WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Weeks after Bishop Thomas Tobin urged Catholics to avoid Rhode Island Pride events one church in his diocese is welcoming the LGBTQ community with open arms.
In its mission statement Saints Rose and Clement Catholic Church says it welcomes all people, regardless of race, marital status or sexual orientation.
Justin Puckett is extremely involved in his parish community, and helped draft that statement, but he hasn’t always felt this way.
“I left the church for a very long time,” said Puckett, a Warwick resident. “What I decided I thought was right socially and what the church taught, those two things tend to be at odds.”
His story isn’t unique, but he used his past to help shape the future of his church.
“We want to be a church that welcomes all races, divorce and remarried, gays, lesbians, transponder, because we want to be faithful to who we believe Jesus is,” said Father Matthew Glover of Saints Rose and Clement Church . “There was no one that Jesus denied, there was no one that Jesus didn’t accept.”
On Tuesday, the church is hosting a group discussion, inviting members of the LGBTQ community to share moments when they felt hurt by the church and also times when they felt accepted.
“This is not a debate on church teaching, it’s not a debate on catechism, it’s not a debate on the bishop or the pope or any of those things. It’s just a matter of saying the most important thing is being welcoming, is being loving,” added Cranston resident Angie Howard-McParland. “For us it’s all about standing with the populations that we’ve seen be marginalized so hopefully those margins don’t appear anymore.”
Father Glover says the message of inclusively and acceptance has helped his parish to grow, while most others are shrinking.
“We had over 100 new families come to our church last year we get e-mails, we get people showing up on the weekends because they feel welcome they feel supported in their journey of faith. So doing what we’re doing on Tuesday night isn’t about numbers, it’s about being true to the Gospel.”
All are welcome to attend Tuesday night’s meeting being held at the church.