The ALL ARE WELCOME series is an occasional feature which examines how Catholic faith communities can become more inclusive of LGBT people and issues. At the end of this posting, you can find the links to previous posts in this series.
Yesterday, we posted about Chicago Cardinal Francis George’s foray into the Chick-Fil-A controversy. In his blog post about the Chicago mayor’s comments about the fast-food chain, George made the following statement:
“Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.”
Indeed there are. For over three decades, New Ways Ministry has promoted the many ways that church institutions can respect LGBT people. While supporting marriage equality laws is one such way, there are certainly lots of other things, short of supporting marriage equality, w hich church institutions can do to promote respect for LGBT people.
Here’s an initial list of some suggestions for Cardinal George and other church leaders who are serious about displaying such respect:
1) Institute anti-bullying programs and gay-straight alliances into all Catholic schools.
2) Speak out in support of LGBT people when a hate crime occurs.
3) Establish formal dialogues with LGBT Catholics and family members of LGBT people.
4) Set up water stations for the local Gay Pride Parade at Catholic institutions along the route.
5) Better yet, march in the local Gay Pride Parade and have a welcoming booth at Gay Pride Festivals.
6) Preach positively about the lives and holiness of LGBT people.
7) Include LGBT issues in ongoing education for priests and diocesan personnel.
8) Develop an anti-discrimination policy for all parishes and diocesan institutions.
9) Set up a grievance procedure/program for LGBT who are discriminated against in Catholic institutions.
10) Visit LGBT institutions and organizations in the area to learn about the lives and reality of LGBT people.
11) Add explicit welcomes to LGBT people in mission statements of all church institutions
12) Insert a positive segment about homosexuality and gender identity into diocesan-sponsored programs on sexuality and human development for adults and teens.
13) Make sure LGBT people and culture are part of diocesan multi-cultural and diversity programs.
14) Pray publicly for the rights, lives, and well-being of LGBT people.
15) Lobby for legislation that protects the lives and rights of LGBT people.
16) Establish a diocesan office for LGBT ministry that will develop programs and resources for LGBT people, their families, and pastoral ministers.
17) Speak out on human rights abuses against LGBT people around the world.
18) Institute support groups for LGBT priests, religious men and women, and lay pastoral workers.
19) Assist the “coming out” processes of young people by providing them with appropriate and supportive resources and materials.
20) Help all Catholics deal with homophobia and prejudice by establishing educational programs that aim to eradicate these attitudes.
Do you have any further suggestions? Please add them in the “Comments” section for this post.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Previous posts in the ALL ARE WELCOME series:
Say the Words, December 14, 2011
All in the Family , January 2, 2012
At Notre Dame, Does Buying In Equal Selling Out? , January 25, 2012
A Priest With An Extravagant Sense of Welcome, February 13, 2012
Going Beyond the Boundaries, April 11, 2012
St. Nicholas Parish Celebrates 10 Years of LGBT Ministry, May 24, 2012
When Homophobes Attack, June 7, 2012
An Open Door Policy for Catholic Schools, July 15, 2012