The Worst of 2011: Year in Review, Part 1

December 30, 2011

2011 is coming to a close, so it’s proper that we should look back over the past to review what has happened in LGBT Catholic news.  Two weeks ago, we asked for your votes for the best and worst news stories of the year.  Thank you to all who submitted entries.  Today we will list the stories that fall in the “worst” category, and tomorrow we will post the list of the best.

The Worst of 2011 in LGBT Catholic News

1) Daniel Avila, a marriage adviser to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, writes a column in Boston’s archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, in which he claims that the devil is the cause of homosexuality.  After much outcry, the paper pulls the column and Avila resigns as an adviser to the bishops.

2) Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George compares the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan.  Given three opportunities to clarify his comments, the cardinal persists in applying the analogy, though, he says he was not talking about people but only about the similarity between parades of the two groups.  This story is still ongoing.

3) Six dioceses in Illinois close down adoption services rather than adhere to a state law which recognizes civil unions of lesbian/gay couples.    The same response had been taken by bishops in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia when those jurisdictions legalized marriage for lesbian/gay couples.

4) Los Angeles’ Archbishop Jose Gomez protests the inclusion of LGBT history in the state’s education curriculum.  The inclusive curriculum is instituted.

5) New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, in an interview, refers to lesbian/gay people in this way: “we’re going to be booed if we don’t hire these people.”

6) Boston Archdiocese cancels Pride Mass at St. Cecelia’s parish.  Silver Lining:  Mass goes on one month later with strong message of welcome from the pastor.

7) Bishops in New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Minnesota mount major campaigns to prevent marriage equality from becoming the law of the land.Marriage bills are defeated in Maryland and Rhode Island.  Gender non-discrimination bill is defeaed in Maryland.

8) The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops initiates a campaign to defend religious liberty, claiming that religious institutions and people are suffering because lesbian/gay people are acquiring more rights.

Some Analysis

In compiling this list I’ve noticed two important trends.

The first finding is that all of these negative items involve bishops.  While the one at the top of the list, Daniel Avila’s comment about the devil, was not perpetrated by a bishop, Mr. Avila was an adviser to the bishops, which is what made this story all the more egregious.

This trend shows what we have long known and what statistical researchers are starting to prove:  Catholic lay people are much more supportive of LGBT people and issues than the bishop Catholic bishops are.

The second finding is that it was actually difficult to find negative stories that occurred this year.  I used readers’ comments, and I reviewed the past issues of our print newsletter, Bondings, and the positive stories way outnumbered the negative ones.   This trend shows that things are, in fact, getting better.  I think you’ll see that tomorrow, when we post the best of 2011 list.

Do you agree with this list? With these trends? What stories have we missed? What trends do you see?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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