On July 8, 2017, AGLO (Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach of Chicago) is hosting a “Night at the Theater.” At the Pride Arts Center, the official LGBT Ministry of the Chicago Archdiocese will attend a performance of the play “The Nance.” The play, about the tumultuous romantic and sexual relationships of a “gay” burlesque performer in the 1930s, originally opened on Broadway in 2013 starring Nathan Lane. During its original run, the play was somewhat controversial because of a full frontal scene of male nudity.
AGLO was founded by the late Cardinal Bernadin and Jerry McEnany, the leader of Dignity Chicago. After the 1987 “Letter to the Catholics Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” which plainly demanded that Bishops remove gay-affirmative ministries from their parishes. According to gay-activist Rick Garcia, AGLO was a compromise between Dignity and the Archdiocese:
Cardinal Bernardin, along with as other Catholic bishops, was under great pressure from Rome to get rid of Dignity chapters on church property. Jerry and the board of directors of Dignity were meeting with the archdiocese to find a way to have it both ways—Mass on Church property for gay people and the archdiocese wanting to alleviate pressure from Rome and right-wing Catholics.
In 1970, Dignity issued its first Statement of Position and Purpose:
We believe that homosexuality is a natural variation on the use of sex. It implies no sickness or immorality. Those with such sexual orientation have a natural right to use their power of sex in a way that is both responsible and fulfilling…. and should use it with a sense of pride.
According to Dignity, the 1987 “Letter” concerning the pastoral care of those with same-sex attraction:
…instructed the bishops to withdraw all support, or even the semblance of support, from any group vague on the immorality of homogenital acts. Surely the Vatican had Dignity in mind. And many found the letter harsh and uninformed. In national convention in 1987, DignityUSA declared that it believes lesbian and gay people may indeed engage in loving, life-giving, and life-affirming sex, always in an ethically responsible and unselfish way.
In 1988, AGLO was formed primarily by members of Dignity.
During the “Pride” month of June, 2017, AGLO also sponsored outings to the “She Fest” – “a variety show celebrating queer, female-identified artists,” as well as the “Queer Bits Film Festival,” featuring short films, some which contained: “adult themes, nudity, and strong language.”
The “Archdiocesan Liaison” to AGLO is Fr. Patrick J. Lee. Lee is currently the Pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish where AGLO hosts their meetings and liturgies. In 2003, Lee was one of several Chicago area priests who signed “An Open Letter to the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church Regarding the Pastoral Care of Gay and Lesbian Persons.” The “Letter” judged certain language in “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” pertaining to homosexual activity, as “vile and toxic:”
In the recent past, individual bishops, bishops’ conferences and the Vatican have assumed a tone of such violence and abusiveness toward these sons and daughters of the Church, we can no longer remain silent. Has any other group of people within the Body of Christ been so assaulted and violated by such mean-spirited language? Examples from the most recent Vatican document show all too clearly the demonization of these children of God, referring to homosexuality as a “troubling moral and social phenomenon,” “a serious depravity,” “the spread of the phenomenon,” “approval or legalization of evil,” “grave detriment to the common good,” “harmful to the proper development of human society,” “intrinsically disordered.” Does anyone consider this vile and toxic language invitational?
The Church’s theology, including her moral teaching, is always in dialogue with the broader lived experience of her members, which shapes and rearticulates the ancient deposit of faith. We encourage a new atmosphere of openness to dialogue which includes the lived experience of many Catholic members. We recognize the blessings of countless homosexuals in a variety of relationships. We believe their experiences must be listened to respectfully.
While we do not know the reasons for the increasingly violent and abusive language, we deplore it as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and ask that it stop immediately. Furthermore, we request that all those in official positions of teaching authority in the Church refrain from any more statements directed AT the gay and lesbian members of the Body of Christ, and instead begin an earnest dialogue WITH those same members of the Body of Christ.
According to a 2010 interview, Lee allowed a “gay” male couple to serve as “Eucharistic Ministers” at his Parish.
On July 10, 2017, Cardinal Cupich will host a “Theology on Tap” event with pro-gay journalist Michael O’Loughlin.
Contact Cardinal Cupich:
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago
PO Box 1979
Chicago, IL 60690-1979
or by email