Dignity/USA Responds to Pope’s Remarks

June 29, 2016 by  
Filed under News and Stories

LGBT Catholics welcome statement of Pope Francis that the Catholic Church must apologize to gay people; say apology must be followed by concrete actions


Boston, MA. June 26, 2016–Leaders of DignityUSA, the organization of LGBTQ Catholics and allies committed to equality and justice for LGBTQ people, welcomed the statement of Pope Francis today that the Church must apologize to gay people and to other groups that it has let down or offended throughout history. The Pope’s comments echoed similar remarks made last week by one of his closest advisors, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany.

On a flight back to Rome from Armenia on Sunday, the Pope revised his famous phrase about gay people from 2013, “Who am I to judge?,” saying this time, “Who are we to judge them?” The Pope also said, “I will also repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that [gay people] should not be discriminated against, that they have to be respected, pastorally accompanied. The matter is a person that has that condition [and] that has good will because they search for God.”


DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke welcomed the Pope’s remarks. “This could be a very important step in healing the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBTQ people,” she stated. “The frank acknowledgment by the Pope that Church teachings and practices have done immense harm to LGBTQ people over the centuries—leading to such evils as violence, oppression, self-hatred, the division of families, youth homelessness, and suicide—is essential.”

Duddy-Burke welcomed the Pope’s reference to the part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that says gay people should not be discriminated against. However, she noted that the Catechism also still uses such damaging and scientifically inaccurate language as “objectively disordered” and “intrinsically disordered” in reference to homosexuality. DignityUSA and its partner organizations in the Equally Blessed coalition, among others, have repeatedly called for such language to be eliminated.

Finally, Duddy-Burke said, “In order to bring about the full healing of the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBT people, the Church must not only acknowledge the wrongs of the past, but take concrete actions that demonstrate its commitment to treating LGBT people justly from now on. For example, Catholic institutions must stop firing LGBT people simply because their sexual orientation or marital status becomes known. The Church must stop conducting public campaigns that seek the right to discriminate unjustly against LGBT people in the civil arena on the specious grounds of ‘religious liberty.’ It must cease campaigns against same-sex civil marriage and LGBT civil rights protections around the globe. And it must speak out strongly and clearly against the horrific violence and discrimination that is often directed against LGBT people in countries around the world, including our own, many with substantial or majority Catholic populations.”

DignityUSA works for justice, full inclusion and equality for LGBT people in the Catholic Church and society. Founded in 1969, it is one of the longest-standing organizations working for LGBT rights in the world.

Church Should Apologize for Discriminating Against Gays

June 28, 2016 by  
Filed under News and Stories


Pope Francis said that “Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness” from Gays. The Pope made the comments while traveling back to Rome from Armenia. Read the whole story at The Huffington Post:

Pope Francis Says Church Should Apologize For Discriminating Against Gays, Ask For Forgiveness

Capital Pride 2016

June 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, News and Stories

Capital Pride 2016 was a huge success. Thanks to our Pride planning committee, we had a wonderful float in the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 11, 2016. More than 40 community members and our friends joined us to march as a contingent of LGBT Catholics and our allies — either riding on or walking alongside our well-decorated decorated 48-foot truck. We were very well-received by the enthusiastic crowds.

Pride float - whole group

The 2016 Capital Pride theme was Magic — and building off of that theme, since the magic of God is LOVE, we marched under the theme of Our Magic Is Love and #MakeLoveHappen. Dignity/Washington is thankful to CUAllies for joining us and for all who made the parade a success. 

CUAllies - Vin

Chris-Martin-Larry signs

Defenders pride parade

Banner gang

Float - group 1

On Sunday, June 12, we had a prominent position in the Pride Festival with some of the same elements with our float centerpiece being a background for selfies for visitors to post #MakeLoveHappen. All in all, it was a beautiful weekend to celebrate God’s love and the spirit of Dignity/Washington.

Festival booth

Dignity/Washington organizes Interfaith Vigil for Orlando

June 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, News and Stories


On Wednesday night, June 15, Dignity/Washington organized an interfaith vigil to mourn those murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. An estimated 2,000 people gathered in Dupont Circle to hear reflections and prayers from about 20 leaders of various faith traditions and faith communities throughout the Washington, DC area. After 102 seconds of silence — one for each of those killed and wounded — the names of the 49 victims were read aloud with the crowd responding “Presente!”. Overall, it was a wonderful night of solidarity and love among the area’s faith and LGBTQ and allies communities.

