Vatican City, Mar 16, 2015 / 16:35 pm
A Vatican official says there will be no papal endorsement for an LGBT activist video whose backers want it to reach Pope Francis.
Father Gil Martinez, C.S.P., a member of the development team for the video "LGBT Catholics: Owning our Faith," intended to present the video to Pope Francis in a private audience after morning Mass on March 17, according to the website of the St. Philip Neri Parish and Northwest Paulist Center in the Portland, Ore.
The video contains the personal reflections from self-identified LGBT Catholics, several of whom reject Church teaching.
An official with the Holy See Press Office told CNA March 16 that the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household had not announced any public events for Pope Francis on March 17. This means that "no public or official meetings are scheduled."
"The Pope can, however, meet whomever he wants, but this cannot mean in any sense an official endorsement, since every audience is intended to be kept private," the official said. Such meetings are made public "only if some of the people involved speak out about it."
The press release for the video said it is dedicated to "achieving the full acceptance of LGBT persons in the Catholic Church." It said that the video evokes "the need for change" and will "reach thousands, including Pope Francis, many bishops and other prominent Vatican clergy."
The St. Philip Neri Parish website said that Fr. Mark-David Janus, C.S.P., would also present Cardinal Walter Kasper's newest book from Paulist Press, "Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love."
The "Owning our Faith" video is produced and directed by Michael Tomae, a parishioner of New York City's St. Paul the Apostle Church. Fr. Martinez is pastor of the parish, which shares a mailing address with the "Owning our Faith" project. Tomae is part of the parish's [email protected] LGBT ministry, which is promoting the video on its website.
The "Owning our Faith" video includes interviewees who reject Catholic teaching on sexual morality and marriage.
Matt Putorti, a lawyer from New York City, criticized Catholic teaching in the video, claiming that the Church is telling gay people that "they need to be celibate" and "cannot live fully."
Putorti said it is "inherently" discriminatory to say, "You can be gay, but you can't live that life."
Interviewee Matt Vidal, a lawyer from New York City in a same-sex civil marriage, said that leaving the Church would mean that "it's never going to change."
"So we have to continue living here, being an example and encouraging other people to be that example because that's what's going to change the Church."
Another interviewee, Matteo Williamson, co-chairs the transgender caucus of the dissenting Catholic group Dignity USA, which aims to change Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
Williamson, who identifies as a transgender man, said this transition was "immensely spiritual to me."
The "Owning Our Faith" website recommends a list of parishes on the website of New Ways Ministry, another Catholic dissenting group. In 2011, the U.S. Catholic bishops reiterated that the organization is not allowed to identify as Catholic and said that it puts forward positions that do not conform to Catholic teaching.
New Ways Ministry claimed to have received VIP seating at the Feb. 18, 2015 papal audience. However, CNA sources at the Vatican explained that rather than being granted special seats, no requests for the seats were rejected and that the group identified itself only as "a group of lay people accompanied by a Sister of Loretto."
The group is also promoting the "Owning our Faith" video on its website.
New Ways Ministry and Dignity USA are part of the Equally Blessed Coalition. The Arcus Foundation, a wealthy LGBT activist organization, has given the coalition hundreds of thousands of dollars through Dignity USA.
In 2012, the coalition attacked the U.S. bishops and the Knights of Columbus for defending civil marriage as a union of one man and one woman. In 2014, the Arcus Foundation made a $200,000 grant to the coalition "to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates."
Catholic teaching rejects all unjust discrimination against homosexual persons while also recognizes homosexual activity as immoral and teaches that marriage is a union only of one man and one woman.