September 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Pope Francis’ motorcade passes HRC building
Pope, Catholic, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Francis’ motorcade on Sept. 23, 2015, passed by the Human Rights Campaign building. (Photo by Jeon Han; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Pope Francis’ motorcade passed the Human Rights Campaign building in Northwest D.C. on Wednesday as the pontiff made his way to the nearby Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

Members of Dignity Washington were among the hundreds of people who had gathered outside the building at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 17th Street, N.W., in hopes they would have a chance to see the pope.

Pope Francis, HRC, Dignity Washington, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of Dignity Washington stand outside the Human Rights Campaign in Northwest Washington on Sept. 23, 2015, in anticipation of Pope Francis’ arrival at the nearby Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Dignity Washington members were holding a banner that read “Pope Francis: The spirit is speaking through us” with a reference to LGBT Catholics. Others wore blue t-shirts that asked the pontiff whether he would “welcome us home.”

A large banner urging the Vatican to welcome LGBT Catholics back into the church was hanging from the side of the HRC building.

“We’re welcoming the pope,” Larry Ranly of Dignity Washington told the Washington Blade before Francis arrived at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. “I would ask the pope to welcome us.”

Dan Anderson of D.C. and his fiancé, Jim Rinefierd, walked to HRC after attending the White House ceremony during which President Obama officially welcomed Francis to the U.S.

“The energy was pretty amazing,” Anderson told the Blade. “Everybody was just so pleased to be there knowing what was coming.”

Anderson added Francis is “changing the world as pope instead of just living in the old dogma.”

A handful of members of the Westboro Baptist Church gathered on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and M Street, N.W., near St. Matthew’s Cathedral on Wednesday to protest Francis. They appeared to have left the area by the time the pontiff and his motorcade arrived.

Francis is scheduled to pray with U.S. bishops before celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington. The pontiff on Thursday will speak to members of Congress and visit St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Catholic Charities of the Archbishop of Washington before traveling to New York.

Westboro Baptist Church, Pope Francis, gay news, Dignity Washington, Washington Blade

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church on Sept. 23, 2015, gathered on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and M Street, N.W., near the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle to protest Pope Francis. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Supporting the superstition that has, is, and will continue to harm our families so wantonly really isn’t helping anything.

    • I very much disagree. I no longer identify as Catholic, but I’m glad there are passionate LGBT Catholics who feel otherwise, and are putting a LGBT face on their Catholic faith.

      I am a progressive Democrat, but I am grateful there are honorable and passionate LGBT conservatives and Republicans putting an LGBT face on their politics.

      LGBT people exist in all major groups. When LGBTs can bear witness to the homophobic/ transphobic bigotry in any group to which they also identify– or even simply by making their LGBT identity known in such groups– well that furthers LGBT human and civil rights by some measure too.

      • Wake me when we’re no longer hell-bound in the Catholic church for having a sex life (ie. unrepentant for being gay and ‘sinning’ by having sex). That’s the only place they have for us.

        Though I guess a pope will one day declare that this is no longer the case. Religion is all cherry-picked to fit whatever man wants at the time. A real, all-knowing god would never change his mind. He would have known what he wanted in the first place. If man just sucks this bad at figuring it out, we shouldn’t be PREACHING anything to anyone.

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