Filipino Bishops Sharply Condemn Anti-LGBT Violence After Orlando Massacre

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Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

Bishops in the Philippines responded to the Orlando massacre by sharply condemning anti-LGBT violence..  Their statement joins other Catholic reactions to and reflections about the Orlando attack.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released a statement, signed by Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen Dagupan, that immediately identified the shooting as a “hate crime.” The Conference continued, according to GMA Network:

“First, this was a hate-crime — the murder of persons because of disgust for their sexual orientation.  Bearing in the depth of his or her soul the image of the Creator, no human person should ever be the object of disgust. . .

“No matter that we may disapprove of the actions, decisions and choices of others, there is absolutely no reason to reject the person, no justification for cruelty, no reason for making outcasts of them. This is a project on which we, in the Philippines, must seriously embark for many are still forced to the peripheries because the norms of ‘decent society’ forbid association with them.”

Noting the Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis, CBCP’s statement said that, “As important as it is to be right, it is far more important to be merciful!” They called for more dialogue, and for the government and all Christians to protect LGBT lives because the unity in Christ outweighs any differences. Their statement sharply contrasts with responses from many of their episcopal counterparts in the U.S. who failed to recognize the Orlando shooting as targeting LGBT people.

Terence WeldonTerence Weldon, writing for Quest, a U.K. group for LGBT Catholics, also queried how Catholics can concretely respond, expanding the discussion to include the entire faithful:

“What are we to do, ourselves, to combat the homophobia that is is fostered within some sectors of the Catholic Church and its practice?

“We must never forget that ‘the Church’ is far, far more than just the bishops and priests, but includes all of us. When Catholic teaching tells us to oppose and condemn any form of violence or malice, in speech or in action, against homosexuals, that is a command to all of us, as individuals and collectively, as an organization. How have we responded up to now, to that command? How can we do so, in future? Is there room for improvement, in our response?”

One way the church has responded positively to the massacre in Orlando is through efforts by Catholic Charities of Central Florida to help victims and their families, reported the National Catholic Reporter. Catholic Charities has provided bilingual staff and pastoral care providers who have assisted with translation, immigration matters, burial arrangements, and counseling.

2011-05-24_news_6263_6228
Frank Bruni

Frank Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times who is gay and Catholic, wrote that now is a time for solidarity with LGBT people. Bruni implored anti-LGBT politicians to act for solidarity, using words that could be equally applicable to the U.S. bishops, whom Bruni criticized in the column:

“Just show up. And by doing so, show that the absence of ‘gay’ or ‘L.G.B.T.’ in your statements immediately following the Orlando massacre. . .isn’t because you place us and our concerns behind some thick pane of glass with a Do Not Touch sign that stays up even when blood and tears pool beneath it. . .You want to show our enemies what America stands for? Then stand with us.”

John Freml, coordinator of the Equally Blessed Coalition, wrote in The State Journal-Register that in his Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki had been silent thus far. Freml commented:

“The silence of our own bishop, and the refusal of other Catholic bishops to even name the LGBT community, not only contributes to the continuing invisibility and marginalization of LGBT people in our church, but it quite literally results in their deaths. I am baffled at how our bishops can call themselves ‘pro-life,’ when their actions have clearly demonstrated that they do not value all human life equally.”

In the Equally Blessed coaltion’s statement on Orlando, they noted:

“While we struggle against the forces of homophobia in our church and in our society, we must also remain steadfast in our opposition to racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia in all its forms.”

 

lgbtcatholicswestminsterlogoLGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, an outreach effort by the diocese of Westminster (London), expressed their solidarity in a statement, recalling their own origins as a response to an episode of anti-LGBT violence:

“Having ourselves been born, as a worshiping community, out of the 1999 Admiral Duncan Soho bombing when three people were killed and 83 people injured, we know only too well that such violent attacks on our communities are never far away.

“LGBT targeted hate-crimes must be recognised for what they are: assaults on the precious dignity of each human being as ‘wonderfully created as God’s work of art’ (Psalm 139). We call upon religious leaders of all faith traditions to recognise the reality of the Orlando outrage. We specifically call upon our Catholic leaders to acknowledge how the language of some official documents on sexual orientation can, in fact, incite and support those who commit such violence.”

LGBT Catholics Westminster’s statement called on Pope Francis and the Vatican to respond with concrete actions combatting anti-LGBT violence and discrimination, including “support the global decriminalisation of homosexuality, with an end to the use of the death penalty and torture for LGBT people.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke
Marianne Duddy-Burke

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, released a letter to Pope Francis about church leaders’ problematic responses. In the letter, which followed up the organization’s initial statement, Duddy-Burke wrote:

“To fail to explicitly acknowledge [victims’ LGBT identities] strips the victims, the survivors, the injured, the grieving of an essential component of their humanity. It sends a message to their loved ones and families that this part of their identity should not be named, affirmed, and celebrated as they are remembered.

“It also means that you and many other Catholic leaders have missed yet another important moment to explicitly and unequivocally condemn violence directed towards LGBT people. Vague references to ‘respect for the dignity of all people’ or other such phrases are sinfully inadequate, whether in response to the horror in Orlando, or when addressing the persecution faced by LGBT people anywhere in the world.”

Fr. Joseph McShane, president of Fordham University,  New York, affirmed in a statement that solidarity with communities affected by the massacre, including LGBT ones, was not only consistent with the University’s Jesuit and Catholic identities, but necessary because of these identities :

“As a Jesuit university (and hence a university whose entire life and mission is inspired by the Gospel and its challenge to live in love), Fordham joins people of good will around the world in ‎condemning the Orlando attack. In addition, however (and precisely because of our Jesuit identity), the University offers its heartfelt support to the LGBT and Latino communities both on campus and throughout the country. It also offers its equally heartfelt prayers to the families and friends of those who died so senselessly on Sunday morning.”

 

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

10 thoughts on “Filipino Bishops Sharply Condemn Anti-LGBT Violence After Orlando Massacre

  1. Sal James June 17, 2016 / 1:18 am

    {{No need to post this. Just for your information in case you have not seen this. Bishop Frank Caggiano, Bridgeport, CT wrote on his facebook page:
    Sunday morning’s attack in Orlando has unmasked once again the evil face of hatred and bigotry in our society. It is an evil that must spur us to rededicate ourselves to fostering a true spirit of unity and reconciliation.
    Yesterday’s news accounts have clarified the fact that the gunman who attacked the gay and lesbian patrons of the club in Orlando targeted his victims specifically because of who they were. It is hard to comprehend what fueled such an intense bigotry in the heart of the gunman that could lead him to kill so recklessly and maliciously. It is a question for which we will never have a full answer. No matter what the reasons, the root for all of them was sheer hatred.
    How do we respond before such hate? At minimum, all Catholics must raise our voices against such hatred. 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. The Lord Jesus extended his arms on the Cross to embrace all people who respond to His offer of salvation. Who are we to close our hearts to anyone for whom the Lord has offered an invitation to experience His saving life? As a society and a Church, we must do whatever we can to fight all hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms.
    Another way to stand against such hatred can be realized in more simple ways. While we strive to create a larger world that is free from hatred, we often have many opportunities in our ordinary lives to break down the walls that divide us. How often have we chosen to do nothing rather than extend a word of welcome or kindness to someone whom we have avoided, precisely because they are different from us? How many times have we failed to correct a racist comment spoken by a family member or objected to a slur spoken by a friend or co-worker against someone who is gay or lesbian? Each of these lost occasions are also lost opportunities to invite the world to conversion, one person at a time.
    As we pray for those who died in Orlando, let us pray that we might have the courage to fight against all bigotry and prejudice wherever we may experience it.

    • Loretta June 17, 2016 / 10:54 am

      Yes, it begins with each of us. We can’t change others but we can influence. Thank you, Sal.

  2. John Hilgeman June 17, 2016 / 1:48 am

    Just saw the statement that Archbishop Carlson released this week: “We pray for the victims of this evil act and the repose of their souls. We pray for their loved ones, that they may be comforted in their time of grief. We must also pray and work for a more peaceful world that respects the dignity of the human person.”

    I can’t but help thinking of two things. One is the phrase “Silence = Death” when politicians were ignoring the AIDS crisis and the gay men who were dying of it in great numbers.
    The second is the response made by some white people to the cry: “Black Lives Matter!” Some white people would shout out: “ALL Lives Matter!” As though the assertion by those people, whose lives had been snuffed out by rogue police and the political system, that their lives matter was an affront to the whites who didn’t suffer the same discrimination. and could not understand the meaning of the cry.

    I’m going to contact the local Catholic archbishop and the local Catholic paper about this omission. They really cannot get by with this egregious omission of just who was targeted by the terrorist killer in Orlando.

    • Loretta June 17, 2016 / 10:51 am

      Your conviction and action give me hope, John. I’m eager to know how it goes.

  3. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf June 17, 2016 / 8:52 am

    An awesome reason to be optimistic!

  4. Michael Lopes June 17, 2016 / 6:54 pm

    May God bless the Filipino bishops for taking a clear stand against anti-LGBT violence. Our Archbishop Cordileone in San Francisco, can’t say “sexual orientation.” He says, instead, “personal lifestyle.” So mealy mouthed. We are left without the prophetic voice as is alive in the Phillipines’ bishops.

  5. dakini June 17, 2016 / 11:45 pm

    Slowly but surely, it appears that GLBTQ Catholics — among both the laity AND the clergy — are finally getting the message that rudeness and hatefulness toward our people will no longer be tolerated. I just attended a Holy Cross College Reunion, in which one of our alumni priests — who celebrated a Memorial Mass for our deceased Holy Cross alumni — explicitly mentioned and honored and uplifted our departed gay and lesbian alumni. I emailed him personally to thank him for his wonderful inclusiveness — and I got a very nice note of gratitude and solidarity back from him. WHAT in God’s Name will it take to propagate this charismatic attitude across the ENTIRE Church?

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