Thoughts by Gianni Geraci, Il Guado Group of Gay Christians in Milan, Italy. Translated by Peter Luntz
In recent months, many churches in Italy have been dreaming up something akin to “gay lobby threatening traditional families.”
In recent months, people have filled Italian piazzas as they stand still for hours to protest a proposed law that would include homophobia in discrimination and bullying protections related to “racial, ethnic, national and religious” reasons (law no. 654 passed on 13/10/1975).
In recent months, no problems have come up regarding other laws defending racial or religious minorities yet, now that sexual minorities might be included, these laws are called an “attack on the freedom of conscience.”
In recent months, the time has come to slow down and gather together in prayer. After many words spent, it’s important to be quiet and listen as the Spirit’s voice speaks through our consciences. It’s time for prayers in silence, time to listen, to give praise and thanks to bring together different people, overcome their prejudice and help them understand one another.
It’s important because when we pray, we hand over our intentions to God. Even when the Lord does not grant our wishes, he keeps his promises and answers the profound reasons underlying our requests more fully and perfectly.
Even more than in previous years, this is why it’s important for us to create and attend prayer vigils for victims of homophobia. The year’s Bible verse is truly prophetic. In his exhortation from the Epistle to the Romans 15:7, Paul urges his readers to “accept one another, just as Christ accepted you.”
Over the next new weeks, we are called to live out this spirit of acceptance with all our strength. We are called to come together and ask the Lord to liberate us from all forms of hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We are called to experience moments of prayer in a spirit of mutual acceptance in what I’d like to present as “My Dream”.
I’d like to see both people worried about growing LGBT tolerance across Europe and people worried about episodes of intolerance in Italy and worldwide praying side by side in the same church.
I’d like to see both those who’ve been standing in our piazzas for hours protesting proposed laws protecting LGBT individuals because they believe it limits their freedom and those who accuse them of adding to the anti-LGBT hate that is still so alive in Italian society.
I’d like to see the unified prayers of those rallying against basic rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples and those who are convinced that full equal marriage is the only path to legal recognition of same-sex couples.
If we could meet in the same churches, pray together and listen to the same Word of God, then I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit would somehow mysteriously speak to each one of us. I’m convinced we would all hear the Word we each need to hear. We would hear words of acceptance and respect, words of comprehension for the difficulties the other faces when they are before something they do not understand and words of commitment to hard work so that our churches and society may fully live out Paul’s exhortation.
Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you.