Bishop’s Letter of Apology Is a Model for Catholic Reconciliation

February 13, 2016
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Bishop Mitchell Rozanski

In a pastoral letter released Ash Wednesday, a Catholic bishop apologized to those hurt and alienated by the Catholic Church, including lesbian and gay people.

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, addressed his Lenten message to those outside the church, as well as the diocese’s Catholics. Writing about the Jubilee Year of Mercy now underway, the bishop said he should “first apologize and ask your forgiveness” before asking anything of the letter’s audience. Among those to whom Rozanski apologized are:

“[Those] who have distanced themselves because they feel unwelcomed. The reasons here can vary, but key among them are race and cultural differences, a sense of gender inequality as well as sexual orientation.”

The bishop admitted that many Catholics hurt “from the pain caused by our past failings as a diocese, as well as the grievous actions of some who ministered in our Church.” Rozanski apologized, too, to victims of clergy sexual abuse, the first formal apology from the diocese, and those whose parishes were closed during recent consolidations.

Bishop Rozanski’s apology to lesbian and gay people is progress, particularly when one considers that he harshly criticized marriage equality in August 2014. As a newly appointed bishop in Massachusetts, which legalized equal marriage a decade before, Rozanski told a reporter that marriage equality contributed to society’s disintegration like crime and substance abuse.

So how do we evaluate Bishop Rozanski’s apology?

Admission that intense and painful marginalization have been experienced by LGBT Catholics, their families, and many others in the church, is a first step too many Catholic leaders cannot or will not make. In that sense, this is firm progress upon which bridges can be built and reconciliation can occur.

But in another sense, this apology is only a first step. Will Bishop Rozanski now encourage LGBT parish ministries? Will churches host educational workshops on gender identity issues? Will the bishop meet with LGBT Catholics and hear their stories?  Will he still work against equality for LGBT people in the civil arena as he has done in the past? If the letter is not backed by concrete actions which restore right relationships and pursue reconciliation, the apology will become ring hollow.

There is a third angle, however, and it is what I find most notable about this letter. Michael O’Loughlin of Crux explained:

“The letter’s tone was dictated by a questionnaire the Diocese issued last fall, which drew over 3,000 responses from both current parishioners and people outside the Church, Rozanski said. Many responses evinced concerns about the Church, but also a desire to reconnect with the Catholic faith, according to Rozanski. . .

“The survey also included comments from LGBT Catholics who are committed to their faith but feel alienated by the Church’s long-running battle against extending legal recognition for same-sex marriage. . .The church’s position has not changed, Rozanski said, but he included welcoming language in the pastoral letter in the hopes of winning back those Catholics.”

Rozanski admitted there is “much truth to these honest reflections” submitted to the survey, quoting several at length in his letter, including this from one respondent:

” ‘The gay community feels that they aren’t welcome. They don’t want to espouse another religion; therefore, they don’t attend church at all. Hopefully, a special outreach could be done to them.’ “

Refreshingly, Rozanski also acknowledged that many efforts for the New Evangelization are not substantive renewals but stylistic gimmicks. When marginalized Catholics return, they find nothing really changed and given this, the bishop concluded:

“Understandably this is a daunting task, but one we must challenge ourselves to undertake. We must make our parish communities places where people want to worship, meet Jesus, and form community. We must put the love of God foremost in all our efforts. We must walk beyond our parish boundaries, without fear, to demonstrate the faith we celebrate in liturgy takes form in the reality of the world around us.”

This effort of reaching out really is challenging if done correctly. Dialogue demands all parties be vulnerable, that they be open to receiving criticism and acting upon that criticism. Catholic officials and even local communities are frequently unwilling to do this.

But the model employed in this letter’s formation — of soliciting honest input from local Catholics, including those who are alienated or no longer practicing and then responding to it — is a way forward. It is very much in keeping with Pope Francis’ pastoral style. It is a model that every bishop should replicate in their dioceses: listening, discerning, apologizing, responding.

