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Catholics to work against anti-gay violence

(ran PW PS editions)

Close to 2,000 Catholics have signed a statement published in a newspaper ad pledging to work to end violence against gays and lesbians.

"The murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, apparently motivated by anti-gay bias, has pierced the hearts of our nation and opened the eyes of many to the prejudice, discrimination, harassment, and violence that gay and lesbian people experience," reads the full-page ad that appeared Wednesday (Dec. 30) in the New York Times.

"We cannot be silent in the face of such action. Our Catholic faith in the nonviolent gospel of Jesus Christ moves us to speak."

The ad, titled "A Catholic Pledge to End Violence Against Gay and Lesbian People," is a joint project of New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic ministry that works for justice for lesbians and gays, and Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace organization that emphasizes nonviolence.

The ad cites statistics from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which reported that there were 2,445 episodes of anti-gay violence and harassment in 14 U.S. cities in 1997. More than 95 percent of those episodes were directed at individuals.

It also cites statements from the Vatican and "The Catechism of the Catholic Church" that oppose anti-homosexual violence and support respect for gays and lesbians.

Religion News Service