“The Lost Flock” Film Profiles LGBT Ministry in Baltimore

February 4, 2016

The good work done by the LEAD Ministry of St. Matthew’s Church in Baltimore has been profiled before on this blog, but a new video series gives even greater insight into the ways this ministry serves the people of God. Filmmaker Eric Kruszewski produced “The Lost Flock,” the seven-part series on LEAD, which stands for LGBT Education and Affirming Diversity.  He told Out Magazine:

“I was raised Catholic, but have not practiced my faith in years. And before this project, I had never heard of Saint Matthew Catholic Church. . . It was clear that there was something special within this congregation.”

Though not an LGBT Catholic himself, Kruszewski hoped the documentary could “accurately capture their thoughts, feelings and experiences” and advance the discussion about acceptance of sexual and gender diversity in the church.

The series covers diverse perspectives when it comes to LGBT identities in the church. One part documents the baptism of a same-gender couple’s daughter, with one of the dads saying that St. Matthew’s is a place which honors their relationship and which supported them during the adoption process.

In another, a lesbian woman named Gigi describes first being disowned by her adoptive parents but then coming to see God through her partner, Ashley, and through the church community which quickly welcomed her.

In a third part, Henry, who comes from Kenya where homosexuality is criminalized, explains why he participates with the LEAD Ministry. He says the LGBT communities need support like anyone else, and further:

” ‘I always ask myself: What would I do if one of my daughters or one of my sons came out? Do LGBT people need to be accepted? To be heard? Yes. We have got to find a way to give them everything they need.’ . . .Gay or straight. We are together.”

But “The Lost Flock” is not simply positive stories. It also explores the harsher realities of LGBT Catholics’ experiences. In a segment about Rachel and Vania Christian dos Passo, the film highlights that their marriage cannot be recognized in the church and for this reason, Vania explains:

“We made a serious decision to leave the church. We want to have a family where our children don’t feel pointed out because we are gay. . .W still go to LEAD because its family for us. But unfortunately we have to live this exile until one day, maybe in another lifetime, gay people will be equally recognized in the church.”

Then there is Carolyn’s story, the Catholic mother of two gay children, Renee and David. Though there were no difficulties with Renee’s coming out, her husband was unable to accept David’s sexual orientation and kicked their son out of their home. Carolyn now says she wants the same opportunities for my gay and straight children in the Catholic Church.” She says further that it was this idea that “was the foundation for LEAD” and expresses her own growth since joining LEAD as a Catholic led by her conscience.

Those profiled have helped foster the safe and affirming space that is LEAD.  Supporting the ministry is Fr. Joe Muth, the pastor, who, in his own video segment explains why, as a Catholic priest, he supports this LGBT work, saying:

“I don’t think the institutional church realizes how hurtful they are to homosexual people when they come across so harshly on that issue. The institutional church says, in a sense, you can be a part only so far.”

Muth acknowledges that LEAD struggles with being an LGBT support and outreach group, while at the same time worrying about being closed down by higher church officials. Despite that threat, these Catholics have managed to build up a more and more affirming community. They host parish events and have even participated in Baltimore’s Pride celebrations the last few years. As Bondings 2.0 has written previously, LEAD is a model for the Catholic Church when it comes to LGBT pastoral care.

To learn more and view all seven videos that compose “The Lost Flock,” click here. To read Bondings 2.0‘s previous coverage of the LEAD Ministry, click here.

To learn more about some of the hundreds of parishes across the U.S. which offer a welcome to LGBT people, click here.

The ALL ARE WELCOME series is an occasional feature on this blog that highlights Catholic parishes and faith communities that support and affirm LGBT people. 

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Alberta Bishop Calls New LGBTQ Guidelines “Totalitarian” and “Anti-Catholic”

January 15, 2016
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Education Minister David Eggen announcing the new guidelines

In Canada, new guidelines from the province of Alberta’s Education Ministry may push transgender policies under development in a positive direction. However, according to one bishop, the guidelines are “totalitarian” and “anti-Catholic,” though other Catholics involved in provincial educational systems say the new recommendations are good news.

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary attacked the guidelines in a blog post titled “Totalitarianism in Alberta,” reported CBC. He wrote, in part:

“This approach and directive smack of the madness of relativism and the forceful imposition of a particular narrow-minded anti-Catholic ideology. . .Such a totalitarian approach is not in accordance with [Canadian law] and must be rejected.”