Many local news media were there to cover the event. See their articles here below:

The Washington Blade

Metro Weekly








Join Us for Movie Night Summer 2016

May 23, 2016 by  
Filed under News and Stories

Spend a summer evening at the Dignity Center with other Dignity/Washington members for a movie night.
Follow the link below to see this summer’s movie selections, dates, and times. The schedule runs from June to September.

Movie Night Summer 2016

Register for DignityUSA’s Young Adult Retreat

May 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, News and Stories

Young Adult Retreat Group Photo

Young Adult Retreat Group Photo

DignityUSA’s Young Adult Caucus (DYAC) will gather in Chicago July 29 – 31 for a retreat to continue the community they have built over recent years. These young adults are the future of Dignity and they aim to gather in fellowship to foster relationships and seek spiritual enrichment as LGBTQ Catholics spread out across the US. Please contact Martin Witchger at martinwitchger@gmail.com if you have any questions or need more information.

The cost to register for the retreat is $50. To learn more and to register online, go to dignityusa.org/dyacretreat

Dignity/Washington is proud to help sponsor the retreat, as well as to help with travel expenses for a few young adults of our community — to what promises to be an important opportunity for the young adults in the Catholic LGBT community around our country to get together to collaborate, support each other and plan for the future. Please consider donating so that Dignity/Washington young adults can attend the retreat. Checks can be made out to Dignity/Washington with “Young Adult Retreat” in the memo field.

Pentecost Sunday and 40th Anniversary

May 19, 2016 by  
Filed under News and Stories


Dignity/Washington Celebrates Pentecost and 40th Anniversary

As part of the Pentecost Anniversary Celebration the Scriptural Mass readings were done in French, Spanish, German and Tagalog (Philippines), in addition to English. This year’s celebration fell on May 15 and marked the fortieth anniversary, since Pentecost Sunday, June 6, 1976, that the Dignity/Washington community has celebrated Sunday Mass for the LGBTQ community of the metro DC area, our families and friends. With the exception of only two Sundays when we could not meet due to severe snow storms, we have offered a welcoming Mass to those who have sought its blessings.

Dignity/Washington has moved several times, including when we were forced out of Saint William’s Chapel at Georgetown University, upon the issuance of directives from Vatican officials that prohibited us from using Catholic facilities. We were not deterred by their opposition but instead grew in our resolve to continue our work. With gratitude we celebrate at our current location of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church thanks to that congregation’s constant and unwavering support of our mission. Hundreds of individuals have lent their time and talent to make this truly “liturgy” in the root sense of the word, that is “the work of the people,” over these many years and we are grateful to everyone of them.

Reviving a tradition in our community that had lapsed, Anniversary Pins were given out to recognize and honor members for their years of membership. 132 pins will be awarded over the next weeks with the following breakdown: 40 year — 4 pins 35 year — 10 pins 30 year — 9 pins 25 year — 23 pins 20 year — 22 pins 15 year — 7 pins 10 year — 25 pins 5 year — 32 pins Dignity/Washington cherishes all of these members for the variety of gifts that they continue to share and that enable the community to exercise its ministry and mission. Thank you to all. Most of all, we have all benefited from the grace of God in Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit. Rejoice with us.

Night Out with the Nats on June 14

May 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, News and Stories


Once again, Dignity/Washington will join other LGBT groups for the annual Night Out with the NATS baseball game – the largest LGBT Community Night sponsored in professional sports.

The Nationals will play the Chicago Cubs on June 14 at 7:00. As we have for the past 11 years, we have reserved a block of 70 tickets for the game. The cost is $25.00 and will be available beginning Sunday, May 15 after mass.

To reserve your tickets, send an email to Vin Testa (Vtesta9111444@gmail.com) or Peter Edwards (Peterkansas@yahoo.com).

Celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph

April 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, News and Stories

The community of D/W celebrated the Feast of Saint Joseph with its annual St. Joseph’s Day Dinner on Saturday, March 19, at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church.
St Joseph's Day Dinner liturgy leaders

Following a beautiful ceremony, just under 60 members and guests enjoyed a delicious meal of garlic crusted pork loin, rigatoni with tomato sauce and meatballs, and a vegan ratatouille over linguini. To finish the meal, a delightful selection of desserts from Piedigrotta Bakery of Baltimore was offered.

Desserts from Piedigrotta Bakery

There was a 50/50 raffle and $115 was won by a long-time D/W member. The organizing committee for the dinner would like to thank the almost 25 volunteers who did everything from shopping, cooking, setting-up tables and the alter, and clean-up afterwards.

This event is truly an example of the best community effort of our Dignity family!

Altar to Saint Joseph

Altar to Saint Joseph

Mark Your Calendar for 2016 Guest Speakers

February 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Lecture Series, News and Stories

Dignity/Washington Guest Speaker Series January-May

All presentations will be at the Dignity Center, 721 8th Street, SE Washington, DC 20003 unless otherwise noted

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Action for Happiness Workshop (Saturday, May 21; 3:00-5:00 PM)


Action for Happiness (http://www.actionforhappiness.org/) is a global movement of people committed to building happier and more caring societies.  Redefining the meaning of progress, it brings together people who care less about what they can get just for themselves, and more about the happiness of others.  Action for Happiness Washington, DC and Action for Happiness USA are part of that global movement.
The Ten Keys to Happier Living workshop equips participants with a science-based roadmap for boosting their own happiness, as well as the happiness of others in their lives.  Participants will first examine their own personal understandings of happiness.  Next, attendees will explore in participatory fashion 10 of the top science-backed practices for positively impacting well-being.  The workshop concludes with a section devoted to identifying sustainable post-workshop actions, to transform individual areas and relationships in participants’ lives.

About the Facilitator
Michael Lennon teaches at the George Washington University’s Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. He also consults for DC-based organizations such as the World Bank, USAID, and ArtReach.  His focus is on Positive Performance – the study of excellence in individual, community and organizational activities.
In 2013, Michael Lennon founded in Washington, DC the first US-based Action for Happiness group.  Since then, the US Action for Happiness community has grown to more than 2500 members. Mr. Lennon was honored for his accomplishment by Lord Richard Layard in the British Parliament. Since becoming a student of the science of happiness, Michael Lennon often describes his life as “living a life of goose bumps” (2-7% of the time).

Out of the Box: Thinking in Postmodern Times (Saturday, February 20; 3:00-5:00 PM)

What is thinking? Is it merely a matter of a big memory to quickly find old answers to old questions that computer Watson used to beat its human competitors in Jeopardy. Or is it a matter of sophisticated algorithms, which Deep Blue used to beat chess grand master Garry Kasporov?

Thinking, the critical, strategic, mindful kind, is the capacity that, as far as we know, is unique to our species. It is what makes us human. And perhaps being human is what makes thinking possible. And thinking makes us wonder as we look out to our expanding universe and retreating stars and planets. We know that we are not the only intelligent creatures in the universe. There are some right here on earth. But are we the only thinking creatures?

Here I will explore what thinking is, how it relates to knowing what is, i.e. our science, and also to knowing what should be, i.e. our ethics and politics. I explore how thinking relates to the ongoing dilemmas of poverty, racism, and violence. I explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence and thinking machines. I explore thinking and the crises in education and in domestic and international politics. I explore thinking in art, in religion, in science, and the making of culture.

Most of all I explore why and how thinking is constructing our worlds and ourselves now and for our future. I won’t settle anything finally in these writings; but I do hope they help us to think. And to think critically. Thinking is not complete if it is not critical. And critical thinking is not complete if it does not achieve at least the beginning of universal empathy, cognitive infinity, and transcendent consciousness.

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Many cultural observers say that we are moving globally beyond not only the premodern age of gods, spirits, divine laws, and other heavenly entities, but also the modern age of reason, natures, natural laws, and fixed realities. Does postmodernism, in challenging absolutes, condemn us to relativism without firm values and norms? I think not. In fact I contend that postmodern thinking shows the way to solidarity and an empathic world.

My objective is to understand thinking as a way to know who we are and who we want to be. My message is that the problem of humanity and our world is primarily due to the inability or refusal to think. Unfortunately those of us who have lost or given up this ability are the ones who recognize this least. We claim we know when we do not. We take positions, uphold beliefs, and maintain principles without questioning them, without readiness to disprove them, without opening ourselves to contradiction, that is, without thinking. Is there evil thinking? I would rather say that evil is the refusal to think, the holding of absolutes even when they lead to humiliation of and cruelty to others.

I contend that the issues we experience in politics, religion, and the economy, the problems we face in our communities, our nations, and our institutions are largely due to our lack of authentic thinking. There are many smart people, many people with great intelligence and knowledge, but if they have given up thinking (and indeed many have), we will neither survive nor thrive. Thinking is not only a special capacity. Thinking is an ethical imperative.

My talk Feb 20, 2016 to Dignity Washington DC is an introduction to a new book that will be soon published as Out of the Box: Thinking in Postmodern Times. This is an experiment in the philosophy of mind, in dialogue with evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. Participants will receive an eBook copy.

Outline of talk:

• Prologue: Two stories of the origins of human thinking (Eve and Pandora).
• A personal introduction to thinking.
• The evolution of symbolic behavior: categories and analogies.
• The making of culture: myth, religion, art, science, history, and philosophy.
• Consciousness as mystery, as empathy, as transcendence.
• Premodern, Modern, and Postmodern Thinking.
• Toward a Postmodern Myth and Ethics.
• Norms and values in postmodernism.
• Structure of Mind and Myth as a foundation for a new ethics.
• Good and evil in a postmodern era.
• Postlogue: Another story of the origins of thinking (Gautama).

Discussion: some possible topics:
• What makes thinking critical, strategic, mindful, authentic?
• How does thinking link to economic and political action?
• What is the relation of religious thinking to violence?
• Why is learning to think the goal of a liberal education?
• Eva: Can androids or other machines think?

Rolland (“Rollie”) Smith completed a master’s program in Social Ethics at the University of Chicago. As a member of the Jesuit Order, he received master’s degrees in philosophy and theology from Loyola University and Bellarmine School of Theology, Chicago. He was lead organizer of community organizations in Chicago, Toronto, and San Jose with the Saul Alinsky Industrial Areas Foundation, and executive director of community development organizations in San Jose, Hawaii, and Cleveland. Prior to retirement, he was director of the California Central Valley Field Office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is presently volunteering in community organization and housing development in Washington DC through All Souls Unitarian Church and the Washington Interfaith Network. He continues writing in ethics and politics, and is currently writing a book on the philosophy of mind in dialogue with neuroscience entitled Out of the Box: Thinking in Postmodern Times.

Download PDF for this presentation:
Rolland Smith PDF

Francis DeBernardo (Sunday April 10; St. Margaret’s, 7:30 PM)
What Did the Synod on the Family Accomplish for LGBT People?


Francis DeBernardo has served since 1996 as Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, a 38-year old national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT Catholics and the wider Church community. He has conducted programs on LGBT issues and Catholicism in religious and secular settings throughout the United States. He has published articles in Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter, and American Catholic, and he is the author of Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach. He is the editor and main contributor to Bondings 2.0, a daily blog of news and opinion covering Catholic LGBT topics. He was the keynote speaker at the conference on religion and LGBT issues at the first World Pride event in Rome, Italy, and was a featured speaker at an interfaith conference at World Pride 2012 in London, England. In October 2015, he was given press credentials by the Vatican to cover the Synod on the Family in Rome.

Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel – (Saturday April 23; 3:00-5:00 PM)
Cooler, Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living

Brenda Ekwurzel is a senior climate scientist with the Climate & Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). She is leading UCS’s climate science education work aimed at strengthening support for sound U.S. climate policies.

Prior to joining UCS, Dr. Ekwurzel was on the faculty of the University of Arizona Department of Hydrology and Water Resources with a joint appointment in the Geosciences Department. Her specialty is isotope geochemistry, a technique she has used to study climate variability in places as disparate as the Arctic Ocean and the desert Southwest. She has published on topics that include climate variability and fire, isotopic dating of groundwater, Arctic Ocean tracer oceanography, paleohydrology, and coastal sediment erosion.  Earlier in her career, Dr. Ekwurzel was a hydrologist, working with communities to protect groundwater sources, at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
She holds a Ph.D. in isotope geochemistry from the Department of Earth Sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and conducted post-doctoral research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California.
A widely quoted expert on climate change, Dr. Ekwurzel has appeared on CNN, ABC News Good Morning America, the Fox News Channel and The Colbert Report, and has been cited by the Washington Post, USA Today, the Associated Press and Reuters.

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