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


10 thoughts on “Catholics Welcome Pope Francis’ Call for Church Apology to LGBT People, Others

  1. Barry Blackburn June 27, 2016 / 10:44 am

    Fr. James Martin, Ryan Hoffman and Marianne Duddy-Burke as well as Bondings are to all be congratulated for their statements of support and actions. The Holy Father is to be commended for his statements in support of the LGBTQ community and the poor–for continuing this dialogue. The next first step should be to amend the hurtful language of the Catholic Catechism. The active Faith community needs to continue witnessing to our LGBTQ experience and praying and working with God’s Grace daily! We bring Hope to the Church and society where we meet it in Faith. I’m hopeful!

  2. James Sheya June 27, 2016 / 12:30 pm

    We gays are still not even halfway there for acceptance by the Catholic church because we are supposed to remain celibate like the priests which is totally unrealistic. It becomes a form of punishment simply because of our sexual orientation. We are human and have sexual inclinations exactly like the straight population, so I cannot go along with that very unrealistic notion. Creating guilt is and always has been an objective of the church which is a method used to keep its members in tow.

  3. Michael Lopes June 27, 2016 / 7:50 pm

    It is fitting that the Holy Father made this these conciliatory statements in the wake of his Armenian pilgrimage. He acknowledged the tragedy of Armenian history and prayed to reconcile with that Church. In that same spirit, it seems, he is the first Pope to acknowledge the history of marginization, and to extend the hand of friendship to the LGBTQ members of the Church.

  4. Will June 28, 2016 / 11:19 am

    Bill Donoghue, President of the Catholic League, wont be apologising to gays but demands that gays should instead apologise to him.

    This man has a history of such rhetoric. Surely a Bishop should have told him to shut up by now?

    • Friends June 28, 2016 / 10:25 pm

      The video link is not opening here — but this is another link to a transcript of what he said in the cited interview:

      “Wild Bill” Donohue lives in his own private homophobic universe. In fact, I believe he also rejects a number of the Church reforms which were instigated at the time of Vatican II. He’s entitled to his own private opinions of conscience, as all of us are entitled — but he has NO STANDING to speak on behalf of Catholicism. Pope Francis himself apparently rebuked him for his vitriolic and disruptive anti-gay tirades. Case closed.

      • Will June 30, 2016 / 9:33 am

        Thank you – I’m pleased he has been rebuked and understand that he is entitled to his opinion!

        However he seems to turn up on US television very often as the face of the church, credited as ‘President of the Catholic League’ and often without any alternative, official, Catholic viewpoint expressed. So therefore many non-catholic LGBT activists and viewers just assume he represents the church formally.

        Shouldn’t there be more of an effort to remind the networks that this man has ‘NO STANDING’?

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