With a heavy heart, we report the passing of Bishop Walter Sullivan, retired Ordinary of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. As a past president of Pax Christi USA, Bishop Sullivan is best known for his work on peace issues. However, no less significant is Bishop Sullivan’s contributions to LGBT equality.
Here are a few of his accomplishments:
- Establishing the Sexual Minorities Commission, the first diocesan outreach to LGBT people, back in 1976
- Writing the introduction to A Challenge to Love: Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the Church (edited by New Ways Ministry co-founder, Father Robert Nugent, SDS).
- Hosting the second national convention of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian/Gay Ministries in 1996. (The organization is now called the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry.)
Also in 1976, Bishop Sullivan spoke out in support of lesbian/gay civil rights, stating in the Richmond News Leader:
“The issue before our community and the [human rights] commission, however, is not the morality of a person’s sexual orientation, but rather a person’s rights and protection under the law. We believe that a person’s sexual orientation, whether it is one we approve or disapprove, is not a proper ground for depriving that person of the basic rights and protections that belong to all human beings. “
From a statement such as this, we can see that Bishop Sullivan was one of the first Catholic bishops to apply the church’s social justice and human rights traditions to the LGBT community.
– taken from Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
more at Bondings 2.0.