A Catholic parish in Scotland made a splash on social media recently when it posted a statement that “all gay Catholics are accepted and welcomed” by the church.
St. Bride’s Church in Cambuslang posted its welcoming statement on Facebook late last month, reported The Herald. The statement began by saying the welcome contained within it was one that pastor Fr. Paul Morton wanted reiterated. The post continued:
“In God’s house all are welcome and are the blessed and loved children of God. There should be no place in our language or our attitude which allows for prejudice or exclusion.
“Anyone who is gay and who wishes to share or discuss this with Fr Morton please feel free to come to the parish house. Also any family member who wishes to discuss or share this please come along.
“We must do everything we can to redress the harm that has been done in the past by the negative stance we seem to have taken up. We must join with others who are seeking to build a more inclusive society.”
In May, the parish posted a statement acknowledging that lesbian and gay people often feel excluded, and saying the parish wants “to emphasise in the strongest terms that we are a welcoming and inclusive parish.”
Not surprisingly, the parish’s statements have been well received and shared widely. Yet being a parish that openly affirms LGBT people can also be risky. It seems the people of St. Bride’s are willing to take a risk because they understand the realities of harm and exclusion which too many lesbian and gay people face. Fr. Morton’s recent homily on the Gospel story of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13: 44-46) offered insight into the relationship between risk and faith:
“Jesus tells a slightly risky story here in this parable and maybe it wasn’t lost on his listeners. . .Cautious, conservative, narrow is sometimes things that people say about people who have faith. But this parable seems to saying something different: that we are reckless, that we are gamblers, that we are risk takers, that we fly high, not content with what life offers we are looking for something more, the peril of great price, the hidden treasure. . .
“The parables very often give us not answers but leave us often with more questions than answers. Here is a question: are we a Church of the comfortable or a Church of risk takers?”
Over time, more Catholic parishes have chosen to take risks. They have taken intentional, public steps to become welcoming spaces for LGBT people and their families. Bondings 2.0 recently reported on how much New Ways Ministry’s list of gay-friendly parishes has grown in the last two decades, reflecting the movement’s growth.
In this age of Pope Francis and a reinvigorated conversation about Catholic LGBT issues, let us hope and pray more parishes will follow St. Bride’s parishioners in their eagerness to share messages of unconditional welcome.
The ALL ARE WELCOME series is an occasional feature on this blog that highlights Catholic parishes and faith communities that support and affirm LGBT people. To keep up to date on this and other Catholic LGBT news, subscribe to Bondings 2.0 by entering your email in the upper right hand corner of this page.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 3, 2017