Susanne Cassidy caught a train downtown from Wynnewood, leaving enough time to make her way through the midday heat to the offices of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She wanted to be there Monday to support her friend Margie Winters.

Winters, of course, was fired as director of religious education at Waldron Mercy Academy in June after the archdiocese learned of her same-sex marriage. Cassidy has known Winters and her wife, Andrea, for years from Mass at St. Vincent de Paul in Germantown - a haven for liberal-minded Catholics across the city. So in the boiling afternoon sun, she joined a crowd of about 50 and walked with Winters as she tried to deliver a petition to archdiocesan officials, signed by 23,000 people, calling for Winters to get her job back.

She shook her head as a security guard stopped Winters at the door, not letting her any further. She clapped in agreement when Winters called for a "conversation for inclusion" - for a seat at the table.

And as she listened, Cassidy wondered how long it would be before those things could ever happen - at least in a church led by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, whose words have shown such a lack of pastoral compassion for LGBT Catholics. And who has told Cassidy that change is not coming to Philadelphia any time soon.

"No posturing on the part of others will ever lead to changes on those matters," Chaput recently wrote to Cassidy, a lifelong Catholic and the mother of two gay sons, who has advocated for LGBT Catholics and their families in Philadelphia for 25 years.

Cassidy, 75, raised five kids in the church. When one of her sons came out in 1992, she did not struggle with his sexuality. She struggled with a church that could not accept him.

"I could not reconcile that," she said.

She sought support from Catholic LGBT advocacy groups like New Ways Ministry and Call to Action. She began to speak out. She defended her children. She left her longtime parish and prayed at home. She felt closer to God.

"I was born and baptized a Catholic, and I will stay a Catholic," she said. "I believe the church was wrong in the past, and I believe it is wrong again."

At times, she met priests who encouraged her.

Then, last April, she met Chaput. In a letter before their meeting, Chaput warned Cassidy and other parents who would be attending not to harbor "expectations that would not be in line with church teachings."

The parents said they just wanted him to listen to them.

In his office, he told them he met with LGBT parents during his previous posting in Denver. That meeting had grown angry, he said.

Then Cassidy and the others told their stories - of how hard it is to stay in a church that only conditionally accepts their children.

"We poured our hearts out," Cassidy said.

When they finished, Cassidy recalls Chaput telling them, simply, that if they didn't believe in all of the church's teachings, then they shouldn't consider themselves Catholic. Then he left.

In July, Cassidy wrote to Chaput again, this time describing her pain over Winters' firing - and the hope she has found in Pope Francis' calls for a more open church.

"That is the kind of church we need in Philadelphia," she wrote.

Nine days later, she received a four-line response. It was as disheartening as it was demeaning.

After writing that "posturing" on the church's teachings would do no good, the archbishop wrote: "It seems many people prefer worldly ways rather than the ways of Jesus."

With all due respect, Archbishop, what so many Philadelphia Catholics - including this one - would prefer is a leader who recognizes the basic virtue of not judging people for being true to who they are. And that as the city prepares for the pope's visit, it's time to build those "conversations of inclusion" Winters spoke of at the rally.

Cassidy didn't write back to Chaput. She didn't see the point.

215-854-2759@MikeNewall