A group which advocates on behalf of homeless LGBT youth has called on Pope Francis to end the Roman Catholic Church's rejection of gay people.
In an open letter
published Sunday in The New York Times
, Carl Siciliano, executive director of New York City's Ali Forney Center, asked the Holy Father to "take urgent action to protect [homeless LGBT youth] from the devastating consequences of religious rejection, which is the most common reason LGBT youths are driven from their homes."
"At the heart of the problem is that the church still teaches that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that being gay is disordered. I hope that if you understand how this teaching tears families apart and brings suffering to innocent youths, you will end this teaching and prevent your bishops from fighting against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of society."
"As LGBT youths are finding the courage to speak the truths of their hearts at younger ages, epidemic numbers are being rejected by their families, and driven to homelessness. The number of youths enduring this cruel fate is staggering; last year at least 200,000 LGBT youths experienced homelessness in the United States."
Siciliano went on to invite Pope Francis to visit the Ali Forney Center.
"I greatly respect you as a leader who has shown deep concern for the plight of the poor. I invite you to the Ali Forney Center, to meet our abandoned youths and see for yourself how their lives have been devastated and made destitute by religious rejection."
The full-page ad was paid for by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings, the Washington Blade reported
"I'm hopeful that putting this out publicly will put this central question on the table, and that all advocacy groups and news media will learn more about it and frankly see how harmful this 'sin' teaching is," Gold said. "While others tell me this is a heavy lift or you can't get the Catholic Church to change, I say 'let's try.'"