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Former Catholic Charities board member launches petition to ask Cardinal Dolan to support LGBT youth in need

NEW YORK -- Joseph Amodeo, a former member of the executive committee of the Junior Board of Catholic Charities, today launched a Change.org petition asking Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, who also serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to meet with leaders from the LGBT community and homeless LGBT youth.

Joseph Amodeo, a New York City resident and religious-education teacher, resigned from the Junior Board of Catholic Charities two weeks ago after Cardinal Dolan chose to avoid a request to help young people served by the Ali Forney Center, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency care to homeless LGBT youth.

“We need to raise our voices and seek a dialogue with the Cardinal on this and other issues affecting the LGBT community," Amodeo wrote on Change.org. "Those sitting in the pews must send a message that leaders in the pulpits need to hear: we stand in solidarity with LGBT youth. We should all embrace our young adults and not turn our backs on them for being who they are.”

Amodeo’s Change.org petition asks Dolan to meet with LGBT young adults, hear their stories, and collaborate in responding to the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness.

The petition will be delivered to Cardinal Dolan’s office on the Feast of the Ascension, Thursday, May 17. Cardinal Dolan has the highest profile of any American Cardinal, with United States media often referring to him as “America’s Pope.”

Vatican insiders and international media outlets have recently speculated that Cardinal Dolan could become the first Pope from America.

Amodeo’s initial resignation letter from Catholic Charities received media attention in the Associated Press, New York Daily News, and hundreds of news outlets, prompting an international dialogue about the growing support for LGBT people among Catholics.

In a post today on Huffington Post Religion, Amodeo responded to the international attention:

“The lived experiences of most Catholics serves as a testament to the stark disparity between some Catholics in positions of power and everyday Church-going Catholics on these issues. The notion that Cardinal Dolan would avoid responding to a plea for help for homeless LGBT youth is a deviation from Catholic social teaching.”

Amodeo draws on various statistics that show a majority of Catholics support LGBT people, in spite of remarks from those in positions of power in the Church:

- From the Public Religion Research Institute in March 2011:

Less than four-in-10 (39%) Catholics give their own church top marks (a grade of either an A or a B) on its handling of the issue of being gay. Seven-in-10 Catholics say that messages from America’s places of worship contribute a lot (33%) or a little (37%) to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.

73% of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace; 63% of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military; and 60% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

- According to the Public Religion Research Institute in January 2012:

Majorities of most religious groups, including Christian groups, favored granting gay and lesbian couples marriage equality. Clear support for marriage equality exists within a majority of Catholic and Protestant populations, with significant and growing support among other Christian groups.

- An April 2012 study released by GLAAD and the University of Missouri Center on Religion and the Professions showed more than 50% of Catholic voices presented in the media offer a negative view on LGBT issues when in reality a majority of American Catholics support LGBT equality.

- As reported in the Seattle Times, several Catholic parishes in Washington have refused to allow their parishes to participate in a signature drive being organized by the National Organization for Marriage, a leading anti-LGBT group.

Amodeo today also thanked those who have spoken out after his resignation, noting:

“Since my resignation, the support from Catholic people and other people of faith – gay and straight – has been overwhelming. LGBT youth everywhere should know that they are loved and accepted for who they are.”

To view and sign the online petition click HERE.