A few months back, the Jesuit-weekly America asked high-profile Catholics ranging from Stephen Colbert to Professors M. Shawn Copeland and James Keenan, SJ, what they would say to Pope Francis if they were afforded five minutes with the pontiff.
Now, as Pope Francis’ U.S. visit, including the World Meeting of Families, and the Synod of Bishops in October approach, Bondings 2.0 is asking our readers:
“What would you say to Pope Francis about LGBT issues in the church?”
To generate your own thoughts for the ‘Comments’ section below, here is a sampling of responses from the America piece.
First, Arthur Fitzmaurice of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry appeals to the pope to tell LGBT people God loves them — a needed corrective to church leaders withholding this message for too long, often with devastating effect:
“Holy Father, I do not believe God loves me. No matter what I do, how much I pray, how much I serve the church, I will never deserve God’s love. I know this is not what Jesus teaches, but this is what the church taught me. . .Words matter. Please tell our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers that God loves us all. Maybe wounds will heal and we will believe this message.”
The need for greater diversity in ecclesial conversations was a point made by several theologians, including two whose remarks on gender justice are inclusive of and also applicable for LGBTQ concerns. Boston College’s M. Shawn Copeland asked for the pope to host a meeting with women in the church, including those of diverse sexual orientations:
“You know how to listen to and to meet poor women in their homes and in their need, so I ask you to meet face-to-face with women of our church—a diverse gathering from various continents and countries, differing socioeconomic situations, cultures, races, sexual orientations, personal opinions and theological questions. Please.”
Professor Natalia Imperatori-Lee of Manhattan College also encouraged Pope Francis to be attentive to diverse voices in theology and in the church:
“From the moment Mary of Nazareth sang the Magnificat, women have been doing profound, creative, orthodox theology. We come from all over the world and write on all aspects of Catholicism in many languages. We discern the signs of the times, as men do, from a particular perspective, but not one that is uniform. Let this diversity of voices inform the church. We do not need a new discipline, we need space and an attentive ear.”
Her words about women are also quite true of LGBT Catholics, who speak and act from diverse and meaningful, but often marginal perspectives.
Theologian James Keenan, SJ, who is also from Boston College, claimed the last two years were the “happiest ones of my 33 years as a priest” because Francis, among other attributes, “lives the life he calls us to lead.”
That life includes an emphasis on personal encounter and relationship. Many letters, including one from 30+ LGBT, Latino/a, and Catholic organizations, have asked the pope to meet with LGBT Catholics during his U.S. visit, though this seems unlikely. The “miracle” we may be able to create is from personal sharing through courageous conversations and intentional listening, something I wrote about a few days ago. Still, the question of talking with Pope Francis is one worth thinking about because one never knows when they might receive a papal cold call.
So, what would you say to Pope Francis about LGBT issues in the church if you had five minutes with him? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below this post.
If you have more to say, consider writing up your thoughts for Bondings 2.0‘s project, “Where Do We Go From Here? The Road to the Synod 2015.” You can submit 500-800 word pieces to [email protected] and find more information about it by clicking here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry