Lesbian Women Tell Their Stories of Faith by “Living True”

January 21, 2016

Living True: Lesbian Women Share Stories of Faith is a collection of the faith journeys of 21 lesbian women who identify as Catholic.  The collection, gathered between 2008 and 2011, was edited by Sister Margaret O’Gorman, a Franciscan Sister of Mercy and minister to LGBT persons, and Anne Peper Perkins, a married lesbian Catholic woman and retired university professor.

Living True is a book of stories.  In O’Gorman’s words, these are

“[n]ot just coming-out stories, although there are a number of them included in the following pages, but stories about spirituality: how lesbian and bisexual women find faith and live it: how God guides our lives; how we find our identity; and how much we contribute as couple, family, neighbors, and members of our parishes.  It is about what makes our lives, our faith, and our spirituality flourish.  It is about how we nourish our spirituality and how our faith community helps us on our journey.”

In January 2008, O’Gorman gathered a group of lesbian and bisexual women for monthly meetings.  Perkins was in the original group.  The women all had some association, current or not, with Roman Catholicism.  The initial group numbered about 20 women, ranging in age from 30s to 60s.  Some women had been Catholic nuns; some were in committed relationships, with or without children (and grandchildren); a few had been in heterosexual marriages previously.  A number had been or were currently connected to the same parish in St. Louis.

O’Gorman, along with facilitator Sharon Orlet, led a process by which the women shared and wrote their stories. As Perkins’ described the process:

“Marge and Sharon asked us to begin writing our stories and suggested that we bring our first drafts to the group for encouragement and helpful criticism.  We were given a number of questions to use as a starting point, questions like, ‘How is my spirituality flourishing?’ and ‘Who helps me on my journey?’  There was a good deal of laughter – and some tears – and an increasing sense of closeness in the group.”

About half of the essays in the book come from this group, which met for approximately a year.  The remaining essays came from women who did not participate in the group process.

The idea for the book developed out of O’Gorman’s desire to give voice to the lived experiences of lesbian women.  O’Gorman had participated in a New Ways Ministry (NWM) “Next Steps” workshop in 2008, at which the participants were challenged to develop a mission, goals and objectives for their LGBT ministry.  After Living True was published, O’Gorman reported back to NWM that the book is the final product of her mission and goals developed at that workshop.

The faith stories in Living True are organized into sections reflecting five emotional states: “Awakening,” “Healing,” “Trusting,” “Appreciating,” and “Celebrating.” Each section is identified by an image of a female couple and an apt quotation.  The sections are framed by O’Gorman’s “Recollections” and “Reflections,” which provide “both the general atmosphere of [the] meetings and the emotional and spiritual content of the stories themselves.”

The book opens with an introduction by O’Gorman and Perkins. Marie Lynette Adalpa offered prayer beseeching the Good Shepherd to send “shepherds here on earth who, like you, know us, feed us, care for us, and invite us to your table.”  In an Afterword, O’Gorman reflects on the women who initially responded to the project but “who could not, would not, or did not write.”  The book concludes with an Appendix of suggestions about how the reader can support lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.

One person you will meet in this collection is Dorothy, whose foundational experience of God’s presence when she was a young nun sustained her through her decision not to take final vows, her gradual awareness that she is a lesbian, and the painful rejection by her own father.  Through her experiences, Dorothy came to believe deeply that she is loved by God and belongs to God.  She concluded her essay:

“In this gift of Life, I continually circle back to the beginnings, the promise that no matter what, God is and will be with me, with us all.  Jesus told Nicodemus that the Spirit is like the wind – one has no idea where it comes from or where it is going, but one feels it nonetheless.  Surely, my life is a work-in-progress carried by the Spirit’s breeze.  Surely, the power and intimacy of a thirty-three-year loving relationship continues to reveal the sweetness and mercy of God to me.  Surely, tears and joys will continue to be a gifted part of my life, your life.  For certain, I have begun to experience the blessing of a sort of freedom that feels like pure grace.  Always, a sense of gratitude continues to spread throughout each day.  No doubt we belong – our whole Earth family – to a God beyond all names or imagination.  How I hope that you, the reader, profoundly experience this beautiful mystery.”

