Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput seemed to indicate that LGBT issues will not be high on the agenda at next September’s World Meeting of Families to be held in that city. A National Catholic Reporter article said that Chaput said:
“[The World Meeting of Families] will deal with a wide range of family issues where our religious faith is both needed and tested.
“These are matters that affect all families, not only in the United States but on a world scale. So we want to focus next year not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media.”
Though he did not mention marriage equality or adoption by lesbian and gay couples, since those two topics are very frequently reported on in the American media, it would be hard to imagine that he was not including them in his intention.
Chaput said that the meeting “will deal with a wide range of family issues where our religious faith is both needed and tested.” He made these comments while attending a Vatican conference on male and female complementarity in marriage.
It will be a grave mistake not to include LGBT issues in the World Meeting of Families. Almost every family in the United States is touched and affected by such issues, either by having an LGBT family member or because they know someone close to them who is LGBT. And families headed by LGBT people are becoming increasingly more visible in the U.S. Catholic community.
Does Archbishop Chaput think that it is wise to ignore a reality which everyone in the United States is discussing? The fact that these topics are in the media show that, in fact, they are part of the concerns of families.
Indeed, the World Meeting of Families organizers would do well not only to put these topics on the agenda, but to include as speakers Catholic LGBT people and their relatives to discuss their experience of faith, family, and church. Why should this segment of the Catholic community be invisible at such an important discussion?
At last month’s Vatican synod on marriage and the family, bishops and cardinals from around the world did not shy away from talking about lesbian and gay people and their families. And we saw, based on the synod’s interim report, that a large number of them were willing to speak positively about the Christian values found in lesbian and gay relationships. If the world’s bishops can speak freely about such topics, why shouldn’t Catholic families attending the meeting be able to do so, too? After all, they are the ones most intimately connected to these people and issues.
The National Catholic Reporter article noted that some of the topics that will be included in the meeting will be “poverty and the family, marital intimacy, raising children and the impact of divorce, as well as issues affecting the elderly and the disabled.” These are certainly important topics that need to be discussed. But they need to be discussed fully and completely. Families with LGBT members experience many of these same realities, though their perspectives on them might be somewhat different based on their unique position. Wouldn’t it be best to have all perspectives represented at an event which calls itself the World Meeting of Families?
New Ways Ministry hopes that Archbishop Chaput will re-think this planning guideline, and that, instead, he will include LGBT voices, including those who affirm their committed relationships and the families they are part of, on the agenda of the World Meeting of Families. We encourage Catholics to write to him and ask him to make positive approaches to families with LGBT members a priority for next year’s World Meeting of Families.
You can write to Archbishop Chaput at the following postal address:
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archdiocesan Pastoral Center
222 North 17th Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1299
Or you can send him an email at:
He will not know how important LGBT issues are to Catholics unless he hears from them.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry