As the year 2014 comes to a close, Bondings 2.0 takes a look back at the worst and the best news in the Catholic LGBT world. If you want to keep up-to-date on the latest news about the ups and downs of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community, please consider subscribing to this blog. To do so, enter your email address in the “Follow blog via email” box at the top of the column on the right-hand side of this page, and press “Follow.” You will then receive an email every time the blog is updated, usually once a day. You’ll never miss out on the latest news and opinion in the Catholic LGBT world!
Yesterday, we surveyed the worst Catholic LGBT news of 2014, and today we end the year looking at the best news: all the good things that have occurred and the advances that have been made.
Yesterday, we also commented on the news story that Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny became the first bishop in known history to explicitly call for the Catholic Church to bless committed lesbian and gay couples. While in my mind, that could easily take the prize as the BEST Catholic LGBT news of 2014, unfortunately, it came after we had already polled our readers, and so it was not considered in the voting. I can’t speak for the entire readership of Bondings 2.0, but I don’t think I would be too far off to say that this story certainly deserves an “honorable mention.”
A few days ago, we asked our readers to choose five stories in the “worst” category and five in the “best” category. Each category had 15 items, and there was an option to “write in” other topics that we might have missed. The following is the ranking of the top ten items from the “best” category, in descending order, with the percentage of votes each item received:
1. Both lay guests and bishop participants speak positively about lesbian and gay lives and ministry at the Synod of Bishops in October, revealing a previously unknown progressive school of thought among church leaders. Throughout the year, more and more Catholic leaders support legal rights for same-gender couples. 17.59%
2. Pope Francis appoints Archbishop Blase Cupich to the Archdiocese of Chicago, signaling a new type of more pastorally-oriented “Francis bishops.” Other U.S. bishops soften their rhetoric on LGBT issues, in a seeming emulation of the pontiff. 15.86%
3. The heavily Catholic Republic of Ireland emerges as a leader in supporting LGBT rights. Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmid Martin says: “Anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God. They are not just homophobic if they do that—they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people. 12.07%
4. In an interview with a New Ways Ministry staffer, Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley acknowledges that the trend of firing LGBT and ally personnel from Catholic institutions is a situation “that needs to be rectified.” 10.34%
5. Catholic students, parents, and supporters demonstrate in response to the continuing trend of LGBT and ally personnel being fired from Catholic institutions. 8.97%
6. San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, holds two meetings with representatives of New Ways Ministry and DignityUSA. 5.52%
7. LGBT organizations are given permission to march in both New York City’s and Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parades in 2015. 5.17%
8. A Catholic parish in New York City honors the 44-year long commitment of a lesbian couple who are parishioners by featuring a profile about them in the parish bulletin. 4.48%
9. The School Sisters of Notre Dame reverse an earlier decision and decide to allow lesbian couples to announce their weddings in the alumni newsletter. The Sisters of Mercy re-name a high school soccer field after a married lesbian alumna. 4.48%
10. Catholic high schools and colleges begin to implement policies which support transgender students. 4.48%
As for analyzing, the results of the poll, I think it is easy to see the “Francis effect” in these events and numbers. Almost all the responses had to do with something Pope Francis either directly or indirectly affected. I think his example is inspiring Catholics at all levels to be more courageous in their support of LGBT people. As one Bondings 2.0 reader and commenter, Casey Lopata, stated with his poll ballot:
“With Pope Francis leading the way by example, the positive remarks about gay people by bishops at the Synod together with more Catholic leaders supporting legal rights for gay people demonstrates that the grassroots supportive efforts of ordinary Catholics have been seen and taken seriously by institutional leaders within the Catholic community. At the same time grassroots supporters, emboldened by the words and actions of Francis, are increasingly becoming more active and in their public advocacy for justice for LGBT people within Catholic structures. As a result, opponents are squeezed between these two movements and find less and less support for their negative positions. May the Spirit lead us to make the most of this momentum in 2015!”
Although no one added any “write-in” suggestions, several other readers also added comments to their poll responses:
Chet Thompson: “The five that I marked seem to me to be the most important and need DAILY Prayer. BUT we need to continually work to turn around the Homophobia that we have endured ESPECIALLY over the last 30 years!!!”
Brian Kneeland: “There were some real positives – but there certainly needs to be many more in the coming year!”
Diane Rapozo: “All of the above mentioned are important. Thank you.”
Alice Zachmann, SSND: “Thanks for the opportunity to share. I chose the ones that took courage to carry out…my personal opinion! Keep up your great ministry!”
2014 has been quite a year! It’s been a pleasure and a blessing to share it with all our readers and commenters! 2015 is already sure to be another exciting 12 months, with the already scheduled World Meeting of Families in September, the second Synod in November, and Pope Francis appointing cardinals in February. And who knows what else the Holy Spirit has in store! Whatever it is, we look forward to the opportunity to share it with you in the coming year. Stay tuned!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry