An open letter published in the New York Times has invited Pope Francis to visit America’s largest LGBT homeless shelter - and to change church teachings on homosexuality.
Written by Carl Siciliano, the gay Catholic Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center in California, the letter urges Pope Francis to ‘take urgent action to protect [LGBT young people] from the devastating consequences of religious rejection’.
"As LGBT youths are finding the courage to speak the truths of their hearts at younger ages, epidemic numbers are being rejected by their families, and driven to homelessness", Siciliano writes.
"By teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that the homosexual orientation is disordered, it influences countless parents and families in societies across the globe to reject their children", he continues. "In the name of these children, and in light of the love and compassion at the heart of the message of Jesus, I ask that you end this teaching."
Siciliano, a former Benedictine monk, also cites that Jesus is never recorded as condemning homosexuality or LGBT people and that the Roman Catholic Church, as the largest and most influential Christian organisation in the world, has the power to help.
"We share a belief in a God of love", he concludes. "I know in my heart that what my kids have suffered is ultimately a violation against love. How tragic it is that the church, through it’s teaching, would contribute to such a violation. Surely God loves his children more than teachings."
Pope Francis has yet to respond to the letter. He has been noted as a more liberal figurehead than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, on many issues - in particular, being less critical of LGBT people. But he has yet to speak in support of LGBT expression. Siciliano’s letter comes with admirable intentions that aim to address that, in favour of our safety and ultimate acceptance by society. It spells out both the shocking truth about how many LGBT young people live in fear and how vocal support from on-high could go some way to remedy that. If this Pope is as liberal as the media would have us believe, then he has the opportunity to prove himself now - as a true man of God and as a human being with a heart.
To read the full letter, published as an advertisement in the paper and paid for by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings, click here.
Organisers of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest have announced that host country Denmark will perform 30 marriages featuring couples from around the world - both straight and gay and including same-sex couples from Russia.
The ceremonies will take place in the run-up to the 58th edition of the annual competition in the capital Copenhagen from May 8th-10th. While no confirmation has been made as to whether to weddings will feature in the televised show, it is expected they would at least be referenced.
"Last year Denmark had new legislation that made it easier for us to marry foreigners of the same sex," Eurovision manager Flemming Otto told Reuters. “We would like to strike a blow for the diversity and openness we have in Denmark. We are looking forward to marry all the happy couples, and I’m convinced we’ll be very busy.”
The move comes a year after Finland entered the equal-marriage affirming song Marry Me and is likely to send an increasing message of acceptance to the 31 competing countries, including Russia. Interestingly, Eurovision is also popular outside of Europe, which should allow the message to spread even further. The 2013 final was watched by over 170m people worldwide, being broadcast in countries from the USA to South Korea and Australia to Brazil.
2014 marks the 25th anniversary of same-sex civil partnerships in Denmark, which became the first in the world to introduce such legislation in 1989. And given that Eurovision’s current motto is the all-embracing ‘Join Us’, the message to the rest of the world is loud and clear: it’s time to catch up.