Dorothy’s story and the other stories in Living True are meant to be read reflectively.  They can be spiritual nourishment for the reader willing to enter into them.  Lesbian readers will find common ground with these women and their experiences.  Non-lesbian readers, too, will be enriched by the Christian witness revealed in these stories.  I heartily recommend Living True to all our readers.  You can order a copy through amazon.com by clicking here.

–Cynthia Nordone, New Ways Ministry

 

 


Vatican Gay Lobby? Really?

January 17, 2016

Towards the end of last week, a story kept popping up on the internet, mostly on conservative Catholics’ sites, that the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican had been confirmed by Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who is the coordinator of Pope Francis’ council of nine cardinal advisors.

Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga

The cardinal made his remark during an interview with a Honduran newspaper. If you can read Spanish, you can read the entire story by clicking here.  Basically, the cardinal “confirmed,” without offering any evidence, the existence of such a lobby in the Vatican.  What is interesting, however, is that he “confirmed” this idea based on 2013 remarks made by Pope Francis, which were, at best, ambiguous about such a lobby, and, at face value, the pontiff mostly made fun of such an idea.

Crux provided context for the cardinal’s remarks:

“Rodriguez Maradiaga discussed the state of things in the Vatican in his local Honduran newspaper ‘El Heraldo,’ confirming that in his view there is a ‘gay lobby’ inside the Roman Curia.

“By ‘gay lobby,’ Vatican insiders and the Italian press generally mean an informal network of gay clergy in the Vatican who support one another, and who have a vested interest in keeping one another’s secrets and helping one another move up the ladder.

“(For the record, when Francis was asked back in 2013 if he had found a gay support network in the Vatican, his response was, ‘I have yet to find someone who can give me a Vatican ID card with “gay” [written on it] … they say they are there.’ Earlier, during an informal session with Latin American leaders of religious orders, the pontiff reportedly said he would ‘see what we can do’ about the network.)”

If a gay lobby exists, why doesn’t anyone speak of the evidence of such a network?  Where are the facts?  While all of this can make for sensational headlines, the main problem is that there is really nothing to back it up.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Like most people, I assume that there are gay men working at the Vatican.  If the cardinal knows about them, why isn’t he, or any church leader, willing to talk about them? Why mention them only through vague allusions?

There’s also a problem when a leading cardinal identifies a supposed “gay lobby,” but doesn’t acknowledge that special interest groups based on other ideas would also exist in the Vatican–or any other organization.  Why single out a “gay lobby”?

The cardinal’s lack of evidence about the presence and activities of gay men in the Vatican seems to indicate an unwillingness to speak about gay issues in a realistic manner—a quality exhibited, unfortunately, by many senior church officials.  The real problem this story illustrates is not that there are gay men working in the Vatican, but that church officials aren’t able to speak about their presence in an open, healthy, and mature fashion.

Another of the problem with this story comes from the double use of the word “lobby.”  It can be used, as Crux described above, to describe a secret network of gay clerics, who support one another. (In another Crux article, John Allen analyzes this use of the term.)  But then, in American English, it also has the connotations of a group that is promoting an agenda.

In terms of the first use of the word—to describe a network—I would have to say that if such a network does exist, it is created by the institutional homophobia which church structures and policies promote.  So much of the church’s leadership exhibits an immense inability to acknowledge and discuss the fact that a good number of the members of the hierarchy and the clergy are themselves gay.  This silence and secrecy harms individuals, as well as the whole community.  It provides a fertile ground for informal networks of protection to grow.   In  other words, if the Church hierarchy wants to purge any supposed gay lobby, they should purge silence, secrecy, and homophobia from the Church.

In the second sense of the word “lobby”—as a group promoting an agenda—the best evidence against the existence of a lobby is that if it did exist, it is doing a very bad job of promoting its agenda.  If there were really a powerful gay lobby, how come we still have so many homophobic remarks coming from church leaders?  Why isn’t there a more robust agenda for moving LGBT issues forward in the Vatican?  Where was this lobby when Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a Vatican official, came out of the closet? Why no statement from the Vatican against LGBT criminalization laws?  Where are the results of the gay lobby?

It always amazes me that some people think that LGBT people are more powerful than the evidence shows.

This shady way of arguing exhibits classic conspiracy theory tactics:  invent an enemy, which is invisible, which is infiltrating from the inside, but which can’t be proved or disproved.  The suggestion creates fear and suspicion, but worse, it characterizes the selected group as evil, manipulative, and duplicitous.

Conspiracy theories pop up when one side of a discussion (in this case, Catholics who do not want change) feels as if they are losing the argument.  It is simply a way to discredit the other side and to try to offer an alternative explanation of why the argument is being lost–instead of just relying on logic and rational discourse.  It is a tactic used from ancient times to contemporary politics.  It is laughable, except for the fact that it can cause harm because some people will believe. it.

Our church needs so many improvements in regard to LGBT ministry and justice.  Discussing this red herring takes away from having a real conversation on the real issues. Let’s hope and pray that, instead, church leaders will start an open and healthy discussion on LGBT issues with all in their church, including and especially, their brothers in the clergy.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Explaining ‘Who am I to judge?,’ Pope Moves LGBT Discussion One Step Further

January 10, 2016

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry, on Pope Francis’ latest comments on LGBT issues.

Pope Francis

Like so many times before, an interview with Pope Francis is once again making headlines around the world, not least because of comments he made concerning lesbian and gay people.  While positive and welcoming, as his previous statements have been, the pope’s latest comments do not offer an “smoking gun” as to where he stands on the morality of same-gender relationships, the role of conscience in the lives of LGBT people, or pastoral guidelines for LGBT ministry. Still, these comments are important in moving the discussion of lesbian and gay people in a more positive direction

In his latest comments, made public in a new book by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, the pontiff attempts to explain his famous “Who am I to judge?” statement, which was his answer to a question about gay priests, and which has been widely interpreted to be his comment on all LGBT people.

According to The National Catholic Reporterwhich received an advance English language version of the book entitled The Name of God Is Mercy, Pope Francis offered this explanation:

“On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person? I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.

“I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.”

“I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”

While the pope’s comments don’t fully clarify his approach to LGBT people, these new remarks do highlight some important points about his thinking on lesbian and gay issues:

  1. He sees his welcoming approach as totally consistent with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and not a departure from it.
  2. He sees that the critical focus on LGBT issues is on individual persons, not on categories.  In this, he makes a radical departure from his two previous predecessors who favored framing the discussion of homosexuality in terms of sexual acts, not in terms of persons.
  3. He talks about God loving people, not about condemnation.  The emphasis on God’s love has not been a major point of church leaders’ discourse on LGBT issues.
  4. He talks about “encounter,” “accompaniment,” and “praying together,” not about alienating and distancing the Church from LGBT people.
  5. Perhaps most important is what is NOT mentioned by the pope.  He does not speak about condemnation or moral evaluations.  Clearly, this pope is not as obsessed with sexual activity as his previous predecessors have been.

His comment about confession can raise a red flag for some.  I don’t think we should read too much into it, though.  I don’t think he was calling for gay and lesbian people to confess sexual “sins” based on their orientations and commitments.  From other things he has said, especially in speaking about the Year of Mercy, I think Pope Francis sees confession as a good thing for all people to experience and celebrate God’s mercy.  I think he sees confession as an important step in developing a relationship with God.  The ambiguity of his raising the topic of confession shows how important it is for him to speak more clearly and less cryptically.

Pope Francis’ latest comments on lesbian and gay people reflect his broader project of building a church that propagates mercy, not doctrines.   In the book, he offers description about the distinction between mercy and doctrine:

“I will say this: mercy is real; it is the first attribute of God.

“Theological reflections on doctrine or mercy may then follow, but let us not forget that mercy is doctrine. Even so, I love saying: mercy is true.”

Again, this description is something that was not heard of in John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s comments about doctrine which always emphasized truth, but rarely, if ever, mentioned mercy in relationship to it.

Pope Francis still has some work to do with LGBT issues.  We still need to see his ideas further developed, and, more importantly, incarnated into the pastoral life of the church.  We await his report on the marriage and family synods of the last two years, and we hope that his ideas about welcome and acceptance are given more concrete details in that document.

These latest statements, however, are a welcome next step in his evolution, and they move the discussion of LGBT issues in the Catholic Church into a much friendlier space than they have ever been.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Can Encounter Be a Way for Conservatives to Go Forward on LGBT Equality?

January 6, 2016

Conservative Christians have lost the battle over marriage equality, said Religion Dispatches blogger Kaya Oakes in a recent post entitled, “Out of Options: Christians’ Losing Battle Over Equality.”  But how they will respond to this loss may take a variety of different responses.

Kaya Oakes

Oakes noted that, since the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefall v. Hodges, the responses of conservative Christian thinkers have generally taken two tacks.  The first tack– retrenchment–calls for returning to the biblical view of marriage and sexuality in order to steer Christianity back toward a central place in American culture and morality.  This tack also views “affirming homosexuality” as denying a truth about human nature.  The alternative tack calls for “a compassionate model of engagement” on issues of sexuality and gender in order to “create a more attractive model of Christian life than retrenchment[.]”

According to Oakes, the equality gains for women and LGBT persons puts Catholic and conservative Christian churches in a bind.  “Should they welcome women as leaders and same-sex families and trans individuals, they risk alienating some of their most committed members (and donors).  Should they reject those same notions of parity, they risk losing (and in many cases have already lost!) the majority of Gen X folks and Millennials, who have grown up with feminism as a given notion and LBGTQ equality as the civil rights issue of their generations.”

These same churches also risk losing “the notion of a single, defined sense of a Truth that cannot change,” according to Oakes.  “What we see in their writing of late is the shattering of that notion.  It’s emotionally difficult to witness.  The defensiveness, finger-pointing and circular arguments amount to the same thing: a sense of fear, devolving into resignation over the loss, shifting into ad hominem attacks[.]”

Oakes compared the fear expressed by some conservative Christian writers to the experiences of fundamentalist or orthodox Christians who lost their faith when they were had to face the idea that women were equal to men, or that some people loved people of the same gender, or that dressing in gender “inappropriate” way could be accepted.  Oakes stated:

“[Y]ou will hear much the same pattern.  Anger, rejection, fear.  And then gradually, if they are lucky: acceptance, tolerance, welcome.  The latter things usually came from individuals, not institutions.  They came from encounter.”

While Oakes does not say so explicitly, encounter is the way forward.  This is the example of Jesus.

Jesus’ ministry was characterized by acts of encountering and engaging persons, often the marginalized of his day.  In the words of Pope Francis on the gospel story of Jesus’ encounter with the blind Bartimaeus:

“Jesus has just left Jericho. Even though he has only begun his most important journey, which will take him to Jerusalem, he still stops to respond to Bartimaeus’ cry. Jesus is moved by his request and becomes involved in his situation. He is not content to offer him alms, but rather wants to personally encounter him. He does not give him any instruction or response, but asks him: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ (Mk 10:51). It might seem a senseless question: what could a blind man wish for if not his sight? Yet, with this question made face to face, direct but respectful, Jesus shows that he wants to hear our needs. He wants to talk with each of us about our lives, our real situations, so that nothing is kept from him.”

Encounter is also the way forward as a church.  Pope Francis stressed this point to Catholic leaders recently.  Speaking to a group of Italian Catholic leaders in Florence in November, he said:

“May the Church be fermented by dialogue, encounter, unity. After all, our own formulations of faith are the fruit of dialogue and encounter among cultures, communities and various situations. We must not fear dialogue: on the contrary it is precisely confrontation and criticism that help us to preserve theology from being transformed into ideology.

“Remember moreover that the best way to dialogue is not that of speaking and debating but that of doing something together, of making plans: not alone, among Catholics, but together with all those who are of good will. Do not be afraid to engage in the exodus necessary for every authentic dialogue. Otherwise it is not possible to comprehend the reasons of the other, nor to completely understand that a brother is worth more than the positions that we judge as far from our own authentic certitudes. He is a brother.”

I agree with Oakes that a form of Christianity whose members preach “a Gospel of intractability and exclusion” probably should die “because it has very little to do with the person who started it,” but I am hopeful for Catholicism that is renewed through encounter and engagement.

–Cynthia Nordone, New Ways Ministry


Following Mary’s Example as We Start a New Year of LGBT Equality

January 1, 2016

A blessed and happy new year to all Bondings 2.0 readers!

A new year brings the hope of new possibilities and new ways of thinking.  Perhaps that is one reason why the Roman Catholic Church has designated this day as the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.  It was Mary’s openness to new possibilities that permitted God to break into our world through the person of Jesus and the lessons and examples His life offer us.

As we start the new year, let us remember Mary, our model of a new way of being open to God’s love breaking through to the world in bold, daring, and life-giving ways.

In  Following in the Footsteps of Jesus,  José Pagola has the following to say about Mary, based on the praises of God which she sang in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55):

“Mary begins by proclaiming the greatness of God:  ‘My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, who has been mindful of the humble and lowly.’  God is bountiful to the lowly.  Mary praises God with the same joy with which Jesus [did], because he has hidden himself from the ‘wise and learned’ and has revealed himself to the ‘lowly.’  The faith of Mary in the God of the ‘lowly’ helps us resonate with the mind and heart of Jesus.

“Mary proclaims the “might” of God because through it ‘his mercy reaches from age to age.’ God places his might at the service of compassion.  [God’s] mercy reaches all generations. Jesus preaches the same message:  God is merciful to all.  So he says to his disciples of every age: ‘Be merciful as God is merciful.’ With the heart of a mother, Mary understands, as no one else does, the tenderness of a God who is a Father and a Mother. From the depths of her experience, she leads us to the heart of the message of Jesus: God is compassionate love.

“Mary also proclaims the God of the poor for ‘he has brought down the rulers from their thrones, leaving them without power to oppress; on the contrary, he has ‘lifted up the lowly,’ so that they may regain their dignity. From the rich, he reclaims what they have stolen from the poor and sends them away empty; the hungry he fills with good things so, they can enjoy a more dignified life. Jesus, too, announced the same: ‘The last shall be first.’  Mary leads us to welcome the Good News of Jesus:  God is the God of the poor.”

As those of us who pray and work for LGBT equality in church and society begin a new calendar year,  let’s renew ourselves in the spirit of Mary.   Let us keep in mind that though at times we feel lowly and powerless, that these are the times when we can most be in touch with God.  Let us remember that though we may not feel “mighty,” our strength should come from our compassion, and our willingness to show compassionate mercy to all.  Let us not forget that Mary had great trust in the promise that God would lift up all who are marginalized and oppressed and restore their dignity to them.

If we keep Mary as our model of faith in the compassionate love of the God for the lowly, poor, powerless, and marginalized, who knows what new wonders we can witness in 2018?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 


The Best Catholic LGBT News of 2015

December 31, 2015

Yesterday, we reviewed the top ten worst Catholic LGBT news events of 2015.  The list was determined by votes cast from Bondings 2.0 readers all week.  Today, we close out the year by looking at what you, the readers, voted in as the top ten best Catholic LGBT news events of the past twelve months.

The item which received the most votes is in the number one position, and they follow in descending order.  A simple analysis of the list follows.

  1. Ireland passes marriage equality by popular referendum, with many priests and nuns speaking out to support it.
  2. German Bishops institute a policy protecting LGBT church employees from discrimination.
  3. Catholics, particularly young people, continue to protest the unjust firings of LGBT church employees.
  4. St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon, becomes the first known Catholic institution to adopt a non-discrimination policy based on marital status for lesbian and gay employees.
  5. Jesuit-run Fordham University issues a congratulatory statement to one of its theology department professors after he marries another man.
  6. St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Boston and New York City allow openly LGBT groups to march with banners, after decades of refusing admission.
  7. Pope Francis meets with a Spanish transgender man at the Vatican. 
  8. New Vermont bishop makes positive statement welcoming transgender people as he is installed in his diocese. 
  9. After a week of questions concerning Pope Francis’ encounter with anti-marriage equality activist Kim Davis, it is revealed that the only formal meeting the pontiff had in the U.S. with any individual was with a gay man who was his former student, and the man’s partner.
  10. TIE (3-way)  i) New Ways Ministry’s LGBT and Ally pilgrims gets VIP seating at papal audience at the Vatican. ii) Ireland’s two most important archbishops strike positive notes on LGBT people even during the contentious marriage referendum there. iii) At the Vatican, Pope Francis welcomes Bishop Jacques Gaillot, a French bishop who had been removed from office, in part because he blesses lesbian and gay couples.

