A letter calling on Pope Francis to consider the impact the Catholic Church’s teaching is having on LGBT youth was published in the New York Times on Sunday.
In the letter, written by Carl Siciliano, the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, the Pontiff is asked to stop church teaching labelling being gay as “intrinsically disordered” and categorising “homosexual conduct” as a sin.
Siciliano cites statistics and numerous stories about LGBT young people who have faced violence, parental rejection, homelessness and other devastating losses because of the teachings.
“My hope is that if you come to understand how this teaching tears families apart and causes the suffering of innocent youths, you will end this cruel teaching and prevent your bishops from fighting against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of society,” says Siciliano.
The letter, published on Palm Sunday, comes before Pope Francis holds a global meeting of bishops in October 2014 to focus on “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation.”
“I hope that you will open your eyes and heart to the suffering of our youths. 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,” writes Siciliano.
“The number of youths enduring this cruel fate is staggering; last year at least 200,000 LGBT youths experienced homelessness in the United States. LGBT youths make up 40% of the homeless youth population in this country, despite comprising only about 5% of the overall youth population.
“A teaching’s wisdom and efficacy must be judged in part by its outcome. The teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin has a poisonous outcome, bearing fruit in many Christian parents who abandon their LGBT children to homelessness and destitution. How could a good seed yield such a bitter harvest?” says Siciliano.
He also invites Pope Francis “to meet our abandoned youths and see for yourself how their lives have been devastated and made destitute by religious rejection. I believe that there is no more compelling witness to the harmfulness of the condemnation of homosexuality than the consequent suffering plainly visible in the eyes of our homeless LGBT youths.”
The letter was placed by Faith in America, an organisation that educates the public about the harm caused by religion-based stigma and hostility, and the Ali Forney Center, an organisation serving homeless LGBT youth in New York City.
The organisations delivered a copy of the letter directly to Pope Francis and Faith In America also launched a Change.org petition where supporters can send a message to Pope Francis.
While Pope Francis has shown an apparent willingness to be more accepting of gay people, the Catholic Church remains vehemently opposed to same-sex relationships and marriage and considers homosexuality sinful and unnatural.
Read the full letter here.