Catholics Urge Pope Francis to Speak Out for LGBT Rights

A group of Catholics is urging Pope Francis to speak out against laws criminalizing homosexuality.

BY Michael O'Loughlin

January 28 2014 4:34 PM ET

A group advocating for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Roman Catholic Church has launched an online campaign urging Pope Francis to speak out against laws criminalizing homosexuality around the world.

The No More Triangle Nations project encourages Twitter users to use the hashtag #PopeSpeakOut to ask Pope Francis to condemn laws in Nigeria, Russia, Uganda, India, and Jamaica, places that “legislate and enforce death dealing policies and/or the suspension of civil rights based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to the campaign’s website.

“By sending tweets to the pope, we want to move him to speak out against these laws, many of which have been supported by Catholic leaders and people in these nations,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, the organization that launched the project, in a press release last week. “We need a powerful, faith-based statement from Pope Francis to support the freedom and lives of our LGBT sisters and brothers.”

Visitors to the website choose from three prewritten Tweets:

  • Last yr Russia, last month Uganda, yesterday Nigeria, today we ask Christians & @pontifex to say “No More Triangle Nations!” #PopeSpeakOut
  • @Pontifex Call Christians around the world to love gay people not legislate their extinction.  #PopeSpeakOut
  • @Pontifex As a voice for the voiceless please publicly condemn anti-gay laws! #PopeSpeakOut

The website also gives visitors the option to email Pope Francis, with text asking him to “to stop discrimination, hate, and violence against gay and lesbian people by condemning Uganda’s anti-gay bill and similar efforts in other nations.”

The Catholic bishops of Uganda, which is 41% Catholic, opposed a 2009 version of a recent bill that would criminalize homosexuality, saying that it did “not pass a test of a Christian caring approach to this issue.”

In India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Catholic archbishop of Mumbai, told UCA News in December that the Catholic Church “never considered gay people criminals” and thus was opposed to the Supreme Court there criminalizing homosexuality. Gracias, one of 8 cardinals advising Pope Francis on a range of church matters, reiterated Catholic teaching that all LGBT people “have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse.”

New Ways Ministry is a 37-year old national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT people and the wider church community and civil society. It is partnering with the Fellowship Global, circles of Christian clergy and LGBT people in the African Diaspora, on the No More Triangle Nations project.

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