By Michael Brinkschroeder – German theologist, activist of German Catholic LGBTQ group Homosexuelle und Kirche (Homosexuallity and Church), GNRC Steering Committe Co-chair and member of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups.
During the World Youth Day, the Polish group “Wiara i Tęcza” (Faith & Rainbow) has organized an “LGBT Pilgrim’s Haven” in Krakow. The meeting point was located in the lovely cultural centre “Ogniwo” in the Jewish quarter. The LGBT Pilgrim’s Haven, co-organised by the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, was not included in the official program of the World Youth Day although Wiara i Tęcza made several attempts in this direction. However, the interest of national and international media was very high and brought a lot of attention to the issue. The police was guarding the entrance, because there were serious threats before the event, but fortunately nothing happened.
The program contained documentary films from Brendan Fay (Dignity, New York) about John McNeill and Mychal Judge, lectures from Jim Mulcahy (USA/Ukraine) about spirituality and relationship and from Michael Brinkschroeder (Germany) about “Queer Reading of the Bible”. A creative workshop lead by Marcela Kościańczuk (Poland) on “God’s Mercy” built the bridge to the theme of the World Youth Day and the Holy Year.
A workshop on “Queer Catholic Activism” started with input from Anna Kuliberda from a German Catholic Youth Federation who started a blog with few other LGBT Catholic youths and earned a lot of attention when they distributed stickers during a pilgrimage of their diocese. Eros from China presented his work as a gay Catholic missionary in Beijing and Shanghai where he started LGBT Catholic groups. Recently, he has collected stories of Chinese LGBT Catholics (in China and surrounding countries) and is going to publish them in a book. Michael Brinkschroeder presented the initiative for a monthly Queer Catholic Service in Munich.
The following discussion in small groups brought some interesting results about the spiritual needs of LGBT Catholics: Most important was the access to role-models and the encouragement to come out of the shadow. Some were asking that priests should not hide themselves behind an official doctrine, but tell their own, personal opinion about LGBT issues. But on the other hand it was asked, if the spirituality should come from the church or from us? One response to this question was, that we should understand spirituality which awakens and nurtures activism as a Catholic form of spirituality.
Altogether, the LGBT Pilgrim’s Haven with all its opportunities to talk and learn from each other was a huge success and definitively a good and much needed example for such a nurturing Catholic LGBT spirituality.
Since its foundation in 1977, the Eucumenical Working Group Homosexuelle und Kirche (Homosexuals and Church) has been working for full participation of LGBTQ in social and church life. As a community of witnesses of the liberating biblical message, it campaigns for the abolition of prejudices and discrimination against LGBTQ in churches, for the full professional equality with cisidentic heterosexual men and women, against discrimination against HIV-positive people and AIDS patients, for spaces for LGBTQ spirituality, and for the recognition of Christians in the LGBTQ community.
The European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups is an ecumenical umbrella organisation of 46 member groups. It was initiated in 1982 by the French Catholic priest Emile Letertre. The Forum started only with gay Christian groups. Since the end of the 1990s, lesbian women become very active in the Forum and the name was changed to “lesbian and gay Christian groups”. Now the European Forum recognizes bisexual and transgender Christians in its name, as well.