In one of the ‘friendly’ Catholic parishes of our diocese, an ecumenical prayer service is held on Holy Friday. Each church and group says a prayer at the various Stations of the Cross. There were Protestants, Waldensians, Baptists and starting this year Orthodox Christians as well.
The parish’s youth group was present, as was the group of Jesuits and so were we, the Kairos group of gay Christians in Florence. Our 11 years of work as a group were represented by this one important evening.
We started in 2001 through quiet and nearly secret meetings with a Catholic priest. After a few years of activity, we were struck by the string of suicides committed by gay youth. We started organizing a prayer vigil to commemorate the May 17th International Day Against Homophobia.
That is when we encountered the Waldensian community; they welcomed us and opened up the doors of their church. There are now prayer vigils dedicated to victims of homophobia held all over Italy and abroad as well… and we are proud to say we were the first ones to have thought of it!
Over the years, other Catholic priests and Protestant pastors have opened their doors to our group. We have entered into many different communities; for the last two years, a prayer vigil has been held in a Catholic church.
Our meetings have been held in the rooms of a Waldensian church for years. The Waldensian pastor has led our meetings many times; both a Baptist pastor and the Methodist pastor of Florence have also attended our meetings. We have invited Orthodox Christians to our prayer vigils, but we have never received any response.
We have sought out contact with our Bishop.
The previous Bishop of Florence had at least received us, but the current Bishop has refused any meeting… We send news of our activities to all the city’s parishes and Protestant churches… but we get very few responses. There is a group of Catholic priests and Protestant pastors who support us and indeed we feel at home in some parishes and Protestant communities. As mentioned at the beginning, we are present each year at our precious moment of ecumenical prayer. So, what else can we say?
Over these 11 years, the Kairos group of gay Christians has headed down powerful path. We have built solid relationships with Protestant churches and Catholic parishes, even though Roman Catholic Church hierarchy pretend that we do not exist…
We know that the road ahead is still long and hard. We are pleased to be part of a network of prayer that goes well beyond earthly affiliations and is bound together by Jesus Christ…
As Christians and as gay men and women, we continue to harbor a sense of hope as we follow a path towards a true communion with the sister churches that we belong to.
In order to contact us or for further details, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be waiting for you.
> Point of view. The Synod seen by a group of Italian Catholic homosexuals. Luca Borghini, The Lobbyst ITALY, 20 October 2014
> The Washington Post: in Italy, gay catholics feel the ‘Francis effect’. Article by Anthony Faiola / Stefano Pitrelli contributed to this report. Published in The Washington Post (USA), March 27, 2014.
> Gay Catholics Write to Pope Francis Who Responds With Blessing. Article by Maria Cristina Carratù. Published in Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Florence Edition, on October 8, 2013. Translated by Peter Luntz
> Things Change. I was Welcomed and Now I’m a Gay Christian Walking the Path. This is the story of Gino Scarpelli of Florence’s Kairos Group for the ‘Things Change’ special, as published in Riforma, weekly newspaper of Italy’s Waldensian, Methodist and Baptist Churches, November 26, 2013. Translated by Peter Luntz
> Kairos. Remembering Matteo, a victim of homophobia at school. Article translated by Peter Luntz