NEW YORK — Homeless LGBT youth advocate Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, America’s largest shelter for homeless LGBT youth, is calling on Pope Francis to to lead the world’s religious communities in bringing an end to the “grave moral failure” by the Church to embrace LGBT youth and families.
The plea comes in an open letter published in a full-page advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times, sponsored by Faith in America, a non-profit organization founded by North Carolina businessman Mitchell Gold to counter “religion-based bigotry.”
“I write on behalf of the homeless LGBT youths I serve. I ask you to take urgent action to protect them from the devastating consequences of religious rejection, which is the most common reason LGBT youths are driven from their homes. At the heart of the problem is that the church still teaches that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that being gay is disordered. I hope that if you understand how this teaching tears families apart and brings suffering to innocent youths, you will end this teaching and prevent your bishops from fighting against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of society.
“The Roman Catholic Church is the largest and most influential Christian organization in the world. 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. 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.”
Gold, who founded the N.C. furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, said the campaign “might be one of the most consequential efforts I’ve ever been involved in.”
“Just imagine for a moment if so many of the kids that have killed themselves did not grow up being taught that homosexuality was sinful … if when they came out to their parents they were totally embraced rather than being told they were ‘disappointed’ and needed counseling….if they felt they had family and church to turn to?” said Gold.