Lent is the perfect time to repent and turn away from sin, like the sins of exclusion and prejudice. May these forty days lead more bishops to act like Bishop Rozanski — and may there be more letters like his come next Ash Wednesday–and before then, too–as fruits of this Year of Mercy.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Alberta Education Minister Hopeful After Meeting Bishops

February 12, 2016
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Edmonton’s Archbishop Richard Smith

Alberta’s Education Minister expressed hope that a compromise on LGBTQ policies could be found for Catholic education after meeting with the province’s bishops.

Minister David Eggen met with the four bishops of the Canadian province last Monday to quell the increasingly heated debates around developing policies to support LGBTQ students. He said the conversations were “frank” and sought “common ground” to ensure that “we protect all students regardless of their gender identity in schools and to make sure that everybody is equal under school policy and equal under the law.”

The outcome was, according to Eggen as quoted in the Calgary Sun, that Catholic officials would be given some “latitude” in developing their LGBTQ policies by March 31. He explained:

” ‘It’s latitude to ensure that the integrity and the protections religion is allowed here, both in the province of Alberta and across the country, are adhered to. . .But that protection has never allowed faith-based edicts to compromise the letter of the law.’ “

Moving forward, Eggen hoped that his ministry could collaboratively work with Catholic school boards in Alberta in “looking for a way by which we can accommodate theological beliefs and the letter of the law.”

Education Minister David Eggen

This meeting came after each bishop had released their own sharply-worded letter against newly released LGBTQ guidelines from the Education Ministry. Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary described them as “totalitarian” and “anti-Catholic” and later refused to apologize for his harsh remarks. Letters from Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, and Bishop Paul Terrio of St. Paul were critical, but less confrontational.

Archbishop Smith commented on their meeting with Minister Eggen, reported Global News, saying the open conversation was “warm” and “cordial,” and he agreed that a solution was possible because the “fundamental common ground has to do with the love and the protection of the children.”

Minister Eggen’s meeting with Alberta’s bishops appears to be progress towards protecting LGBT students. The harsh rhetoric and hyperbolic acts which have surrounded this debate for months now have only hurt students who may already be marginalized or suffering.

Both Eggen and the Catholic bishops seem interested in helping the province’s Catholic education, which is publicly funded, to become safer and more inclusive for all students. The rub is in the details of what that means, but I hope Alberta’s bishops can come to see that Catholic education is actually strengthened when sexual and gender diverse students are welcomed, supported, and allowed to identify as they know God to have created them.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Transgender Support Growing in Catholic Higher Education

February 11, 2016

1375111113093Boston College students are advancing a trans-inclusive non-discrimination policy for their Jesuit-sponsored school. Below, Bondings 2.0 reports on this news and other LGBT developments, two of which reveal Catholic higher education’s growing commitment to support trans* community members.

Boston College May Include Trans* Nondiscrimination Protections

Boston College’s GLBTQ Leadership Council, a segment of student government, has prepared a report about adding gender identity and expression to the College’s non-discrimination policy. BC administrators will decide ultimately whether to insert new language or not, reported campus newspaper The Heights, which noted:

“Despite this, the proposal still remains a good first step toward its goals and, even if rejected, acts as a symbolic gesture declaring UGBC’s [Undergraduate Government of Boston College] stance when it comes to this issue.”

Widespread support among college students for more expansive LGBTQ protections will hopefully weigh on administrators’ response. Existing BC policies already include sexual orientation as a protected class. Among Catholic colleges, Georgetown University (GU)  has been the first to explicitly protect trans* students, faculty, and staff from discrimination, and the school has made some of the most progressive strides in this regard. The Heights article concluded that Boston College could, along with GU, help set a precedent for Catholic schools on trans* inclusion.

Georgetown University Hospital Dispute

A news story from The Georgetown Voice, the campus newspaper of the Washington, DC Jesuit university, highlighted difficulties that trans* students often face in receiving quality healthcare. Willem Miller, a trans junior, waited a week before going to the University’s health services because he felt uncomfortable seeking treatment there. About his hesitation, The Voice reported:

“This trepidation toward Georgetown’s health care institutions is common among the members of the small population of out transgender and gender nonconforming students. One member of this community, Lexi Dever (COL ‘16), a transgender woman and a Student Assistant for the LGBTQ Center, initially expressed her apprehension about these services in absolute terms “[I have] never [visited]the Student Health Center, I’ve never called GERMS, and I have no intention of those things changing,” she said. Dever, like Miller, attributes this steadfast hesitance to a belief that these institutions are not suited to meet the specific needs of transgender students.”

