Though it’s been a year since the Archdiocese of Detroit prohibited priests from offering mass to LGBTQ+ Catholic group Dignity/Detroit, the order hasn’t budged. The decision came as a shock last year to Dignity members as the organization had operated for 46 years as an active LGBTQ-affirming Catholic entity in the state of Michigan.
“The archdiocese prohibited any priest from saying mass for Dignity,” said Dignity/Detroit President Frank D’Amore. “Nothing was said about Dignity itself; it was just their roundabout way of, effectively, trying to stop us.”
The group is part of DignityUSA, a national organization that offers LGBTQ+ and allied Catholics a place to worship while staying supportive and true to their identities. And while mass can’t be offered directly to attendees, that hasn’t stopped loyal churchgoers from attending Dignity events, which are held at the chapel at The School at Marygrove.
“There is no mass for Dignity Detroit. What we do on the first Sunday of every month is we visit a parish of one of our former presiders to show support for them,” D’Amore said. “Then, on the third Sunday of the month, we meet at Marygrove for a scripture and communion service that we lead ourselves. You don’t need a priest for that; anybody can do that.”
Since starting parish visits in May of 2020, Dignity/Detroit has visited 10. D’Amore said Dignity members will start the cycle again once they’ve visited every active priest who offered mass to Dignity members before the ban.
D’Amore said he was never was able to appeal the archdiocese’s decision because his attempts to schedule a meeting with Bishop Gerard William Battersby, who serves as an auxiliary bishop for Detroit’s archdiocese, were refused.
“We never spoke because in one of the last emails I got from Bishop Battersby he said that there was no reason to meet, that it was non-negotiable,” D’Amore said.
However, despite the ban on mass, Dignity is able to maintain its lease in the Marygrove school chapel, which is a Catholic space as it has a valid lease agreement signed through Dec. 31, 2024. D’Amore expects that he will not have an issue renewing it when it expires.
“I have no clue at this point, but I really don’t care. I don’t see any issue in renewing it because we’re not dealing with the archdiocese,” he said.
For now, he said he sees no wiggle room when it comes to removing the ban, but D’Amore is glad to at least show support to the priests who offered mass to Dignity’s members for years.
“We go to the parishes to support the guys that used to say Mass for us as a way of thanking them,” he said. “We owe it to them after all these years ministering to us.”
When asked if Dignity/Detroit has released a statement on the Vatican’s recent refusal to recognize same-sex couples, D’Amore said no.
“What the Holy Father said was a statement that no priest anywhere can marry same-sex couples. The Pope encouraged same-sex people to have civil unions, but it could not be recognized by the Church. That’s no shocking news, everybody knew that for years. For some reason, some cardinal decided to restate that and that’s how that statement came out — but it’s nothing new,” he said. “We had a service on the third Sunday of the month and some people mentioned it, but everybody was of the opinion, ‘So, what else is new?’ It’s been that way for as long as anyone can remember. So, it really wasn’t earth-shaking that he issued this statement.”
Learn more about Dignity/Detroit online at dignitydetroit.org.