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 Fay
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. (Update on June 15: Click here for photos and a report on McNeill and LGBT groups presenting the letter to the Pope asking him to end homophobia.)
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.
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 www.takingachanceongod.com. For info on EuroPride events on Faith and Homosexuality, click here.
UPDATE on Oct. 16:
John McNeill has posted his own personal thoughts on the U.S. film debut at this link:
Reflections on the playing of Taking a Chance on God at the Woodstock Film Festival
Gay priest McNeill film has U.S. premiere Sept. 24 in Woodstock, NY
NEW on June 15: For news and photos of presenting the letter to the Pope and the EuroPride March, see our post LGBT Christians to Pope: Stop homophobia! (plus photos of EuroPride & John McNeill)
NEW on June 8: For news reports on the premiere, see our post Update: Gay priest McNeill’s premiere succeeds despite rain in Rome at EuroPride.
If you can’t make it to Rome, watch the trailer above or on YouTube for highlights of “Taking a Chance on God.”