Openly gay and married US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James “Wally” Brewster, has been the subject of slurs from Cardinal Nicolas De Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, over a period of two years.
The US State Department has now had to intervene, stating that the argument underscores the need to push for human rights.
Earlier, Senator Richard J. Durbin D-Ill sent a letter to Pope Francis, asking him to intervene in the case of Cardinal Rodriguez, and stating:
“Even before Ambassador Brewster’s arrival in Santo Domingo in 2013, Cardinal Rodriguez launched a personal attack against him with public statements quoted in the popular press. The Cardinal used the hateful slur “faggot,” which he continues to use to this day. In a recent interview Cardinal Rodriguez again described the Ambassador as a “faggot” and falsely claimed the Ambassador was setting out to promote “faggotry” in the Dominican Republic. The Cardinal described the Ambassador as a “wife” who “should stick to housework.””
“In the past the Cardinal and Dominican Church leaders even organized a “Black Monday” public protest against the Ambassador. Their action led to a counter-demonstration in support of the Ambassador and his partner”.
Senator Durbin is a devout Catholic himself, and is also friends with Mr. Brewster. He also told the Pope in his letter:
“Since your selection as Pope, you have shared a message of compassion, tolerance, and love. I remember distinctly when you spoke to us at the joint session of Congress in September and reminded us of our responsibility to “defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”
I accept that challenge and I am calling on you to ask nothing less of the hierarchy of the Church”.
With regard to the row, the State Department stated that US policy is dedicated to eliminating barriers to equality, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and engaging LGBTI communities around the world.
Ambassador Brewster has also drawn attention to corruption on the island, after which Cardinal Rodriguez said he should go back to his embassy and “focus on housework”.