Just because the media (including us here at Bondings 2.0) was focused on the synod, that does not mean other bishops have not made statements in recent months about a variety of LGBT issues.
Below are public statements from bishops worth noting, though not for their positive and Pope Francis-like inclusion. While progress is happening, these comments are an important reminder that church leaders still have a long way to go towards full acceptance of LGBT people.
Missouri — Bishop James Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau wrote a letter against the city’s LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that has since passed city council, according to KSPR 33. Johnston argued that religious liberty was being infringed, saying in part, ” ‘Do the people of Springfield really want to make criminals of persons who are merely trying to live their faith?’ ” Fortunately, city officials understood that nowhere in the United States has the advancement of LGBT civil rights impeded religious belief, and they passed the ordinance.
Bologna, Italy — Bishop Giovanni Silvagni called that city’s decision to recognize foreign same-gender marriages a “surprise attack” and that these “sensitive subjects that are dealt with slogan attacks and and an approach a bit ideological,” according to Gazzetta del Sud.
Arkansas — Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock filed a harshly worded legal brief in support of failed lawsuits to stop marriage equality from coming to that state. In the brief, the Human Rights Campaign reports Taylor suggested “that allowing committed same-sex couples to marry would lead to unions of ‘couples such as mother and daughter, sister and sister, or brother and brother.’ ” He also called for LGBT civil rights to be put before voters.
Trinidad & Tobago — Archbishop Joseph Harris of Port of Spain reaffirmed his opposition to the Draft Gender Policy, while criticizing the nation’s prime minister, Persad Bissessar, for claiming it was “tremendous opposition, especially from the Roman Catholic group” which was blocking the LGBT-positive law. Bissessar is also facing criticism from an LGBT group for suggesting a referendum about decriminalizing homosexuality, reports the Jamaica Observer.
Statements by Catholic bishops against LGBT people and their civil rights can cause tremendous harm, not only to LGBT people, but to the church and society, as well. Yet, there are also positive signs that negative and even prejudiced remarks like those above are not the only messages being offered by Catholic leaders. Indeed, there are already many cardinals, bishops, and clergy who have openly expressed support for LGBT people and even their relationships in limited, varied ways. You can access a full listing of “Church Leaders Supporting Same-Gender Couples” by clicking here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry