Your Excellency Pope John Paul II:
In the darkness of caves, in the shelter of secluded forests and cottages, in the barren deserts, and on the desolate peaks of isolated mountaintops huddled the early Christians. A people, a faith community scorned, ridiculed, and persecuted by those in power. Those who would listen not, understand not, believe not, respect not, and love not those early Christians. The powerful looked upon the outcast followers of our Lord, Jesus Christ, with disdain and ill-will, anger and hate, ostracizing them as ‘different’, ‘dangerous’, ‘evil’, ‘corrupt’, and ‘depraved’. All of this angst and malevolence generated against those early Christians simply for choosing to follow the teachings of One Who was also treated and judged as a radical, dangerous, corrupt, deviant, evil Man. Such a One as became known to us today as Jesus, the Son of God; the Teacher of Love for each other, which virtue He described as “the greatest of all virtues”. Those early Christians, sacrificing their comfort, their security, their families, and their very lives, chose to be members of the early Church, in the face of all adversity and peril and indignity. How truly courageous, how strong, how faithful, how selfless they were to have endured such trials. And through those trials, through their enormous strength, faith, and love these ‘children of God’ formed our Holy Catholic Church.
My son, Philip Joseph Ferrara, Jr., was born into the Catholic faith in a small home in South Philly, on December 02, 1971. He was a gift from God, created by our omnipotent, omniscient, all perfect, all merciful, all-loving Father. Philip Jr. was given to us as a complete person, individual as to his physical, mental, and emotional capabilities. He was given to us by God, not to accept or reject, not to judge, not to change, but simply to accept and love for the wonderful, beautiful, special, unique, and miraculous gift that he was. Early on it was apparent how ‘special’ our son was. He was always a gregarious, loving, compassionate, generous, talented young man, and it was not until his late teens that we became aware that God, in His infinite wisdom and unquestionable plan, had also decided to bless us with a gay son. Our son, contrary to the popular myth force-fed to us all by the self-righteous, bigoted, misinformed segments of society, did not ‘choose’ to be gay; his sexuality, for reasons known only to God, was determined at his conception. I truly believe that God’s plan includes “all” people, straight and GLBT, male and female, short and tall, white/black/yellow/red, physically/mentally challenged and physically sound, etc., etc.. Who are we to presume that any of the glorious variety of life, created by God, is right or wrong? Should we not accept all of God’s creation as He created it, and not be so presumptuous, egotistical, self-aggrandizing, and prejudiced as to judge any part of it?
My son lost his valiant struggle to a virulent and deadly disease on November 09, 1994, at only 23 years of age, after many years of the same vile hatred, abuse, and aversion the early Christians had to endure. Surely not he, nor any GLBT person, ‘chooses’ to be so reviled and abused and ostracized. Surely, for reasons known only to God, GLBT persons are born as such, and as with any other child, of any other race, creed, sex, or physical/mental ability, GLBT persons too, deserve and should be unquestioningly afforded the same love, respect, fellowship, and acceptance as any other human being, for human beings they are too. Further, I in no way believe that our God is such a God that would purposely, unjustly, and perniciously cause our son, our only child, to die such a terrible death simply because of his sexual orientation. Especially since said orientation had been instilled into his very being, by that same God, at his conception and birth.
The suffering, despair, and malevolence our son felt in his own life, and especially in his death, when, on his death bed, in his last moments, a Monsignor at his bedside who becomes aware of his sexuality and his disease, blatantly, shamelessly, with not an iota of remorse, compassion, respect, or Christian love refuses to bless my son, nor give him last rites, surely is also being experienced by all GLBT Catholic persons, around the world, and especially here in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
After all of the heart-wrenching, soul-wrenching, mind-wrenching trauma of this past decade, inflicted by unfeeling, heartless, unchristian , bigoted persons, lay and religious alike, Dignity Philadelphia has become the Church home so long denied us by our own Mother Church. Dignity USA, and in particular, Dignity Philadelphia, provide a place of peace, acceptance, true Christ-like Love, religiosity, faith, and spirituality sorely missing in my life, and those of GLBT persons and their equally suffering and maligned families. It provides a place of refuge where all GLBT persons & their families can come and know that, while their Church, for now anyway, does not accept them as people worthy of God’s love, and God’s blessing, and the Church’s acceptance, God Himself, on the other hand, does indeed love them and accept them, and holds them to no different standard or judgement than any other Catholic; they come to realize that God Himself wants them to worship in peace and joy and love, and to someday enter His kingdom along with other Christians from all walks of life.
Can you honestly believe that GLBT persons are not created as such at birth? Can you in your heart-of-hearts, in your very soul, honestly believe that God would be so unfeeling and unjust as to create a person, innately GLBT, and then create the one, true, holy Catholic Church, whose dogmas (predominantly man-made) and rules would forever deny that GLBT person salvation, love, and the glory of God’s kingdom, simply because of a simple aspect of their lives, instilled and created by that very same God?
Surely the God we worship, the God we have been taught about, the God we have prayed to, trusted in, and Who we consider to be all-loving, all-just, all-knowing, and all-merciful would not, could not, allow for such a transgression against any of His creations.
I beg you in this correspondence to please make the necessary, long overdue, rightful, Godly, Christian decision to accept our GLBT brothers and sisters into the Church as equal and fully participating members, both lay and religious, deserving of all the love, respect, and acceptance that any one else receives in the Catholic Church, as I am sure Christ Himself would do if He were here this day. Surely you cannot do less than this? Surely you cannot continue to reject your GLBT Catholic brothers and sisters? Surely you cannot continue to deny them their rightful, God-given place at God’s altar, in God’s Church? Please end the hate, end the sorrow, end the bigotry & rejection … please … please …
As with the first Christians mentioned above, Dignity USA members still, this very day, figuratively and similarly ‘cower in the caves, in the forests, on the barren mountain-tops, in the secluded safe places’ in an effort to worship their God, our God, your God, in their Catholic tradition. Also like the early Christians, our GLBT brothers and sisters ‘sacrifice, too, their comfort, security, families, and yes, sometimes their very lives’, to continue to worship in their Catholic tradition, in the face of all adversity, peril, and indignity. How truly selfless, courageous, and faithful these modern day outcasts remain, in their undeniable belief that they, too, are children of our God, and deserving members of the Catholic Church.
Please, by the grace, justice, and blessings of God’s love, this day, make the Church’s policy reflect the total and unequivocal acceptance of all Catholic GLBT persons. Surely this is in God’s plan, and is of God’s will, and will bring blessings to the our Church, its members, and to you our leadership, and will finally bring the full and complete love of God and Church to so very many heretofore cast-off GLBT sons and daughters, and their struggling and tormented families. Please, take the first momentous and healing step toward reconciliation and unification, towards mutual love, faith, and respect, towards the final closing that will bring the shared joy, love, peace, and blessings of God to all we family of Catholicism — please.
God bless you for your time and consideration of this heartfelt, sincere, Christ inspired plea to your humanity, your sense of justice, your sense of Christianity and Godliness, and your sense of God’s total love for us all … remember …
… Love is the greatest of these …”
and where would be the evidence of your love if you exclude these wonderful GLBT Catholics from God’s fold?
And in Christ’s Love,
Philip J. Ferrara, Sr.
(proud & blessed ‘pop’ of Philip Jr)
(proud & blessed husband of Immy)
(proud & blessed Dignity member)