An event last Friday that included Sr. Jeannine Gramick, the co-founder of New Ways Ministry, highlighted just how supportive Catholics are of marriage equality as the bishops play defense to support their position.
For over two hours at an event hosted by Robert Blair Kaiser and the Jesuit Alumni of Arizona, Sr. Gramick exchanged views with Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, in front of an audience.
The National Catholic Reporter reported on the event, where Bishop Paprocki attacked the “gay activist lobby” in his opening remarks and denigrated the attention given to the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 as evidence of media bias. He posited that if marriage equality passes, then “everything should be OK” in regard to any sexual practice or activity.
Alternatively, Sr. Gramick spoke of the positive changes occurring around LGBT issues, including her personal conversion that has led to nearly four decades of ministry with gay and lesbian people. The article continues:
“Gramick reflected on changes in her own attitudes, attitudes of the public and attitudes of the church hierarchy. She said more and more church leaders are moving toward support of at least civil unions.
“Referring to Paprocki’s remark that morality cannot be based on polls, she said, ‘We may not legislate on the basis of polls, but they tell us what people are thinking.’
“She said polls show Catholics’ opinions have moved from opposition to same-sex marriage to approval in a short time because nearly everyone has a gay friend, family member or business associate.”
Indicative of these shifting views, the question period was solely aimed at Bishop Paprocki’s opposition to LGBT rights. During remarks by the bishop, a member of the audience, Anne Gray, even yelled out, “That’s insulting” and followed-up with a question:
“In response to a question from Kaiser, Paprocki said the church would love to welcome gay people but is forced into a defensive position by ‘activists pushing an agenda.’ That set off Gray, who has a gay son, again.
“‘Here I am,’ she said. ‘The big scary gay agenda…My son is a perfect human being. There is nothing intrinsically disordered about him. I know because I am his mother.’…
” ‘You need to listen to mothers,’ she said.”
Another questioner offered her personal experience of supporting lesbian family members and Paprocki made the suggestion that she leave the church to do so:
“One of the youngest people in the room said she was a devout Catholic, but when her aunt and sister told her they were gay, she was put on the spot. She asked Paprocki if she could remain a good Catholic and still support her family members in their desires to form lifelong relationships.
” ‘It is a struggle to be a good Catholic while supporting gay marriage,’ the bishop said. ‘It strains your relationship with the church.’
“He said those who oppose the church on the issue should become Protestants. ‘They do a lot of good things too,’ he said.
This is the latest instance where Catholics supportive of LGBT equality are making their voices heard to the Church’s hierarchy, including Sr. Gramick who recently confronted the famously anti-gay Cardinal Turkson of Ghana. We applaud the many people whose efforts contributed to making American Catholics the leading religious group advocating for equal marriage rights!
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry