Pope Calls for Church to Apologize to LGBT People and Others Who Have Been Marginalized

June 26, 2016

The following is a statement of Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, released on June 26, 2016, in response to Pope Francis’ call for the Church to apologize to groups it has harmed.

No pope has said more welcoming words to LGBT people than Pope Francis’ recommendation today that the Church–indeed all Christians–should apologize for the harm religious traditions have caused to LGBT people.  The pope’s statement was simple, yet powerful, and it fell from his lips so easily.  The simplicity of his language will provide an immense blessing of healing and reconciliation to LGBT people and Catholics who support them, who have been waiting decades to hear such a simple, honest statement from the Vatican.

[You can read the pope’s statement by clicking here.]


Pope Francis when asked about the mass shooting in Orlando

This step by Pope Francis shows that Church leaders can and should admit when they have been wrong, especially when their wrongs cause people tremendous and unnecessary harm.  His message signals a major change in attitude for an institution that has a terrible history of ever admitting that it has done something wrong.  Admitting an error is healing not just for the harmed people to whom an apology is issued, but to the apologizer, too.  Great healing can come from this statement not just for LGBT people, but also for Church leaders who will follow the Pope’s example.

Indeed, some Catholic leaders have already acknowledged the pain that the Church has caused sexual and gender minorities.  When the person in charge sets the tone for such apologies, more leaders and people will be moved to follow suit.

In calling for an apology, Pope Francis said that he affirmed the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about gay and lesbian people, but, significantly, he emphasized the social justice teaching about condemning prejudice and discrimination against them. Few church leaders ever think of emphasizing the teaching against harming LGBT people, ignoring it to amplify the teaching against sexually engaged homosexual relationships.

We hope and pray that the pope and other church leaders issue formal statements of apology, and, more importantly, offer gestures of reconciliation for LGBT people. In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando, only a handful of Catholic bishops even acknowledge that there was an LGBT dimension to the incident.  A few, like Bishop Robert Lynch, not only expressed sympathy for the LGBT victims, but  also acknowledged that the Church’s teaching and language too often fostered anti-LGBT sentiments.  Pope Francis’ statement shows support for Bishop Lynch’s approach.

Most welcome, too, was the fact that his call for apologies to gay people, also included a call to apologize to others that the Church has harmed: women, the poor, the divorced, and children forced to work.

Pope Francis’ comments did not come out of a vacuum, but out of the decades of work that Catholics have been doing to remind Church leaders that the Church was too often complicit in the social prejudice and physical harm that LGBT people experience.  The prayers, witness, work, and ministry of so many dedicated Catholics has finally risen to the top of the hierarchy and is starting to be heard and enacted.

For some LGBT people who have been so wounded and bruised by Catholic leaders’ negative messages, the pope’s statement may seem like too little, too late.  While indeed we have waited a long time for an opening like this, I think it is important to rejoice at this step forward. We must work and pray to make sure that the next steps take place much quicker.   Among those next steps are more dialogue between Church leaders and LGBT people.  Equally needed is a serious re-evaluation of the hierarchy’s disapproval of committed sexual relationships of lesbian, bisexual, and gay couples, as well as re-thinking the denigrating language Church leaders often use to describe transgender identities.

New Ways Ministry thanks Pope Francis for his example of Christian humility, and we encourage him to continue to pave the way for even greater changes for LGBT people and the Catholic Church.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry






Miami Archbishop Criticizes Those Who Blame Orlando on Catholic LGBT Teaching

June 26, 2016

In the name of “religious freedom,”  Miami’s Archbishop Thomas Wenski has criticized commentators, including one of his brother bishops, who have pointed out that religious leaders and institutions have fueled the hateful attitudes that resulted in the Orlando shooting at a gay nightclub earlier this month.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski

During an archdiocesan Mass opening the “Fortnight for Freedom,” a two-week campaign by U.S. bishops to promote their view of religious liberty, Wenski said in his homily that “Christians who support traditional marriage did not kill 49 people. Omar Mateen did.” Mateen was the Orlando shooter who died at the scene of the massacre. [You can read Wenski’s full homily by clicking here.]

Wenski went on to say “one bishop who should know better even opined, and I quote: ‘It is religion, including our own which targets…and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgendered people.’  The quotation is from Bishop Robert Lynch, head of the neighboring Florida diocese of St. Petersburg, who after the Orlando shooting gave one of the more powerful statements by a U.S. prelate, acknowledging the religious roots of homophobia.

Wesnki disputed Lynch’s approach:

“Where in our faith, where in our teachings — I ask you — do we target and breed contempt for any group of people? In today’s second reading, St. Paul teaches us: ‘Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek… there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Our faith, our religion gives no comfort, no sanction to a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe.”

Clearly, the Miami archbishop does not know the impact that the hierarchy’s negative teaching, messages, and language about LGBT people have had on society.  It is naive of him not to see that some people have seen the hierarchy’s condemnation of marriage equality and other civil rights as permission to further discriminate against and even harm LGBT people.   His claim of innocence rings hollow when for decades, a number of bishops, including Vatican-level members of the hierarchy, have used such strong and ultimate language to decry same-sex relationships and gender transitions.   Does he not see how such negativity and condemnation can infect the minds of people who already have a prejudiced view of LGBT people?    Does he not see that even his own omission of naming the LGBT character of the Orlando event sends a message of invisibility about the group of people targeted?

I do not believe that church teaching was written with the intention of harming LGBT people.  But as an editor and former writing instructor, I know very well that language does not always reflect all of the author’s intentions, and that sometimes the words used can have a detrimental effect, even when no such effect was intended.  Church language about homosexual people, same sex relationships, gender identity and transition is not good writing or communication.  The harsh and negative words that are used instill values which promote discrimination and prejudice.  As was noted, many times at the 2015 synod, the language of church teaching needs to be revised.

Call To Action, a U.S. Catholic justice organization, has organized a petition to ask the church hierarchy to change its language about LGBT people, especially the damaging terms “objectively disordered” and ‘intrinsically evil.”  New Ways Ministry encourages you to sign the petition by clicking here.

Reforming language is only the first step, though.  Theologically, magisterial documents about LGBT people need to be updated in light of new understandings of gender, sexuality, and human relationships.

Another important change that needs to happen is for bishops like Wenski to come to realize that when people criticize church language and teaching, they are not hampering the church’s freedom or the liberty of believers to practice their faith.  Many of these critics are indeed faithful Catholics whose faith instructs them to work for the safety, dignity, and equality of their LGBT friends and family.  Instead of claiming to be the victim, Wenski needs to come to realize that the real victims are those people who suffer because church language and teaching propagates hateful attitudes.  49 of those people died in Orlando two weeks ago.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry



Church Should Apologize to Gay People, Says Top Adviser to Pope Francis

June 25, 2016

Cardinal Reinhard Marx

The Catholic Church should apologize to lesbian and gay people for the harm it has caused to them, said a top cardinal and close advisor to Pope Francis.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, speaking to the Irish Times after his address at a Dublin conference, said:

” ‘The history of homosexuals in our societies is a very bad history because we’ve done a lot to marginalise [them]. . .As church and society, we’ve also to say “sorry, sorry.”

“Until ‘very recently’, the church, but also society at large, had been ‘very negative about gay people . . .it was the whole society. It was a scandal and terrible.’ “

Marx was in Dublin at Trinity College for the Loyola Institute’s conference, “The Role of Church in a Pluralist Society: Good Riddance or Good Influence?” He called for the church to engage positively with the world, acknowledging historical periods when “Christian faith wasn’t on the right side” of societal developments.

Addressing specifically civil rights for lesbian and gay people, the cardinal said governments should “make regulations for homosexuals so they have equal rights or nearly equal.” He explained his “nearly equal” qualification is because church teaching opposes marriage equality, describing heterosexual marriage as a “special relationship.” But Marx followed up by affirming the legal recognition of same-gender relationships, reported Catholic Philly:

” ‘We have our moral position [on marriage] and that is clear but the secular state has to regulate these [same-gender] partnerships and to bring them to a just position.’ “

Marx, who is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis, also commented about the two-year Synod on the Family process. According to the Irish Times, he expressed shock that some bishops could dismiss the commitment and service revealed in same-gender relationships:

” ‘We have to respect the decisions of people. We have to respect also, as I said in the first synod on the family, some were shocked but I think it’s normal, you cannot say that a relationship between a man and a man and they are faithful [that] that is nothing, that has no worth.’ “

Marx, the president of the Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the European Community, has a generally supportive record on LGBT issues in the church. Most recently, he attended Germany’s Catholic Day gathering which draws more than 30,000 people and, for the first time, this year welcomed LGBT organizations.

During the 2015 Ordinary Synod of Bishops, Bondings 2.0’s Francis DeBernardo, who covered the meeting from Rome, described Marx as “one of the strongest pro-gay voices.” The German working group which he moderated acknowledged the harm that “hard and merciless attitudes” in the church have harmed marginalized communities that include gay people and urged bishops to seek forgiveness.

In interviews during and after the Synod, Marx said God would not focus solely on a person’s sexual orientation, but on whether people in same-gender relationships were “faithful, care for one another and intend to stay together for life.” The church must begin its sexual ethics from “love, fidelity and the search for a life-long relationship” and not merely see a person “from only one point of view, without seeing the whole situation of a person.”

Cardinal Marx’s record on LGBT issues is not entirely positive. He maintains a heteronormative defense of marriage and, in response to the lay-led Central Committee of German Catholics’ call for the church to bless same-gender partnerships, called some of their proposals “theologically unacceptable.

His latest remarks in Ireland are, nonetheless, a positive and welcome development. An apology by the Catholic Church for its part in discrimination and violence that LGBT people have faced would be a major step toward reconciliation.  This step would be especially strong if it came from Pope Francis, whose condolences after the massacre in Orlando would not acknowledge the LGBT victims targeted, just as he neglected LGBT issues during his 2015 trip to two nations in Africa which criminalize homosexuality. Church leaders should listen to Cardinal Marx’s wisdom and consider how their words and actions could advance reconciliation with LGBT people and their families.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


As Pride Month Concludes, Celebrating LGBT, Catholic, and Proud

June 24, 2016

Matthew Hawley

With June in its final days, Pride Month is ending, and with it, the parades and celebrations in which many Catholics have participated.

One gay Catholic, Matthew Hawley, wrote about his experiences attending Pride festivities for the first time as approaches something “adjacent to pride when it comes to my sexuality.” In The Huffington Post, Hawley explained his journey to becoming gay, Catholic, and proud.

Raised in a traditional Boston Catholic family who regularly attended Mass, his mom a Catholic school principal, Hawley, 24 years old, came out as gay only a few years ago. Before telling his family, he went to Eucharistic adoration to “talk about it with God”:

“I went to adoration when I decided to embark on Operation: Find a Man. I feared God would be angry, but instead I distinctly felt God encouraging me.

“The next day I got a call from my mom at work. She said she’d gone to Church that morning and felt there was something troubling me that I hadn’t told her about. I struggled to hold the phone. I’ve never felt so assured that God was in the Eucharist.

“As I came out to family and friends over the course of the next year and a half, the response was varied — from unconditional love, to those who feared for my soul because now I was going to hell to blatant rejection. Many kept asking: ‘Why?’ “

In a separate piece at Elite Daily,Hawley explored the reactions to his coming out from Catholics in his life. His mother was affirming, and focused instead on whether Healey would become a priest and, if not, then what about grandchildren. Other responses were critical, encouraging him to seek help or telling him they could not support him.


Franciscan friars at Boston Pride

Since coming out as gay, people in Hawley’s life began asking a new question familiar to many LGBT Catholics: why did he remain in the church? He answered by differentiating the institutional church from the people of God:

“I would like to think the Catholic Church will one day change its mind, but it’s almost irrelevant because the Catholic Church has been wrong about a great many things. I grew up in a time when Boston was littered with sexual abuse victim stories daily. I know the Catholic Church would rather people in Africa die of AIDS than give them contraception. I know the Church is still incredibly and shamefully sexist in almost every regard.

“But that is the Church. And to be honest, I hate the Catholic Church as much as anyone. Catholicism has not lasted for 2,000 years because of priests or the institution. In fact it has lasted in spite of both. Its longevity stems from millions of people across the world who still connect to the beliefs of forgiveness, do unto others what you want done, and the self-sacrificing love of our creator.”

Hawley said he now better understands what pride means, having jettisoned the false dichotomy of his youth that he could only be gay or Catholic. He wrote:

“When I came out, God reached out to me to say you can be both.

“That is why I’m proud: I reached back. I have incorporated my sexuality into my whole being. It does not define me. I am proud to be gay and Catholic. That is not simply a fact. It is an accomplishment. In spite of my surroundings, I proclaimed that I want to find happiness with a man. In spite of the world, I maintained my faith. I did that, and I am proud.”


