After Orlando, Archbishop Pledges to LGBT Communities: “I Stand With You”


Bishop Robert McElroy

Catholic leaders were initially silent about the anti-LGBT prejudices undergirding the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, which has left at least 50 people dead and more wounded. Four bishops have since released statements acknowledging the prejudice behind these attacks. Other organizations and prominent Catholics have also highlighted the anti-gay distinction, as well as the serious omission on the part of some Catholic leaders who have ignored the LGBT dimension of the incident.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego released a statement, saying the murders were “rooted in a counterfeit notion of religious faith and magnified by our gun culture.” He continued:

“The shootings in Orlando are a wound to our entire society, and this time the LGBT community has been specifically targeted and victimized. . .

“We pray for the many victims in Orlando who were targeted for death simply because of their sexual orientation, and we grieve with their loving families and friends.  This tragedy is a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country.”


Archbishop Blase Cupich

Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich had recognized gay and lesbian victims in his initial statement, and followed up with a letter read at a regularly-scheduled Sunday evening Mass hosted by the Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach ministry. Cupich said in the letter, posted on Twitter by journalist Michael O’Loughlin:

“For you here today and throughout the whole lesbian and gay community, who are particularly touched by the heinous crimes committed in Orlando, motivated by hate, driven perhaps by mental instability and certainly empowered by a culture of violence, know this: the Archdiocese of Chicago stands with you. I stand with you.

“Let our shared grief and our common faith in Jesus, who called the persecuted blessed, unite us so that hatred and tolerance are not allowed to flourish. . .”


Bishop Robert Lynch

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg responded on his blog, acknowledging forthrightly that Pulse was a nightclub for “Gay, Lesbian, Transgender” patrons. He continued:

“[S]adly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence. Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that. Without yet knowing who perpetrated the PULSE mass murders, when I saw the Imam come forward at a press conference yesterday morning, I knew that somewhere in the story there would be a search to find religious roots. While deranged people do senseless things, all of us observe, judge and act from some kind of religious background. Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God’s ears. It has to stop also.”


Bishop David Zubik

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh released a statement which said, in part:

“Our Muslim neighbors are grieving over this tragedy as much as our gay and lesbian neighbors. We are all God’s children. May we love, honor and respect one another as such.”

Meanwhile, in his initial response to the incident, Bishop John Noonan of Orlando did not acknowledge the gay and lesbian dimension of the attack. Preparations for his diocese’s Vigil to Dry Tears, which took place last night, had no evidence that the victims were members of the LGBT community.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, also ignored victims’ identities about which David Gibson noted in the National Catholic Reporter:

“That statement contrasted with Kurtz’s statement a year ago after the shooting massacre in a black church in Charleston, S.C. Speaking two days after the attack on Mother Emanuel by a white supremacist, Kurtz repeatedly condemned the ‘racism and the violence so visible today’ and called for efforts to combat both, in personal change and through public policies.”

Michael Sean Winters, in a column in the National Catholic Reporter, wrote about Kurtz’s and other bishop’s failure to identify this incident as having an anti-LGBT dimension:

“If you are so [out of touch] that you do not realize that the refusal to refer to people as they refer to themselves is offensive, especially when that same group of people has just been the object of a violent and murderous attack, stop pretending to any claim to moral leadership in the society and just go away.”

fortunate_famliliesChurch organizations and prominent Catholics offered statements about the shooting in Orlando as well. Fortunate Families reacted to “an act of terror and an act of hate” with a statement which said:

“Our children have the right to live, work and celebrate without fear, to create families of their own and worship in peace. We stand in solidarity with our children and all parents of LGBT+ persons as we remember those lost and those in pain. We are deeply saddened by this event, since we abhor violence of any kind, and we hold in prayer all children of God victimized by hatred – both perpetrators and victims.”

dignity usa logoMarianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, contrasted the violence with Pride celebrations and said further in a statement:

“This cruel attack will make many LGBTQ people feel unsafe and experience anxiety. For many, it will awaken memories of the days when gay bar patrons were frequently the targets of violence. . .[W]e hope and pray that our nation will come together to reject violence against LGBTQ people in the strongest possible ways.”

Pax Christi USA released a statement which said:

“This shooting directed towards the gay, lesbian and [transgender] community which resulted in injury and massive deaths, is of grave concern to Pax Christi USA. . .No amount of bigotry, fear, anger or hatred ever justifies the senseless taking of lives.”

Across the Atlantic, in London, England,  the city’s LGBT Catholic Community, which was gathered for its regular 2nd Sunday Mass at Farm Street Jesuit Parish, responded promptly in prayer by adding the following petition to their liturgy: “We pray for the 50 people who lost their lives this morning in the terror attack on the gay night-club in Florida, for the injured, and for their families and loved ones.”

Jesuit Fr. James Martin released a powerful statement about the Orlando shooting, saying that this time of grief and fear for LGBT communities was a moment for Christians and Catholics to stand with them. Martin criticized the bishops’ silence, saying church leaders would express solidarity if this massacre happened to a particular ethnic group or religious denomination. That so few bishops expressed solidarity with LGBT communities is, in his words, “revelatory.” Martin continued at America:

“This is revelatory. It reveals how the L.G.B.T. community is invisible to much of church. Even in death they are invisible. For too long Catholics have treated the L.G.B.T. community as ‘other.’ But for the Christian there is no ‘other.’ There is no ‘them.’ There is only ‘us.’

