LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Just in time for Ash Wednesday, a season of renewal and repentance, nearly half of the Diocese of Lexington's priests signed a pledge to uphold the Catechism of the Catholic Church which states "LGBT people should be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity."
The Diocese of Lexington, which encompasses 50 Kentucky counties, released the following pledge on Wednesday:
Diocese of Lexington LGBT Ministry Director JR Zerkowski explained the pledge is a "living document" in that more signatures will be added over time.
With the Diocese of Lexington Bishop Stowe's blessing, Zerkowski began an LGBT ministry at the Historic St. Paul Catholic Church in Lexington following the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people in Orlando.
The ministry became diocese-wide in July 2020.
"In Lexington, a strange sort of grace has been occurring, we have become a model for many places in this country for LGBT ministry. I never set out to do that," he said. "This is all by grace and it's all a big miracle to be honest with you. All we wanted to do is reach out, especially people at the Pride Festival many years ago, and say we're here for you because y'all are mourning."
Zerkowski said the Wednesday statement is an opportunity for LGBTQ youth who are vulnerable and often bullied in addition to the whole LGBTQ community.
He said the pledge means priests "celebrate you as a person with your dignity, given to you by God. And you're not going to hear ugliness from our mouths. You're going to find accompaniment, and you're going to find the truth that God loves you. And that God is at your side and if God is at your side, we darn well are going to be at your side too."
Zerkowski said the signatures signify a movement "that says that we are in dialogue with parishes with the leaders. I have no idea where this is going. I have depended on the Spirit, since the beginning and I believe God works miracles despite us."
For more information and details about the Diocese LGBT Ministry's events, visit its Facebook page.