Monday, 6 June 2011

Gay priest McNeill shakes up Rome with new moves and new movie

Thanks to "Jesus in Love" Blog for this introduction to a new film by Fr John McNeill SJ.

Pioneering gay priest John McNeill is still shaking up the Vatican at age 85. He is going to Rome for the world premiere of a new documentary about his life on June 6 at EuroPride 2011 -- and to ask the Vatican for LGBT justice.

When in Rome, McNeill will not do as the Romans do, but instead will advocate change in the Roman Catholic church.

The new film, “Taking A Chance on God,” tells the life story of McNeill, author of the groundbreaking 1976 book “The Church and the Homosexual.” McNeill’s work inspired the founding of Dignity, the LGBT Catholic group, but he was silenced by the Church and expelled from the Jesuit order for coming out and promoting LBGT rights in church and society.

John McNeill, right,

with director Brendan Fey

Rome is the perfect city for the premiere because the order to silence McNeill for his LGBT activism was issued in Rome in 1977 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- the current Pope. For refusing to obey this order of silence, McNeill was eventually expelled from the Jesuit order in April 1987.

During his Roman holiday, he will deliver a letter to Catholic leaders at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The letter will ask for dialogue, and urge Church leadership to speak out against the violence, injustice, and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world.

McNeill and his life-partner Charlie are traveling to Rome from their home in Florida for the premiere. McNeill will be welcomed as pioneer of the international LGBT religious movement by thousands of LGBT persons who will gather in Rome for EuroPride 2011. This is the first time ever that EuroPride will include a section on faith and homosexuality.

The documentary is directed by filmmaker and activist Brendan Fay. He co-produced “Saint of 9/11” about Father Mychal Judge, the gay chaplain who died in the World Trade Center tragedy on September 11, 2001.

“For a few days Rome will be a sea of rainbow flags as thousands of LGBT activists mingle with Catholic pilgrims in Rome for the observance of Pentecost,” Fay commented. “In the midst of Pride celebrations, our community needs John McNeil’s reassuring voice of hope. McNeill’s message that gay love can be holy love is as relevant today as when he first began to proclaim it in the early 1970s.”

I first met McNeill in 1987, soon after he ended his silence. He came to preach at Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, where I served on the clergy staff. I was impressed by his powerful-yet-gentle presence and the intellectual force behind his liberating theology.

McNeill went on to write more books on LGBT spirituality, including “Taking A Chance on God,” “Sex as God Intended,” “Freedom, Glorious Freedom” and “Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair.”

“Taking A Chance on God” will be screened at EuroPride Park on Monday, June 6, and at other festivals this summer and fall. For more info on the film, visit For info on EuroPride events on Faith and Homosexuality, click here.

If you can’t make it to Rome, watch the trailer above or on YouTube for highlights of “Taking a Chance on God.”


KittKatt said...

God bless John McNeill on his journey to Rome, bringing justice for LGBT people to the Vatican, and a vision of God's love to the LGBT community. Thank you for the nice presentation and link back to my blog.

Anonymous said...

This holds hope for men like my good friend organist Robert Sabourin of Midland MI. Bless you, John, for Bob's sake.