Apologies Need to Be Supported by Structures in Both State and Church

Several days ago, Bondings 2.0 reported on Munich’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s call for an apology by the Church to lesbian and gay people.  His call for apology preceded that of Pope Francis by several days.  The cardinal made his remarks at a press conference in Ireland last week, after he had given a speech at a meeting on church and state relations.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx

Our blog post was based on information from an Irish Times news story.  Since that time, The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) filed a story on Marx’s speech, bringing to light some other, stronger comments he made while meeting with journalists.

NCR reported:

“Marx, who is president of the German bishops’ conference and a member of the pope’s advisory council of nine cardinals, called on not just the church to apologize to gays and lesbians, but society as a whole, which he said was implicated in this ‘terrible scandal.’

” ‘The history of homosexuals in our society is a very bad history because we have done a lot to marginalize them. It is not so long ago and so as church and as society we have to say sorry.’ “

While calling heterosexual marriage “a special relationship,” Marx made a strong call for social and legal protections for lesbian and gay couples.   More importantly, he urged church officials not to oppose such protections.  NCR stated:

“Referring to the passing of legislation in Germany recognizing civil partnerships, he urged the church ‘not to be against them.’

“He said the state had to make arrangements for homosexuals so that their rights are recognized as equal but he also suggested that marriage is something different. So far, there has been no move in Germany to permit gay partners to marry.

” ‘Up to now we have this difference — some are against it; some are for it. There was an open discussion. We [the church] have our moral position [on marriage] and that is clear, but the secular state has to regulate these [same-sex] partnerships and to bring them to a just position and we as church cannot be against it,’ he said.”

Marx’s words about society are welcome, but also raise an important question:  If society must go beyond apology to provide structures that protect LGBT people, why doesn’t the Church follow suit?   In the wake of the pope’s call for an apology to gay people by the Church, many organizations and individuals, including New Ways Ministry, called for the pope to establish structures to promote dialogue and further advancement of LGBT equality in the Church.  It would be wonderful if Cardinal Marx, a papal adviser, would apply his own reasoning to the ecclesial situation, and suggest to Pope Francis that the Church establish structures that will make apology a more impactful reality.

Cardinal Marx also commented on the need for the Church to reform its whole approach to moral theology:

“. . . Marx said most conservatives want the pope to state very clearly what is forbidden and make a list of what is not permitted with no discussion. On the other hand, progressives want the opposite — a list of what is now allowed.

” ‘That is not the way to go with conscience,’ he said. ‘The pope is choosing another way. The world is very complex and there are challenging pastoral situations. The people see how the church is looking on my life and understanding and seeing that my marriage is in a difficult situation … but it is not just saying yes or no or black or white.’

“He added, ‘That is reform in my eyes.’ “

During the press conference, Marx paraphrased his statement which shocked the 2014 synod: “You cannot say that a long-term relationship between a man and a man, who are faithful, is nothing. That it has no worth.”  His call for civil unions is putting some emphasis behind those words.  Now it’s time for him to recognize that the Church needs to value the “worth” of gay and lesbian relationships, too.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry



Catholics Split on the Value of Pope Francis’ Call for Apology

Around the world, it seems that Pope Francis’ call for the church to apologize to LGBT people is meeting with mixed reactions from the LGBT community itself.  While some find the pope’s statement to be lip-service at best, others find a great deal of hope in it.

J Manson 8x10
Jamie Manson

Critics have questioned what credibility apologies might possess without action, or even admission of underlying problems. Jamie Manson, books editor for the National Catholic Reporter, commented on Facebook:

“The pope wants the church to apologize to gay people for marginalizing them, while also upholding the Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality. You can’t apologize to people and simultaneously reassert the doctrine that harms them. That’s just dysfunctional, if not downright abusive.”

Dindi Tan, an LGBT advocate in the Philippines, said “the wound is just too deep to be assuaged by words as comforting” as Pope Francis’ remarks, and LGBT people await a “formal shift of policy by the church when it comes to LGBT people, our rights and our welfare.”

Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man in Chile, noting the Vatican’s rejection of France’s ambassador because he was a married gay man this year, told the Washington Blade:

” ‘Every time and since he became pope, all he says is yes, but there is no follow up. . .All we see are empty headlines.’ “

questlogovioletrainbow12Other Catholics responded more positively, welcoming Pope Francis’ call, but request actions to back his words. Quest, a group for LGBT Catholics in the U.K., released a statement calling the pope’s remarks “a major turning point” in how the church treats lesbian and gay people. The statement continued:

“Words of apology however, are not enough. Pope Francis has acknowledged the harm that has been done by the Church in the past. As Fr James Martin SJ has observed in a [Facebook] post, this harm is real and deep, and for many LGBT Catholics, it is not just a matter of the past, but continues, even today. Hurt and wounds require healing. A closing resolution of the 2015 Family Synod resolved that special pastoral attention needs to be given to families with lesbian or gay people. Such families certainly include those headed by lesbian and gay people themselves.”