These students identified a lack of trans-specific resources or training as reasons why Georgetown University’s health services were inadequate. The article also noted a discrimination complaint against MedStar Georgetown University Hospital filed with the D.C. Office of Human Rights by a trans woman, Alexa Rodriguez, who was allegedly denied surgery last year because of her gender identity.

Systemic issues about inadequate healthcare for trans* communities are widespread, Since Georgetown University has made strong efforts to welcome openly trans* students, hopefully the school will address these healthcare challenges as part of the Jesuit model of caring for the whole person.

Loyola Marymount Provides Safe Space for LGBT Mormons

A weekend conference for an organization of LGBT/SSA [Same Sex Attracted] Mormons and families was hosted  recently by Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Entitled “Knit Together in Unity and Love,” the mid-January gathering aimed to support LGBT-affirming Mormons, provide an inclusive community, and encourage participants to “make valuable contributions” both inside and out of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Catholics and Mormons can celebrate that this collaboration not only advances LGBT equality, but ecumenical relations too.

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


It’s Ash Wednesday: Time to Indulge!

February 10, 2016

Today’s Ash Wednesday.  Wait! What?  Already?  I still have to put some boxes of Christmas decorations back in the attic.

Lent begins early this year–probably about the earliest that it can be.  But, truth be told, Lent always kind of creeps up on me. I never seem ready to begin 40 days of fasting, prayer, and renewing my relationship with God.

Of course, my Lenten resolutions, like my New Year resolutions, end up having a very short life span. It’s hard to maintain any sort of consistent practice–whether it be fasting, doing charity, giving alms, or simply praying more–for 40 consecutive days.

This year, though, I have a little bit of a different attitude towards Lent, sparked by last Sunday’s Gospel reading. It was the story of the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5: 1-11).  Jesus instructs the weary fisherman, including Peter, to continue fishing though they had not caught anything for many hours. Their reward is an overabundant catch of fish.  Peter’s response is a very human one:  he feels that Jesus’ gift of the great catch is not something he deserves because he is a sinner.

I often feel like Peter did.  I never understand why God continues to be so good to me when I have so many faults and do so much that is wrong.  Like many people, I often wonder at the way God works in the world and why so much suffering and struggle have to happen for people to find God in their lives.  When I read this gospel story, I think of how mysteriously God acts in the opposite direction, too:  God is always sending out gifts and graces to people like me who don’t deserve them.

This message is resonating particularly strongly with me this year, as our Church celebrates the Jubilee of Mercy.  It seems to me that one of the messages of this year is that God kind of overdoes it when it comes to lavishing mercy upon humanity.  Unfortunately, our response to that can sometimes be guilt.  God is like the person who gives you expensive jewelry for Christmas when your present is a box of candy.  The dynamic creates an awkward feeling inside.

So, here’s a suggestion for Lent.  Instead of giving up something, indulge.  So, instead of giving up chocolate, allow yourself to indulge in healthy food and snacks.  Instead of sacrificing by doing volunteer work at a soup kitchen, allow yourself to be open to the gifts and lessons the poor can teach you when you are engaged in charitable work.  Instead of forcing yourself to pray every day, allow yourself a half-hour to just be quiet with God and relax in Divine Love.  God is lavishing mercy on us in a special way this year. Let’s learn to accept it and enjoy it.

This kind of exercise is especially helpful for folks who advocate for LGBT equality.  I think that we get so used to the challenge and hardship of the work, that we forget to accept the victories joyfully. I know that even more than seven months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, I’m still having to remind myself that marriage is now a legal right for all.  I’m reminded of a quip a friend once told me:  “Just because you work for justice doesn’t mean you always lose.”

I hope that by celebrating God’s mercy this Lent, by allowing myself to receive and accept that mercy better, maybe I’ll help myself grow out of the attitude that nothing is really changing and start to see and appreciate the small miracles that abound around me each day.

