Is Bigotry Alive and Well in the Roman Catholic Church?

I wish to raise two comments about bigotry within the Roman Catholic Church? The first comment deals with a recent international conference just held in Detroit dealing with welcoming LGBTQ Catholics, and the second deals with the response of Equally Blessed to the cancelling of a venue for their events when Pope visits Philadelphia in October.

The International Conference; “Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction was ” Designed for bishops, priests, religious, school superintendents, diocesan personnel who minister to those with same-sex attraction and for all those who want to be welcoming and to accompany those who have Same Sex Attraction recently held in Detroit. In my opinion, this was a show case of subtle hate. The major sponsors of this event were the Archdiocese of Detroit, and “Courage.”

The conference speaks volumes to how deeply planted homophobia is in the Roman Catholic Church. No LGBT Catholic organization was invited to take part: however, there was a positive protest of anti conference LGBT Catholics outside the Conference site.

At the Conference “Courage” an organization that supports the Church’s culture of homophobia was given a front and the center presence. Allowing it to promote the organization support of reparative therapy, among other things.

The Conference acted like an echo chamber of the Church’s homophobia, no dialogue was allowed concerning the daily lives of LGBTQ Catholics, their families, or any recognition of the experiences they can bring to the pastoral efforts of ministry to the LGBTQ Catholic Community.

Only those individuals who have been groomed in the Church’s culture of homophobia where able to comment about the conference, if you disagreed with the Church’s anti gay platform you were branded a heretic.

Catholic Magazines such as “Crisis Magazine” promoted Deacon Jim Russell who said of the Conference “Simply said, being “gay” is not enough; being a “gay Catholic” is not enough; being a “celibate, gay Catholic” is not enough. And even being a “chaste, celibate, gay Catholic” is not enough.” Any differing opinions must be silenced for the good of the Church.

In such a climate how can the Church be taken seriously about addressing its deep seated culture of homophobia?
My second comment deals with a group claiming to represent the LGBTQ Catholic Community. A local parish in Philadelphia had agreed to host pro gay events during Pope Francis’s visit in October. Later under pressure from the Archdiocese they were told they were not welcome.

LBGTQ Catholics must be able to depend on its leadership to speak plainly and unambiguously on the issue of Pastoral outreach to the LGBTQ Catholics. In my opinion, it is not helpful when any of these groups support a closeted mentality in the selection of their leadership. We must first look in the mirror to make sure we are representing an out of the Closet mentality when we address our pastoral needs.

A coalition of LGBT Catholic groups known as Equally Blessed (EB) had scheduled events at St. John the Evangelist Church’s parish center, as had an individual group, New Ways Ministry. But last week officials with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told the church’s pastor the organizations couldn’t hold their events at the Catholic parish, and he conveyed that to the groups, reports Philadelphia newspaper “The Inquirer.”
The response to this rejection was to seek a friendly non Catholic environment to hold their events. The problem with such groups is they are afraid to engage the Church’s homophobic behavior within the pews of the Catholic Church. In so doing they miss the opportunity to speak to the Catholic faithful.

The Rainbow Sash Movement has put out a call for demonstrations during the Pope’s visit, we do not engage in accommodation to the Church’s homophobia, nor do we support any effort that seeks to find the good in the Church’s homophobic culture. Our difference with Equally Blessed is that we seek a honest dialogue about the culture of homophobia in the Church rather than a wink and nod approach.

The Detroit Conference, and the cancelled Equally Blessed events do not speak to the integrity of our life experiences in the Church. We join with other progressive Catholic Organizations in calling for reform in the Church around issues of homophobia and sexism. We can’t be afraid to speak our truth to the authority of the Church within the Church.

Joe Murray
Executive Director
Rainbow Sash Movement

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