More on this petition:
Your Holiness, The last two and a half years of your papacy have been remarkable ones for the world! You have taught many people—Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and non-believers alike—the importance of reaching out to people who may think differently than they do. Instead of walls, you have built bridges. Instead of an iron fist, you reach out with an open hand. We write to you as Catholics from around the globe who minister with, advocate for, or are members of families who have lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members. In some of these families, the LGBT members are the offspring, in some they are the heads of the family, and in others, they are loved ones who have been adopted into these loving domestic communities. We are not just concerned with LGBT people, but with all people who have been blessed to have an LGBT member in their family circle. Two upcoming opportunities will allow you to emphasize your message of encounter. At the end of September, you will be visiting the United States at the close of the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families. Almost immediately following that event, the Synod on the Family will bring Catholic bishops from all over the globe to Rome to discuss many important topics concerning marriage, children, sexuality, and gender. Families with LGBT members, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are looking forward to these events. Many of these families have experienced great pain in Catholic settings. Children of lesbian couples have been expelled from Catholic schools. Gay and lesbian people have been denied communion, sometimes even at the funerals of their parents, because of who they are and whom they love. Too often, pastors preach insensitive and ignorant messages from the pulpit. Your openness and willingness towards LGBT people have brought about a significant relaxation of old tensions between these communities and churches. So many LGBT people and their family members, who have felt only the scourge of religious judgement, are now hearing messages from pastoral leaders which indicate once unthinkable signs of respect. We hope and pray that you will use the World Meeting of Families to continue your affirming and welcoming words to the members of their homes. Please offer hope and possibility by letting them know that the Church is concerned about the unique joys and challenges they experience. Most importantly, please meet and dialogue with some of the families. Jesus met all kinds of people, especially those rejected in His time. We hope you will recognize that diverse forms of families exist and that love can grow in different situations. We ask you to invite some members of these LGBT families to speak to the Synod in Rome. Last year’s Extraordinary Synod was truly remarkable because of the open discussion that bishops had (encouraged by you) and because heterosexually married lay people provided personal testimony about their relational, familial, and faith lives. We ask that this year LGBT people and their family members also be invited to offer such testimonies. How will the bishops be able to make good judgements on pastoral care if they don’t hear the experiences from these families? You have shown yourself to be a man of encounter, and you have already made some gestures of welcome to LGBT people. During the coming months when family issues will be so much in front of the public’s eyes because of the Vatican events, we ask that you give visible and tangible evidence of your courageous spirit of encounter by meeting with members of these communities. We know, as we have experienced, that you will be inspired by their commitment, their love, and their faith. We stand ready to assist you in enacting all of these requests we have made. The coming months provide a singular opportunity for you to model your message of openness, as so many people will be looking to you for guidance. We hope that you will make the most of this opportunity by adding another step to the many you have already taken towards greater reconciliation between LGBT people and their Church.