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Washington, DC, July 12, 2000 — Leaders of DignityUSA, the nation's leading advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, have expressed deep sadness and outrage over Pope John Paul II's recent comments that the WorldPride 2000 celebration in Rome was an "insult" to the Jubilee Year and to Christians, and that homosexuals act in ways contrary to natural law.

"The Pope's remarks are extremely offensive and unnecessarily antagonistic," said Mary Louise Cervone, DignityUSA President. "As we understand it, WorldPride organizers went out of their way to accommodate legitimate concerns of the Vatican about the parade, and even extended invitations for meetings to dialogue with the Pope or other high level officials. For the Pope to respond with this kind of language is incredibly unchristian."

Marianne Duddy, DignityUSA Executive Director, added, "The Pope seems to have missed the point that many of the people who participated in WorldPride are in fact Christians, and thousands of them are Catholic. People were attracted to WorldPride 2000 precisely because it was in Rome. To celebrate being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in this city that is so significant to Catholics offered a chance to celebrate two very significant components in many of the participants' lives, their sexuality and their spirituality."

Cervone remarked, "I wish the Pope would remember that every time he makes statements like this, he alienates hundreds of people, not only gay Catholics and their families, but others who are embarrassed to hear the leader of our Church speaking so hatefully. It's really sad. He could have invited dialogue, or used the moment to emphasize the Church's teaching that all people must be treated with respect. Instead, he chose to call us an insult, on the very day he extended his personal blessing to rapists and murderers. What kind of a message is that?"

Cervone and Duddy said that the Pope's response to WorldPride 2000 increased their commitment to advocacy on behalf of gay Catholics. "Our people need to know that there are many people in the Church who disagree with the Pope on this issue," said Duddy. "This is one instance where he does not speak for the whole Church, or for God."

DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, our families and friends. It is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1969, and has chapters and members across the US.