New Guidelines Ban LGBT People from Parish Ministries

Archbishop Charles Chaput

In new guidelines, Philadelphia’s archbishop has banned people in same-gender relationships from pastoral or liturgical roles.

Archbishop Charles Chaput’s guidelines are a response to Amoris LaetitiaPope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on family, and the synodal process preceding the exhortation’s April publication. The guidelines, which became effective July 1, instruct church ministers involved with marriage and family life, or the church’s sacramental life on handling Catholics in diverse family arrangements.  In addition to restrictions on same-gender couples, the guidelines also tell pastors not to distribute communion to couples who are divorced and civilly remarried, as well as couples who are cohabitating.

(For New Ways Ministry’s response to the guidelines, click here.)

Addressing the pastoral care of people in same-gender relationships, Chaput wrote that pastors must prudentially judge an appropriate response to couples who “present themselves openly in a parish.” He continued:

“But two persons in an active, public same-sex relationship, no matter how sincere, offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community. Such a relationship cannot be accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the community, most notably the children.

“Finally, those living openly same-sex lifestyles should not hold positions of responsibility in a parish, nor should they carry out any liturgical ministry or function.”

Under a section titled “For persons who experience same-sex attraction,” Chaput said lesbian, bisexual, and gay Catholics should “struggle to live chastely” and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently.

Michael Rocks, president of Dignity/Philadelphia, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was “not surprised” by Chaput issuing such harsh guidelines, but questioned them nonetheless:

” ‘But I wonder how they tell if straight people are following the sexual rules of the church. . .How do they tell if the president of the parish council isn’t into child pornography or having a sexual relationship?’ “

Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, said that instead of acknowledging the fullness of marriage and family, “in Philadelphia, it is all about the genitalia.” He continued:

“So intent are prelates like Archbishop Chaput in refusing to think there is anything really worth discussing here, they wish to shut down and foreclose the pope’s obvious invitation to discussion and adult decision making. . .

“When Archbishop Chaput gets to the situation of gay and lesbian Catholics, he declines to even show the simple respect of referring to gays and lesbians as they refer to themselves, adopting the awkward, and rude, circumlocution “those who experience same sex attraction. . .When such respect is seen to coincide with even the tiniest possibility that an opportunity to denounce homosexual relations as sinful will be missed, too many prelates follow Archbishop Chaput and decline the respect and seize the opportunity.”

Archbishop Chaput acknowledged part of the guidelines as a “hard teaching,” but insisted on these guidelines in the archdiocese. His record on LGBT issues had been already quite troubling before these guidelines were announced. He previously ejected LGBT organizations from hosting programs at a Catholic parish, and he warned LGBT Catholics against protesting ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Locally, he implemented a morality pledge for parents of Catholic schoolchildren that includes non-support of LGBT equality, dismissed the concerns of a Catholic mother with gay sons, and said he was “very grateful” lesbian educator Margie Winters had been fired by the Sisters of Mercy. This list of problematic statements and actions against LGBT people goes on.

Even with this record, banning Catholics in loving, fruitful same-gender relationships from all parish and liturgical ministries is notable. This exclusionary stance not only harms LGBT people and their families, but hinders the church’s mission too by depriving it of the many gifts and talents that faithful LGBT people offer the People of God.

Unfortunately, the archbishop’s merciless stance may not be limited to Philadelphia. Chaput, who participated in the 2015 General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, was appointed by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to head a working group tasked with “furthering the reception and implementation of” Amoris Laetitia. He chairs, too, the Conference’s Committee on Family Life, and was elected to the Synod of Bishops’ 12-member permanent council.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


13 thoughts on “New Guidelines Ban LGBT People from Parish Ministries

  1. Gary Cox July 7, 2016 / 1:38 am

    He must also ban 40% of his priests. They stay under the radar.

  2. lynne1946 July 7, 2016 / 3:29 am

    Chaput isn’t old enough to have already submitted his resignation, is he? So Pope Francis can’t just decide to accept it. If he’s going to do something, it’ll have to be something positive. There’s no way this man should be in charge of any diocese!

  3. Barry Blackburn July 7, 2016 / 8:48 am

    Just goes to show you–yet again– there are “others” and there are “us”. Archbishop Chaput knows “we” don’t have to dialogue or listen to the LGBTQ+ community since it’s all in the book—Amoris Laetitia! The Pope said so…..dah. How long Oh Lord, how long?

  4. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM July 7, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    I’m trying to temper my words here because I know I’m dealing with my personal hot button issue. I don’t think my brother, Charles, truly knows the needs of a child. If he did, he would not have singled out the children of a lesbian couple and denied their attendance at a Catholic school in Boulder in 2010. And knowing how people can be cruel, he would not refer to children with two mommies or two daddies as the result of “irregular” relationships. I don’t believe Cardinal Chaput has the nature to be pastoral in contemporary times. And I would suggest he take his own counsel concerning those that are unable to act/be as we are supposed to act/be: refrain from being a priest and please step down.

  5. Larry July 7, 2016 / 5:05 pm

    Maybe Francis could take more immediate action [than waiting 5 years to get rid of the publicly homophobic prelate in the Dominican Republic] and “elevate” Chaput to a small parish in Alaska.

  6. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf July 7, 2016 / 7:28 pm

    The time has come to stop attempting to impose “Catholic” beliefs that are mostly and justly ignore even by many RC clergy.

  7. Nobie Cop July 7, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    Well, if taken literally……about 50% of our priests can no longer participate.

  8. B July 8, 2016 / 7:15 am

    If God is love, what is he?

  9. Steve Humphrey July 8, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    So much for welcoming Samaritans in this year of mercy

  10. Joan lomas July 9, 2016 / 6:19 am

    I’d like for the honorable bishop to explain to his followers exactly how it is, and where it is, in the teachings that a priest with same same sex attractions to a child can perform the sacraments yet grown adults with same sex attractions cannot receive them? Does the fact that they are married and consenting as opposed to being an adult who is forcing themselves on a child of the same sex make them less loved in God’s eye? The priests whom your church has covered for and moved around to different parishes are more worthy of your understanding and protection than your flock. You’ve been sacrificing God’s children for decades yet you personally stand in judgement of others. Decent loving human beings deserve better than you sir. Why anyone stays in the Catholic Church while there are still men like you governing it is beyond my comprehension.

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