook and Twitter can join the #PopeSpeaksOut campaign to implore Pope Francis to preach the fundamental Church teaching against unjust discrimination of LGBT persons.
  • Dignity chapters can partner with local or national organizations dedicated to the end of LGBT per- secution in targeted nations.
  • Dignity chapters can gather members to watch “God Loves Uganda” and/or “Call Me Kuchu.” Following the showing, the group can discuss and decide an action to undertake.

Whether you are a caucus or chapter of 10 or 100 members, you can do something. The church and world need our rage against the night. The church and the world need our light to shine. Before singing yet another song about how we let justice roll like a river, may we do what we can to make our actions match our song.