We’ve often commented on this blog that the Catholic parents of LGBT people are among the strongest advocates in the Church for equality and justice. Parents’ groups have been speaking boldly and effectively around the globe, perhaps most notably here in the U.S. through the organization Fortunate Families, and in Malta through the organization Drachma Parents.
A new set of parental voices has joined this growing chorus, this time from the very Catholic nation of Poland. When Pope Francis visited there last month for World Youth Day, a group of parents of 16 gay Poles wrote to the pontiff, asking him to help put an end to the “widespread” homophobia which they say exists in their nation.
NDTV.com reported on the parents’ letter:
“Pointing to a recent string of ‘attacks on offices of organisations working with homosexuals, burning of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) symbols, and beatings of non-heterosexuals,’ the group implored Francis to intervene.
” ‘Instead of compassion for families, society is engulfed by a wave of homophobia,’ the group said in an open letter, which was published by several Polish newspapers and magazines in the past week [end of July].
” ‘Only the voice of Your Holiness can prevent future tragedies,’ they told Francis, who famously remarked ‘Who am I to judge?’ about gays earlier in his papacy.”
The news report described other important passages from the letter, including the experience of LGBT Poles, and the failure of the Polish church to protect the dignity of LGBT people:
” ‘On a daily basis, our children face hate attacks, verbal assaults and even physical violence only because they were created that way by God,’ said the parents, who did not publish their full names for fear of reprisals.” ‘Why is there so much homophobia among Polish Catholics?’ they asked, quoting passages from Church teachings that call for gays and lesbians to ‘be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.’
” ‘Why aren’t priests reminding people in their sermons that LGBT people are also God’s children and only God can judge them?’
” ‘Jesus himself never said anything about the love between people of the same sex,’ the letter said.”
One Polish gay advocate feels that Francis’ more positive messages on LGBT issues is having an influence on the minds and attitudes of Catholic Poles. NDTV.com reported:
” ‘It’s not yet at the point in history when the Catholic Church in Poland would be ready to agree (to officially recognise LGBT groups) — we are not yet there,’ [said] Misza Czerniak, an LGBT activist.
“He however acknowledged that ‘Francis has changed the tone and the vocabulary that is used when speaking about LGBT people in the Church, and we are extremely grateful for that.’
” ‘And what is a big sign of hope for us, is that the Polish church is gradually learning from him.’ “
Catholic parents of LGBT people are the true prophets in our Church. Their journeys of acceptance and love, their experience of understanding new realities, are exactly the same journey that the entire Church, especially the hierarchy, need to learn. Parents have a lot to teach church leaders about unconditional love, and about treating all people equally as brothers and sisters. Their strong voices in support of their LGBT children are a true gift to our Church.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry.