As is the tradition here at Bondings 2.0, on the last two days of the year, we present the results of our reader survey of the best and the worst Catholic LGBT news stories of the past 12 months.
Thanks to all of our readers who responded to the survey, naming their five best and five worst stories of the 15 “nominees” presented in each category. To end the new year on a high note, we will offer the results of the survey of the “best” stories on December 31st.
Today, we offer our readers’ choices for the ten worst Catholic LGBT events of 2016:
- The Vatican’s Congregation for Priests reaffirms a 2005 ban against gay seminarians and priests.
- A gay man is denied permission to sing at his grandmother’s funeral in Decatur, Indiana.
- The Archdiocese of Philadelphia issues guidelines which exclude, among other Catholics, people in same-gender relationships from pastoral or liturgical roles.
- Pope Francis repeats warnings against “gender ideology” and marriage equality, rhetoric that begins to be picked up by bishops around the globe.
- Most U.S. bishops who issue statements on the massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub fail to mention the LGBT dimension of the attack. One bishop in Florida later publicly criticizes a colleague for acknowledging the church’s role in perpetuating homophobia.
- Dominican Republic church leaders, including the cardinal, harass and make derogatory comments about U.S. Ambassador Wally Brewster, a married gay man.
- Amoris Laetitia disappoints LGBT advocates by not mentioning same-gender relationships and offering negative comments on gender transition.
- Catholic bishops in Malawi repeatedly make negative comments against LGBT people, despite continued acts of violence and discrimination against this group. In a pastoral letter on the Year of Mercy, they call for jail sentences for lesbian and gay people.
- The Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas, issues education guidelines which threaten expulsion for students whose views and actions about sexual orientation and gender identity are positive, including the act of coming out.
- Openly gay priest Warren Hall is suspended by Archbishop of Newark, which cites Fr. Hall’s advocacy for LGBT people.
I offer some analysis of these results. The top three vote-getters all involved liturgical participation, perhaps showing that for Catholics, liturgy is at the heart of our faith. Any restrictions placed on liturgical participation hits us the hardest.
Two of the selections involve missed opportunities that church leaders had to do something positive: the publication of Amoris Laetitia and bishops’ statements on the Orlando massacre. Church leaders should take a lesson from this that their silence can be as hurtful and harmful as any negative statement they might make.
In terms of church leaders speaking negatively, in the case of the Dominican Republic item, it should be remembered that the resignation of the cardinal of that island nation, who was a primary antagonist against the U.S. ambassador, was immediately accepted by the Vatican. Unfortunately, in the case of the Malawi bishops’ anti-LGBT rhetoric, no such Vatican intervention is known of.
Pope Francis’ statements about gender ideology and the Malawi bishops’ call for jail sentences for lesbian and gay people are the only examples of involvement by church leaders becoming strongly involved in anti-LGBT political debates. (Not that more of such things didn’t happen, but they perhaps were not as prevalent as in previous years.) This could indicate that bishops with an anti-LGBT agenda have recognized that they cannot win political debates. This theory may be supported by the fact that in three of the items that made the list–the Vatican gay priest ban, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia liturgical rules, and the Diocese of Little Rock educational guidelines–we see church officials trying to control their own bailiwicks instead of the public sphere.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s list of the BEST Catholic LGBT stories of 2016!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 30, 2016