Diocese of Willemstad
Breedestraat, Otrobanda
Willemstad, Curaçao

CC: His Holiness Pope Francis
Archdiocese of Port of Spain Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon,
Dutch Kingdom Embassy Vatican City
Apostolic Nuntius of the Dutch Kingdom Mgr. Cavalli, Diocese of Rotterdam
Secretary Bishops Conference Catholic Church Netherlands

Open letter

Topic: Hurt caused to the Curacao LGBT Community in General and its Roman Catholic members in particular by you.opinie

In joint representation of the Curacao LGBT Community in general and a large group of Roman Catholic members of that community in particular, we express our profound hurt, grief and incomprehension at your participation at the Rally against the Marriage Equality Bill last Friday July 12th at the Alameda in Punda (downtown Willemstad). Let it be clear that the hurt as expressed by our Roman Catholic members and members of other Christian denominations has only, to a lesser extent, to do with the official position of the Roman catholic Church on the matter, which is very well known to us. Yet, we are particularly hurt by the fact that you as principal pastor of our many Roman Catholic members, chose to participate in a gathering of mainly fundamentalist evangelical churches, where extremely discriminatory, derogatory and outright hateful homophobic declarations were made, and where you even declared at the onset of your own address that you were ‘happy’ to be there among that particular crowd.

Our Christian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual members would have expected at least some kind of outreach of you as a moral leader of the Curaçao Community to them, where you would have stressed the inclusivity and acceptance of the church to our community, independent of its stance on marriage. Especially to that crowd and its leaders, whose expressions were far from inclusive, far from accepting and at times outright hateful. Monsignor you didn't. You said you were ‘happy’ to be among them, with which you suggested, intended or not, that you supported their homophobia and rejection of our members, who look to you as the messenger of a loving and inclusive Universal Spirit, not a Spirit of hate. Many of our people feel painfully wounded by the lack of empathy in your words and the plain hate in the words of those who invited you and whom you seemed to support by your presence at the event.

Monsignor, what we lacked in your presentation was the pastoral empathy of a Pope Francis, who has repeatedly given our community the feeling that we are part of Creation, and that the Catholic Church does not judge us because of it. Not anymore that is, after centuries of persecutions shaming, torture and murder of LGBT people around the world for religious reasons. With his compassionate stance Pope Francis gave us the feeling that that era is ending. But today in Curaçao we feel persecuted again by fundamentalist churches who profess openly and shamelessly that in our LGBT community the devil is at work.

Also your silence in face of the homophobic atmosphere at that meeting stood in great contrast to your predecessor the beloved Monsignor Wim Ellis (RIP), who near the end of last century wrote nothing less than a pastoral letter which was read during mass in all Roman Catholic churches of Curaçao calling against homophobia and for the acceptance of LGBT people as part of Creation. The same Monsignor Ellis who publicly congratulated the LGBT community with the organization of the first Caribbean LGBT Conference in Curaçao in 1998, a conference which many of the pastors who you were so happy to join last Friday already back then were denouncing as a work of the devil (obra di satanas). The same Monsignor Wim Ellis who on public radio in 1996 recognized the legitimacy of the rights of LGBT people for their relationships and families to be protected by civil law. The kind of protection we now seek through civil (secular) marriage equality, Monsignor, because there is no other legal institution providing that protection in our Civil Code.

As we said Monsignor, we are aware of the official Roman Catholic stance on marriage equality. But it grieves us that in your presentation at no moment you recognized the legitimacy of any protection of our relationships and families by civil law, albeit maybe not through the marriage equality that our people seek. And we assume that you do know that a contract of cohabitation at a notary does not give that legal protection at all, because it is only binding for the couple, and nobody else. We are appalled by the fact that just like the fundamentalist homophobic pastors who invited you, you called upon the government and parliament to follow the dictates of your churches, as if there was no separation of church and state in our country. And that separation is the principle basis of the religious freedom we have in our country, by which our churches thrive. Again how far departed from the Statement by the same late Monsignor Ellis, who said: ,,Everywhere where there is Love, God is present”, and who called on our community to ‘keep on sowing roses in the desert’.

We are hurt, grieved and appalled Monsignor. We did not now nor have ever felt any pastoral outreach of you to our community, nor any attempt to explain the Church's position and hear ours face to face. And yet you chose to join those who publicly declare us to be ‘abominations and servants of Satan’ on a stage, and in your words: ‘feel happy’ about that. That really hurts. Still we are convinced that the impression that was created cannot be intentional. Not from the principal pastor of Curaçao's principal church. Therefor sincerely we want to extend to you a heartfelt invitation to join us at Alameda in the last week of September, when a crowd of the same size will come together to celebrate Curaçao Pride, as a reinvindication by the LGBT community of their self-esteem and self-worth as worthy children of the Universal Creator Spirit. We want to invite you to join us in meditation and prayer. We want to invite you as brother and pastor in an atmosphere without politicization and polarization, to bless our people to help cure our community's wounds, which date back for many, many centuries. We count on you Monsignor.

Yours Sincerely
The LGBT Community Curacao in general and its Roman Catholic members in particular,

Represented by Igualdat Kòrsou and Foko

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