Jesuit Students Honor UCA Martyrs with Transgender Education and Justice

Teach-In participants remember the martyrs in prayer

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, when people worldwide will remember those transgender people who died this past year as a result of anti-LGBT violence.

As vigils are held and prayers are offered, I want to highlight a moment of hope for trans justice that happened at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice last weekend.  The Teach-In is an annual event that brought together 1,600 students and staff from North American Jesuit high schools and colleges.  New Ways Ministry presented a workshop titled “Trans-forming Love” which looked at transgender issues through an affirming Catholic lens.

Over 40 participants explored not only justice for transgender people, but the gifts and qualities that gender diverse communities offer our church and our world. The conversation touched upon the Catholic Social Tradition, spirituality, and the ways in which students’ communities can become more inclusive.

Transgender justice fit in well with the Teach-In this year which was held on the 25th anniversary of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) martyrs, who were killed for aligning themselves with the poor and victimized of El Salvador. The UCA continues the prophetic witness of the Jesuit martyrs today, including support for LGBT people by hosting the first LGBT human rights conferences in El Salvador (which you can read about here and here) in 2013. At that conference, which New Ways Ministry participated in, it was obvious that trans advocates were leading the way for equality in that country.

A prayer card honoring the six Jesuit UCA martyrs and their two female colleagues

Fittingly, LGBT justice was included among the many social justice causes being discussed, prayed over, and advocated for during the Teach-In, including a workshop addressing homosexuality offered by Arthur Fitzmaurice of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry.

Wider church reform conversations were on the conference’s agenda as well. Jesuit Fr. James Martin told young adults that you address systemic injustice in the church the same way you address it in the world — “You fight it.” Fr. Thomas Reese suggested that Pope Francis will leave it to local episcopal conferences to respond to same-sex relationships being legalized.

I am profoundly inspired by the students who attended the Teach-In, who I met at the workshop and also at New Ways Ministry’s exhibit table. During conversations with participants,  I found that students needed no convincing that LGBT rights were indeed human rights and questioned how anyone could oppose full equality and inclusion. They were, understandably, unhappy with the church and yet, for many, it was the church which deeply informed their passion for justice. I spoke with faculty courageously working to make their institutions safer and more welcoming, sometimes at great personal risk.

I was happily surprised at how affirming, and indeed informed, these teens and young adults were about issues of gender identity and diversity. Trans justice was as much a given as anything else.  Many students raised questions about how to be a better ally.

During this Transgender Day of Remembrance we mourn, for mourning is necessary and indeed an act of resistance. As Christians, it is important to remember that death is not the final word, even violent and gruesome death. The UCA murders prompted hundreds of thousands of people to seek justice in El Salvador and beyond. Today, the hate crimes against transgender people motivate thousands more to demand justice for this group of people in the very same way. At the intersection of these many tragedies, a group of students from Jesuit schools helped the light of LGBT justice burn a bit brighter last weekend — and that is Good News for us all.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

4 replies
    • Friends
      Friends says:

      Never heard ot “Pewsitter”, but I decided to check it out. Pretty much as I had expected: it looks like a Bill Donohue and “Catholic League” front group — or at least a clique of his somewhat-addled fellow travellers in the Church’s far-right slow lane! Good for either a laugh or a sigh — but I can’t decide which response is more appropriate.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] ways this response could be offered based on the church’s tradition. New Ways Ministry has previously presented at the Teach-In, including on transgender issues in Catholic contexts and creating inclusive […]

  2. […] Una tarjeta de oración en honor a los seis mártires jesuitas de la UCA y sus dos colegas mujeres Oportunamente, la justicia LGBT fue incluida entre las muchas causas de justicia social que se discuten, oró otra vez, y abogaron por durante el Teach-In, incluyendo una homosexualidad abordar taller ofrecido por Arthur Fitzmaurice de la Asociación Católica para el Ministerio de Lesbianas y Gays. Conversaciones de reforma de la iglesia eran más anchas en la agenda de la conferencia también. El jesuita James Martin dijo a los adultos jóvenes los que se envíen injusticia sistémica en la iglesia de la misma manera a abordar en el mundo – “Usted lo lucha.” Padre Thomas Reese sugirió que Francisco va a dejar en manos de las conferencias episcopales locales para responder a las relaciones entre personas del mismo sexo está legalizado. Estoy profundamente inspirado por los estudiantes que asistieron al Teach-In, a quien conocí en el taller y también en la mesa de exposiciones New Ways del Ministerio. Durante las conversaciones con los participantes, me encontré con que los estudiantes necesitan ser convencidos de que los derechos LGBT eran efectivamente los derechos humanos y cuestionaron cómo alguien podría oponerse a la plena igualdad y la inclusión. Eran, como es comprensible, descontentos con la iglesia y, sin embargo, para muchos, fue la Iglesia la que profundamente informó a su pasión por la justicia. Hablé con el profesorado con valentía trabajando para que sus instituciones más seguro y acogedor, a veces con gran riesgo personal. Yo estaba felizmente sorprendido de lo que afirma, y ​​de hecho informado, estos adolescentes y adultos jóvenes eran sobre temas de identidad y la diversidad de género. Justicia Trans era tanto un hecho como cualquier otra cosa. Muchos estudiantes plantearon preguntas acerca de cómo ser un mejor aliado. Durante este Día de la Memoria Transgénero lloramos, porque es necesario y de hecho un acto de resistencia luto. Como cristianos, es importante recordar que la muerte no es la última palabra, incluso la muerte violenta y macabra. Los asesinatos de la UCA provocaron cientos de miles de personas a buscar la justicia en El Salvador y más allá. Hoy en día, los crímenes de odio contra las personas transgénero motivar a miles más para exigir justicia para este grupo de personas de la misma manera. En la intersección de estas muchas tragedias, un grupo de estudiantes de escuelas jesuitas ayudó a la luz de la justicia LGBT quemar un poco más brillante fin de semana pasado – y eso es una buena noticia para todos nosotros. Shine –Bob, New Ways Ministry… […]

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