San Francisco’s Archbishop Says Dialogue with LGBT People Can “Tenderize” Us

There has been much talk about Pope Francis’ re-framing of LGBT issues in the church,  often spoken about with the hope that the new pontiff will usher in a new era of dialogue in this area.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

One of the more hopeful signs of such a possibility came last month from one of the most outspoken critics of marriage equality in the U.S. Catholic hiearchy.   San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who also serves as the chair of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference Sub-Committee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, gave an interview with public radio’s KQED station in the Bay Area, in which he expressed how important it is to dialogue with lesbian and gay people.

In the interview, he talked about having conversations with gay and lesbian Catholics at Most Holy Redeemer parish, in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood.  The reporter who conducted the interview blogged about the encounter:

“ ‘When we don’t interact with each other, we can make decisions or get images based on stereotypes – that happens on both sides,’ the archbishop said.

“When asked what he’s learned from those interactions, Cordileone said he’s come to understand how gay people have ‘suffered.’

“ ‘They’ve been disowned by their families,’ he said. ‘They’ve been harmed and they want to come to a place that will accept them for who they are. And affirm them. So it tenderizes us.’ “

You can watch the entire interview below or by clicking here:

Although the reporter speculates that Cordileone is only using softer rhetoric,  I think that the change is significant.   A year ago, we would not have heard such a phrase as “tenderizes us” coming from this prelate who is known as a staunch conservative culture warrior.  The fact that he acknowledge that a personal encounter can affect one’s attitude is indeed significant.  I think it also indicates that he realized he has not been as tender as he could have tried to be.

Bay Area Reporter article about Pope Francis’ recent decision to remove a Vatican cardinal from an influential post touched on Cordileone’s remarks in the KQED interview:

“Michael Poma, parish business manager at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the Castro, confirmed that the archbishop twice attended the parish’s Wednesday night suppers, which is an outreach to the neighborhood’s homeless LGBT community. The soup kitchen is located underneath the parish sanctuary in Ellard Hall.

” ‘His first visit was September 18,’ Poma said in an email. ‘The visit went well as I saw it. I found him to be eager to work and happy to be there to meet people. I felt at ease enough to joke with him and tease him about not getting enough of a good thing when he came back the second time. All in all, I liked him and I feel he really liked what we’re doing here at Most Holy Redeemer.’ “

The article also quotes Dignity/San Francisco’s secretary, Ernest Camisa, who also saw some good coming from Cordileone’s remarks:

“. . . Camisa applauded Cordileone’s newfound empathy – ‘being tenderized by the reality of the people and the circumstances that he finds himself in,’ Camisa explained.

” ‘I hope in the end [Cordileone] will see that what he stood for in past years was unreasonable and heartless,’ added Camisa.”

Such steps may not be the more positive ones for which many of us still hope, and work, and pray, but I think these small moves forward still need to be noticed as indications that some things, like the attitudes and perceptions of bishops, are indeed changing in the Church.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

13 replies
  1. bwelch3
    bwelch3 says:

    In the article posted you wrote:
    “When asked what he’s learned from those interactions, Cordileone said he’s come to understand how gay people have ‘suffered.’

    “ ‘They’ve been disowned by their families,’ he said. ‘They’ve been harmed and they want to come to a place that will accept them for who they are. And affirm them. So it tenderizes us.’ ”

    Carefully note no mention is made about being “disowned by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy, offices and magisterium of the Vatican, USCCB, and other Roman Catholic agencies” including his own rhetoric.” Perhaps he doesn’t equate the Roman Catholic Church as a major agent and member of the human family.

    Reply
    • bwelch3
      bwelch3 says:

      After posting my initial comment, I realized I left out a couple of things.

      The archbishop in the KQED interview remarked about LGBT persons being disowned by their families and harmed.

      What I need to add is that he and other members of the church hierarchy need to take ownership of the damage and harm inflicted and find ways to make amends, bring about healing, and take a proactive role in reconciliation. It is one of the major concerns voiced by so many people of God, namely, accountability.

      With respect to genuine dialogue, it involves interactive two-way communication with the major components being genuine listening and interchange following the listening parameter.

      Reply
    • Daniel
      Daniel says:

      Do not accept this half hearted attempt. This is unacceptable until homosexuals are FULLY welcomed into the Catholic Church and that includes marriage!

      Reply
    • Daniel
      Daniel says:

      The Catholic Church has been the source of much of this hatred and harm to homosexuals. Own up to it and welcome homosexuals FULLY into the Catholic Church including marriage. Do not settle for the scraps that the Catholic Church is throwing on the ground to the homosexual community.

      Reply
  2. will
    will says:

    Indeed this might be a genuine softening of approach. But it could also be the shrewd realignment of an extremely ambitious prelate who has read the change in signals from the new Pope and is changing tack to cosy up to the new reality. After all he owes his current high position to his strongly anti-gay views under a strongly anti-gay pope.

    Either way a change is welcome but we should remain open-eyed and sceptical for a while yet!

    Reply
    • Daniel
      Daniel says:

      This is Catholic politics at it’s best. WHy then has Pope Francis not come out and welcomed homosexuals fully into the Catholic Church?

      Reply
  3. Friends
    Friends says:

    When he’s ready to sign Pope Francis’ “Who Am I To Judge?” pledge, and declare that he repents of his past bigotry, THEN I’ll truly accept that his “conversion” is for real!

    Reply
  4. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    Pope Francis is not all that folks. In an article in The Marionite newsletter I receive, Pope Francis refered to homosexuals ” as objectively sinful” this half hearted attempt by Pope Francis & this Archbishop Cordileone are more tolerance than acceptance. They obviously see homosexuals as as sex act and not as a people. Shame on both of them. We should not have to crawl on our hands and knees for their approval.

    Reply
  5. John M
    John M says:

    I think it’s all a put on. Given his record, I think he’s realized he has to change the tone of his rhetoric to keep in step with the current Pope. Should we get another Pope who thinks we are “disordered,” the good Archbishop would be bashing us again. No doubt.

    Reply
  6. Chaplain Bill
    Chaplain Bill says:

    “Tenderized?” What are we, tough meat? I heard this guy talk via streaming video at the UCCB’s fall meeting. It was nothing but unbridled bigotry — lipstick on a pig — such an insult to the San Francisco.

    Reply
  7. Larry Quirk
    Larry Quirk says:

    Please do not forget that these guys are careerists. Like NY’s Dolan they keep their finger to the wind to see what way they need to bend to stay in power. Cordelione and others like him see the Pope chopping conservative heads in the hierarchy and are pooping in their pants and scrambling to make their PR jive with the new wind.

    Reply

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  1. […] Cordileone, who heads up the American bishops’ anti-marriage equality campaign, and at least listen to LGBT people’s lived experiences with compassion. Perhaps he will see the many Catholics who work for marriage equality and LGBT […]

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