DignityUSA is moving toward radical inclusion

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DignityUSA is moving toward radical inclusion

With the Catholic Church being the largest Christian denomination in the world the fight for the dignity and inclusion of its LGBTQI parishioners is a fight for the church’s soul and moral integrity. DignityUSA since its inception has asserted that God loves the LGBTQI community equally. This year DignityUSA held its 23rd biennial national conference in Boston from July 6-9. Its theme was “A Place at the Table,” challenging the Catholic Church and themselves to practice a ministry of radical inclusion.

John Keeley of Dignity Boston shared that this year’s conference theme was of grave importance to him considering an Illinois bishop’s recent decree denying communion, last rites and funeral rites to people in same-sex marriages – unless, of course, they repent. "The Catholic Church needs to become truly welcoming. They call themselves welcome but they exclude the (LGBTQI) community from officially receiving any sacraments. They need to make it a full welcome and not a conditional welcome,” Keeley told me.

Since 2015, DignityUSA has been advocating for “sacramental equality” in the Catholic Church. However, one the LGBTQIs most vociferous opponent of it has been Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, as an opposition to the 2015 Supreme Court legalization of same-sex marriage.

Pushback, however, of Paprocki's decree from Catholic progressives has been swift, hard, and unrelenting. And, one of the strongest and influential voices speaking out against Paprocki’s homophobic vitriol has been that of DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke.

“It is simply cruel and shameful to refuse burial or Communion to those who seek the grace and comfort that our Church offers at some of the most difficult moments of life. This is reminiscent of the appalling practice of denying Communion, funerals, and burial to people dying of AIDS at the height of the epidemic. We want to say to Catholics of the Springfield Diocese or others whose parishes or Dioceses do not welcome them as fully who they are, there are Catholic communities that will welcome and affirm you, in the true spirit of our faith.”

DignityUSA conference this year built a huge tent of radical inclusion, challenging itself to hear and to understand the intersections of LGBTQI oppressions the Catholic Church perpetrates on an international stage and to build relationships with LGBTQI Catholics and allies in other countries.

For example, Warry Joanita Ssenfuka, director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), spoke on being a Catholic lesbian activist in Uganda, where LGBTQI