“This is a moment to end this ‘us’ and ‘them.’ For there is no ‘them’ in the church, because for Jesus there was no ‘them.’ He consistently reaches out to those on the margins, bringing all people in. Those who are invisible to the community are seen by Jesus. By seeing them, by welcoming them, by loving them, he makes the ‘them’ an ‘us.’

“Catholics are invited to make every person feel valuable and visible, especially at times of loss. Jesus asks us to do this. The church needs to stand in solidarity with all of ‘us’ in Orlando.”

You can watch Fr. Martin’s full statement in the video below or by clicking here.

Finally, another Jesuit, Brendan Patrick Busse, offered sharp words against church leaders who he said “have an allergy to the word ‘gay’ in their statements of condolence.” He wrote on Facebook:

“Something ‘intrinsically disordered’ revealed itself again in Orlando today and it was armed with bad religion and an assault rifle. I fear our government is complicit in one of those causes and our Church in the other. To speak around the particulars of this violence – its inspiration and its target – is to perpetuate it.

“Defending the ‘dignity of all’ in public means very little if we can’t bring ourselves to defend the dignity of our LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer – family members in particular and in pride.

“Praying for Orlando is prudent. . .Praying for Pulse is prophetic.”

In yesterday’s statement from New Ways Ministry’s Executive Dirctor Francis DeBernardo, he noted that by the end of Sunday, Cupich was the only bishop who had mentioned gay and lesbian people in his reaction to the massacre.  It is a relief to know that at least two other bishops have joined him, and that other Catholic leaders are recognizing the glaring omission on other bishops’ part. May Catholic leaders increasingly pray not only for Orlando, but by clearly and proudly naming the LGBT identities that have been targeted, pray for Pulse and by extension all affected LGBT people too.

We will continue to post more about Catholic reactions to and analyses of the Orlando massacre in the coming days.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

32 replies
  1. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    I take some comfort from the words of Bishop Lynch and Fr. James Martin. It is a tragedy that sometimes changes hearts and minds, If some Catholic leaders can extend themselves in charity of spirit then perhaps there is some balm for the soul in this horrific event. This must be something that is not forgotten within a few news cycles . This should be a teaching tool for standing up to even the hint of hate .

  2. Judith E Navetta
    Judith E Navetta says:

    I never give up on my faith and in it find such hope. I am grateful for all those in our Catholic Church who have truly spoken out and reached out to the LGBTQ community and families. We, the lay people, need to stand and praise those have done so.

    Yesterday Loretta commented on the posting and it said to wear our colors. While I don’t have a rainbow shirt, I certainly will my PFLAG shirt and stand with my daughter, Jean-Marie and my daughter-in-law, Jude, her wife, as we all try to get through this senseless and horrific act to hate.

  3. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    Those of us in the LGBTQ family of faith can only thank Fr. James Martin for his powerful statement that there is no “them” and “us”–only us! THANK YOU Fr. Jim!
    ps your daily posts are thoughtful and essential–also THANK YOU as well!

  4. bjmonda
    bjmonda says:

    I am so sick and tired of religious officials who continue to deny their complicity in these self-righteous slaughters, tragic suicides, savage assaults, to say nothing of the millions of depressed and damaged persons all injured by words like those in the Catholic Catechism. When is the Catechism going to be changed? What thinking person can insist that LBGT persons, if they act according to their God given nature, are intrinsically disordered? How can that even be possible for someone who believes God made all things and creatures? Are some fish, trees, and birds also intrinsically disordered? This is crazy thinking and writing, that not so subtly encourages murders like we have endured for centuries. How many need to die before the so-called virtuous are condemned for what they are?
    as justification for slavery and denial of women’s rights. Religious officials who do not condemn these acts of violence toward GLBT are GUILTY of inciting it. Silence does not save you; it makes you complicit in the murder of our cherished persons who happen to be made GLBT by their creator.

    • saddingo
      saddingo says:

      bjmonda – THANK YOU! My feelings exactly. Right now we have evangelicals, right wing politicians, Donald “I’ll repeal any and all laws that help LGBT people” Trump, Cruz (a man who has attended and supported “kill the gays” rallies) .. Rubio (same as Cruz) etc…
      ALL are so sorry this has happened and OH BOY do they CARE now … Because they figure NOW they can focus more and more hate on Muslims and OH BUDDY is that thrilling for their sick hateful minds.
      The hypocrisy is just .. RIFE!
      What part of this don’t they get? You can’t preach that gay people are evil abominations in the sight of god and NOT expect BAD THINGS to happen to LGBT people! As far as I’m concerned the xtian right is as much to blame for this as the shooter himself.
      They ALL BUT put that gun in his hand.

  5. mdkrantz12
    mdkrantz12 says:

    I continue to be dismayed and disgusted by the majority of US Catholic bishops who protected pedophile priests but have no mercy for Catholic lay folk who don’t live according to their narrow vision of the Gospel.