Dignity marchers in Boston Pride

Being LGBT, faithful, and proud is an experience many Catholics have celebrated this month. In Boston, where I attended Pride celebrations, I visited an exhibit booth for three welcoming Catholic parishes organized under the name Greater Boston Rainbow Catholics. Their banner, which people were invited to sign, read, “I am a proud LGBTQ Catholic and I pray the church would love me more.” I cheered on Dignity/Boston’s contingent marching in the parade, followed by some smaller Eucharistic communities.

In this one city, LGBT Catholics and their allies affirmed God’s love for all people and celebrated their love for one another. And this Catholic affirmation happened in cities and in communities across the world. There were even Pride parades in the traditionalist Catholic nations of Poland and Croatia, reported Crux.

A New Ways Ministry supporter has informed us that there will be a contingent of LGBT Catholics and Friends in the New York LGBT Pride March on June 26th, marching behind the following banner:

GayPrideBanner_FIN-4 (2)

The organizers are inviting all LGBT and Ally Catholics in New York to join them. If you are interested in walking with the group, please send an email to: info@NewWaysMinistry.org. You will receive more detailed information in response to your email.

While we grapple still with the violence in Orlando and, for Catholics, the church’s mixed response, may the final Pride celebrations this weekend be places where Catholics can affirm every person living as their authentic self as the path to true holiness. Or, to quote the Boston welcoming parishes’ theme, itself a quote from St. Catherine of Siena, “Be who you were meant to be and you will set the world on fire.”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

If You Love Discussing Catholic LGBT Issues, Come and Meet Others Like You!

June 23, 2016

This summer, there will be several opportunities for Bondings 2.0 readers to meet with Bondings 2.0 staff members and other readers in various parts of the U.S.

We’ve kicked off a series of blog meetups for readers to connect with one another and with our writers to do discuss current Catholic LGBT issues–the substance of Bondings 2.0.  The series was inaugurated with a meetup in London during mid-June, which also included Terence Weldon from the Queering The Church blog.  The event was hosted by LGBT Catholics Westminster, London’s pastoral outreach to the LGBT community.

The second meetup is scheduled for next week in the Chicago metropolitan area.  See details below.

Come and be part of a live discussion about the issues that mean so much to you!

The following is a schedule of upcoming meetups:


Chicago, Illinois vicinity
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 5:00-7:00 pm
Visibility Bar at Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel (Lobby Floor)
5440 North River Road
Rosemont, Illinois
Staff Moderators: Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick

Columbus, Ohio
Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 7:00-9:00 pm
Plaza Lounge of the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square (2nd Floor)
79 East State Street
Columbus, Ohio
Staff moderator: Francis DeBernardo

Atlanta, Georgia
Wednesday, August 10, 2016, 7:00-9:00 pm
Southern Elements Restaurant at Hilton Atlanta Hotel (Lobby Floor)
255 Courtland Street, NE
Atlanta, Georgia
Staff moderators: Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick

Boston, Massachusetts
Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 7:00-9:00 pm
St. Anthony Shrine
100 Arch Street (at Downtown Crossing)
Boston, MA
Staff moderators: Bob Shine

International News: Anti-LGBT Protest, Adoption Rights, Trans Beauty Pageants

June 23, 2016

Bishop Victor Masalles

While much attention has focused on the mass shooting in Orlando this past week, today’s post features other Catholic LGBT news happening around the world.

Another Dominican Bishop Attacks LGBT Equality

Bishop Victor Masalles, auxiliary of Santo Domingo, criticized a recent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) for promoting “ideological colonization.” Interviewed by Crux, the bishop said OAS did not simply seek to end anti-LGBT discrimination but was attempting “to impose so-called ‘gender ideology'” which “intentionally deploys radical feminist language.”

Masalles organized a protest outside the OAS meeting which was held in the Dominican Republic, the latest anti-LGBT action from a Dominican hierarchy that has aggressively attacked gay U.S. Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster and his husband, and used anti-gay slurs in the past.


Diego Neria Lejárraga

Transgender Man Who Met with Pope Francis Publishes Book

Diego Neria Lejárraga, a transgender man from Spain who had a private audience with Pope Francis in 2015, has published a book. Titled The Cluelessness of God: Travelogues of a Man Who Was Born a Woman, the book details the man’s journey as a transgender Catholic, according to El PeriódicoHe writes in one part that he did not want to stop being Christian because he transitioned, but simply wanted respect and love, as everyone does.

