In July 2013, six brave young adults are headed to World Youth Day in Brazil to create the space NOW for LGBTQ people within the Catholic Church. At a time where the church has repeatedly villainized and demonized LGBTQ people as “disordered” and “threats to civilization,” these pilgrims will counter this harmful rhetoric with the message that WE ARE ALL EQUALLY BLESSED!
By embracing the spirit of prophetic non-violence, we will witness to our fellow WYD participants by…
- Living out “Street ministry” = having one-on-one conversations
- Engaging the media
- Being a visible presence at WYD events, especially by distributing materials that affirm LGBTQ Catholics
- Witness/rally with message that we are all Equally Blessed
The goal of this pilgrimage is to raise awareness about issues of gender and sexuality in the lives of Catholics while also challenging harmful teachings and pastoral practices that dehumanize rather than celebrate the gifts LGBTQ people are to the church and to the world.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We would like to invite individuals to become part of this initiative through their support of our pilgrimage for justice and equality. We are seeking monetary donations to help defray the costs associated with the pilgrimage to help lighten the financial burden on those of us participating. Financial contributions will help cover expenses such as
- $1300 for a flight per person
- $200/night for housing
- $100 for training materials and “catholic rainbow kitsch” to distribute to our fellow pilgrims.
Donations of all sizes are welcome and appreciated! We would like to encourage our supporters to follow our experiences on Facebook, share our testimonies with others, and join us in the solidarity of prayer.
Megan Graves, member of Call To Action and 2013 EB pilgrim, shares...
The theme of WYD this year is “Go and make disciples of all nations” from the Gospel of Matthew. This theme indicates that it is the responsibility of the Church to welcome all people. In all honestly, I feel that the Catholic Church has done a poor job of welcoming those from the LGBTQ community. I constantly see media clips or articles that shun people, and this must come to an end.
I would like to be a witness for the LGBTQ community because my Catholic faith challenges me to stand up and advocate for those who are turned away and belittled by society, even if I must stand up to my own faith who has taught me these very values. I am not afraid to stand up against injustice, and I want to work with others who are willing to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. As a bisexual Catholic, I feel as if the Church has taught me that I am not quite right, well I know who I am, and I know that I am loved by God, and no human institution can tell me otherwise.
Lauren Carpenter, member of DignityUSA and 2013 EB pilgrim, shares...
I feel a very personal call to witness for LGBTQ Catholics at WYD. As I mentioned before, while I never attended WYD, I was very involved in catholic youth culture when I was in high school. I attended Catholic high school, and was also a part of a youth group. Two summers I attended “Steubenville Youth Conferences” which involved thousands of young Catholics worshiping and learning in a giant tent all day and camping out in similar giant tents at night. It was an environment that had elements that I suspect will be similar to environments I encounter at world youth day. Throughout college, as my faith evolved, I looked back on my youth group life and would roll my eyes at myself, or just feel outraged at some of the things I was taught and accepted. However in recent years I’ve come to realize that I can’t look back on the period of my life strictly through such a negative lens because it was also a period of my life where I felt deeply spiritual and connected to God, possibly the most connected to God I’ve ever felt.
The empathy that I’ve developed for my former self in that environment is part of what propels me towards WYD 2013. While sometimes I want to look with such contempt at the Catholic youth culture within the Catholic hierarchy, I can also recognize that those youth are filled with such love, innocence and good intentions, just as I was when I was 16. To me, it is so important that we be present to the youth that may not fully understand and support us, but who make note of us and continue to think critically about the stance of the church on LGBTQ people as their faith develops. I will be thrilled if there are youth who support our message while we are there, and it will certainly be difficult to encounter people that I feel sure will never change, but I feel most called by those youth that I know will tuck away out message in some corner of their brain, and continue to reflect on it.
2013 PILGRIMAGE IN A NUTSHELL
- Dates: July 23 to 28, 2013
- Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Organizer: Call To Action and DignityUSA under the Equality Blessed coalition
- Message: Let us urge the church to be inclusive of LGBTQ folk…queer Catholics exist and we are proud of our faith!!!
Together, let’s make sure that “Go and Make Disciples of all Nations” includes, affirms, and celebrates everyone as equally blessed!
WYD QUEER PILGRIMAGE HISTORY
In 2011 two young adults sojourned to Spain for World Youth Day on a mission to bear witness to the experiences of LGBT Catholics, the first pilgrimage of its kind. Call To Action’s Nicole Sotelo and Emily Jendzejec engaged dialogue and critique of the Church's position on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer persons. These brave and faithful Catholic women shared of their experience:
“A campus minister took a dozen of our [rainbow] pins and thanked us, saying her son was gay, and she was so happy to see us there.”
“We passed out rainbow ribbons with cards that explained that we loved our church AND loved our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We engaged in conversation with many youth about our hope for the church to truly be a place where all are welcomed and equal. Many youth were open to our message and promptly put their rainbow pins onto their World Youth Day bags…Others were less receptive, questioning our message by saying that the Vatican says homosexuality is wrong as does the Bible. While some of these conversations were challenging and frustrating, it was important to engage in peaceful dialogue and debate.”
Testimony of a 2011 World Youth Day participant regarding the witness of Nicole and Emily: