Recently I published an open letter to Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, calling his attention to the epidemic numbers of LGBT youth being rejected by their parents and forced into homelessness. I pointed out that studies indicate that religious parents are significantly more likely to reject their LGBT children, and that he and other religious leaders who fight against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of our society bear some responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youths suffering homelessness on the streets of our nation.
Finally I invited him to visit the Ali Forney Center and meet homeless LGBT youth who had been rejected by their religious families, so that he could better understand the harm caused by religious homophobia.
I also sent the letter to his offices, along with a photo essay I had done of LGBT youths suffering homelessness on the streets of NYC.
Last week I received the following reply from Cardinal Dolan:
March 28, 2012
Dear Mr. Siciliano,
Your letter of March 20, 2012, together with enclosure has been received.
For you to make the allegations and insinuations you do in your letter based on my adherence to the clear teachings of the Church is not only unfair and unjust, but inflammatory. Neither I nor anyone in the Church would ever tolerate hatred of or prejudice towards any of the Lord's children. In the future you ought to be more careful about personally attacking the character of those who espouse beliefs different than your own.
With prayerful best wishes for a blessed Lent, I am,
Faithfully in Christ,
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
You can see the actual letter here.
Following is my response to him:
Dear Cardinal Dolan,
I thank you for your prompt reply to my letter.
However, I am confused by your response. My letter did not address your character but your actions, and their influence on parents who reject their LGBT children.
More profoundly, I am distressed that your response does not in any way address the plight of our youths. My hope is that if you meet with our kids and see how devastated their lives have been by their parents' rejection, you might change your actions. I hope that you would recognize how unfair it is that in your diocese an LGBT teen is eight times more likely to become homeless than a straight teen. I hope you might realize how unjust it is for so many LGBT children to be deprived of their parents' love and support. I hope you might understand how truly inflammatory are the actions of religious leaders who disparage LGBT people and fight against our acceptance in society. I hope that if you opened your mind and heart to our kids and listened to their stories of being abused and abandoned for being LGBT, you might recognize how your actions contribute to their terrible ordeal. Fighting against the acceptance of LGBT people harms kids and harms families.
Your letter indicates that we have different beliefs, but we share a faith in a loving God. We share a faith in Jesus, who said that our very salvation depends on our response to those who are hungry and homeless and outcast, and who said, "Whatever you do to the very least of these, you do unto me."
I repeat my invitation for you to come to the Ali Forney Center and meet our homeless and outcast kids. Even if you refuse my invitation, I hope that you will reflect on their plight. I hope you might ask yourself why hundreds of thousands of LGBT youths are suffering homelessness on the streets of our nation. I hope you might ask yourself why religious parents are more likely to reject their LGBT children. I hope that you might reflect on how your fight against the acceptance of LGBT people bears fruit in parents who cannot accept their LGBT children.
Ali Forney Center
Follow Carl Siciliano on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AliForneyCenter