The Board of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics that was elected at the 2nd Assembly in Dachau in December 2017 has been working at making GNRC run effectively and efficiently. The following list is a summary of some of the most important tasks the Board has accomplished, broken down by categories.
The Board elected the following officers:
- Co-Chairs: Ruby Almeida and Christopher Vella
- Secretary: Francis DeBernardo
- Treasurer: Brian Okallan
- Legal Representative: Andrea Rubera
The office of media representative was not filled. Because this job is so immense, Board members and members of the media committee will assist in fulfilling the role communally.
The Board distributed a questionnaire to all members to find out which committee members would like to serve on. We established the following committees and assigned willing individuals to act as conveners:
- Membership and Nominations: Francis DeBernardo
- Organisational and Structural Development: Thomas Bartsch
- Next Assembly Committee: Chris Vella
- Financial Management: Brian Okallan
- Media, Public Relations, and Communications: Ruby Almeida
- Prophecy and Justice: Decriminalisation: Benjamin Oh
- Spirituality and Faith Development: Rainbow Pastoral Work: Argel Tuason
- Dialogue with Hierarchy: Dumisani Dube
- Gender Ideology: Marisol Ortiz
- GNRC as an Inclusive Organisation: Susanne Andrea Birke
Reports from Committees are included in this newsletter (check below).
We are in the process of registering and acquiring a video conferencing program (Microsoft Office 365 For Non Profits) to allow clearer and less problematic connections for GNRC Board and committee meetings.
This license will also allow all interested GNRC members to participate in our 2018 online annual meeting later this year.
The Board’s Media Committee sent out a press release about the Second Assembly and produced a members’ newsletter which covered the Second Assembly.
Youtube Channel for the GNRC was created in January 2018. Current content includes the Second Assembly Greetings (from Sr Jeannine Gramick, Mary McAleese, Fr James Martin), as well the Chronicle of HuK and Sr Monica Astorga which were presented during the Second Assembly.
A general GNRC information leaflet has been produced to be used for distribution at meetings, conferences, and to any interested individuals. It is available as a ready-to-print pdf.
We have begun the process of revamping the GNRC website so that it has a creative synergy with the design and style of our new leaflets.
With the assistance and lead from Michael Brinkschroeder, a proposal for a grant from the Arcus Foundation has been prepared and sent for its evaluation. Among the items to be funded: a part-time project manager for decriminalization project, scholarships for 3rd Assembly travel and participation, participation at the Dublin World Meeting of Families, and having a presence at the October 2018 Youth Synod in Rome. Funding for a part time IT Specialist has also been identified for implementing the technical demands of our online Assembly, for technical support for the website and the GNRC intranet.
The Board assisted in sending Co-Chair Christopher Vella to Rome to represent GNRC at the European Forum of LGBT Christians conference in Rome.
The Board assisted in sending Co-Chair Ruby Almeida to Bratislava to represent GNRC at the International Church Reform Network meeting.
The Board attempted to assist Treasurer Brian Okallan and GNRC Member Dumisani Dube to represent GNRC at the Pan-Africa ILGA Conference in Botswana, however plans for their participation did not materialise due to travel and registration issues.
World Meeting of Families
GNRC Board Co-Chairs are representing the organization on a continuing Skype meeting with other Catholic organizations to discuss plans for an LGBT presence at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August 2018. GNRC has applied for an exhibit booth at the event, which may not be successful but GNRC hopes to have some form of presence there. Other GNRC members participating in the Skype meeting: Michael Brinkschroeder, Francis DeBernardo, Marianne Duddy-Burke and Marisol Ortiz.
The Board’s Next Assembly Committee has been working with DignityUSA’s Marianne Duddy-Burke, Leo Egashira, and Jeff Stone to plan the Third Assembly which will take place July 1-4, 2019, in Chicago. Pre-conference meetings will take place on 30 June. The Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center has been selected as the venue. Plans for pre-conferences, cultural events, and other activities are being discussed.
Brand, Identity, and Regional Associations
The GNRC Board adopted the following policy:
- The ‘GNRC brand’ and use of the GNRC logo and name by members/ regions, etc.: Regional configurations are not official designations in the Constitution. Any use of the name or speaking for the organization needs to be approved by the GNRC Board. Regional associations should be informal committees of the GNRC. The Media committee will be coming up with regulations for using logos and name.
- The internal working of GNRC regions: Regions organise themselves autonomously and work using their own methods, and will keep in touch from time to time with reports to the GNRC Board.
General Data and Protection Regulations
The Media Committee is planning for our 2018 Online Assembly to take place later this year. The committee will look at things such as: finding an effective online platform, planning the agenda, and organizing preparatory materials. If you are interested in being involved in this work, particularly if you have any experience in online meetings or expertise in information technology, please contact the GNRC co-chairs.
REPORTS FROM COMMITTEES
Next Assembly Committee
This Committee has been working since December on the organisation of the next Assembly that will be held in Chicago in July 2019. The Committee includes representatives from Dignity USA and from the GNRC Board. They have been working on the logistics of the meeting and travel plans for the various delegates coming over from the rest of the world.
Organizational and Structural Development Committee
This Committee is responsible to keep working on the Constitutions, the Internal Regulations and the Governance Manual to iron out any issues that need clarification and modification. These include protocols, election procedures and the like that can always be enhanced and improved upon.
The Committee has been looking to create an agreed position and vision on what GNRC’s wishes to say about Church institution statements that impact on the lived lives of our lgbti family around the world.
We have also been looking at the communication structures and IT platforms which will help us to have good communications internally as well as externally.
We have already produced a general information leaflet and plan to have a more specific print campaign that will focus on our LGBTI decriminalisation project.
Spirituality and Faith Development Committee: Rainbow Pastoral Work
The Committee has kept in touch via email. Their three main goals are collecting pastoral resources from GNRC members, sharing these resources throughout GNRC, and developing new resources. One idea for development would be to produce YouTube videos, including people telling their stories.
They are also considering developing knowledge or emphasis on contemplative spiritual life within GNRC.
Gender Ideology Committee
The Committee has been having a discussion on email, and they are considering changing the name and scope of the committee. Instead of looking only at the negative effects of the Church’s “gender ideology” movement, they would like to focus on the question of gender identity, including other areas of the transgender movement.
They would like to build a map showing the different gender identity laws and national Church’s position in gender identity issues and identify the challenges and goals in the different countries.
Dialogue with the Hierarchy Committee
The Committee held its first meeting via Skype and devised a small agenda of tasks based on the discussion in Dachau:
- Compiling a list of known Catholic hierarchy members who are sympathetic to LGBT issues and people.
- Developing talking points around the following topics: Sensitivity to Language about LGBT people, decriminalization, focusing on “family” and the diversity of families rather than same-sex unions.
- Developing global and regional GoogleGroups for GNRC members to share questions, experiences, and recommendations about dialoguing with the hierarchy. These discussions could lead to a GNRC resource for members.
- Discussing the best ways for GNRC to respond publicly to Vatican and other hierarchical statements.
Prophecy and Justice: Decriminalisation
The Prophecy and Justice Committee identified that violence, be it cultural, structural, religious, spiritual as well as direct violence against LGBTQI persons and our families remains the most pressing issue confronting all and it manifests differently in our varied locations.
The campaign for decriminalisation will play a vital role alongside addressing the issue of violence against LGBTQI persons, as we are fully aware that decriminalisation legislative reform alone is not the antidote in addressing violence against LGBTQI persons and our families.
In countries with or without legislative frameworks that supports the persecution of LGBTQI persons and our families, and even in countries where legal protection is in place for LGBTQI persons and their families, LGBTIQ people and their loved ones remain exposed to violence, discrimination and prejudice, often motivated by some religious groups, including sections within our church.
Currently, these are the plans the committee is working on:
- Develop a multilateral dialogue kit -on how to dialogue with social and civil movements, religious communities, families etc.
- Map out connections in regions and countries where we are
- Create or curate a Story-Telling Project to focus on building literacy on effects of violence against LGBTQI person
- Build support for Catholic LGBTQI Asylum Seekers and Refugees
- Develop a statement on addressing violence and criminalisation against LGBTQI persons (appropriate to cultural contexts and languages
We hope that more members from the GNRC community will join us in our effort. The Committee meets on the 8th July 2018, please email Benjamin Oh committee convener (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.