Mass slated in solidarity with LGBTQ Catholics canceled after protests

A Roman Catholic Mass to be held in western Pennsylvania this weekend in solidarity with LGBTQ Catholics has been canceled at the request of the diocese after protesting emails and calls, some of them threatening, officials said.

The Mass scheduled Sunday at Duquesne University was organized by Pittsburgh-based Catholics for Change in Our Church with the help of LGBTQ outreach ministries, said Kevin Hayes, the group’s president. He said it was to be similar to those held monthly by the group at the Catholic university, some aimed at different groups such as Black or Hispanic parishioners, and similar to a Mass in solidarity with LGBTQ Catholics he said was held last year without incident.

Bishop David Zubik of the diocese of Pittsburgh said, however, that independent sponsors of the event promoted it with a flyer “that confused some and enraged others.”

“This event was billed as a ‘Pride Mass’ organized to coincide with Pride Month, an annual secular observance that supports members of the LGBTQ community on every level, including lifestyle and behavior, which the church cannot endorse,” Zubik said in a letter to priests, deacons and seminarians in the diocese.

Many of those protesting incorrectly assumed that he had approved the event, Zubik said, adding that neither he nor Duquesne’s president had been aware of it until calls began to come in over the holiday weekend. And many used “condemning and threatening, and some might say hateful, language not in keeping with Christian charity,” Zubik said.

Zubik said the church “has invested much energy in welcoming people who are dealing with sensitive issues in their lives” and all had the responsibility “to love those who have same sex attraction” but at the same time the church “cannot support behavior that goes against God’s law.”

Zubik said he asked that the gathering be canceled “given all that has transpired surrounding this event.”

“We are very sad and very frustrated,” Hayes said, adding that the goal had been to “just have LGBTQ Catholics feel welcomed as beloved sons and daughters of a loving God and just be affirmed for who they are within the context of the Eucharist, which we feel is appropriate.”