Pope Francis invited Neria to the Vatican after the man wrote to the pontiff about being rejected by his faith community following his gender transition, including a local priest who called Neria “the devil’s daughter.”


Marilena Grassadonia with wife, Laura, and their children

Italian Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Adoption Rights

A recent court ruling has allowed a same-gender couple in Italy to adopt one another’s children. Gay Star News reported:


“The [juvenile court in Rome] said on Friday that Marilena Grassadonia, president of the Rainbow Families association, could adopt her wife’s twin boys; her partner was also allowed to adopt Grassadonia’s son. It marks a legal first for Italy, where strong opposition to same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption from the Catholic Church has slowed legislation on LGBT rights.”

Unfortunately, this ruling does not set a legal precedent. Grassadonia pointed out that families still “depend on individual decisions” when it comes to adoption. Other legal challenges by lesbian parents are already in in the appeals phase. Italy passed a civil unions law earlier this year, but political compromises by Prime Minister Mateo Renzi meant adoption rights for same-gender couples were dropped from the legislation


Ta’alin Abu Hanna

Catholic Arab Wins Transgender Pageant in Israel

Ta’alin Abu Hanna, who described herself as a “proud Catholic Arab” won the first ever Miss Trans Star pageant held in Israel, reported PinkNews. Hanna, who is from Nazareth, said the win was “historic” and will compete in the Miss Trans Star International pageant later this summer.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry




Vigil for Orlando Victims Displaces Gay-Negative Lecture at Catholic School

June 22, 2016
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Bishop Peter Ingham and Emma Rodrigues

A Catholic school in Australia replaced a lecture against marriage equality with a candlelight vigil for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando which targeted an LGBT nightclub. The vigil is but one of many ways by which Catholics have shown their support for the victims and their families, and solidarity with LGBT communities.

Parents at St. Therese School in Wollongong, New South Wales, protested the scheduling of a lecture against marriage equality  by the Australian Family Association (AFA), reported the Illawara Mercury. AFA had used harsh language against same-gender relationships in its promotional materials for the event. Parents described the school’s use of its parent email list to promote the lecture as “extremely bigoted” and “totally inappropriate.” Against the school community’s calls for the event to be cancelled, Bishop Peter Ingham had defended the lecture and the hierarchy’s teaching on marriage.

After the Orlando incident, however, the lecture was replaced by a candlelight vigil for victims organized by Emma Rodrigues, an LGBTQI advocate.  Perhaps the surprise of the event was when Bishop Ingham showed up and stood side-by-side with Rodrigues. Tim Smyth of Acceptance, a Catholic LGBT group in Sydney, noted:

“While the vigil displaced a planned talk at the school that evening by a group opposed to marriage equality (and those with a more cynical bent might question the sequence of events), postponing the talk to make way for a vigil to remember the Orlando nightclub massacre victims and agreeing to the photo, is a step forward, albeit small.”

Smyth informed Bondings 2.0 of another positive Catholic LGBT development in Australia at the Installation Mass for Bishop Vincent Long, OFM, of Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney. Smyth reported that Long’s homily included “the first public statement by an Australian Bishop calling for spaces in our church for gay and lesbian Catholics.” Smyth continued:

“Bishop Long, a refugee from Vietnam, noted that the Catholic Church has ‘not lived up to that fundamental ethos of justice, mercy and care who have been hurt by our own actions and inactions’. Bishop Long went on to refer to Pope Francis’ call for a Church ‘where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live according to the Gospel’. Bishop Long then stated that ‘there can be no future for the living Church without there being space for those who have been hurt, damaged or alienated, be they abuse victims, survivors, divorcees, gays, lesbians or disaffected members. I am committed to make the Church in Parramatta the house for all peoples, a Church where therein less an experience of exclusion but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity’.”
In the U.S., more bishops have acknowledged the shooting as targeting LGBT people, though some used language such as “same sex attraction” and “lifestyle” to allude to the LGBT dimension of the tragedy. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, reflected more extensively and sympathetically on Orlando in his column for diocesan newspaper, The Evangelistwhere he wrote:
“But whatever — or whoever — possessed this man last Sunday morning to enter the Orlando nightclub Pulse, described by its owner as ‘a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community,’ Mateen’s objective seemed clear enough: to put a violent end to defenseless members of a class of human beings simply because they existed and he did not want them to live. . .
“At this time, we must state unequivocally that our respect for the dignity of all human beings includes those who themselves identify or are associated in the judgment of others as members of the LGBTQ community, a class whose vulnerability to acts of terrorism was graphically and shockingly exposed at the massacre in Orlando.”

Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport said, “There can be no place in our midst for hatred and bigotry against our brothers and sisters who experience same sex attraction or for anyone who is marginalized by the larger society.”

Bishop Felipe Estevez of St. Augustine said a massacre should not be necessary to “recognize our shared humanity, regardless of our lifestyle or paradigm of marriage and human sexuality, and that Catholics must attended to all people including the “gays and lesbians in our families.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 2.23.19 PM

500+ marchers in Seattle honoring Orlando victims (Photo: St. James Cathedral)

Faith communities and religious congregations have shown their solidarity not only with the victims in Orlando but with LGBT communities suffering in its aftermath.

More than 500 Seattle residents walked through that city’s LGBT neighborhood from the Episcopal cathedral to the Catholic one to honor those people killed, and to call for stronger gun control laws. Fr. Michael Ryan, pastor of St. James Catholic Cathedral, said there was “no better way” to express solidarity and call the community to prayer “in a very dark and painful moment” than this walk, reported the National Catholic Reporter.

In Washington, D.C., Dignity/Washington organized an interfaith vigil that drew hundreds to the city’s Dupont Circle.

In Indiana, the Sisters of Providence hosted a prayer service at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Terre Haute, to express solidarity with the victims and their families.


Vigilers gathered in Dupont Circle

A statement from Franciscan provincials in the U.S., reported by the National Catholic Reporter, said the order stands “shoulder-to-shoulder with our LGBT brothers and sisters as they grieve and try to make sense of this tragedy. To them we say clearly: We stand with you.”

Fr. Pat Browne of Holy Apostles Parish in London reflected on the hate-fueled violence which struck down not only 49 people in Orlando last week, but resulted in the murder of British MP Jo Cox. Browne, who is a chaplain to the Houses of Parliament, wrote:

“As followers of Christ it is the mission of all Catholics and Christians to ensure that everyone, regardless of their colour, their creed, their sexual orientation is VISIBLE and VALUABLE. If you want to argue with that and say No, there is an exception…he didn’t mean….then you have got it wrong. Which group have you got a problem with? Gays? Migrants? Beggars on the street? There is no-one Christ omits from the warm embrace of his love. If YOU want to, then best be honest. Leave the Church. YOU ARE NOT OF CHRIST.”

Noting the Scottish church’s continued silence after Orlando, Kevin McKenna wrote in The Guardian:

“I remain hopeful that the Catholic church in Scotland will join with Scotland’s main political parties and the majority of its citizens to express sorrow at what happened in a gay Orlando nightclub last weekend. The victims were children of God and loved by [God] and so are those in the LGBT community who today feel a little more fearful and vulnerable as a result. The church to which I belong must now also reach out to them.”

Despite these positive responses from around the world, problematic responses are beginning to increase. Conservative Catholic outlets have published pieces that suggest church leaders should not be in solidarity with LGBT people or that claim anti-LGBT Christians are being attacked after Orlando. Melinda Selmys responded critically to such notions at her blog, Catholic Authenticity:

“Erasing the fact that the attack on the Pulse was likely motivated, at least in part, by religious homophobia is cowardly. As evidence arises to suggest that the killings may have been sparked by internalized homophobia, the Church really needs to be all the more forceful in communicating that homophobic hatred and violence are unacceptable. . .

“Instead, we have virtual silence from the hierarchy. We are left to grieve alone, unacknowledged by our spiritual fathers. And we have articles, like this one, that use one of the greatest tragedies ever to strike our community as an opportunity to argue that that community is illegitimate, that it must never be accepted, acknowledged, named.”


Earlier this week, Bondings 2.0 explored the religious roots involved in the mass shooting in Orlando that targeted an LGBT nightclub. This reality means faith traditions have a responsibility to respond strongly when violence strikes. Catholic faithful and pastors, by their words and acts, are showing that the church is the people of God, and that God’s people stand in solidarity with LGBT people, especially in their time of need.

To read Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of the Orlando massacre and Catholic responses to it, please click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry



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