New Study Examines Religious Acceptance of LGBT Equality

I was all ready to say “Ho-hum” when I read the opening paragraphs of a Huffington Post news story about a new study which finds that Catholic people are more supportive of LGBT issues than most people generally think.  I’ve read this story so many times before, I was ready to say. For at least a half-dozen years, almost every survey that has appeared about religion and LGBT topics shows that Catholics lead the way among religious groups on supporting equality measures.

But, just as I was about to click through to another story (in the old days, I would have said “turn the page to another story”), I noticed that the reporter said the researcher of this new study was attempting to answer “why, despite the fact most world religions have proscriptions against homosexual practices, some nations are much more tolerant than others.”

Okay, now I wanted to read on.

The new book-length study, Cross-National Public Opinion About Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes Across the Globeis the work of Amy Adamczyk, a sociologist at the City University of New York.  Adamcyzk’s study says that several factors influence tolerance and support of lesbian and gay issues, including that while faith is an important factor, so are cultural elements.  The Huffington Post reported one piece of information that I thought was fascinating:

“One recent study found that gay Polish immigrants in Chicago were much more likely to retain their Catholic identity than gay men in Warsaw who were raised Catholic.

“Only one of the 27 gay men raised by two Catholic parents in Warsaw remained Catholic. Ten of the 23 men in Chicago were still Catholic.

“The perceived hostile environment in Poland forced many gay men to make a hard choice and declare themselves atheists, researcher Hubert Izienicki discovered in in-depth interviews.

” ‘In contrast, the gay respondents in Chicago find themselves in a religiously pluralistic and immigrant society, which allows them to retain their religious tradition and Catholic identity alongside their identity as gay men,’ he reported.”

When democracy is spread, the new political culture can sometimes weaken the hold that religious institutions which oppose equality have over people.  The following evidence was offered:

“. . . [In] nations such as predominantly Catholic nations such as Spain and Brazil, which have moved from authoritarian governments to democracies, the changes in acceptance have been considerable.

“In the early 1990s, 38 percent of Spanish adults and 70 percent of Brazilian adults said homosexuality is never justified. In the current decade, just 8 percent of Spaniards and 36 percent of Brazilians hold similar views, Adamczyk noted.”

Pointing to the recent news story of Newark’s Cardinal Joseph Tobin welcoming an LGBT pilgrimage to the local cathedral, Adamcyzk said that personal messages from religious leaders have an important role to play in promoting equality: “It really helps when religious officials come out and say we’re tolerant,” she said.

Adamczyk’s study also shows that strong polarization between religious and LGBT issues is not only harmful socially, but personally:

“What does not work is polarization, where some gay rights groups or religious communities view each other with hostility, cutting off the possibility of dialogue and often adding to the mental health struggles of people seeking to reconcile their religious and sexual identities.”

This last point highlights the need for bridge-building between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church–an idea receiving a lot of attention lately due to Fr. James Martin’s new book Building a Bridge.

One final quotation from Adamczyk tells me that this researcher is not only a highly-skilled researcher and analyst, but someone who recognizes that there is a lot involved in this study that is more than just numbers and graphs:

“No matter how one describes the conflict, on every side of the divide we find individuals and communities that try to make sense of their lives and live with integrity towards their own values, towards the people that matter to them, and towards what is sacred in their lives.”

Yes, in the end, the debate about LGBT equality in church and society is less about culture wars and more about human dignity, love, and the divine.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, July 7, 2017


Catholics Do NOT Support Religious Refusals to Gays and Lesbians

A new survey reveals that a majority of Catholics oppose allowing small businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian people because of a religiously held belief.

The data from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that 63% of Hispanic Catholics and 61% of White Catholics object to these religiously based refusals.  When compared to the general American population, of which 61% oppose these refusals, the data shows what many pollsters have long observed:  U.S. Catholics poll equivalently with the general population.

The survey examined the opinions of a wide range of religious traditions and found that a majority of almost all traditions opposed religious refusals.  Unitarian/Universalists showed the greatest opposition, with 87% responding negatively to the idea.  Mormons and Hispanic Protestants showed the smallest amount of opposition, with 52% of each responding negatively. The only group not showing a majority of opposition was White Evangelicals, with 42% responding negatively, 50% supporting religious refusals, and 8% undecided.

The same report also showed that a majority of religious Americans support marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples.   Catholics showed greater support for marriage equality than the general U.S. population.  While 58% of all Americans support marriage equality, 63% of White Catholics and 62% of Hispanic Catholics do so.

The PRRI report pointed out an interesting political phenomenon when it compared opposition to marriage equality with opposition to religious refusals.  In five traditions surveyed which showed opposition to marriage equality–Black Protestants, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hispanic Protestants,  and Mormons–a majority of each of these groups still opposed allowing religious refusals.  The data suggests that religious people who do not support marriage equality still believe that gay and lesbian people should not face discrimination because of someone’s religious belief.

You can look at all the data by clicking here.

U.S. Catholic bishops have supported a broad campaign for a definition of religious liberty which allows for discrimination against LGBT people.  Perhaps the bishops should pause from this campaign for a while and listen to the voices of the people in the pews on this issue.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, February 8, 2017


Let’s Find Out the Real Number of Gay Priests in the Church

“It is time for the bishops to commission a reputable survey to determine what percent of their priests are gay. They should also do a survey to determine the reaction of their flock to the reality of gay priests.”

That’s one of the conclusions that Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, columnist for The National Catholic Reporter has come to after hearing about the Vatican’s reaffirmation of a ban on gay priests.  He explained his position in a blog post entitled “Yes, there are lots of good gay priests”

Reese was forthright in his condemnation of the Vatican document, noting:

“The idea that gays cannot be good priests is stupid, demeaning, unjust, and contrary to the facts. I know many very good priests who are gay, and I suspect even more good priests I know are gay.”

The fact that the Vatican continues to issues statements against gay priests (Pope Benedict XVI had issued one in 2005) creates an unhealthy atmosphere in the Church.  Reese explains that the existence of such negative instructions cause seminarians and priests “to lie about their sexuality — not a healthy thing, especially with your spiritual director.”  He continues:

“In an era when seminarians are being encouraged to live more healthy emotional lives, they should not be forced to lie about who they are. In such seminaries, the faculty and administrators either play inquisitor or turn a blind eye to sexual orientation. As a consequence, some psychologists evaluating candidates for the priesthood refuse to list sexual orientation in their reports, lest it be found by someone and used against the man.

“Like the military of old, the seminary and priestly culture becomes one of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ “

One of the real problems the Church faces in regards to gay priests is knowing just how many there are in the priesthood.  As someone who has traveled in church circles for most of my adult life, and who, for the past 22 years has spoken with clergy all over the country, anecdotal evidence convinces me that the number is at least 50% and most likely much more.  I say this not based on the number of priests that I have met who are gay, but from reports from priests, both gay and straight, and both pro-gay and anti-gay, who tell me what their estimates are based on their knowledge of local clergy.

Father Thomas Reese, SJ
Father Thomas Reese, SJ

Reese notes that bishops have often been opposed to finding out the actual number of gay priests:

“Before he died, I asked the sociologist Dean Hoge, who had done numerous surveys of priests, and he said that the bishops would never allow him to ask the question in any of his surveys. The bishops did not want to know, or they were afraid of the numbers being publicized in the media.”

But there are a wide variety of other motivations for keeping the lid on the phenomenon of gay priests.  Reese explains:

“Bishops and religious superiors continue to advise gay priests and religious to stay in the closet. Some fear too much publicity about gay priests will drive away heterosexual vocations, but today it is more likely that heterosexual young people will be driven away by homophobic prejudice. Others fear that gay priests will be shunned by their parishioners or looked upon with suspicion because gays have been falsely blamed for the sexual abuse crisis. And in today’s world, such priests and religious would likely be attacked in right-wing media, including social media. “

All of this leads Reese to call for a reputable survey to find out both the number of gay priests, and Catholic lay people’s acceptance of them.   While I don’t have a good answer for the first question, I think I have a pretty good idea of what the answer to the second question might be. Having spoken with scores of gay priests over the last two decades,  a number of whom are out to their congregations, not one has ever told me that the response has been negative.  Yes, one or two parishioners might have a

Having spoken with scores of gay priests over the last two decades,  a number of whom are out to their congregations, not one has ever told me that the response has been negative.  Yes, one or two parishioners might have a problem and might leave the parish, but the overwhelming response has been acceptance and love.  And this is from priests who serve in various parts of the country in an amazingly diverse set of parishes.  And the number of supportive Catholics will continue to expand as greater acceptance of LGBT people continues to rise in the future.

You can show your support for gay priests by signing New Ways Ministry’ statement “The Gift of Gay Priests’ Vocations” by clicking here,  reading the statement, and signing your name.  This statement is a wonderful way to let Catholic leaders know that Catholic lay people welcome and support the gay priests in their midst.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 12, 2016

Catholic Church’s Future Crisis Is Being Fueled by Today’s Anti-LGBT Messages

By Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, September 30, 2016

If you peruse through New Ways Ministry’s posts on this blog, one recurring opinion that you will encounter is how much harm negative messages from Catholic leaders harm LGBTQ people and their allies.  A new report, however, also identifies another victim of anti-LGBTQ language and policies coming from church leaders:  the Church itself.

This past week, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released a report about the growing number of “nones” in the U.S.:  people who profess no religious affiliation or have renounced a previous religious affiliation.  So, when asked about their religious identity, the simplest answer would be “none.”  The new PRRI report shows that the “nones” have increased from 5% of the population in 1972 to 25% of the population in 2016, and that currently almost 40% of adults ages 18-29 identify as “nones.”

When the survey respondents (who were interviewed in August 2016) were asked why they were religiously unaffiliated, 29% said that it was because of the negative messages they heard from religious institutions about LGBT issues.  Significantly for the Catholic Church, that number is appreciably higher.  Indeed, it is one of the most significant reasons they leave the Church, and they do so in greater proportions than any other religion.  The report stated:

“Notably, those who were raised Catholic are more likely than those raised in any other religion to cite negative religious treatment of gay and lesbian people (39% vs. 29%, respectively) and the clergy sexual-abuse scandal (32% vs. 19%, respectively) as primary reasons they left the Church.”

Rejection of anti-LGBT messages rates higher than the clergy sex abuse crisis as a reason for leaving the Catholic Church, 39% vs. 32% statistically.

In the overall survey (not just Catholics), the number one reason for leaving was “stopped believing in the religion’s teachings,” with the number two answer being “family was never that religious growing up.”  The third highest answer for all respondents was “negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people.”  Given the fact that the first two reasons are highly existential ones, meaning that they cut to the core of intimate personal belief and early formation, the fact that LGBT issues comes in closely behind the number two reason becomes even more significant.

The Catholic Church has been the denomination hardest hit by people disaffiliating from their faith.  The PRRI report states:

“While non-white Protestants and non-Christian religious groups have remained fairly stable, white Protestants and Catholics have all experienced declines, with Catholics suffering the largest decline among major religious groups: a 10-percentage point loss overall. Nearly one-third (31%) of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only about one in five (21%) Americans identify as Catholic currently. Thirteen percent of Americans report being former Catholics, and roughly 2% of Americans have left their religious tradition to join the Church. White evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants are also witnessing negative growth, but to a much more modest degree (-2 percentage points and -5 percentage points, respectively).”

Those numbers should be a wake-up call to Catholic Church leaders who continue promoting anti-LGBT policies and messages.  If they are unable to see how they are harming others with their actions and words, they should take note of how they are harming the institution as a whole.  Instead of worrying about religious liberty, they should be worrying about institutional survival.

One of the most significant details about this data is that it reflects 18-29 year olds.  In a survey, the behavior and opinions of the younger generation are reliable indicators of what behavior and opinion will be like in the future.  And the survey also indicates that it is unlikely that these young people will return to the church to marry and have children.  The report shows that 58% of the respondents have said they totally reject religion, while only 22% indicate some positive view about religion, and 18% who say they have faith, but not part of a religious group. The Church is failing its next generation by failing to develop a way to speak authentically to young people’s most urgent questions of justice and equality.

Michael Peppard, a Fordham University theology professor who blogs at dotCommonweal, offered some insightful analysis of what might be behind this exodus of young people from the church:

“Most religious people make moral evaluations through a combination of appeals to revelation, reason, and experience. What do scripture and tradition say? What does my logical thinking conclude? And what have I personally experienced that puts flesh on the bones of those arguments? In the case of the moral status of homosexuality, it seems clear that a tipping point was reached in the past decade, whereby people’s reason and personal experience have overwhelmed the appeal to revelation.”

And Peppard offered a good suggestion for Church leaders:

“What is the upshot for church leaders? Any comment a leader makes about gays and lesbians—from a magisterial pronouncement to a small remark in a pulpit or classroom—must be chosen with these high stakes in mind. With regard to how gays and lesbians are spoken of in church settings, there is no margin of error. Any expression of negativity and ostracization from the pulpit will be heard from the pew as an irredeemable affront to friends and family—or one’s very self. And next week, that same pew will be empty.”

While I agree with Peppard,  I think church leaders need to do more than just watch their language.  They need to be pro-active in offering affirming and welcoming LGBT messages, and they need to back up those messages with pro-LGBT policies and practices, such as working for equality, supporting non-discrimination in employment, and fighting anti-LGBT initiatives.  If they don’t start soon, their buildings will soon be empty.


U.S. Catholics Overwhelmingly Reject LGBT Discrimination by State Legislatures

RuizNondiscrim.jpgMarriage equality’s legalization in the United States last year has prompted an anti-LGBT backlash at state and local levels. Bills ostensibly defending religious liberty  allow legal discrimination for opponents of equality. Conversely, ordinances to expand non-discrimination protections  for LGBT people face strong religious opposition. Where are Catholics amid these debates?

New polling from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows 73% of U.S. Catholics support LGBT nondiscrimination protections, two points higher than the 71% U.S. average. 61% of Catholics oppose allowing business owners to deny service to LGBT people. Even those opposed to marriage equality are far more approving of non-discrimination protections, according to PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones.

This widespread Catholic support for civil rights is driven by strong support from the lay faithful. For instance, James Rowe, a Catholic who is and the executive director of Believe Out Loud, said it is the mission of LGBTQ Christians and allies to “mobilize love” when anti-LGBT religious groups seek to institutionalize their discriminatory theologies. Rowe reflected on his own Catholic faith in view of South Dakota’s HB 1008 which would have mandated students use restrooms and locker rooms according to their assigned at birth sex:

“The very idea behind this harmful law is discrimination, plain and simple—and discrimination has no place in Christianity.

“My Catholic teachings tell me that Jesus stood in solidarity with those who are most often bullied and ostracized by others—and I believe today, Jesus would have been in Pierre, South Dakota, standing at the steps of the Capitol building demanding that Governor Daugaard veto this harmful bill.”

Believe Out Loud joined LGBT, educational, and civil liberties organizations in delivering 80,000 signatures opposing the bill, which was thankfully vetoed by the governor earlier this week.

Buzzfeed reported at least 105 similar pieces of legislation at the state level which seek to curtail civil rights rooted in sexual and/or gender identity, or allow the denial of services to LGBT people. None have yet passed, but there is momentum in at least eight states.

Unfortunately, the church’s leadership differs from the faithful, despite Catholic teachings which say every sign of unjust discrimination must be opposed. South Dakota’s bishops, Robert Gruss of Rapid City and Paul Swain of Sioux Falls, released a letter expressing their support for HB 1008. Religious leaders’ opposition and legislators’ questionable coupling of Church and State can create a belief that LGBT and religious belief are at odds with one another in these debates. It is a frequent refrain here at Bondings 2.0 that Catholics support LGBT justice because of their faith and not in spite of it.

Mychal Copeland, who co-edited Struggling in Good Faith, an interfaith anthology about LGBTQI inclusion, challenges the idea that LGBT justice and religious belief are at odds.  In Copeland suggested that currently “every American religious tradition is engaged in a struggle about LGBT inclusion” and there are changes happening, even if quite slowly. He continued:

“[T]here is a prevailing assumption that individuals will hold anti-LGBT religious doctrine above other religious ideals. More and more religious leaders and lay people are prizing overarching principles of faith, such as compassion, love, dignity, and welcome over negative religious legislation. . .Americans are more likely to see that [LGBT] individual as someone who should be able to rent an apartment, keep a job, and even marry the one they love.”

Church teaching does not allow for discrimination, meaning it should be unthinkable that Catholics would support any “right to discriminate” bills or oppose nondiscrimination protections. Sadly, this is not the case. If church teaching does not suffice, then perhaps we need to appeal to the deeper love expected of Christians by Jesus. It is Jesus’ kind of love which led early Christian writer Tertullian to note how his pagan contemporaries said, “See how those Christians love one another.” Catholics are certainly supportive of LGBT communities because of this love, but we must keep working to ensure that our church and our Christian faith are not used any further to deny the civil rights due to LGBT communities.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

70% of U.S. Catholics Accept Homosexuality, Says Survey; Millennials Ensure Future Growth

Pew Research Center data on acceptance of homosexuality

70% of U.S. Catholics say homosexuality should be accepted by society, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.  The data also suggests that this number will surely grow as generational shifts continue in the church.

The data, part of the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study released by Pew earlier this week, identify generous gains in religious Americans’ acceptance of LGB people since the first survey in 2007. [Editor’s Note: transgender topics were not addressed by the survey.]

Catholic approval was merely 58% in 2007, reported Crux, gaining twelve percentage points in just a handful of years. Evangelical Christians and Mormons jumped about ten points in their acceptance, though acceptance is still just about one-third.

While the new numbers reveal the percentage of the U.S. population who identify as Christians declining, as well as overall drops in religious adherence, those who are religiously affiliated remain as observant of their faiths if not more so. Taken together, this strengthens the truism that Catholics support LGBT equality because of their faith, not in spite of it.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Jay Brown expressed a similar sentiment, saying:

” ‘Despite attempts to paint religious people as monolithically opposed to LGBT rights, that’s just not the case and these numbers prove that. . .There’s growing support of LGBT people and our families, often not in spite of people’s religions but because the very foundation of their faith encourages love, acceptance and support for their fellow human beings.’ “

Pew’s latest survey backs another report released for Pope Francis’ visit earlier this fall which stated 46% of Catholics approved of same-sex marriage and 66% approved of same-sex couples raising children. At the time, I suggested those numbers were low and offered some thoughts as to why, which you can read here.

70% acceptance of LGB people seems more on point, and the good news is Catholics’ support for LGBT equality stands a good chance of rising as more and more Millennials come of age and come into leadership. Pew explained:

“Changing attitudes about homosexuality are linked to the same generational forces helping to reshape religious identity and practice in the United States, with Millennials expressing far more acceptance of homosexuality than older adults do.”

Why are Millennial Catholics supportive of LGBT equality beyond reflecting views of their generational cohort? Faith is a clear reason, say some commenters.

Catholics for Choice’s Jen Girdish wrote in Crux about a July survey which explored the divide between the views of young adult Catholics and their bishops. She suggested that Millennial Catholics more strongly oppose discrimination (71%), embrace diversity in the church, and practice a faith that respects conscience while emphasizing justice.

Keystone Catholics Stephen Seufert echoed this, writing at the journal Millennial:

“When millennial Catholics see friends and family members who feel isolated and unwelcome because of their sexual orientation, they too feel alienated. And when necessities like healthcare are denied, they often think the Church is being unjust. They see the Church as embracing a narrow commitment to man-made rules and traditions rather than a more loving, compassionate approach. Pope Francis understands that Catholics everywhere are living, breathing testaments to God’s uncompromising love. We must have a real discussion about how that love translates into welcoming gay, lesbian, and transgender people into our communities.”

How much more accepting U.S. Catholics will become and over what period of time depend on two questions. First,  how Hispanic Catholic youth respond  to LGBT acceptance is key. More than 60% of U.S. Catholics under 18 are Hispanic and its unclear whether they will tend towards their parents’ more conservative values or match their peers’ broader acceptance. Second, Millennial Catholics desire for spirituality does not guarantee they are bound to the Catholic Church, and 41% can envision leaving it. LGBT harm, such as sacramental denials and the firing of church workers, unfortunately will make such an exodus a reality.

Whatever is to come, that 70% of U.S. Catholics accept homosexuality is progress worth celebrating now.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

10 LGBT Insights from the Pew Survey of U.S. Catholics for Pope Francis’ Visit

As the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to the U.S. approach, a new Pew Forum poll revealed that the majority of U.S. Catholics’ support nontraditional families. When it comes to LGBT issues specifically, we might have to dig a little deeper to understand the significance of the numbers.

First lets look at some of the facts from the Pew Research Center’s “2015 Survey of U.S. Catholics and Family Life.” Of the 1,016 self-identified Catholics surveyed:

  • 70% accept cohabiting same-sex couples;
  • 66% accept same-sex couples raising children, including 43% who believe this is as good as any other arrangement;
  • 46% believe the church should recognize same-sex marriages.

Reading through the report, I thought Catholic numbers about LGBT families were somewhat down from other surveys. Here are a few thoughts about what is going on and why any conversations about family life should critically use such data, but to do so with some caution.

First, the Pew Research Center splices and dices U.S. Catholicism into groupings. They separate those who attend Mass weekly from those who do not. They separate Catholics from cultural Catholics and from ex-Catholics. Sometimes, sociologically, these are helpful, if imperfect, categorizations, but we cannot rely on them to tell the People of God’s story.

