July 23, 2018. DignityUSA, the organization of Catholics committed to justice, equality, and full inclusion for LGBTQI people in our church and society, joins many in the Church and justice communities, especially in the northwestern U.S., in mourning the death of retired Seattle Archbishop Raymond "Dutch" Hunthausen. The Archbishop's allowing DignityUSA to hold a liturgy for 1,200 gay and lesbian Catholics and supporters in St. James Cathedral in 1983, and his video message of welcome and affirmation, sparked a Vatican investigation that led to his eventual ouster from Church leadership.
Patrick Roche, who chaired DignityUSA's 1983 convention in Seattle and later served as the organization's president, said, "The simple gesture of unconditional welcome the Archbishop extended to Dignity/USA by opening the doors of the Cathedral to us in 1983 was the historical high point of the official relationship between the hierarchy and Dignity/USA over the past 50 years.
Roche continued, "This kind gesture changed my own life and allowed me to reclaim my place in my Church. The Archbishop was a kind and loving shepherd and I am deeply saddened by his death."
Leo Egashira of Seattle, Washington, a longtime member of DignityUSA's Board of Directors, said, "Archbishop Hunthausen is already sorely missed as a voice for an inclusive church and a fighter for justice. While he garnered national headlines for protesting a nearby nuclear submarine base, he also served as a welcoming pastor to communities marginalized by church and society, especially to LGBTQI Catholics and those living with ( at the time ) the death sentence of AIDS. He was a breath of fresh air in the Archdiocese of Seattle in the 1980s and 90s, offering a glimpse of what a radically inclusive church could look like."
Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA's Executive Director, said, "Archbishop Hunthausen's personal message to those attending our Seattle convention remains a life-changing moment for many who were there. For a Catholic bishop to say publicly that we were welcome and full members of our Church, was unprecedented. It sparked both hope and controversy. After his video message, the Archbishop was subject to a long investigation and the appointment of a Diocesan Co-adjutor. Those in church leadership who felt that Vatican Council II's reforms threatened the Church targeted Archbishop Hunthausen as an example to others. He suffered a great deal because of his inclusiveness and his deep personal commitment to peace, ecumenical work, and consultative leadership. His passing truly marks the end of an era."
DignityUSA celebrates Archbishop Hunthausen's life and ministry, and extends condolences to the members of Archbishop Hunthausen's family, his friends, and to all those who grieve his passing. DignityUSA has called on its members and friends to remember the Archbishop in their prayers, and to embody the values that guided his leadership.
DignityUSA is the world's longest-standing organization of Catholics committed to justice, equality and full inclusion of LGBTQI Catholics in our Church and society. Founded in 1969, it is a founding member of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.