Senator to Pope Francis: Reprimand Anti-Gay Cardinal


Senator Dick Durbin

A U.S. senator has asked Pope Francis to reprimand an anti-gay cardinal who has repeatedly attacked a gay ambassador.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois wrote a letter to the pontiff regarding the Dominican Republic’s Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodriguez. The cardinal has made repeated remarks against U.S. Ambassador James Brewster. Durbin explained:

“Even before Ambassador Brewster’s arrival in Santo Domingo [capital of the Dominican Republic] in 2013, Cardinal Rodriguez launched a personal attack against him with public statements quoted in the popular press.  The Cardinal used the hateful slur ‘faggot,’ which he continues to use to this day.  In a recent interview Cardinal Rodriguez again described the Ambassador as a ‘faggot’ and falsely claimed the Ambassador was setting out to promote ‘faggotry’ in the Dominican Republic.  The Cardinal described the Ambassador as a ‘wife’ who ‘should stick to housework.’ “

The senator, who described Brewster as a “personal friend,” also noted the protests against the ambassador organized by officials in the Dominican Republic’s Catholic hierarchy. Durbin said all of this was “inconsistent with that clearly stated value” in church teaching to respect people of all sexual orientations. He concluded:

“Since your selection as Pope, you have shared a message of compassion, tolerance, and love.  I remember distinctly when you spoke to us at the joint session of Congress in September and reminded us of our responsibility to ‘defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.’

“I accept that challenge and I am calling on you to ask nothing less of the hierarchy of the Church.”

Durbin, who is Catholic, challenges Pope Francis to enact more concretely the welcoming and merciful tone set out by the pontiff. While Francis is emphasizing decentralization and synodality, the situation with Cardinal López is severe enough to warrant intervention. Pope Francis should seriously consider Senator Durbin’s letter in light of the Year of Mercy.

Cardinal López’s resignation–or at the very least a strong public apology–would be a good start to the New Year. The cardinal is 79 years old,  four years past submitting a resignation letter to the Vatican which has not yet accepted the resignation.  An immediate acceptance would remove him from public spotlight in the Dominican Republic, and it would end the unwarranted and homophobic attacks endured by Ambassador Brewster and his husband.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


12 replies
  1. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    I’m quite pleased with my Senator for doing this. Wrote him and thanked him. It is a shame that it takes a lay politician to challenge the pope to do the right thing in this regard. But the last few popes have not been very sensitive to the needs for justice in regard to LGBT people – or in regard to women either. Let’s see if Francis meets the challenge.

  2. Edward Poliandro
    Edward Poliandro says:

    Thank you, Bob! Please share with Frank . I have cc’d the pastor of my Parish at St Francis Xavier in NY C. He has been very welcoming and comforting to me and to our community. I hope to write to both of them and to the Senator.Do you have their addresses on hand?I also suggest you let Sen Durbin know it would be important for him to reach out to the Papal Nuncio of the Dominican Republic. What an enormous opportunity we have especially during the Jubilee Year of Mercy!

    Blessings to you all as we continue to search our hearts to clear and prepare the way.

    Ed Poliandro

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Friends
    Friends says:

    What would the parent of a ten-year-old child do, if he or she heard their child engaging in the sort of vicious name-calling that Rodriguez has been committing? The child would first be reprimanded and told to apologize to the targeted person. And if the behavior occurred again, more serious consequences would follow. If we cannot hold a high Church official to the standard of civility that we would expect to see in a ten-year-old child, then the Catholic Church itself has sunk to a very sorry and alarming condition.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] #ImWithWally to express their support. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a Catholic, previously wrote to Pope Francis asking  him to intervene in attacks against Brewster, who is Durbin’s […]

  2. […] voyage to Kenya, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic last fall. Advocates have asked him to intervene in the Dominican Republic, where a cardinal has repeatedly used anti-gay slurs against U.S. Ambassador James Brewster. Last […]

  3. […] human rights “like all U.S. ambassadors.” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois appealed to Pope Francis on behalf of Brewster, asking the pontiff to curtail Cardinal López and the severe homophobia he […]

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