May 17th: The organization of vigils of prayer to remember the victims of homophobia

Also this year, during the week before the17th of May – the International Day Against Homophobia – many vigils of prayer will take place in several Italian cities, European and South American countries to remember the victims of homophobia.The initiative started  in Italy 5 years ago and in the following years the number of supporters has increased. The project involves an increasing number of groups of homosexual believers, Christian communities (Catholic, Waldensian and Baptist), many organizations and ecclesiastical groups from several Italian cities.

The relationships between homosexual believers and Christian communities have thus strengthened and deepened, producing positive results. In 2007,  13 groups answered the call, while last year in Italy 22 vigils were organised. For the first time, the ecumenical vigils for the victims of homophobia also took place in Spain (in Madrid, Bilbao, Murcia, Valencia, Ciudad Real and La Coruna), in some South American cities and in Munich (Germany).

It’s also important to realize that something is changing in the Catholic Church: for the first time, in 2010, in 6 Italian cities, vigils were held in Catholic parish churches – and among these, in the parish church of Cremona where the bishop, Dante Lanfranconi, attended the celebration and read his homily.

As Italy is a close-minded country about homosexuality, sometimes and in particular at the beginning, it seemed impossible to find a church or a community for a public vigil.
The experience of these years has been  positive, and it has displayed that you don’t have to stop knocking at the door, even if at first only few people open it.
Do you remember the bothersome friend the Holy Writ talks about? All you need is a bit of patience and goodwill, bearing always in mind that you don’t want to persuade others or take over the world, but only try to share your hope.

If we did it, others may, too!  So, this year again we manage to get together in prayer in our city, in a small or  big group and in any case it will be a great result – we will try to display that the Church doesn’t leave out the homosexual Christians of our city.
In spite of all, the Church, or better, the Churches are present, and it is important to remember that God says “don’t call anyone impure or unclean”. [Acts 10:28]
As the organizers say, “If you join us in prayer, the hope sign will be stronger and more meaningful, and we’ll be able to lay firm foundations for a different future when gays and lesbians will be heartily welcome in churches”.

The vigils of prayer to remember the victims of homophobia will be organized in Italy with the support of Gionata, the Italian Project on Faith and Homosexuality, and in Europe with the support of the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Christian Groups.