In yet another blow to local Philadelphia LGBT Catholics, St. John the Evangelist Church has evicted a group of LGBT Catholic families who were voyaging to the city to participate in a series of LGBT-friendly seminars, including one titled “TransForming Love: Exploring Gender Identity From Catholic Perspectives.” The sessions were scheduled during the week of the World Meeting of Families.
According to an article in yesterday’s Inquirer, Equally Blessed and New Ways Ministry, along with a coalition of other LGBT friendly Catholic organizations, “had also planned a news conference for Sept. 22 as well as group meetings at the church, a few blocks south of the Convention Center, where the World Meeting of Families will be held. The intent, the LGBT groups have said, was to provide supplemental conversation to the four-day meeting, which includes one presentation on homosexuality, led by a celibate hay man, among a long list of panels.”
The groups are in talks to move the panels to the Arch Street United Methodist Church, but the initial eviction from the Catholic parish is causing some hard feelings by members of the group.
I spoke with Julie Chovanes, a transgender woman and lawyer who was slated to speak at the conference, who feels like the latest move from the Philadelphia Archdiocese is yet another sign of the continuing conflict between LGBT people of faith and the Church.
“The Pope welcomes us into the Church, remembering the teachings of God,” she told me. “The Archbishop simply kicks us out.” Chovanes referenced the Pope’s meeting with a group of gay and transgender prison inmates as an example of how out-of-touch the local Archdiocese is with the Church’s teachings.
Chovanes also told the Inquirer, “So they literally kicked trans people out of the church? It’s an amazing thing, especially if you’re trying to show families we are a part of the human family…I still consider myself Catholic, but apparently, the church doesn’t.”
The Inquirer also received comment from a spokesperson from the Archdiocese, who, in part, said, “any parish-sponsored activities would feature content that is in line with church teaching…That expectation applies across the board to all matters…If archdiocesan administration were to become aware of any activities to the contrary it would be their responsibility to look into the matter and ask that appropriate corrective action be taken. Focusing on this matter as LGBT related only would be shortsighted.”