NYC Church Changes Acceptance for LGBTQ+ Community

( – A New York City church made history by embracing the LGBTQ+ community. While many communities and religious organizations have refused to offer services for AIDS patients, the Church of St. Francis Xavier has opened their doors for them. They also were the first church to bury someone who had passed away from AIDS during the epidemic in the eighties.

Most recently, the church has become a memorial for people who died from AIDS-related complications, which has made more people feel welcome at the church. Roe Sauerzopf spoke out about how the church made her and her wife, Paula Acuti feel when they visited. “We came and we never left,” she said.

Said Acuti, “It’s been a struggle to be a lesbian, and to be a Catholic lesbian has been even more of a struggle.”

“It was on Pride Sunday and the priest said that everybody there should pray for all the sinners who were marching in the city. And I think that’s the last time that we went into a church for a long time,” Acuti continued, referring to her time at another church.

Fifteen years went by for them before they stepped into a church again. They were speaking to a friend when they expressed how there are no accepting Catholic churches and the friend recommended St. Francis Xavier. Once the couple attended, they never went back to a different church.

Acuti and Sauerzopf have even joined the church’s Catholic Lesbian Group which now has more than three hundred participants. Pastor Kenneth Boller, who leads these LGBTQ+ friendly groups, said, “It’s important for everybody to find groups of people who are ‘like’ instead of ‘other.’ So you can develop friendships, you can share experiences.”

He continued, “What’s important is that people find a place to pray.” Acuti and Sauerzopf got married at the church before same-sex marriage was even legal. The pastor set up a whole ceremony for them within the church to celebrate. “He did a whole Mass, he blessed our rings, he just couldn’t sign the papers,” they said.

Many have praised the church and what they have accomplished by being an inclusive Catholic institution so couples like Acuti and Sauerzopf can feel accepted in their most real form while practicing Catholicism.

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