A few days ago, we asked Bondings 2.0 readers what you would say about LGBT issues in the Church if you found yourself face to face (or on the phone) with Pope Francis.
The results are best read as a crowd-sourced meditation, the voice of the People of God making known their joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties. Today, we present a sampling of those responses.
As expected, gratitude for Pope Francis’ more inclusive and merciful witness was widely expressed. Lynne thanked the pope for “leading us in love and compassion…Christ-like leadership” and James said Francis is “giving his utmost to the world,” manifesting grace and words of encouragement.
In hospitality mirroring Francis’ openness, readers shared their stories, particularly those of their families:
- Patty:“God created me as I am: gay. God loves me as I am: gay. To exclude me is to exclude one of God’s good creations, something Jesus never would have done!
- Scott: “Look into the eyes of my 9 month old son and tell me why Jesus would be against him having 2 loving fathers who are able to protect and commit to a life together bringing him up in a loving family unit.”
- Diane: “Do I pray less, or act less welcoming to my daughter’s sweet and loving girlfriend? Do we judge her as unworthy to be an included and active member of our family? To do so would destroy our family, and yet that is exactly what our beloved Church does.”
- Deb: “Holy Father, our gay children are dying at their own hands, our trans children are being murdered. Please help us share the message…we are all God’s children and we are all his beloved! Parents need to hear this too. Love your babies from the cradle to the grave.”
Most prevalent were attempts to bring problematic situations regarding pastoral care and church teaching to Pope Francis’ attention. Some went so far as setting Jesus’ model of ministry against the hierarchy’s present behavior:
- John: “Love of God and Neighbor are the 2 great commandments. We are not being loved or included in that, but vilified. Welcome us to the table as Jesus did and does!”
- Christine: “Holy Father, the dogma of the Church has smothered the intent of Jesus, ‘To love one another as I have loved you.’ Please save our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters from suffocating unto their deaths under the weight of judgement by this dogma.”
The negative actions of local ministers and the language of church documents seemed to undermine some of the pope’s more inclusive gestures. Felix, a partnered bisexual from the Dominican Republic, said the church’s rejection still hurts terribly even though he is sure God knows of his relationship’s goodness:
“I have been a very devout Roman Catholic my entire life. . .yet, last mass I attended the priest made some very harsh remarks on the decision of the Supreme Court, which made me feel so guilty I didn’t even feel like I should be inside a church. At times I feel as if I’m no longer part of the body of Christ, and it hurts a lot, because I love God, I love the Catholic Church, but I don’t feel part of any of it anymore.”
Pain caused by church ministers was repeated in other stories and led to several calls for action by Pope Francis:
- Jenny: “Are you OK with the fact that there are Catholic LGBT people who want to worship as they did their whole lives, but are at the point that they can no longer step into a Sunday Eucharist Celebration without first trying to find out if they will be insulted and dehumanized by the homilist?”
- Michael: “You must change the teaching that describes gay people as ‘intrinsically disordered’ . . . We are not intrinsically disordered; like everyone else, we were created in the image and likeness of God.”
- Julie: “Holy Father, take a picture with one trans person. It would mean worlds of acceptance, be like alms for my people, who are in so much pain. Trans people are among the people Christ welcomed to His table, among the poorest, suffering for who they are; let no one bar us from His Church.”
- Harry: “I would ask the Holy Father to tell bishops and priests to be gentle and forgiving. I would ask him to tell them to be less judgemental and to show the mercy of Jesus foremost. A simple smile and a gesture of warmth does far more to promote the Gospels than legalistic, cold and rude declarations.”
The request most offered over and over and over was simply for Pope Francis to listen to LGBT people and their loved ones:
- Brian: “I would urge him to sit and speak with the leaders of our many Catholic LGBT organizations who are theologically sound, wonderfully intelligent and not afraid to speak truth. Talk, listen, share, learn! It would help us all – and then you could spread what you learn to the bishops of this country so they stop spewing hatred!
- Marie: “I ask simply that you meet and listen to the Equally Blessed families that are on pilgrimage to the Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. It is so painful to hear the pastor of this City of Fraternal Love has forbidden practicing Catholics from enjoying the hospitality of their own church while in Philadelphia.”
One reader, Colleen, reversed the situation a bit and suggested LGBTQI people and allies should start acting more and more with unconditional love so “then Pope Francis will know that he can join us as an ally to love as we have been loved.”
Unconditional love and listening seem to be very good starts for Pope Francis and all of us to keep building up a church that is home for all and an world where all are welcome.
Didn’t have a chance to offer your own thoughts on what you would say to Pope Francis about LGBT issues in the church? Leave them in the ‘Comments’ section below and add to this ongoing communal meditation.
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 info@NewWaysMinistry.org and find more information about it by clicking here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry