A Young Gay Catholic Stands Up to Cardinal Dolan
A former member of New York Catholic Charities' junior board who recently left his position has criticized what he sees as Cardinal Timothy Dolan's callous indifference toward LGBT homeless youth.
Joseph Amodeo, a 24-year-old gay Catholic who teaches religious education in the New York archdiocese, resigned from the Junior Board of Catholic Charities’ executive committee earlier this week. Amodeo wrote in a letter to church officials that his decision to leave was the result of Dolan’s serial antigay comments, as well as his recent response to one LGBT leader who had called on the cardinal to address the gay and transgender youth homelessness crisis.
In a March 20 open letter to Dolan published by Huffington Post, Ali Forney Center executive director Carl Siciliano wrote, “Certainly you must see your responsibility in fostering a climate where parents turn on their own children, for you have been a loud and strident voice against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of our society.” Dolan, the archbishop of New York, responded that Siciliano’s accusations were "not only unfair and unjust, but inflammatory.”
Amodeo told the Associated Press in an interview published Saturday that he’s “had enough” of Dolan’s rhetoric.
"Every Sunday, I teach second-graders to 'love thy neighbor,' but then, when we as a church have a teachable moment, we fail," Amodeo told the AP. "[Dolan] failed to respond to a call for pastoral assistance, to answer the question, 'What can we do together as a church and as a people for youths who are homeless?'"
At age 19, Amodeo was profiled in The Advocate’s Future Gay Leaders in 2006 following a run for office in Ulster County, N.Y. (The print issue article can be found online here via Google Books on p. 75.)
Amodeo sent the following resignation letter to staff members of Catholic Charities:
Dear Ms. McGowan and Ms. King:
After careful consideration and prayerful discernment, it is with mixed emotions that I submit my resignation as a member of the Executive Board of the Junior Board of Catholic Charities. Although I have a great deal of respect for the work of the organization and the incredible talent behind its efforts, I have found it difficult in recent weeks and months to reconcile serving on the Executive Committee of a board under the pastoral leadership of Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
The comments that His Eminence has made regarding same-sex couples, the LGBT community in general, and his recent in-action in response to the Ali Forney Center's plea for pastoral assistance, has left me with no other choice but to resign. Contrary to His Eminence's response to Ali Forney's Executive Director, Mr. Siciliano's comments were not inflammatory, they were truth; they were a call for help; and they were expressive of the cry in the wilderness that LGBT people have been making for far too long. As a religious and pastoral leader for millions of Catholics, his voice is needed as together we work to create homes that are safe, affirming and welcoming for LGBT youth. The LGBT community is not asking the Cardinal to change Church teaching, but rather to exercise the Church's social justice teachings. I hope the day will come when things will be less about "clear teachings" and more about what is truly right and just in the eyes of Truth itself.
This resignation should not be seen as casting an aspersion on Catholic Charities, but rather an ethical dilemma of a personal nature related to Archdiocesan leadership. As someone who believes in the message of love enshrined in the teachings of Christ, I find it disheartening that a man of God would refuse to extend a pastoral arm to the Ali Forney Center and the hundreds of LGBT youth that are housed, fed, educated and provided free health services. These are concerns that I will share with the Office of the Cardinal and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council as well.
As a gay Catholic who teaches religious education (more than eight years in service to the Archdiocese of New York), is active in parish life and supports Catholic organizations, I'm afraid that the Archbishop has caused my heart to ache and my soul to feel pierced. With a discerning mind, I have tried to overlook the Cardinal's actions and comments, but this has now become impossible in light of his curt words to Mr. Siciliano and New York City's homeless LGBT youth.
It has been a great honor to serve Catholic Charities and to be a voice for the organization in my social circles as well as through my writing and online activities, so it is with a heavy heart that I make this decision and submit this resignation.
I submit this resignation with great respect for Catholic Charities and with hopes that one day the vision of peace and love that Christ promised will be realized.
Cc: The Rev. James Cruz, Priest-Secretary to Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities