The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) brings together groups and their members who work for pastoral care and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and their families. The Network works for inclusion, dignity and equality of this community in the Roman Catholic Church and society. Our faith calls us to challenge all discriminatory structures and to advance the equality of LGBTI persons. Civil and church law should value and protect their human rights, not diminish or deny them.
When Pope Francis announced an extraordinary global bishop’s synod on the family, he also motivated LGBT Catholics and their families to organize themselves on a global level. The GNRC originated in Rome, Italy, on October 3, 2014, by a group of Catholic LGBT and ally leaders who had gathered there for “Ways of Love” – an international theological conference on LGBT people and the Church which was organized by the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups. After the meeting, a group from 11 different nations met for a discussion and we agreed that we would work toward establishing a formal network for people and organizations who were doing similar work. These founding members were New Ways Ministry (USA), Diversidade Catolica (Brazil), PADIS (Chile), Wiara i Tecza (Poland), Drachma (Malta), Westminster LGBT Pastoral Council (UK), David & Jonathan (France), Ichthys (Spain), ACGIL (Spain/Catalunya), Nuova Proposta (Italy) and the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups.
Over the course of the next year, 2015, the organizers planned a foundational Assembly for the GNRC, and invited participants from around the globe. Over 80 people from almost 30 nations attended that inaugural Assembly, held October 1-4, 2015, in Rome, just before the start of the Vatican’s Synod on the Family, where LGBT issues were to be discussed. The official host group was the European Forum which had also raised funds for scholarships, but the program was prepared as a common effort of the member groups of GNRC.
There was great energy and enthusiasm at that first meeting, and we discussed many needs, hopes, organizational ideas, and many other items which focused on how we could support one another, as well as work toward transforming our church and our world. The members of the Assembly elected a Steering Committee (SC) of ten representatives from around the globe and from various diversity constituencies to plan the development of the organization, respond to news events, and plan a second Assembly, which will take place in the fall of 2017.
At the inaugural GNRC Assembly in Rome in October 2015, the newly-elected Steering Committee (SC) was tasked to write up a Concept Paper, to draft a constitution for the organization, to plan for the organization’s legal registration, and to organize the next Assembly. Elected members of the SC were Georgina Adhiambo (Africa), Michael Brinkschröder (Europe), Francis DeBernardo (North America), Fernando Gonzalez (South America), Benjamin Oh (Asia), Tim Smyth (Oceania) as well as Joseanne Peregin, Ruby Almeida, Eros Shaw, and Chris Vella (diversity representatives).
Since December 2015, some of the activities of the GNRC Steering Committee have been:
- Revising concept paper and mission statement
- Drafting other organizational materials such as a membership policy and code of conduct for Board members
- Investigating the best place to incorporate as an organization
- Planning the next Assembly
- Seeking funding for Assembly, incorporation, and other projects
- Producing several copies of a newsletter published in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Chinese
- Making public statements responding to Catholic LGBT news
- Establishing sub-committees and inviting greater participation
- Hosting regional consultations with potential members via Skype
- Drafting the constitution and internal regulations.