U.S. Catholic magazine’s newest issue is running a major story on lesbian and gay Catholics, entitled “Pride and Prejudice: The uneasy relationship between gays and lesbians and their church.”
Writer Kristen Hannum does an excellent job of analyzing many of the important issues that affect lesbian and gay Catholics, and she even-handedly allows all parts of the Catholic debate on these issues to speak. (Stay tuned: in the coming days, we will report on two sidebar articles that accompany this comprehensive piece.)
One of those quoted in the article, Louisville’s Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, has a prime opportunity to back up his words with actions. Hannum quotes him expressing strong support for Catholic teaching on respecting human dignity:
“ ‘Every conversation should emphasize dignity,’ says Kurtz, past chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage. The archbishop praises the USCCB’s Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, which begins with general principles, the first of which is respecting human dignity, that (quoting from the Catechism) ‘persons with a homosexual inclination must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.’ ”
Archbishop Kurtz has a wonderful opportunity to put that quote into action right in his own backyard. Louisville’s Courier-Journal newspaper carries a story about a protest this past Sunday at the city’s Catholic Cathedral:
“The event was organized by the Fairness Campaign, a gay-rights group. The legislation it supports would ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations but would not legalize gay marriage, said Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. . . .
“Supporters of the legislation are seeking the backing of Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, whom they met with about a year ago to discuss the issue, Hartman said.”
The bill needs greater support from city leaders, and Archbishop Kurtz now has an opportunity to stand up for the church’s teaching on human dignity. When he was the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, he spoke up a lot about the church’s teaching on sexuality as it applied to lesbian and gay people. In the U.S. Catholic article he says that both teachings need to be expounded:
“ ‘Both are to be emphasized, the dignity and the Catholic vision for sexuality,’ says Kurtz.”
If he needs assistance in formulating his position, he can turn to one of his priests, who presides at liturgy in the diocesan cathedral. According to the Courier-Journal:
“The Rev. Joseph Fowler, a retired priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville, participated in the Fairness Campaign event before helping officiate at the Mass at the cathedral.
“He said he supports the anti-discrimination legislation because ‘there is a dignity to each person that we recognize.’
“Asked how he reconciles his support with Catholic teaching, Fowler said, ‘The church does not say it’s wrong to be a homosexual.’ ”
Let’s hope and pray that Archbishop Kurtz speaks up for human dignity with strong passion.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry