2013 was a phenomenal year for LGBT Catholic advancements, highlighted in “The Best of 2013 in Catholic LGBT News.” These included victories for marriage equality, the defense of LGBT people within their parish and school communities, and, of course, Pope Francis. Nearly a week into the new year, speculation for what 2014 could hold is well underway and today, Bondings 2.o offers some initial reactions.
Michael O’Loughlin called 2013 a “banner year” for gay Catholics. He notes last year’s papal transition in terms of what Pope Francis and the Church might face in the year to come.
“The ascent of Francis has reminded me that the institutional church can be a place of welcome for all people, not comprised of a small, pure group of believers, but a big tent, as James Joyce described it, ‘Here comes everybody.’…
“Those who believe in greater equality for gays and lesbians don’t love Francis because he’s changing the doctrine of the church. We love him because he’s living the Gospel, joyfully, challenging all to consider how we’re serving the least among us. It’s simple. Radically simple.
“Without a doubt, 2014 will not be as kind to Francis as 2013. Those wishing to see reform in how the church is managed will be disappointed by the glacial pace at which things change. Those resisting even small change will lash out, trying to impede progress….
“But this change at the Vatican — and it is significant change, in tone and message — is still wildly important.”
Also looking ahead is Fr. Gary Meier, the author of Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest, who came out as a gay man last spring. He writes at The Huffington Post of the thousands who supported his decision to come out, which also meant he had to resign from active ministry. About these correspondences and experiences, especially those of gay priests, Meier concludes:
“It saddens me, that a church I love, can be so hurtful to so many of its’ members — good and loving people…If I’ve learned anything in 2013, it’s that the level of hurt we have caused is deeper than I could have imagined…
“I recently had lunch with Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SL co-founder of New Ways Ministry and Mathew Myers, Associate Director. They asked, ‘What can we do to encourage other gay priest to come out?’ To which I replied, ‘Priest won’t come out as gay because they’re afraid. But I suspect they’re more afraid of losing their livelihood (income, retirement, housing, food, etc.,) than of being rejected. If my story is any indication of what people believe, it seems people are willing to accept gay priest. It’s fear of losing everything else that’s scary.’…
“So, where does this lead me? It leads me to move on and continue speaking the truth — God’s truth — the truth about homosexuality. The truth that homosexuality is not a cross, not a disease, not a disorder, but a beautiful gift from God. The truth that we are created by love for love — and the truth that recognizes the inherent dignity and equality of all people regardless of who they love. Saint Catherine of Sienna said, ‘Speak the truth with a thousand voices, it is silence that kills the world.’ As 2013 comes to a close, I am looking forward to a new year and a new direction of speaking the truth.”
Outside the Church, the LGBT rights movement is still focused on marriage equality, but as these state level victories increase quickly there are also questions about what comes next. An essay in The Daily Beast questions whether LGBT victories are sufficient. In light of a year where economic inequality burgeoned and other Supreme Court rulings derailed voting rights, Sally Kohn observes:
“We should certainly celebrate the great leaps forward for gay rights in 2013, in marriage equality but also with cultural markers and especially polls showing that the public is becoming more accepting. But in 2014, we must revisit the guiding philosophy of the gay movement and whether our strategies and tactics are pursuing liberation for all—gay and straight, black white and brown, women and men and trans—or merely some. This debate, more vibrant in decades past, is in urgent need of revival. If 2013 was the year that Americans of all stripes and social movements joined the careening bandwagon for gay rights, may 2014 be the year in which the LGBT movement returns the favor with a vision of liberation for all.”
Could a winning combination of factors make 2014 a year in which LGBT matters become part of broader Catholic efforts for the common good and in which LGBT people and their allies engage more deeply with other issues of social justice?
One way to start is for Catholics to defend the fundamental human rights of LGBT people globally,as we witness more nations moving towards harsh criminal penalties for homosexuality as with Uganda and India in recent weeks. Click here to take action on the “path to love” that Pope Francis has called us to!
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry