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March 2000


On the 12th of March, 2000, the Pope delivered his apology for the errors and sins of the church and prayed for forgiveness of it's past wrongs.

In asking for forgiveness, The Pope referred to its treatment of Jews, heretics, women, and native peoples.

There was a stark omission from the roll call of those whose fate lies on the conscience of the church  -- Lesbian and Gay people.

Perhaps, after the Jews, no group has suffered more as a consequence of the teachings, ministry, attitudes and beliefs of the church than Gay and Lesbian people.

            For centuries, we have been persecuted and oppressed.  Countless lives have been destroyed.  We have lived lives of fear and been forced to suppress our true identities.  Many of us have died in extermination camps. 

The church is accountable as a major cause of this persecution.  It has provided the rationale and the cover for homophobia, just as it once did for anti-Semitism.

Over the centuries, millions of gays and lesbians have lived and died after lives of anguish and despair.  Many still do.  What sadness, what despair we feel, when the church examines its conscience and cannot find a place in its repentance for our people who have suffered so greatly and in such vast numbers.

The Statement of the Apology by the Australian Bishops Conference issued on the 8th of March, 2000, similarly lacks any word of repentance for the role of the church in the suffering of Lesbian and Gay people. 

We call on the church, and our Bishops in particular, to recognise what part the church has played in the monstrous evil of homophobia.  We ask them to listen to us.

The church in recent times has made a very modest gesture in accepting that Gay & Lesbian people are not responsible for their "orientation" but still describes the expression of their sexual identities as "intrinsically evil".  It has a long way to go in understanding us.  It has a long way to go in atoning for the wrong as it has done to our people. 

We call on the church to meet with Gay & Lesbian people, to listen to them, to join with them in exploring the meaning of their identity and its relationship with essential Christian truths.  Only then can we see a church which fully and genuinely repents for the wrongs of its past.


Members of the Rainbow Sash Movement will attend Mass

at 11 AM next Sunday, at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne,

 to demonstrate and give witness to their concern and sadness at the failure of the Pope and the Australian Catholic Bishops conference to acknowledge and repent for the past wrongs done to Gay & Lesbian people in Australia.

 As we have done before, we will call upon the church, and in particular, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Pell to initiate effective programs for the eradication of homophobia in Catholics schools and institutions.


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