  6. Eugene O'Neill
    Eugene O'Neill says:

    The archbishop of Miami and the bishop of Orlando, could not bring themselves to say this was an act of hate against the LGBT community. By not clearly stating it, they are complicit in this depraved act. It is as if we spoke of the holocaust and not mention that it was directed almost entirely at our Jewish brethren. It is as if 9/11 was perpetrated against people because they worked in tall buildings or buildings with 5 sides. Lets call a spade a spade- the catholic bishops feel the same as this murder did in regard to LGBT people. How else can you explain this?

  7. lynne1946
    lynne1946 says:

    To quote a saying I heard years ago, “You’re not really comforting the afflicted if you’re not also afflicting the comfortable.” These Bishops, Archbishops, and even those Priests who refuse to name LGBTQ people as people of God need to be shaken out of their comfort.

  8. David Xiques
    David Xiques says:

    From the bishop of San Francisco….disgusting!!!

    Below is a statement released by Archbishop Cordileone regarding the shooting in Orlando

    “Another senseless act of violence leaves us all stunned and horrified. As people of faith we know the folly of responding in kind. A violent response of any kind would only further spread this spiritual disease which has infected our society like a cancer. Instead, we stand in solidarity with all those affected by this atrocity, for regardless of race, religion or personal lifestyle, we are all beloved children of God, called to respond to the mystery of iniquity with love and compassion. I ask all Catholics to join me in praying for the victims, and their families struck by this cowardly act of terror in Orlando, and for the first responders attending to them in their time of suffering” – Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

    • lynne1946
      lynne1946 says:

      He has never been a friend to gays. Whoever placed him in San Francisco didn’t understand the situation there at all. He can’t even call us by name – Gay, Lesbian, LBGTQI – Something!

  9. brgeem
    brgeem says:

    Sorry, but for many of us the horse has bolted. It takes such a horrible event for these bishops to suddenly stand up and pontificate such hollow words. Where have these guys been all these years? Persecuting a sector of society who only wish to live with peace and justice, that’s where they have been. I don’t want platitudes – perhaps I don’t even want prayers – I want equal justice.

    • lynne1946
      lynne1946 says:

      It’s a beginning. It’s not enough, it’s not on time, but it’s a beginning. I was at Mass today and the Priest was in tears over Orlando. It’s a start.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] a strong record of being welcoming of LGBT people.  He was one of the few U.S. bishops to make a statement of sympathy and solidarity to the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre last year.  At the 2015 synod […]

  2. […] the LGBT community in the U.S. last summer in Orlando, the Farm Street community was one of the first Catholic groups to pray in solidarity with the victims and […]

  3. […] violence and, addressing the gay and lesbian community as “our brothers and sisters,” said, “We stand with you.” Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, CA wrote, “This tragedy is a call for us as Catholics to […]

  4. […] The Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach in Chicago remembered victims at Mass the following week, placing victims’ photos before the altar and reading each person’s name and age, reported Crux. A comforting letter from Archbishop Blase Cupich was read, which included Cupich’s statement to LGBT people that he and the archdiocese stand with them. […]

  5. […] massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Bishop McElroy was one of less than ten U.S. bishops who acknowledged the victims’ targeted identities. He said LGBT people had been “specifically targeted and victimized,” and called on […]

  6. […] made statements against discrimination and violence against LGBT people, but he notes that the statements in response to Orlando from Florida’s Bishop Robert Lynch and Chicago’s  Archbishop Blase Cupich add much more […]

  7. […] social structures that feed this tragic cycle of dehumanization. I am grateful for the courage of Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, who, in his statement on Orlando, […]

  8. […] and, sure enough, there was Chris’s statement Regarding the Tragedy in Orlando. Unlike Lynch and others, including Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego and Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Chris took […]

  9. […] head of the neighboring Florida diocese of St. Petersburg, who after the Orlando shooting gave one of the more powerful statements by a U.S. prelate, acknowledging the religious roots of […]

  10. […] horror, but to the failings of many church leaders to be in solidarity with LGBT communities. A handful of bishops identified the victims as LGBT people, but the vast majority including the Vatican could not even […]

  11. […] horror, but to the failings of many church leaders to be in solidarity with LGBT communities. A handful of bishops identified the victims as LGBT people, but the vast majority including the Vatican could not even […]

  12. […] problematic responses. In the letter, which followed up the organization’s initial statement, Duddy-Burke […]

  13. […] not all church leaders have responded well. As Bondings 2.0 reported yesterday, only four U.S. bishops referenced the anti-LGBT roots of this crime in their statements. A fifth, Bishop Gerald Barnes of […]

  14. […] obispos cuyas declaraciones han ofrecido sus condolencias a la comunidad LGBT. Reportamos una en  Lunes , tres más  ayer , y hoy, el último obispo para unirse a este pequeño grupo es el Obispo Gerald […]

  15. […] of bishops whose statements have offered condolences to the LGBT community.  We reported one on Monday,  three more yesterday, and today, the latest bishop to join this small band is Bishop Gerald […]

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