If you read or listen to the lectionary readings in the coming weeks, you will see that Lent is a feast of God’s mercy.  Let’s indulge–and overindulge–in this feast!

Happy Lent!

–Francis DeBernardo


WV Religious Freedom Bill Is “License to Discriminate” Says Catholic Committee

February 9, 2016

Catholic opposition to West Virginia’s religious freedom bill has taken another step forward as the West Virginia chapter of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) issued a statement urging lawmakers to reject the legislation, saying that it would be a “license to discriminate.”

Among the CCA’s several arguments against the bill, known as HB 4012,  was one based heavily in Catholic social teaching:

“Catholics are called by God to oppose discrimination in all of its forms. No religious conviction justifies our treatment of anyone as a second-class citizen.  All are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, religious freedom does not trump civil rights, as both are important and should be protected equally.”

HB 4012, modeled on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), is designed to allow individuals and organizations to be exempt from non-discrimination laws and policies, if they claim it is based on sincerely-held religious belief.  Yesterday, Bondings 2.0 offered a post on some of the way Catholics have been involved on both sides of the debate.  The bill could come up for a House vote this week.

The CCA statement uses strong language to criticize Catholic officials who support the bill:

Our Roman Catholic Church is one of the most powerful institutions in the nation and the state of West Virginia, commanding a tremendous amount of wealth and influence. It also teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. Whereas the First Amendment protects our Church’s privilege and teaching, we do not believe the legalization of gay marriage threatens either. We cannot claim social victimization, thus, reinforcement for freedom of religion by a state law is not necessary.

We take issue with this bill, and the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston’s support of it, because the use of our privilege to secure our own interests would endanger the civil rights of those most excluded in our midst. Roman Catholicism has historically fallen short in practicing equality and the protection of the dignity of the human person especially when that person has happened to be female or has had a sexual orientation other than that of the majority. When our Church has failed in these ways, it has often done so on the grounds of our religious beliefs. We would only be exacerbating this trend if we supported HB 4012, and affirming that the “Church is the cross on which Christ was crucified.”  [Editor’s note:  A footnote to the CCA’s text explains this final quotation: ” ‘The Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified’ is a quotation from 20th century priest and theologian Romano Guardini which Dorothy Day cited throughout her life.”]

On its website, the CCA offers this description of itself:

“CCA is a network of faith-based people raising a prophetic voice for Appalachia & her people. . . . Since 1970, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia has existed to serve Appalachia, her poor and the entire web of creation.  As a membership based organization, CCA stands in solidarity with its members on issues of concern to them.  Mountaintop removal, labor, private prison development, sustainable lifestyles and communities, poverty, health, clean water, racism and climate change are among those which CCA has addressed.”

Their statement opposing HB 4012 recognized that marriage equality’s arrival in the state should not interfere with the basic Catholic principle of non-discrimination:

Regardless of any stance on gay marriage, CCA, along with many other West Virginia Catholics, stands with women, our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and all victims of discrimination, especially those who are targeted in the name of religion. Catholics can proudly and confidently demonstrate faithfulness to church teaching on discrimination precisely by opposing this bill. As one of our members who advocates for youth said, ‘We don’t need [HB 4012] and, on a very practical level, it would make it easier for people to make gay rural kids’ lives hell.’ “

And they argue that religious opponents of marriage equality are using religious freedom arguments to express their displeasure with the new reality of legal same-gender couples:

“With the recent legalization of gay marriage, many Christians, including Catholics, are uncomfortable recognizing this right. It follows that the perceived need for fortification of religious freedom has been most emphasized by those with Christian privilege.”

In addition to these religious arguments, the CCA statement also points out that West Virginia’s religious diversity is its own protection against violations of religious freedom, and that

“. . . .[W]e see no need for religious freedom to be “restored” in West Virginia because, as a fundamental value written into the U.S. Constitution and protected by law, it is a freedom which has never been lost here.”

They also support the economic argument that laws which allow discrimination would result in a decrease in visitors to the state, and the resulting loss of revenue would harm the most vulnerable.

The CCA statement is one of the strongest and most insightful critiques of religious freedom supporters to come from faith-based people.  The concluding paragraph to this statement highlights the basic religious values that motivated its authors to express their viewpoint:

“For these reasons, Catholic Committee of Appalachia says ‘No’ to HB 4012 on behalf the vulnerable and excluded people in our Diocese who would be most adversely affected if this bill were to pass: those facing joblessness, women, children and the LGBT community.”

You can read the entire statement by clicking here--and I encourage you to do so! It is a model for how to argue for true religious liberty. Their thoughts reflect the best of Catholic teaching and values.  Amen!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Catholics On Opposite Sides of West Virginia Religious Freedom Bill

February 8, 2016

Will West Virginia go down the path of 20 other states and pass a religious freedom bill which many who are concerned with LGBT equality say will become a license to discriminate?

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), also known as HB 4012, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last week on a vote of 16-9.  As has been the case with many other RFRA bills, which exempt religious groups and individuals from certain state laws, LGBT equality advocates are concerned that such exemptions will mean that churches, businesses, other institutions, and individuals will be given the legal freedom to discriminate against sexual and gender minorities, if they believe that interacting with them would violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” in the language of the bill.  Other groups which advocate for racial and religious minorities, are similarly concerned that the bill could hurt their constituents’ civil rights. The bill now goes for a vote of the full House.

Andrew Schneider speaking at the Wheeling Jesuit University forum. (Photo by Drew Parker)

West Virginia is not a very Catholic state, with only about 6% of the population identifying as such, but Catholics there are involved in the public discussion of the bill.   Last week, Wheeling Jesuit University’s (WJU) Appalachian Institute hosted a forum on LGBT issues in the state, and the discussion featured perspectives on the bill.  One of the guest speakers was Andrew Schneider, the executive director of Fairness West Virginia, the state’s LGBT equality organization.  The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reported:

“Schneider said a bill pending in the Legislature, the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, would allow businesses to refuse service to anyone, including LGBT residents, if they feel providing a service is against their religion. According to Scheneider, similar laws passed in Indiana and has cost that state millions of dollars in revenue.

” ‘People of faith, like myself and yourself, receive more protection than any other group or protected class in this country,’ Schneider said. ‘The concept that when you’re in the marketplace engaging in commercial activity for public accommodation, you are supposed to serve everyone. … Your religious freedom cannot infringe on the rights of others. RFRA claims religious rights are special and trump others.’ “

Showing the split nature that exists in the Catholic Church on issues like this, Fr. Brian O’Donnell, SJ, the research director of the Wheeling Jesuit’s Appalachian Institute, the organization which sponsored the event which invited Schneider, has expressed support for the bill.  O’Donnell, who is also the executive secretary of the West Virginia Catholic Conference, said in an email that the Catholic hierarchy supports the 1993 federal RFRA, and that, further:

“The WV bills in question are almost exact copies of the federal statute. Insofar as the state laws echo the federal RFRA, the Diocese [of Wheeling-Charleston] is in favor of the legislation.”

Yet, the newspaper account of the forum also quoted another religious figure associated with the university who opposed the bill:

“Sister Barbara Kupchak, a former WJU employee and nurse, said she opposes HB 4012.

” ‘As a health care worker, if this passes and I would decide a Muslim, gay person, or whoever offends my religion, I could refuse them treatment,’ Kupchak. ‘That’s not right and not constitutional.’ “

At the WJU forum, the Fairness West Virginia director noted that even without the RFRA law, LGBT citizens in the state are already very vulnerable:

“Schneider added LGBT individuals are still legally denied employment, housing and other public services due to their sexual orientation, with only six West Virginia cities having non-discrimination ordinances on the books. He believes Wheeling should consider adopting such an ordinance to grow business opportunity in the Ohio Valley.

” ‘Now that marriage equality has arrived in West Virginia and the country, LGBT non-discrimination laws have become even more important,’ Schneider said. ‘Those laws protect LGBT people from discrimination for employment, housing and public accommodation. They’re more important now with marriage equality because marriage has made our community both more visible, and therefore more vulnerable.’

The Gazette-Mail newspaper in Charleston, the state’s capital, editorialized against the bill, comparing it to the debacle in Indiana last year when, after passing a similar bill, businesses put up such a protest that the governor ended up vetoing it.  The editorial, headlined “Republicans’ anti-business bill,” makes an economic case against the measure:

“All such a law would shield against is prosperity and better quarterly earnings. West Virginia doesn’t need this type of prejudice. Kill the bill.”

It’s a bit sad to say, in a way, but perhaps the economy will win over morality in this debate, just as it did in Indiana.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


India’s Cardinal Gracias Wants Homosexuality Decriminalized

February 7, 2016
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Cardinal Oswald Gracias

India’s top bishop supports the legalization of homosexuality in his country, which may now be possible that the nation’s Supreme Court is reviewing the issue. His acceptance is hopefully leading more Catholics to their own acceptance of LGBT people, too.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay said the law which currently criminalizes homosexual acts among India’s 1.2 billion residents should be repealed, reported Gay Star News. He said:

” ‘I have met some groups and associations of LGBTs and I had an understanding for them. I don’t want them to feel ostracised. . .I feel that homosexuality should not be criminalised. For me it’s a question of understanding that it’s an orientation.’ “

The cardinal, who heads the Catholic Bishops Conference of India as well, said, given the choice, “why would you be harsh” and reject people from society instead of loving them. Though he does not accept the validity of same-gender marriages, Gracias said this “does not mean you throw out these people as bad.” He explained, too:

” ‘I believe maybe people have this orientation that God has given them and for this reason they should not be ostracised from society. The Church is concerned, and if you’re Christian or Catholic and if you’re part of the Church you have to have compassion, sympathy and understanding toward them.’ “

These are not Cardinal Gracias’ first compassionate words for marginalized communities. Interviewed by Bondings 2.0’s Francis DeBernardo at last year’s Synod on the Family, the cardinal told LGBT people that the church “wants you, needs you, embraces you.” When India’s Supreme Court recriminalized homosexuality in 2013, Gracias was the only religious leader in India to oppose this controversial move publicly . He has also instructed priests in his archdiocese to exercise greater sensitivity and compassion when discussing sexuality and gender.

The Supreme Court of India said earlier this week it would reconsider whether homosexuality should be criminalized. This rare “curative petition” will subject the Court’s 2013 ruling to a five-judge constitutional bench. Though it is an uphill battle, that the court took this case at all could lead to expanded justice for lesbian, gay, and bi Indians, reported Buzzfeed.

There is and will be resistance from some Catholics, which represent Indian society overall, because many hold sharp prejudices.  For LGBT people, invisibility is the preferred form of social acceptance. But there are others who, like Cardinal Gracias, wish to see LGB people more welcomed in society and even in the church. An article from Open Democracy cited one example which revealed a more accepting, though because of all its complexities, a far from perfect approach:

“Geof, a traditionalist Catholic male confessed, ‘After watching LGBT guests on Aamir’s show [a popular television talk show],  I was reduced to tears. These are real people, making the best of traumatic circumstances they were born into. For long I’ve judged them because I didn’t ‘know’ them. May I add that I’m a straight male who won’t turn gay because of the show. I also support Pope Francis all the way!”

Another Catholic, a retired teacher named Edith, said that before there was no language for LGBT students who suffered intense bullying. She now calls for acceptance:

” ‘They are mocked by other children who are products of a hate-filled heteronormative society. I know for sure that these kids were born this way and not deviants who chose a sinful, promiscuous lifestyle. Their lives are difficult enough. Let’s stop condemning.’ “

These perspectives from Indian Catholics reveal an emerging consciousness that Cardinal Gracias represents about the need to defend LGBT people’s human rights.

For many U.S. and European advocates, the notion that simply advocating for the legalization of homosexuality, while not approving of marriage, could be difficult to understand. Yet in other contexts, like Indian society or the current political debates in some African nations, Cardinal Gracias’ appeal for loving acceptance is radical. To come out as LGBT in hostile areas could mean discrimination, violence, even death at much higher rates.

Cardinal Gracias is a Catholic official who is saying simply that we must accept people’s identities rather than punish them.  In his cultural context, that certainly is prophetic.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 

 


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