Henry also said the guidelines “breathe pure secularism” and described gay-straight alliances as “highly politicized ideological clubs” because they oppose homophobia and heterosexism–two influences which he belittled. Alberta’s Education Minister David Eggen responded to the comments by saying he would meet with Catholic education officials,, and he was certain that the guidelines offered “a constructive process that will lead to a positive outcome in the end.”

Kris Wells, director of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services had a sharper critique, calling for the bishop to apologize. Wells said:

” ‘The only madness that Bishop Henry describes is his lunacy. . .What the bishop fails to realize is that this kind of harmful rhetoric does great damage to LGBT youth and individuals in our province.”

Mickey Wilson of Edmonton’s Pride Centre said most Catholics want their church “to move past these things,” reported The Edmonton Journal.   He also stated:

” ‘It’s just shameful that he would put students in a position where they have to chose between being schooled in their faith and having a safe place.’ “

Chair Marilyn Bergstra of the Edmonton Catholic Schools Board (ECSB) was among those Catholics who viewed the guidelines differently. She was “very impressed” by them, according to The Edmonton Sun. Bergstra, who began chairing ECSB last October, said further:

” ‘My wish would be that every single word in that document is adopted. . .But that’s not how democracy works, and we have to have a fulsome discussion.’ “

The guidelines in dispute suggested that school districts’ policies respect students’ gender identity and expression, specifically when it comes to dress codes, restrooms, and athletics. Non-discrimination protections for all LGBTQ employees are also suggested.Though not binding, the guidelines come from the Ministry which will be reviewing board policies once they are submitted in March. Catholic schools in Canada receive government funding, so they are not exempt from LGBT protections. You can read the guidelines by clicking here.

ECSB’s discussions about a policy for trans students have been particularly heated. The Board approved a draft policy in December which would allow “just discrimination” of LGBT youth. Previous meetings became shouting matches such that Minister Eggen mandated professional mediation. Trustee Larry Kowalczyk is on record saying trans people have a “mental disorder” and this whole initiative is due to “God-hating activists.”

Despite the new guidelines, approving a policy which actually protects trans students at Edmonton’s Catholic schools may be a challenge. But the guidelines would be immense progress if ECSB members integrate them into any new policy, a reality highlighted by transgender parent Marni Panas who told CBC:

” ‘These are words in a document and they’re really solid words, they’re really good words, but they will mean nothing unless we see action and we see these students protected.’ “

Protecting students should be a first priority of Catholic education, but somehow not all Catholics believe these protections should be afforded to transgender students. Rather than rejecting these guidelines outright (or going so far as calling them “totalitarian”), ECSB and all Catholic trustees should carefully read them and come to understand there is little, if nothing at all, in them which contradicts Catholic teachings. Indeed, they affirm the fundamental call of the Gospel to care about and provide for each person’s well-being, as well as the common good of all people.

With just over two months until a policy is due, Catholic officials in Alberta should put the harsh rhetoric aside.  Instead, they should be open to the guidelines and to new understandings of LGBT people..

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Dominican Catholic Officials Again Attack Gay U.S. Ambassador

January 13, 2016
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Ambassador James Brewster, left, and husband Bob Satawake

Church leaders in the Dominican Republic have issued an open letter against LGBT human rights efforts, and they included an attack on openly gay U.S. Ambassador James Brewster.

The letter, whose two dozen signatories includes Catholic and Evangelical leaders, is written to the nation’s president and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It claimed the United States and the United Nations seek to invite Dominican children “to begin practicing gay and lesbian practices” through educational literature on sexuality and gender. It said further:

” ‘This initiative to turn our adolescents gay early on is an initiative of the U.S. government that is run by a homosexual and represented by another homosexual in the Dominican Republic.’ “

That second figure is Ambassador Brewster, whom the letter criticized for participating in Pride celebrations last year and further slandered, reported The Washington Blade.

Brewster has faced repeated attacks from Catholic officials since his appointment, particularly by Santo Domingo’s Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus López Rodriguez. The cardinal most recently said Brewster was “wife to a man” and should stick to housework. López used an anti-gay slur to refer to the ambassador in 2013 and said Brewster should “take his gay pride elsewhere.”  The Washington Blade reported that López once described LGBT tourists as “social trash” and “degenerates.” Cardinal López’s remarks made Bondings 2.0’s lists of Worst Catholic LGBT News in both 2013 and 2015.

Despite these attacks, the State Department is standing beside Ambassador Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake. Spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said they “disagree in the strongest terms” with the letter’s claims and that Brewster advances U.S. policy on LGBT human rights “like all U.S. ambassadors.” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois appealed to Pope Francis on behalf of Brewster, asking the pontiff to curtail Cardinal López and the severe homophobia he pronounces in the church’s name.

When Catholic leaders attacked Ambassador Brewster last December, it was pointed out that Cardinal López was 79 years old, four years past 75, the church’s official retirement age for bishops.  Vicious attacks on any person should be grounds for such a dismissal; his prominence only augments their damage. It is far past time for Cardinal López to resign.

More action is needed, however. Intervention by Pope Francis in this severe case would not undermine his efforts towards decentralization. It would, rather, send a clear global message that such overt prejudice by Catholic officials will not be tolerated.  Words from Pope Francis’ latest interview are also instructive:

“[P]eople 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.”

Somewhere, along the way, it seems a handful of Catholic clergy in the nation lost that message (they are not the first, nor likely last). This development does not mean Dominican Catholics cannot use the Year of Mercy to promote greater respect for and inclusion of LGBT communities and undo some of the damages so far inflicted.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Faithful Gay Couple Experiences Warm Welcome from Detroit Parish

December 16, 2015
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Tom Molina-Duarte, left, and Bryan Victor

News headlines tend to focus on what bishops say and how they act regarding LGBT issues in the church, but focusing only on the hierarchy can distort the reality of the Catholic faith as it is lived locally. A recent piece in the Detroit Free Press helps correct this distortion, sharing the story of a same-sex couple and their experience of being warmly welcomed in the church.

Bryan Victor and Thomas Molina-Duarte are faithful Catholics and, since moving to Detroit in 2012, they’ve been parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo Church. Described as an “integrated and active” place, this parish  welcomes all “the real-lived experience of people,” said Victor including him and his husband.

Both expressed that being Catholic is central to their lives, though relating to the church has not been without challenges. Victor and Molina-Duarte each said they stepped back from the church for a time, but they began attending Mass together after meeting each other in 2010.

Now, Victor explained, they “remain in the church rather than leaving” and are open about their sexual identities and marriage. Molina-Duarte, who said the challenges are now an “afterthought,” expressed why the couple remains but refuses to be closeted:

” ‘You’re called to be in community and seek justice and how can you do that in a closet?’ “

Victor, a social worker, said further that faith both guides him and provides community:

” ‘I carry that Gospel message out to the secular world, and my work is reflective of the church. . .I am sustained and nourished by the church. I’m sharing my gifts and talents within the church.’ “

On the question of Communion, about which Detroit has experienced controversy because of Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s previous suggestion that marriage equality supporters should refrain, Victor added:

” ‘We examine our consciences and we know that our love for each other does not take us out of a relationship with God. . .It takes us into a closer relationship with God.  And for that reason,we feel comfortable presenting ourselves for Communion.’ “

It is worth noting that this informed conscience decision is precisely what Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich called for the church to respect in a recent interview.

Victor and Molina-Duarte married earlier this fall, saying they were “driven to our marriage by our faith” and not simply marriage equality’s legalization. Though their ceremony was held at a nearby Protestant church, the couple is welcomed together by their Catholic parish. The Free Press reported a recent example of this welcome. Capuchin Fr. Ray Stadmeyer, the pastor, calls forward those who had birthdays and anniversaries for a blessing at the end of Mass each week. When Molina-Duarte came to the front on his birthday, Stadmeyer said the following:

” ‘Bless our brother Thomas. Bless him in his relationship. . .We thank him and Bryan for all the goodness they bring to us. May they know God’s tender graces.’ “

Molina-Duarte and Victor are warmly accepted by another priest, Fr. Ronald Victor, who is the latter partner’s uncle. Of the couple, Fr. Victor said:

“They are two very holy guys. . .I do see their union as being sacred and sacramental, in the sense that it reflects God’s love.

“While [their relationship is] not necessarily life-giving in a biological way. . .it’s life-giving in other ways.”

