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Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical letter asks Church to extend true charity to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders

Washington, DC — DignityUSA applauds Pope Benedict’s vision of universal love and calls on the Church to extend God’s love and enlightened competent charitable service to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders.

In Pope Benedict’s first encyclical letter, he presents different dimensions of the concept of love, beginning with the Greek words “eros” and “agape.” The second part of the letter explores the Church’s charitable work as love. While not directly discussing sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, the text is still significant for LGBT Catholics.

“We are encouraged that the Church acknowledges that God’s love extends to all, that it is universal,” said Debbie Weill, executive director of DignityUSA. “This point seems to be missing in most Vatican statements regarding gays. lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders (GLBT) for many years. When considering Pope Benedict’s discussion of the different dimensions of the concept of love, it is striking that in so many ways the Catholic Church fails to love GLBT persons. We hope the Church will model God’s love more closely in the future,” Weill added.

“We also noted the Pope’s insistence on professional competence for those involved in Catholic social charity, who are responding to immediate needs and specific situations,” Weill continued.  “DignityUSA strongly agrees and asks the Vatican to apply these same standards to itself when discussing issues of human sexuality or providing human sexuality social services. One of the most regrettable aspects of Vatican statements on homosexuality and human sexuality in general over the past several decades is their failure to take into account ongoing research in the medical, psychological and social sciences.  In many instances, the Vatican has disregarded the advice of its own experts on subjects ranging from contraception to sexual abuse to homosexuality.

Our Church has long held that faith need not be in conflict with reason and scientific knowledge.  We call upon Pope Benedict and our bishops to make a renewed commitment to that central tenet of Catholic belief and teaching.

DignityUSA is the nation’s foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit organization with members and chapters across the country.
DignityUSA works for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Church and Society.