FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2017

A Pastoral Letter to the People of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

Women-Church Convergence issued the following letter:

Dear Friends in Faith,

Our hearts go out to you who have been subjected to pastorally inadequate and insensitive theology in the recent DECREE “Regarding Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ and Related Pastoral Issues” given by your bishop the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki. You deserve better because our Catholic faith teaches us to embrace everyone.

We who join in sending you this letter rejoice in the many Catholic groups that are living proof of the inclusive, welcoming message of the Gospel.

Please let our words of comfort, solidarity, and encouragement be balm for your souls and strength for your actions at this trying time.

We offer words of comfort to those of you who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and their allies and family members. It is simply counter to our Catholic faith to single out any group for exclusion. It is especially egregious to use our sacramental system as a basis for rewards and punishments.

The Decree misses the signal importance of public, joyfully celebrated baptisms of babies, young people, and adults as they become part of our community. It ignores the welcome table that is the Eucharist. And, it dishonors the dead who are denied church funerals not because of sin but because of love. Let especially your young people hear us sing atop our voices, “All are welcome.”

We offer you our solidarity as you create your own pastoral practices in spite of this negative Decree. Many of us belong to Intentional Eucharistic Communities, women-church groups, Dignity chapters, and the like. We are learning alongside our many religious colleagues what it means to incorporate new understandings of gender and sexuality, new constellations of family, new models of holiness into our midst. For example, we take strength from the “extravagant welcome” of the United Church of Christ and the Welcoming Synagogues Project. We applaud the many religious groups, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Pagans that bring the best of their traditions to bear on the reality of same-sex love because it is healthy, good, natural, and holy.

As Catholics, we do the same. We have been blessed for decades by the work of DignityUSA, New Ways Ministry, Fortunate Families, the Conference of Catholic Lesbians, and many supportive social justice groups in networks like Women-Church Convergence and the Catholic Organizations for Renewal. Some religious congregations have provided warmth and welcome to those who are marginalized by the kyriarchal church. Those Catholic groups stand with you in solidarity as you find your way as a Diocese despite this countersign that you have been given in this Decree.

Please accept our encouragement to consult widely with one another, pray and reflect on how, in your well-formed Catholic consciences, same-sex loving people can be incorporated faithfully, respectfully, fully into your communities. Marriage is a sacrament that eventually will be available officially to same-sex loving persons. It is already celebrated by some groups among us so do not lose heart.

We send you strength and courage to do what we have had to do with similarly wanting letters from church officials before this one: we politely but firmly reject scandalous teachings of exclusion. Instead, we urge you to study the biological, psychological, and theological data accepted by courts, governments, and many faithful Catholics. It is clear that same-sex love is simply love. Catholics believe that love is of God. Please accept our commitment to join you in this struggle.

We wish you every blessing as you, the people of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, develop your own important views and practices on loving relationships.

With respect and care,

8th Day Center for Justice - Women in Church and Society Committee
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A Critical Mass:Women Celebrating Eucharist
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Catholics for Choice
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Catholics for Choice Canada
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Chicago Women-Church

DignityUSA
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Greater Cincinnati Women-Church
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Loretto Women's Network
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Mary's Pence
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National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN)
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Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA Action Network
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Sisters Against Sexism (SAS)
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Southeastern PA Women’s Ordination Conference (SEPA-WOC)
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Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)
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Women's Ordination Conference (WOC)
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Women-Church of the Wabash Valley
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Women-Church Convergence (W-CC) is a coalition of autonomous Catholic-rooted groups working to build just social and ecclesial structures with shared power for everyone, especially women and those whom church and society marginalize. Women-Church Convergence amplifies diverse feminist, faith-filled voices. We create spaces in which all can live out their vision of full inclusion in church and society. Our commitment to feminist ministries and our social justice values lead us to act boldly in the world for the benefit of all.