Quest called on the British bishops to “expand and improve” existing pastoral care for LGBT people, and offered its help in so doing. It is worth noting that Quest said it was regrettable Pope Francis did not apologize specifically to transgender Catholics, too.

Michael Sean Winters
Michael Sean Winters

Michael Sean Winters, columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, said Pope Francis had “done it again,” meaning that he did “nothing more than express a decent and honest sentiment, one that in no way contradicts the teaching of the church.” Noting that such sentiments should not be remarkable, Winters offered three points for why they are. He wrote, in part:

“Pope Francis’ comments stand in stark contrast with those who place all sorts of qualifications on their affirmation of the dignity, even the humanity, of gay people. Few clergy, at least Catholic clergy in this country, are willing to affirm the dignity of gay people, full stop. Later, there is time to discuss the church’s teaching on the ends proper to the sexual act. Usually, even those who understand that the church needs to develop it thoroughly inadequate theology on homosexuality, and even those who steer clear of the culture wars, tie themselves in knots with ‘buts’ and ‘on the other hands’ and ‘nonethelesses.’ Pope Francis almost never utters such words.

“Second, the pope’s comments stand in contrast with the reluctance of many bishops, again even of some good bishops, to even utter the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. . .It is almost impossible to overstate the degree to which the Jansenistic obsession with sexual matters has distorted the preaching of the Gospel, especially here in the U.S. You can exploit workers, you can degrade the environment, and you can climb into an ideological bed with the Koch Brothers, but so long as you oppose ‘those who experience same-sex attraction,’ you are tagged as orthodox.

“Third, of course, the pope’s comments distinguish him from those who really are hateful when speaking about gays and lesbians. “

Father Thomas Reese, SJ
Father Thomas Reese, SJ

Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, recently appointed chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, highlighted the connection between Pope Francis’ call and the ongoing violence LGBT face. He said to The New York Times:

“There are a lot of people at the Vatican who don’t like the church ever admitting we ever did anything wrong. . .With gays, it is especially important because they are still subject to persecution and discrimination all over the world, and even in the United States.”

Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray, who is a gay Catholic, said to SeattlePi that after weeks which left him stunned, Pope Francis’ call was “truly sustaining and deeply moving” and despite the problems in the world, perhaps “there is a path to healing.”

fortunate_famliliesFortunate Families, a network of Catholic parents of LGBT children, released a statement thanking the pope for his comment, but also calling for reform:

“Yes, Catholics and other Christian churches have marginalized our children, and they deserve an apology, but even more so they deserve outreach that makes them feel welcome in our churches. The words ‘objectively disordered’ and ‘intrinsically evil’ have given ammunition to those who would harm our children, and when internalized, often produce unhealthy self-loathing. A significant part of this apology should be to stop using this language. Being sorry should result in a change in church policy. The bishops and clergy reaching out to listen to the experiences of LGBT+ persons, educating themselves about the issues of the LGBT+ community, and welcoming LGBT+ support groups into parish spaces would be an excellent start to repairing the damage that years of condemnation have wrought.”

Deb Word

Deb Word, former president of Fortunate Families, was hopeful about Pope Francis’ remarks. Hearing the news of the pope’s apology after attending an Episcopal service celebrating marriage equality last Sunday, Word wrote the following on the Fortunate Families blog:

“My church may be slowly changing…I believe the people in the pews for the most part have made peace with the fact that our children in loving relationships pose no threat or harm. But the language the hierarchy uses is still stinging- still painful to hear or use, and, I believe untrue.

“I am excited that this Pope, Francis seems to get it. I sat in church today and wondered would it ever happen- to come home and see this… Well it makes me smile!”

Bondings 2.0 will update readers if more reactions and responses become available in the coming days. To read previous reactions, please click here. To read New Ways Ministry’s statement in response to the Pope’s message, please click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Related articles:

CNN: “Pope says Chrsitians should apologize to gay people”

The Daily Beast: “Pope Francis Says Church Should Apologize To Gays And Others It Has Hurt And Ask Their Forgiveness”

New York Times: “Gay Catholic Groups Want Pope Francis to Do More Than Apologize”

International Business Times: “Pope Francis: Catholic Church must apologise to gay people and others”

Windy City Times: “Pope says Catholic Church must apologize to gay people” 

Fired Lesbian Teacher Wins Discrimination Case Against Catholic School in Italy

Students at L’Istituto Sacro Cuore

A Catholic school in Italy has been found guilty of discrimination for firing a teacher based on speculation about her sexual orientation.

A labor court fined L’Istituto Sacro Cuore (The Sacred Heart Institute) in Trent 25,000 euros, reported Religion News Service (RNS), payable to the former teacher. The Institute must pay an additional 1,500 euros to both a labor union and civil rights association. Alexander Schuster, the anonymous teacher’s lawyer, celebrated the ruling as protecting church workers’ rights to privacy, saying:

” ‘The use of contraceptives, choices such as cohabitation, divorce, abortion, are among the most intimate decisions a person can make and must not concern an employer.’ “

The teacher, for whom reports used the pseudonym “Silvia,” claimed that, in a meeting with Sister Eugenia Libratore, the school’s headmistress and mother superior of the religious order which runs the Institute, Silvia was asked about her relationship with a woman with whom she lives. The headmistress said she had heard rumors about Silvia being a lesbian woman, and sought to clarify the teacher’s relationship in the interests of ‘protecting the school environment.’

