Massingale made his remarks earlier this summer while addressing the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, from whom he had just received the St. John XXIII Award. He told attendees that under President Donald Trump there is a struggle for the very soul of the United States. Social injustices at the surface level are really about people’s deeper sicknesses from fear and prejudice, including homophobia. Massingale continued:
“We are also in a struggle for the soul of U.S. Catholicism. . .We talk more about religious liberty than about Jesus Christ. We talk more about the Fortnight for Freedom than the reign of God. We need less talk about the catechism and the code of canon law and talk more about the joyful witness of passionate charity found in Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.”
Covering the assembly for National Catholic Reporter, Sr. Jeannine Gramick wrote that in his talk Massingale referenced the 49 people killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last year. He commented, “All means all — no exceptions, no small print. God loves all of us, whatever our differences.”
The theologian, now at Fordham University, has been increasingly outspoken for LGBT inclusion and human rights in recent years. While at Marquette University, he celebrated monthly Masses for members of the LGBTQ communities on campus because, he says, it is important they “have a Mass where they feel welcome and that God does love them.” In 2013, he challenged the Pax Christi USA national conference attendees to increase the organization’s defense of LGBT rights, as both a human rights concern and a necessary part of attracting younger Catholics. Massingale also joined other Catholic theologians and officials in condemning proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda. Most recently, he has said the church cannot abandon transgender Catholics.
Fr. Massingale has applied Martin Luther King’s social analysis to the contemporary U.S. situation and for the church in this country. Hopefully, as Pope Francis’ impact deepens (especially by making more episcopal appointments), U.S. Catholicism will be healed of its present fears so it can preach the Good News in ways that all who listen may hear.
Today’s post is part of our “Quote to Note” series, which reports on noteworthy statements about Catholic LGBT issues.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 4, 2017