I’m not surprised that Ireland’s successful referendum on marriage equality was voted as the top story.  What I am somewhat surprised at is that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision enacting marriage equality–and the positive Catholic response to it–did not make the list at all.  Granted, it is not as “Catholic” a story as Ireland, yet it is considered by many news organizations here in the U.S.  (where the majority of Bondings 2.0’s readers live) as one of the year’s top news events, generally.  I suppose the Catholic dimension of Ireland’s success, as well as their hierarchy’s moderate response  (see number 10), made it a more important Catholic story.

In yesterday’s “worst” list, employment discrimination against LGBT church workers topped the list, showing that people are very concerned about this terrible trend.  It is good, then, that three positive stories about LGBT church employment are in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th positions of this “best” list.

Pope Francis is involved in four of the items on this “best” list, though he also was mentioned in the same number of items on yesterday’s “worst” list.  In some respect, that equal number of mentions on both lists may indicate what many have suspected:  Pope Francis record on LGBT issues is very mixed.

Transgender issues are mentioned in two items on the “best” list, and in no items on the “worst” list, perhaps revealing that 2015 was a positive year for Catholic transgender issues?

What are your thoughts about this list and yesterday’s list?  Offer your observations in the “Comments” section of this post.

Onward to 2016!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 


The Worst Catholic LGBT News of 2015

December 30, 2015

Only two days left to 2015, so let’s take stock of the year that is passing.  All week, Bondings 2.0 readers have been voting for what they considered the ten best and ten worst news events of the Catholic LGBT world that occurred over the last 12 months.  Below are the results of the voting for your choices for the worst events.  The ranking is based on the polling numbers received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, U.S., on Tuesday, December 29th.

Tomorrow, we will close out the year with a report on what you voted in as the best events.  The event with the most votes is in the number one position, and the others follow in descending order.  A simple analysis of the results follows the list

  1. The firing of LGBT church employees continues. 
  2. Cardinal Robert Sarah compares LGBT advocates to Nazis and says marriage equality has “demonic origins” in remarks at the Synod on the Family.
  3. Pope Francis fails to address crminalization laws against LGBT people during his visit to Africa in November.
  4. A married gay man in Louisiana is denied communion at his mother’s funeral. After a news story about the incident contained a link to the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ positive webpage on gay ministry, the information is taken down from the web.
  5. Pope Francis endorses Slovakian and Slovenian proposals to ban same-sex marriage.
  6. Vatican Secretary of State calls Ireland’s enactment of marriage equality “a defeat for humanity. 
  7. U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke compares committed lesbian and gay couples to murderers. 
  8. Cardinal in Dominican Republic, who once used an anti-gay slur, made repeated homophobic remarks against U.S. Ambassador James Brewster. 
  9. Pope Francis coins the term “ideological colonization” and applies it to new forms of marriage.
  10. TIE: i) Pope Francis likens “gender theory” to nuclear arms.   ii) Despite recommendations from Pope Francis and many bishops, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops votes to retain work against marriage equality as a top priority.

Here’s some simple analysis of the results.  It seems that what gets people angriest are when high-ranking church officials–particularly Pope Francis–make negative comments about LGBT people.  Of the 11 top choices listed above, seven of them have to do with offensive statements made by top prelates around the globe.

But, with the top choice being the firing of LGBT church workers, Bondings 2.0 readers show that they believe actions are much harsher than words.

Interestingly, with the exception of the first item, all the other choices for worst news events feature a church official in a top leadership position.  Perhaps, in a way, this has a silver lining which is something we’ve been aware of for many years now:  Catholic lay people are overwhelmingly supportive of LGBT people.  Perhaps in the new year, more bishops will continue to follow their example.

Do you notice any other trends or lessons in these results?  Offer your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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