Under scrutiny, Silvia refused to answer any questions in that meeting and rejected Libratore’s suggestion that the headmistress could “turn a blind eye if [Silvia] was willing to ‘solve the problem.'”

Silvia later came out as a lesbian women who is in a partnership after her teaching contract was not renewed by the school. Thoughs Silvia was a veteran teacher whose job performance was deemed “adequate and professional,” Libratore defended the firing on the grounds that Catholic identity “must be defended at all costs.” At the time, Silvia described her firing as “medieval.”

The labor court ruled that assuming a church worker’s sexual orientation in an  employment evaluation is discrimination. RNS noted:

“Going further, the court argued it was a case of collective discrimination, because the incident would have a damaging effect on anyone potentially interested in working at the school.”

Italy made employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation illegal in 2003. When Silvia was fired in 2014, the Italian government’s Education Minister Stefania Giannini became involved in the case. Some 20 senators supported Silvia.

Victories in cases of discrimination against LGBT church workers and their allies are rare. Of the more than 60 church workers who have lost their jobs in LGBT-related employment disputes since 2007, only a handful have won legal cases, had church institutions reverse their decision, or had church institutions defend LGBT employees.

Silvia’s win in Italy is a positive step, especially in a country where the Catholic hierarchy still heavily influences politics. This year, despite ecclesiastical opposition, Italian legislators advanced LGBT rights by passing a civil unions law. More firings could be on the horizon as more couples enter legal partnerships and marriage.  Church leaders could end this firing scourge by prioritizing the gifts and contribution that these church workers bring, and by respecting the privacy of their lives outside the workplace.

For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of other LGBT-related church worker disputes, click the ‘Employment Issues‘ category to the right or here. You can click here to find a full listing of the more than 50 incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their jobs over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equality.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Catholics Welcome Pope Francis’ Call for Church Apology to LGBT People, Others

Fr. James Martin

Catholics have begun to welcome Pope Francis’ recommendation that the church apologize to LGBT people, women, and others whom it has harmed. The pope made his remarks during an in-flight press conference on the return flight from his apostolic visit to Armenia over the weekend.

To read New Ways Ministry’s statement in response to the Pope’s message, please click here.

Jesuit Fr. James Martin, a noted author and commentator, called it “a dramatic, even historic” event.  On Facebook, he stated:

“Pope Francis is correct of course. The church should continually seek for forgiveness from those it has offended or offends–including the LGBT community. Seeking forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life. Indeed, during the Jubilee Year, St. John Paul II asked for forgiveness on behalf of the church from, among other groups, Jews, women, indigenous peoples, immigrants, the poor and the unborn.

“But this is surely a dramatic, even historic, statement.

“And if you cannot fathom how much the church has marginalized the LGBT community, then you probably haven’t been listening very hard to the LGBT community. Ask them.”

Terence Weldon
Terence Weldon

Terence Weldon of Queering the Church said he had expected this call for an apology, but not nearly so soon. He added:

“Simply because there have now been a series of papal apologies to a wide range of groups previously attacked or persecuted by the Catholic authorities. . .LGBT people were at the back of the queue, but their turn had to come eventually. . .

“Now however, is not the time to carp. Let us first, offer profound thanks that Pope Francis has gone where none of his predecessors could – he’s asked of the entire Catholic community, ‘Who are WE to judge?’ “

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 10.32.49 PMRyan Hoffman, co-executive director of Call To Action, a national Catholic justice organization, said in a statement that church leaders must apologize and then act:

“. . .to reform teachings and practices that refer to gay people as ‘objectively disordered/ and ‘intrinsically evil’ and which continue to exclude and deny women equal participation and leadership in the church. It’s time Francis’ wise words translate into just action. We stand ready to help the church move toward the institutional change Francis’ radical love often asks of us.”

dignity usa logoMarianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, called the pope’s remarks “a very important step” towards reconciliation. She agreed in a statement that now action was required:

“In order to bring about the full healing of the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBT people, the Church must not only acknowledge the wrongs of the past, but take concrete actions that demonstrate its commitment to treating LGBT people justly from now on.  For example, Catholic institutions must stop firing LGBT people simply because their sexual orientation or marital status becomes known.  The Church must stop conducting public campaigns that seek the right to discriminate unjustly against LGBT people in the civil arena on the specious grounds of ‘religious liberty.’  It must cease campaigns against same-sex civil marriage and LGBT civil rights protections around the globe.  And it must speak out strongly and clearly against the horrific violence and discrimination that is often directed against LGBT people in countries around the world, including our own, many with substantial or majority Catholic populations.”

Bondings 2.0 will update readers as more reactions and responses become available in the coming days.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

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

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

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

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