Victor said his perspective changed when his nephew, with whom he was quite close, came out. The priest is now public about his willingness to bless same-sex unions and added that, at the couples’ wedding, he was “a little angry and a little disappointed that we couldn’t do it in a church where I could have officiated.” Fr. Victor suggested many priests believe as he does but remain quiet out of fear.

Their wider families have been quite supportive, too. Only one person refused to attend their wedding. Victor’s dad, Lennie, summing up the families’ response:

” ‘If the church makes you choose between your family and your faith. . .I guess we voted for family.’ “

In a related note, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who is a former auxiliary in Detroit, recently offered a day of reflection with Fortunate Families. He, too, was changed by a family member’s coming out when his brother announced he was gay. Gumbleton told those gathered:

” ‘It’s clear the movement is there. . .but it takes a long time for the teaching to permeate the whole church, and people will fight it.’ “

Pope Francis is creating space for LGBT Catholics, their families, allies, and pastoral ministers to move the church closer to a church that is “home for all.” When church leaders make exclusionary and even homophobic or transphobic remarks, it can be helpful to remember local stories like this Detroit gay couple and their parish. Truly, it is in these spaces within the Church where that movement Bishop Gumbleton identified is happening, and it is in this movement that we must place our hope.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 


Ireland Ends “Year of Equality” with LGBT Church Worker Protections

December 7, 2015

LGBT teachers hold the newly approved Section 37 amendment

Ireland’s lawmakers ended the country’s “Year of Equality” by passing a bill that will ban discrimination by religious institutions against LGBT employees. Gay Star News explained this latest development:

“The bill amends Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act, which allows schools and hospitals to ‘takes action’ to prevent employees from ‘undermining the religious ethos of the institution.’ “

Passed by the Irish Parliament, the bill will be signed into law soon by President Michael Higgins. Its passage is especially significant because the Catholic Church administers nearly 93% of Ireland’s schools and just 1% are not denominationally affiliated.

Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) welcomed the Section 37 amendment, saying it was “delighted” by the law’s passage. Director of Education Policy Sandra Irwin-Gowran stated:

” ‘To date Section 37.1 has served to create a chilling effect for many LGBT employees. . .The existing provisions posed a threat of discrimination which has served to silence thousands of teachers in our schools.’ “

She added the law would allow LGBT people “to be themselves, get married and have a family without a threat to their job if they work in a religious run institution.” LGBT church workers are too often fired or forced to resign for their sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or support for civil equality. More than 50 such incidents internationally have been made public since 2008. You can find New Ways Ministry’s listing along with other employment-related information by clicking here.

Irish citizens can celebrate 2015 as an historic year for LGBT equality in their nation. Most notably, voters approved marriage equality through a constitutional referendum in May. This was followed by inclusive nondiscrimination protections, the ability for citizens to self-identify their gender identity on government records, Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s coming out as the first openly gay cabinet member, and now employment protections for LGBT church workers. Irwin-Gowran suggested this latest law will have “wider implications” because, according to the blog Take Part:

” ‘It provides a critical springboard for the cultural change necessary in our schools; change that ensures that all people, whether they’re working or learning, can do so in an environment that is welcoming and affirming of who they are.’ “

Besides civil equality, Catholic Ireland’s hallmark year has profoundly affected the church too. Priests and nuns spoke out for the referendum and some came out as gay themselves. Early on, national prelates set a less hostile tone for the marriage debate with Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin even calling anti-equality activists “obnoxious” at one point. He joined other leaders in the Irish church in condemning Vatican officials who said the vote was “defeat for humanity” and the Irish were “worse than pagans.”

After the marriage law was voted in, Archbishop Martin called it a “reality check.” Bishop Willie Walsh said marriage equality would “increase the sum of human happiness.” It even led German Cardinal Walter Kasper to suggest same-gender marriage should be the “central issue” for the Synod on the Family which took place in October.

It is worth repeating an oft-spoken refrain: Catholics in Ireland have helped advance LGBT equality not in spite of their faith, but because of it.

While observers seem to agree the marriage referendum signaled a new freedom present in Irish Catholicism, it does not mean faith is dying. Could these advancements actually signify the opposite? Former Irish Republic president and canon lawyer, Mary McAleese, eloquently explained her personal support last month. Her support for civil rights is “founded emphatically in the Gospel,” and she described current church teachings on homosexuality as “wrong.”

