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Gay Catholics Ordered Out of University Chapel

June 9, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Washington Archbishop James A. Hickey has directed that an organization of homosexual Roman Catholics no longer be allowed to use a chapel on the Georgetown University campus for a weekly Mass, the group announced Tuesday.

The Washington chapter of Dignity USA has been using a chapel on the Jesuit school’s campus once a week for 11 years, said chapter spokesman Jim Deely.

But in a letter dated May 22 to the Rev. Timothy Healy, president of Georgetown, Hickey said Dignity ″has been consistently ambiguous in its statements about Catholic teaching on homosexual activity and sponsorship of a weekly liturgy by this group only adds to the confusion.″

The letter was released by the Dignity group.

In his letter, Hickey said he took the action in response to a Vatican directive to bishops issued last October.

The Vatican told bishops and priests not to support organizations that ″seek to undermine the teaching of the church (on homosexuality), which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely.″

Hickey said those who have been attending the Dignity service at Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic university, could attend ″any one of the many Masses which are celebrated in the metropolitan area each week.″

″The church says homosexual activity is wrong,″ said Barrett McGurn, a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Dignity’s statement of purpose says the group believes that ″gay men and women can express their sexuality in a manner that is consonant with Christ’s teaching.″

Paul Albergo, president of Dignity-Washington, said the statement is ″purposely ambiguous″ to let members make their own decisions on church teachings.

″We should not be forced to celibacy just because the church does not want to deal with homosexuality and can’t accept the fact that there are lesbian and gay people in the world,″ Albergo said.

He said the group will begin holding its weekly Masses at a local Episcopal church on June 28.

Albergo said similar actions had been taken against other chapters of Dignity across the country.

″It is very frustrating and infuriating, and it hurts,″ he said.

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