QUOTE TO NOTE: ‘People should be called the way that they want to be called’

Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich endorsed the idea that church leaders should call LGBT people by the terms which such people use to identify themselves.

America magazine’s Michael O’Loughlin reported on the cardinal’s comments, made in response to a reporter’s question following a talk the prelate gave at the City Club of Chicago this week. Cupich said:

“We have always wanted to make sure that we start the conversation by saying that all people are of value and their lives should be respected and that we should respect them.

That is why I think that the terms gay and lesbian, L.G.B.T., all of those names that people appropriate to themselves, should be respected. People should be called the way that they want to be called rather than us coming up with terms that maybe we’re more comfortable with. So it begins with that.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich

O’Loughlin pointed out the timeliness of the cardinal’s remarks:

“The cardinal’s comments come at a time when some Catholic leaders are considering how to engage the L.G.B.T. community. America editor-at-large James Martin, S.J., argues in his new book Building a Bridge that gay and lesbian people should be referred to by those names, noting that Pope Francis himself has used the term gay.

“But critics have said that using those terms in place of phrases such as ‘individuals who experience same-sex attraction’ is a capitulation to secular culture.”

O’Loughlin also reported:

“Later that evening, Cardinal Cupich appeared on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” to discuss gang and gun violence in the city. He declined to comment on a newly promulgated document in nearby Springfield, Ill., in which Bishop Thomas Paprocki told priests that gays and lesbians in same-sex marriages should not receive Communion or be given Catholic funerals.”

” ‘That is not our policy,’ Cardinal Cupich said, adding, ‘as a matter of practice, we don’t comment on the policies of other dioceses.’ “

Cardinal Cupich already has 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 on the family, he stated that he thought synod bishops should have heard the voices of lesbian and gay couples at the meeting, and acknowledged that he did exactly that in his own pre-synod listening sessions.  He also spoke out against denying communion to lesbian and gay people, recommending that pastoral ministers respect individuals’ consciences.

On the negative side, Cupich upheld the firing of Colin Collette, a married gay man who was a music minister at a Chicago-area parish.

Still, progress is made step-by-step, little-by-little, and Cupich’s latest comments are another move in the right direction.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry,  July 20, 2017


5 replies
  1. Francis
    Francis says:

    It seems reasonable to refer to people in the way they would like to be referred. Good to see the cardinal is bringing a pastoral response to the issue. It’s a pity, however, that we are still at this stage when so many people have accepted this terminology. Little by little, step by step. I think it’s time we took a few bigger steps.

    DON E SIEGAL says:

    People Should be Called the Way
    That They Want to be Called

    “But critics have said that using those terms in place of phrases such as ‘individuals who experience same-sex attraction’ is a capitulation to secular culture.”

    I read the article that you referenced by Fr. Dwight Longenecker in Crux 17 June 2017. Longenecker obliquely states that he and his colleges would continue to call members of the LGBT community by any term they wished and under no circumstances would they use terms such as gay, lesbian, or LGBT. What a way to begin a conversation! Pray tell, how are we to be forgiving of rhetoric like that? The gospel certainly does stretch us beyond our temporal limits.

    My response is a lot like the Siamese Cats in the Disney movie: We are LGBT if you please; we are LGBT if you don’t please. Or, if I were a lawyer writing a response brief, I would say that Longenecker errs when he makes that statement.

    Critics like Longenecker make reconciliation very complicated.

    • John Hilgeman
      John Hilgeman says:

      Don, I think what Longenecker was saying, was that to call us what we want to be called, would be to state that our sexuality is part of our very nature. And he and others of his mindset are not willing to accept us for who we are. Rather, they want to continue to deny our nature – to erase who we really are, to erase who we see ourselves to be. That is, in a sense, an attempt to eradicate us – our history and our reality – from any conversation.

      Longenecker is speaking in behalf of Courage, which attempts to get gay people (I don’t know that the group includes anyone other than gay men) to live life in a box, bound by the walls of Church teaching – a box that excludes any loving relationships that include sexual expression.

      He states: “Surely Martin understands why the term ‘same sex attraction’ is used to describe people with a homosexual inclination. It is not to disrespect anyone, but because Catholics believe every person is greater than their sexual inclinations, and that it is degrading to identify a person only by their sexual urges.”

      But his very statement glosses over the fact that Courage – in its focus on keeping people celibate and asexual in their behavior – does itself reduce the reality of gay people to our sexual activity or lack thereof.

      Despite Longenecker’s assertion that the term “people with same sex attraction” is a respectful term meant to give great respect to gay people as being more than just sexual inclinations, it is actually a term that many of us find very offensive and demeaning. The terms LGBT are inclusive, not reductive. The term “people with same sex attraction,” despite Longenecker’s assertion, is reductive, not inclusive. And it is a term that many of us find quite offensive.

      So while he prefers the term (which maybe the members of Courage who are attempting to live lives that even many bishops, priests and religious cannot live, also prefer), he cannot attempt to start any real conversation, or be taken seriously by people who find his terms and beliefs about their lives and behaviors to be offensive.

      But I am not sure he really is attempting to start any conversations with anyone, other than the people involved in Courage, and the people who already have antipathy toward LGBT people, but want a justification for their antipathy and opposition.


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