Mass attendance does not a Catholic make. We are united as the Body of Christ through baptism, whether we attend weekly liturgies or have not stepped foot in a church for years. Some of the most faithful Catholics I know, who have offered their entire lives to God, do not attend Mass weekly. And some weekly Mass attendees stop living their faith after that hour on Sunday.

Faith journeys, if embraced with critical reason and open to the mystery of God, may shift us from “Catholic” to “ex-Catholic” and back again over the course of several years or even decades. These categories do not allow for the tenuous relationship with the church so many have, or for our prioritization of being faithful to God as known through Christ rather than adherence to the edicts of human beings. They do not emphasize those who choose to be foremost catholic instead of Roman Catholic or those who yearn to come home, but are kept out.

Second, those identifying as cultural Catholic or ex-Catholic are far more affirming of LGBT issues. The church should listen closely. There are countless reasons why someone raised Catholic decides to leave the church (often to join another faith community), but high among these reasons is the hierarchy’s condemnation of LGBT people and its public campaigning against equal rights. Simply writing off their views because they are “non-practicing” does not allow the true costs of the bishops’ LGBT-negative views to sink in. These costs have included not only damage to LGBT people and their families, but the deep harm such views have inflicted on the church as a whole.

Third, 45% of the American population has a Catholic connection. Pew’s categorization attempts do reveal the interesting reality that when Catholic parents, spouses, and personal religious histories are included, almost half the U.S. population is heavily influenced by Catholicism. I bet this bumps higher if Catholic school is added to the mix. Further evidence for the truism that where there are Catholics so is there greater LGBT equality? I think so.

Fourth, age matters. The younger the Catholic, the more affirming they are. 63% of Millennials (those ages 18-29) say same-sex relationships are equivalent to opposite sex ones. Only 16% of this age bracket condemn same-sex couples compared to 38% of those over 65. The overall acceptance of such couples may be 46%, but pure demographics mean it will not be long before that number tops 50% and keeps climbing.

Fifth, while 44% of Catholics surveyed believe homosexual behavior is a sin, there are 39% who say it is not. For whatever reason, Pew does not include demographic breakdowns among Catholics for this statistic. From everything else I know, I bet age matters here most of all. Millennials overwhelmingly understand oft-repeated refrains: “love is love,” and “love wins.”

Sixth, Hispanic youth are the central question when it comes to age. Hispanic Catholics will be the majority of U.S. Catholics in just a few years. According to some surveys, Hispanic Catholic adults are less affirming of homosexuality than their counterparts, but whether emerging generations will tend towards their parents’ beliefs or those of their more affirming non-Hispanic peers is unclear.

Seventh, U.S. Catholics surveyed are overwhelmingly more accepting of heterosexual ‘sins’ like cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, or the use of artificial contraception. Given that only 4% of Catholics identified as LGB in Pew’s 2014 Religious Landscapes survey, these current numbers suggest people are far more lenient when it comes to their own sins. Might they be a little biased?

Eighth, 42% of Millennials expect the church will recognize same-sex marriages by 2050 and 36% of all Catholics surveyed agree. Could there be ecclesial recognition in just 35 years? A not negligible number of younger Catholics think so — and they will be the ones rising to leadership in coming years.

Ninth, this same group of under-30 Catholics is also far more willing to leave the Catholic Church if they have not done so already. 41% say “they could see themselves leaving the church,” reported Pew, and if LGBT equality changes are not forthcoming, many of them very well may walk away.

Tenth, the Pew numbers reveal Catholics  love their church and have hopes it will change, but they are refusing to tolerate intolerance much longer. As Pope Francis prepares for his first trip ever to the United States, he should consider first just how affirming and inclusive U.S. Catholics really are, and  the precarious position the U.S. bishops put this national church in by their unceasing campaign against LGBT justice and inclusion.

For ongoing LGBT-related updates for the World Meeting of Families, papal visit, and Synod of Bishops in October, subscribe to the blog (for free) by typing your email address in the “Follow” box in the upper right-hand corner of this page, and then click the “Follow” button.

For those attending the World Meeting of Families, or anyone who wants to come to Philadelphia at the end of September, consider attending New Ways Ministry’s half-day workshop on gender diverse families entitled TransForming Love: Exploring Gender Identity from Catholics Perspectives, on Saturday, September 26, 2015, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Arch Street United Methodist Church, 55 North Broad Street, Philadelphia.  For more information, click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Related article:

National Catholic Reporter: “Most US Catholics are fine with nontraditional families”