On this last day of 2016, we look back at the best Catholic LGBT news stories of the past 12 months. Each year, Bondings 2.0 asks its readers to vote for the best and worst events that occurred since January. Yesterday, we reported on what our readers chose as the worst Catholic LGBT stories. Today, we offer our readers’ choices for the best of the past year.
- Pope Francis calls on the entire Christian church to apologize to LGBT people and others who have been marginalized over the years by church structures. Following the pope’s call, an Australian parish hosts the first Liturgy of Apology to the LGBT community.
- America magazine, a Jesuit publication, publishes an editorial naming the firing of gay and lesbian church employees as “unjust discrimination.”
- Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation following the Synod on the Family, promotes the primacy of conscience when applying church doctrine to one’s life, and stresses pastoral accompaniment for people who disagree with church teaching.
- Italy legalizes civil unions for lesbian and gay couples despite opposition from the Vatican and the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
- In the wake of the shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, many Catholic leaders, including several bishops, offer statements of solidarity with the LGBT community.
- Transgender issues make great strides in Catholic education, including supportive policies on college campuses, a high school which developed a policy to welcome transgender students, and the Sisters of Mercy announcing that they will continue to employ a newly-transitioned transgender teacher at their San Francisco high school.
- Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the newly created Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, rebukes his brother bishops in the United States for failing to engage Amoris Laetitia during their annual meeting.
- The Catholic Theological Society of America presents the John Courtney Murray Award, its highest honor, to Orlando Espin, an openly gay, married Latino scholar.
- The president of the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco, a priest, publicly congratulates the school’s lesbian coach of women’s basketball on her marriage.
- For the first time in its 100-year history, LGBT groups were officially welcomed and recognized at Catholic Day, a high-profile, biennial conference in Germany, attended by over 30,000 Catholics.
I will offer a few of my impressions of the choices readers made. I’m not surprised at the number one choice. Pope Francis’s call for apologies to the LGBT community is probably the single most powerful action that could affect the Catholic Church’s relationship with sexual and gender minorities. Sadly, only a few have followed his example. Still, his call for such apologies offers a precedent worth celebrating.
The choice for second place is also no surprise. The scourge of firing LGBT church workers has caused damage to many sectors of our Church. It is good to see a credible and reputable source such as America calling for an end to this practice, and using Catholic principles to support its recommendation.
When I offered readers 15 nominees for best stories and 15 nominees for worst, I mentioned that I put two items in both categories. The publication of Amoris Laetitia brought mixed reviews from Catholic LGBT leaders, so it was mentioned in both categories. When the Orlando massacre happened, many U.S. bishops ignored the LGBT dimension of the incident, but the ones who did speak out did so forcefully, so this item was also listed in both places.
Both stories made both final lists. On the list of worsts, Amoris Laetitia ranked #7, while on the list of bests, it ranked #3, perhaps indicating that readers saw the document as more positive than negative. The response to Orlando ranked #5 on both lists, perhaps indicating that Catholics were as equally pleased by the positive reactions as they were disappointed by the absence of LGBT mention.
Do you notice any significances in this list of bests? If so, offer your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.
One last detail. When readers were asked to vote for stories, they were also given a choice to add their own nominees. Only one reader did so. The post that was mentioned was a beautiful Advent reflection, A Woman of Courage Brings Emmanuel, “God With Us”, by guest blogger Elizabeth Sextro.
So, as we complete this year, let’s remember this list of 2016’s achievements and build on them in 2017!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 31, 2016