Breaking the Catholic Silence on LGBT Human Rights Violations

December 26, 2011

A big “thank you” to the editors of America magazine, the Jesuit weekly, for standing up for Mrs. Clinton’s human rights’ day speech on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) issues, and also for speaking out about the oppressive anti-gay bill in Uganda. They’ve broken what has been a terrible silence from mainstream Catholic leaders on both of these issues.

In the first editorial of the new year (published in the January 2, 2012, edition, but available now online), they praise Mrs. Clinton for her Catholic vision in defending the human dignity of LGBT people around the globe.  As the editors point out,

“Much of what she says can, and should, be supported by Catholics. Same-sex marriage has been strongly opposed by the church. But Mrs. Clinton’s speech is referring to the more fundamental right of gay and lesbian people to live without fear and without threat of death.”

Uganda, a heavily Catholic nation (42% of the population is Catholic, the largest denomination in the country), is currently once again considering a bill that would institute the death penalty for homosexual activity. Despite the fact that Catholic teaching should oppose this extreme punishment (indeed, any punishment), Catholic leaders have been shamefully silent on this and other international human rights violations against LGBT people.  The silence of Catholic leaders bespeaks a homophobia that is destructive not only to LGBT people, but to the leaders themselves, as they violate their own integrity by not speaking out about what is obvious to so many are flagrant human rights violations.  Particularly in Uganda, forceful messages from Catholic leaders-from the Vatican down to the parish ministers-could make the difference whether or not that nation accepts or rejects this terrible legislation.

It will be a great day when Catholic leaders speak out on violations of church teaching on the human rights of LGBT people with even a fraction of the energy, intensity, and frequency with which they speak against marriage equality initiatives.

Let’s hope and pray that other leaders here in the U.S. , in the Vatican, and around the globe will follow the courageous lead of the America editors.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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