Kate Carroll, Dignity Philadelphia Member
For immediate release
October 07, 2023
Philly LGBTQ+ Catholic Organization Reacts to Pope Francis’ Statement About Blessing Same-Sex Unions
Philadelphia, PA — The Vatican’s latest statements on queer couples ahead of the Synod leaves open the possibility of the Catholic Church blessing same-sex unions. This is a significant step towards equity for LGBTQ+ Catholics worldwide, including members of Dignity Philadelphia who have advocated this cause for 50 years. Though Pope Francis re-affirmed that the Catholic Church considers marriage to be an indissoluble union between a man and a woman, which prevents sacramental marriage from becoming a reality for LGBTQ+ couples, Dignity Philadelphia sees the statements from the Pope as progress and a direct results of the relentless advocacy of progressive religious groups such as New Ways Ministry, DignityUSA, and others.
“Pope Francis is a true Shepherd and he cares enough about Catholics who have been pushed to the ‘fringes’ of the Church for centuries, that he is now almost demanding from the Catholic Leadership to speak his teaching on the issue of blessing same-sex unions in the Catholic Church,” said Michael Rocks, President of Dignity Philadelphia.
News about Pope Francis’ statements come at the heels of the marriage of two of our members – Kate and Kaeden Carroll. The couple had their marriage blessed by one of Dignity Philadelphia’s presiders during Mass.
“To us, marriage is not only a commitment between two people who love each other, it is also a commitment that we make together to our community. And, our community makes a commitment to support us in return,” said Kate, a member of Dignity Philadelphia since 2019.
“To have our marriage blessed by our priest in front of our community was such an important milestone for us. The Pope’s comments about blessing queer unions is a step in the right direction. However, it’s communities like ours that are forging our own, radically inclusive path forward, inviting institutional Church to come with us.”
Presider Kathleen Gibbons Schuck, RCWP giving Kate and Kaeden Carroll a blessing of their marriage, September 2023
Dignity Philadelphia is no stranger to more progressive stances on topics slated for the Vatican’s convening such as married clergy and extended roles for lay people. Kathleen Gibbons Schuck, a married Roman Catholic Woman Priest (RCWP) who regularly celebrates Mass at Dignity Philadelphia and blessed the Carroll’s marriage, is also currently in Rome during the Synod advocating for women’s ordination with the group Women's Ordination Worldwide.
Dignity Philadelphia’s stance on these issues have been steadfast, all while in the shadow of a historically conservative archdiocese. In 1974, Fr. Robert Nugent addressed Philadelphia City Council in support of the gay civil rights bill that the Philadelphia Archdiocese vehemently opposed. The bill did not pass. Dignity Philadelphia members held protests in response to this discrimination and the archdiocese later banned Fr. Nugent from celebrating eucharist in Philadelphia. Despite these challenges, Dignity Philadelphia continued its tireless work in community with other LGBTQ+ groups in the city, hosting Halloween and New Year’s celebrations, offering workshops to educate people on HIV and AIDs.
While more work is required to achieve true equity, Dignity Philadelphia will continue to remain true to our progressive values as the broader Church holds these important conversations.
Dignity Philadelphia, a chapter of DignityUSA, is a nonprofit organization serving Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ Catholic community. First founded in 1973 with private services held in member’s homes, Dignity Philadelphia has since grown to have nearly 100 members. Dignity Philadelphia has been deeply involved in LGBTQ+ activism throughout its 50 year history, with particular focus on encouraging LGBTQ+ Catholics to live wholly without sacrificing their spirituality or romantic partnerships. Today, Dignity Philadelphia is a diverse faith community that holds weekly services in the Gayborhood area of Philadelphia.
Learn more at www.dignityphila.org