Cardinal Blase Cupich Invites LGBT Catholics to Dialogue, Seeks to Learn from Their Lives

A ranking U.S. cardinal has invited LGBT Catholics to dialogue, saying he wants to “know more about what’s happening in their life.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, made his comments during a lecture for the Catholic Common Ground Initiative delivered last Friday. According to the National Catholic Reporter:

“Cupich said he also has invited LGBT Catholics to come talk with him as part of his own desire for dialogue. ‘I want to know more about what’s happening in their life,’ he said, adding that church language can dehumanize gay and lesbian people.

“‘They feel alienated,’ he said, noting the high suicide rate among LGBT youth. ‘The church has to step forward and talk to people.'”

The cardinal also defended Fr. James Martin, SJ, who has endured right wing attacks in the last month over his new book on LGBT issues in the church. Cupich, who invited Martin to give Lenten reflections at the archdiocese’s cathedral next spring, said of Martin, “He’s a good priest. . .That’s why he’s coming to Chicago next spring.” NCR reported further:

“Cupich’s suggestion that Martin’s critics should actually read his book drew applause from the audience. ‘And they should do so before ceding their intellects to blogosphere posts that make claims on their infallibility that would make Pius IX blush,’ he added.

“Later, in response to a question about LGBT Catholics, Cupich said he was ‘outraged’ by the way Martin was treated and called priests and religious who try to encourage dialogue ‘easy targets.'”

Cupich’s larger theme at the lecture, held at Catholic Theological Union, was on “Dialogue in the Key of Pope Francis.” He told attendees:

“‘The church is not fully church if it lacks dialogue. . .by emphasizing the importance of dialogue, not just to solve thorny problems but to be true to ourselves as church.'”

The cardinal’s invitation to dialogue with LGBT Catholics comes as the U.S. church finally grapples with how to respond to pressure from right wing groups that has led to lecture cancellations and church worker firings.

Recently, three institutions including Theological College, the seminary affiliated with The Catholic University of America, cancelled lectures by Fr. Martin. Madonna University, Michigan, cancelled a lecture by theologian M. Shawn Copeland. All of these incidents occurred because of pressure from right-wing Catholics who disagree with the speakers’ stands on LGBT issues. Writing in response to the cancellation of Martin’s lectures, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego wrote that the right-wing attacks should be a “wake-up call” for U.S. Catholics to not concede to fringe groups.

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.

Cupich’s latest remarks inviting LGBT Catholics to dialogue is precisely the response that should be offered when conservative Catholics attempt to silence and condemn other voices. His expressed desire not to speak but to listen and learn first is a model in line with Pope Francis and one which every church official should follow. And this dialogue should begin right where the cardinal has located it, namely from the lived experiences of LGBT Catholics and their loved ones who are welcome to speak honestly and openly about their “joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties.”

As the cardinal indicated, dialogue is a way for Catholics to be church together. LGBT Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago should seize this hopeful opportunity, and Catholics nationwide should use Cupich’s invitation as an occasion to seek dialogue with their local bishops, too.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 3, 2017

7 replies
  1. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    Cardinal Cupich must be congratulated for his courage and Wisdom. Reading this article struck me as a retired teacher that dialogue in the Church is really a long view that begins daily in schools and in the pulpit educating ordinary Catholics to be literate critical thinkers. So much bigotry in the Church comes from a failure to understand the Faith and its implications for daily living.

    Reply
  2. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    “Later, in response to a question about LGBT Catholics, Cupich said he was ‘outraged’ by the way Martin was treated and called priests and religious who try to encourage dialogue ‘easy targets.'”

    I can’t help but think of the courage of Jeannine Gramick and Bob Nugent who were targets not only of right wing fringe groups, but also of bishops, archbishops and cardinals. Yet they persisted. And when Bob was finally forced out of the fray, Jeannine continued with her work, being unwilling to cooperate in her own oppression.

    I do think that when the history of the Catholic Church’s response to LGBTQI people is written 100 years from now, Jeannine and Bob, along with John McNeill and the staff of New Ways Ministry and others, will be remembered as heroes who led the way despite all the obstacles put in their path, paving the road for the changes in treatment and theology about LGBTQI people that are being made, and will be made, in the RC Church.

    Reply
    • Friends
      Friends says:

      Not only that, but I think he’d be an ideal candidate to become the next Pope. At least he would have the enthusiastic support of most of North America and much of progressive Western Europe. However, when it comes to the votes of socially conservative Africa and Asia, probably not so much. At this point, I wonder if the RCC is becoming essentially ungovernable. Pope Francis, as an ethnic Italian whose family had migrated to South America, was a brilliantly positioned (and obviously successful) global compromise. But he’ll be a very tough act to follow, given the ever-mounting political fissures and ideological divisions within the RCC.

      Reply
  3. Richard Boyle
    Richard Boyle says:

    I wonder if would be possible for Cardinal Cupich to have a pastoral visit with Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco…and do some counseling.

    Reply

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