The Vatican releases aprayer intention of Pope Francis each month to raise awareness of an issue in our world. This October, he is asking Catholics to pray for workers and for the unemployed. More specifically, he prays:
“We should always remember the dignity and rights of those who work, condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and help to ensure authentic progress by man and society.
“Let us pray that all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.”
(You can view a video of the pope’s prayer by clicking here or view it at the end of this post.)
LGBT church workers need our specific prayers. In the last decade, some 70 Catholic Church workers have lost their jobs in LGBT-related employment disputes, and this count only includes instances where the firing or resignation was made public. New contract clauses which are heavily focused on LGBT issues have forced people to remain closeted and to keep quiet about their support for marriage equality.
Too many Catholic institutions and church leaders have not shown the respect and protection of rights due to LGBT church workers.
Yet, aside from church leaders’ punitive actions or simply their silence on these firings, Catholics have been overwhelmingly supportive of fired church workers. School communities and churches have rallied around them, staging student walkouts and offering sharp criticism at parish town halls. In Portland, Oregon, the school community at St. Mary’s Academy protested loudly enough that the school quickly reversed its firing of a lesbian counselor, and the administration went so far as to then implement a non-discrimination policy inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation.
In addition to prayer, we must work for justice. Too many LGBT church workers and others who are simply supportive of equality remain vulnerable. Religious exemptions mean there have been few legal victories thus far, and Catholic institutions largely lack relevant non-discrimination policies.
To support Catholics’ efforts for church worker justice, New Ways Ministry has launched an “Employment Non-Discrimination” page on our new website. There you can find information and resources, as well as the latest news on employment updates. To get started, here are six steps we can all take to help LGBT church workers.
What You Can Do
- Establish an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy at your Catholic institution. Find out how to do so here.
- Contact your bishop about LGBT church worker justice, and seek a meeting with him to discuss more inclusive diocesan policies. You can find bishop’ contact information here.
- Educate yourself about past incidents, legal developments, and how Catholics, including church leaders, have responded. More information is available here.
- Contact New Ways Ministry for consultation and programs on employment and other LGBT issues. You can contact us here.
- If you have been fired or are about to be fired, or know someone in one of those situations, contact New Ways Ministry for support. You can contact us here.
- Pray for LGBT church workers that their gifts are valued and their pains are heard. You can find a sample prayer here.
- Keep up to date with the latest news about LGBT employment issues in the church by subscribing to our blog, Bondings 2.0. You can also simply enter your email address in the box at the upper right hand corner of this page.
In the latter half of October, let us continue joining Pope Francis in prayer for all workers and all the unemployed. Let us show a special solidarity with church workers who have lost their jobs in LGBT-related employment disputes, and continue working for their rights until every church worker is respected and protected at and by Catholic institutions.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 18, 2017