Intrepid United Kingdom blogger Terence Weldon of QueeringTheChurch.com alerted me to a column with a positive Catholic LGBT message which appeared in the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s newspaper, Catholic San Francisco.
The column, entitled “Reminding those in despair of God’s love,” is written by Fr. Peter J. Daly. While the message in this essay is powerful, important, and newsworthy, the source of the message is equally noteworthy: Fr. Peter J. Daly is a syndicated columnist with Catholic News Service, which is run by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Clicking on the column’s title in the first sentence of this paragraph will bring you to a PDF of the entire issue in which the column appeared; this particular column can be found by scrolling down to page 16.)
Daly’s column is a plea to church leaders and people to assist LGBT youth who are at risk of suicide, often as the result of bullying. He begins by describing a ministry experience he had:
“The young man began to cry. I asked him why he was so unhappy. He said it was because his family would not accept him. I asked why they would not accept him. He answered, ‘Because I am gay. They are very Catholic.’ I started to cry, too.
“Three times in 25 years of ministry I have sat across the room from young men who have attempted suicide because they were gay or feared they were gay. Several other times, especially when I was in campus ministry at The Catholic University of America, I talked with young people despondent over their gay sexual identity.
“I have talked with people who cut or disfigured themselves because they had such a deep self-loathing because they were gay. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released last year, gay and lesbian youth are much more likely than their heterosexual peers to have thought about suicide or to have attempted suicide.”
Bravo to Fr. Daly for writing so personally about this issue. Much too much silence–which is literally deadly–exists in our church about this issue. Two years ago, when LGBT teen suicide made national headlines because of the publicized trend that was erupting, religious leaders across the country were speaking out in support of youth, yet the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did not breathe a word. Another example is that New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan has yet to respond to the plea of a young N.Y. Catholic man who publicly asked the cardinal to meet with LGBT youth. Let’s hope that Cardinal Dolan and all U.S. bishops read Fr. Daly’s column in their own news service and take heed of his message.
Another group that should heed Fr. Daly’s message are his former employers: the administrators of Catholic University of America. Bondings 2.0 has been reporting about the efforts this year by students to get official recognition for a gay-straight alliance, CUAllies. Led by sophomore Ryan Fecteau, the efforts have been strong and respectful, yet the administration has been curiously silent.
Indeed, all Catholic college administrators should heed Fr. Daly’s message. Readers of this blog will remember that the University of Notre Dame has also been seeking recognition of AllianceND, a gay-straight support group. Led by sophomore Alex Coccia, their efforts ended in an “incomplete” in the spring, when a decision was deferred until the fall.
What is the message that Fr. Daly’s column offers? It is one of the most basic principles of Catholic theology which he presents in three simple sentences of the closing paragraph:
“ No one should feel excluded from God’s love. No one should ever be driven to despair. Ever.”
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry