With the departure of Benedict, DignityUSA, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian Catholic organization, called for an end to church statements that “inflict harm on already marginalized people” and depict gay people “as less than fully human.”
In a collective statement, leaders of Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholics that works for equality for gay people, called upon the cardinals to select a pontiff who will realize that “in promoting discrimination against LGBT people, the church inflicts pain on marginalized people, alienates the faithful and lends moral credibility to reactionary political movements across the globe.”
The coalition, which includes Call to Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry, said the church now has the opportunity to turn away from Benedict’s “oppressive policies toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, and their families and friends.”
For at least the last five decades, Catholic pronouncements on gay Catholic issues have been at least ambivalent and even sometimes contradictory. They have included exhortations on pastoral care and inclusivity and at the same time admonitions against gay lifestyles and warnings to gay Catholic organizations.
This ambivalence has resulted from church torn between the pastoral nature of the Gospels and sexual code based on centuries-old understandings of natural law. Official Catholic sexual morality forbids all “unnatural” acts under penalty of grave sin. It also rests in teachings that sexual acts are to be open to biological procreation. By extension, church prelates have fought hard politically against gay rights and gay marriage.
Sometimes Catholic ambivalence in extending a hand to gay people appears within the same document. Pope John Paul II in a 1981 statement on the family called for “an even more generous, intelligent and prudent pastoral commitment” by families that find themselves “faced by situations which are objectively difficult.”
The U.S. bishops in a 2006 document, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care,” wrote there is a need to “help persons with a homosexual inclination understand church teaching.”
“At the same time,” the bishops went on, “it is important that Church ministers listen to [their] experiences, needs, and hopes.”
- Claims Pope resigned over ‘gay influence within the Vatican’ (news.queerchurch.com)
- New Ways Ministry on the Resignation of Benedict XVI (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- For LGBT Catholics, Will It Get Better After Benedict? An Ash-Wednesday Meditation (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- LGBT Catholics and Their Allies Remember Benedict’s Legacy: “Devastating,” “Oppressive,” “Painful,” “Harmful,” “Anti-Gay Crusader” (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Illinois Catholic Laity Reject Bishops’ Lead about Marriage Equality, Robert Mickens on Benedict’s Resignation, Rachel Maddow on Hubris and Iraq War (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Benedict’s Resignation: A Selection of Commentary as Day Continues (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)