Importantly, Ireland’s advances this year are but a beginning and there remains much work to do in transforming culture and renewing church for 2016. The seeds of justice, however, have rooted and are even bearing fruit. From here, there is no turning back.

Want to celebrate Ireland’s “Year of Equality” in an up-close and personal way? Consider “Ireland: Land of Rainbows and Wedding Bells,” an LGBT-friendly pilgrimage with Sr. Jeannine Gramick in April of 2016. You can find more information here.  Sign up soon to save money!

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Colleges Advance on Trans* Inclusion, Including Restrooms

December 3, 2015
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Fordham University students behind the gender neutral restroom campaign

As frequent readers of our “Campus Chronicles” series know, Catholic higher education frequently leads the wider church when it comes to LGBT inclusion. Lately, more and more colleges are acting for trans* inclusion along with existing welcomes of LGB community members.

Below, Bondings 2.0 provides details on some steps made for trans* inclusion, alongside other campus happenings this fall. You can read more using the provided links.

Fordham University Introduces All Gender Restrooms

Prompted by student demands, Fordham University has introduced new transgender inclusive restrooms on its Lincoln Center campus, reported student newspaper The Observer.

Though not labelled “All Gender Restroom,” as requested by student advocates with the organization The Positive, there are no gender markers on the new signage. Dean of Students Keith Eldredge said other restroom changes at Fordham’s campuses would be considered when requested by students.

Fordham’s Pride group also had a vigil for the Transgender Day of Remembrance last month, reported campus newspaper The Ramas part of the group’s “proactive and conscious effort” to promote gender inclusion.

Marquette University Begins LGBT Masses

Fr. Bryan Massingale celebrated the first of Marquette University’s monthly Masses for LGBTQ community members. Massingale, who teaches theology, told those gathered:

” ‘Many of the LGBTQ community members have heard stories that they are not welcome in the church. . .It is important to have a Mass where they feel welcome and that God does love them and no one is excluded.’ “

The Masses emerged from ongoing evening prayer and small group discussion opportunities offered by Campus Ministry. The next celebration is December 10, reported The Marquette Wire.

Laverne Cox Speaks at SLU

Transgender actor and advocate Laverne Cox spoke at Saint Louis University in early November, describing her personal journey and understandings of womanhood.

Georgetown University Hosts Several Events

Georgetown University launched a new bi-weekly forum for LGBT athletes, its latest peer-led discussion group facilitated by the LGBTQ Resource Center reported The Georgetown Voice.

Sophomore Lauren Gros of the Women’s Golf Team, who had trouble finding an openly LGBT student-athlete to consult with before her own coming out, will lead the group. She described it as a

“safe place for student-athletes to discuss their experiences and what it means to be gay and a student-athlete at Georgetown, what challenges we might face, what experiences we’ve had. . .”

Georgetown students also gathered earlier this month for an event marking Transgender Day of Remembrance, consisting of a memorial service and dialogue according to The Georgetown Voice.

A news story in The Georgetown Voice reflected on tensions over LGBT inclusion at the school.  The story noted conflicts in the 1980s which led to progress and today, a transgender student currently said Georgetown actually saved her.

“Dear Queer” Letter Highlights Young Catholics Welcome

Finally, a few words from a Catholic college student at Syracuse University responding to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage equality explained the reasons behind many young adult Catholics’ support for inclusion. Julia Mannino wrote in The Odyssey:
“I think that we, as Christians, need you; I need you, because I feel lost in my own faith. The perseverance and acceptance that I’ve seen thus far brings nothing but joy to my heart, and I cannot wait for you to experience all of the wonderful things that marriage promises us. Today is certainly a Sunday to celebrate, because in the eyes of the Lord, and finally the eyes of the law, we are all equal.”
Trans* visibility is more prominent than ever and, as they have done with lesbian/gay issues, Catholic campuses are once again leading the church at large to be more just and inclusive. The only question for the spring semester is which school will be next and, if they are not acting, why?

This post is part of our “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read more stories by clicking “Campus Chronicles” in the Categories section to the right or by clicking here. For the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog in the upper right hand corner of this page.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Church Worker Firing Challenges Chicago’s Archbishop Cupich to Practice What He Preaches

November 14, 2015
Sandor Demkovich (left) and Frank Hattula

Sandor Demkovich (left) and Frank Hattula at their wedding ceremony in an Episcopal Church.

A second church worker in Chicago has claimed he was fired for being gay, according to a legal complaint filed against the archdiocese. This firing challenges the Pope Francis-like record of Archbishop Blase Cupich, but presents an opportunity for Cupich to respond well, and lead a new way of being church.

Sandor Demkovich claims he was terminated as St. Andrew the Apostle parish’s music director in 2014 after marrying his male partner, reported The Chicago TribuneAccording to Demkovich’s lawyer, Kerry Lavelle, the pastor, Fr. Jacek Dada, was initially accepting of the relationship though mindful that any “union” opposed church teaching.

Four days after the wedding, described by husband Frank Hattula as a “very spiritual event. . .filled with love and music,” Dada’s thinking shifted and Demkovich was fired during a meeting with the pastor. The music director explained his reaction to the Chicago Sun-Times:

” ‘It’s hurts so deeply. . .I can’t tell you how difficult getting through Christmas and Lent and Easter this past year has been. It’s just been horrible. . .I love the church. I love the music. I love the spirituality.”

Attorney Lavelle summarized the case thus:

” ‘We once again see a pattern of acceptance and inclusion by the parish pastor, and the parish congregation in general, of an openly gay qualified employee suddenly reversed as soon as he enters into a legal marriage.’ “

Demkovich is now appealing to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Illinois Department of Human Rights, in the hopes of regaining his job even with the Archdiocese. The Tribune explained:

“Demkovich alleges in his complaint that the church’s pastor said his ‘union’ was against the teachings of the Catholic Church and also told a choir member that he thought Demkovich and his partner ‘were going to keep this quiet and not make it public.’ In addition, Demkovich said he was harassed about his weight, obesity and diabetic condition to the point that it created a ‘hostile and intimidating work environment.’ “

Another Chicago church worker, Colin Collette, who is also represented by Lavelle, has filed with the EEOC as well. Collette was fired in 2014 as Holy Family Church’s music director (in suburban Inverness) after seventeen years because he became engaged to a male partner. His discrimination filing with the EEOC will proceed to an administrative investigation because the Archdiocese of Chicago has refused mediation and is also refusing to comment on the matters. Collette previously met with former Chicago Cardinal Francis George and received a standing ovation during a parish town hall held to discuss his termination.

Demkovich joins more than 50 church workers who have lost their job since 2008 over LGBT issues, a tragic trend which Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley “needs to be rectified.” You can access a full listing of these church workers here.

O’Malley is the only U.S. prelate to question the discrimination against LGBT church workers, but the two firings in Chicago provide an opportunity to Archbishop Cupich to practice the mercy and inclusion he preaches.

At the recent Synod on the Family, the archbishop spoke forcefully in favor of respecting people’s consciences, saying in part:

“The conscience is inviolable. And we have to respect that when they make decisions and I’ve always done that. . .We can’t just refer to doctrines as though they’re syllogisms that we deduce a conclusion to. . .There has to be that integration of a person’s circumstances, case by case in their life.”

Cupich’s record affirms that his actions often match these beliefs. While on CBS’ Face the Nation last year, he affirmed the need for same-sex couples and their families to be legally protected , and he called for a tempered response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision to legalize marriage equality across the nation. Most recently, Cupich sought “new avenues and creativity” in the church’s pastoral care of non-traditional families.

Archbishop Cupich should weigh carefully his response to the firings. Admitting the injustice of these firings and apologizing is a first step, which would reveal a respect for the men’s consciences and the need for tempered responses now that marriage equality is the law. Seeking ways to welcome them back as church workers, if either so desired (Demkovich has expressed interest), would allow him to model new avenues of being church and pursuing healing in the parish communities so deeply wounded by discriminatory acts allows for Spirit-driven creativity drawn from all.

Archbishop Cupich’s vision for the church and his nuanced approach to controversial pastoral issues has been impressive and refreshing. Talk is good, but insufficient unless it translates into real change. Responding to the firings of Sandor Demkovich and Colin Collette are prime opportunities for Archbishop Cupich to lead with his actions, too.

For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of this story, and other LGBT-related church worker disputes, click the ‘Employment Issues‘ category to the right or here. You can click here to find a full listing of the more than 50 incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their jobs over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equality.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


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