Pope congratulates Australian LGBTQ+ Catholic group

Acceptance, the world’s second oldest LGBTQ+ Catholic organisation, say they are delighted to have received a special message of congratulations from Pope Francis in June on their 50th anniversary.

Pope Francis’ greetings were both a surprise and a delight to Acceptance members, their families, and supporters across Australia.

“None of us expected such a greeting, but Pope Francis is such a wonderful Pope, why were we surprised?”, said Angela Han, Coordinator of Acceptance Perth. “His welcoming, pastoral and caring interaction with LGBTQ+ people, extending back to his time as Archbishop and Cardinal in Argentina, is a powerful signpost and his greetings on our 50th anniversary reinforces his genuine concern for those marginalised in the Church”.

The congratulations came via Sister Jeannine Gramick, an American nun who has ministered with the Catholic LGBTQ+ community since 1971 and maintains contact with Pope Francis. Sr Jeannine told Pope Francis about the Acceptance group in Australia and its 50th anniversary this year. Pope Francis asked Sr Jeannine to convey to Acceptance his personal congratulations.

In a recent message to Acceptance, Sr Jeannine said Pope Francis told her to pass on his “happy greetings at this time of your anniversary” and to advise that he was praying that
Acceptance members would every year “grow closer in love with our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Since its founding in 1973 in Sydney by the late Garry Pye, Acceptance has been an advocate for LGBTQ+ Catholics, worked closely with other Catholic groups seeking an inclusive and welcoming Church, supported persons living with HIV/AIDS and made submissions to the Australian Plenary Council and the global Synodal process.

“The greeting from Pope Francis is a significant milestone for Acceptance in Australia and the wider LGBTQ+ Catholic community. It reflects a message of welcome, inclusivity, compassion
and acceptance, affirming the important role Acceptance has played in supporting LGBTQ+ people of faith over the past five decades.” Han added.

Acceptance has written to Pope Francis to express its deep gratitude for his warm and encouraging message and the support it provides to continue its mission of providing a
welcoming ministry of LGBTQ+ Catholics, affirming their dignity and Catholic faith.

“We are humbled and grateful for Pope Francis’ greetings on our 50th anniversary,” said Fr Claude Mostowik, former National Coordinator of Acceptance. “His message of support and
recognition validates the importance of our work in creating a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ individuals within the Catholic community. This milestone inspires us to continue our
advocacy, fostering understanding, and promoting dialogue between LGBTQ+ people of faith and the Church.”

Benjamin Oh, Chair of Rainbow Catholics Interagency Australia, said, “Pope Francis’ greetings serve as a powerful affirmation of the resilience and contributions of LGBTQ+ Catholics in our
society and church. Celebrating Acceptance’s 50th anniversary is a momentous occasion for the entire Rainbow Catholic community.”

Acceptance will continue to celebrate its 50th anniversary over the coming year with a series of events and initiatives to further raise awareness, encourage dialogue and promote understanding within and beyond the Catholic community.

Acceptance has active communities in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra. Acceptance continues to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ Catholics to celebrate their faith and know that
they are part of God’s family.

With the Pope’s congratulations on its 50th anniversary, Acceptance say they are looking forward to continuing to work with allies and supportive parish communities to create a welcoming space across the Australian Catholic Church.

Since coming to power in 2013 Pope Francis has made notably different statements about homosexuality than his predecessor Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

In January 2022 the pontiff urged parents to support their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children.

Speaking off-the-cuff during his weekly audience at The Vatican, the Pope said parents faced many challenges raising children, but it was important that they continued to be supportive of youth who shared that they were same sex attracted.

Pope Francis said parents may discover the “different sexual orientations in their children”. He added that parents needed to work out “how to handle this, how to accompany their children, and not hide behind an attitude of condemnation.

On August 6th, while speaking to reporters, the Pope said the Catholic Church is open to everyone, including the gay community, and that it has a duty to accompany them on a personal path of spirituality but within the framework of its rules.

“The Church is open to everyone but there are laws that regulate life inside the church,” he said.

“According to the legislation, they cannot partake in (some) sacraments. This does not mean that it is closed. Each person encounters God in their own way inside the Church,” he said.

Back in 2013 when he the Pope was asked about gay priests, he said it wasn’t for him to judge them. While in 2020 he said homosexual people had a right to be a part of a family and nobody should be thrown out of their family or made to feel miserable because of their sexuality.

OIP Staff

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