QUOTE TO NOTE: Fr. Bryan Massingale: “We Are in a Struggle for the Soul of U.S. Catholicism”

Father Bryan Massingale, a leading Catholic theologian, lifted up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s insight about “redeeming the soul,”  saying not only the nation but the church must be redeemed.

Massingale made his remarks earlier this summer while addressing the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, from whom he had just received the St. John XXIII Award. He told attendees that under President Donald Trump there is a struggle for the very soul of the United States. Social injustices at the surface level are really about people’s deeper sicknesses from fear and prejudice, including homophobia. Massingale continued:

“We are also in a struggle for the soul of U.S. Catholicism. . .We talk more about religious liberty than about Jesus Christ. We talk more about the Fortnight for Freedom than the reign of God. We need less talk about the catechism and the code of canon law and talk more about the joyful witness of passionate charity found in Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.”

Father Bryan Massingale

Covering the assembly for National Catholic Reporter, Sr. Jeannine Gramick wrote that in his talk Massingale referenced the 49 people killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last year. He commented, “All means all — no exceptions, no small print. God loves all of us, whatever our differences.”

Earlier this year at New Ways Ministry’s National Symposium, Massingale said LGBT people “must refuse to be silenced,” and he encouraged audience members to “continue to speak our truth.

The theologian, now at Fordham University, has been increasingly outspoken for LGBT inclusion and human rights in recent years. While at Marquette University, he celebrated monthly Masses for members of the LGBTQ communities on campus because, he says, it is important they “have a Mass where they feel welcome and that God does love them.” In 2013, he challenged the Pax Christi USA national conference attendees to increase the organization’s defense of LGBT rights, as both a human rights concern and a necessary part of attracting younger Catholics. Massingale also joined other Catholic theologians and officials in condemning proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda. Most recently, he has said the church cannot abandon transgender Catholics.

Fr. Massingale has applied Martin Luther King’s social analysis to the contemporary U.S. situation and for the church in this country. Hopefully, as Pope Francis’ impact deepens (especially by making more episcopal appointments), U.S. Catholicism will be healed of its present fears so it can preach the Good News in ways that all who listen may hear.

Today’s post is part of our “Quote to Note” series, which reports on noteworthy statements about Catholic LGBT issues. 

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 4, 2017

3 replies
  1. Thomas Smith
    Thomas Smith says:

    Fr. Massingale’s comment reminded me of one of the most profound books I’ve read, Maryanne Williamson’s “Healing the Soul of America”. Our politics are not expressing our ethics. Something is very amiss. Our collective soul is in grave danger. Raising a hateful Bully to the presidency and silently tolerating vindictive, bitter Bishops are signs of the complacency to suffering that Pope Francis says is “epidemic” in our world. But we are a people of hope and courage…compelled by the love of Christ and inspired by the examples of Dr. King and Harvey Milk and Mohatma Gandhi. Our lives are worthless, languishing in closets of fear. Our faith is worthless without action. New Ways brings the good news of salvation… Personal and collective. The Gay Catholic struggle is part of the larger struggle in our nation for reclaiming our soul and doing the hard work of restoration by speaking gently, truthfully and fearlessly not only for our own spiritual rights but for those of our sisters and brothers rejected and ignored by both church and government leaders….and for our dear Mother Earth, exploited daily by blind greed.

  2. Annette Majgjuka
    Annette Majgjuka says:

    I totally agree with Fr. Massingale. In this divisive time, the church must stop being aggressively anti LGBTQ, it must stop being complicit and silent when others discriminate against LGBTQ people, and must concentrate on the real issues at hand: acceptance of all, ministering to the poor, supporting immigrants, etc. We have a legislature that is trying to roll back all civil rights! Let’s concentrate on these issues!!!!!!! The church should not be part of the problem!


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  1. […] our truth.”  At another conference this past summer, he has said we are engaged in a “struggle for the soul of U.S. Catholicism” given the bishops’ partisan campaigns.  In another essay, he wrote that the […]

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