As 2017 begins to come to a close, it’s time to look at the Worst and Best Catholic LGBT news events of the past 12 months. We turned to Bondings 2.o readers to help us decide what these stories were. We presented a poll with 15 events under the category of “Worst” and 15 items under “Best,” and we asked readers to vote for five in each category, as well as suggesting other topics.
The results are in! Today, we provide the 10 highest vote-getters for the “Worst” category. They are presented in order of highest votes (#1) to lowest votes (#10). Each item contains the percentage of votes cast for that event. Following the list are some observations on the results. On Saturday, December 30th, we will present the results of the voting for “Best” events.
- Bishops Paprocki (Springfield, Illinois) and Morlino (Madison, Wisconsin) issue guidelines denying pastoral care, sacraments, and funerals to legally married lesbian/gay couples. (87%)
- At least four cases became public this year of gay and lesbian teachers being fired, continuing the national employment crisis in the Catholic Church around LGBT issues. (50%)
- (TIE) In approving its agenda, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues its “culture war” mentality, in spite of guidance from Pope Francis to instead emphasize mercy and accompaniment. (44%)
- (TIE) M. Shawn Copeland and Fr. James Martin, SJ, have lectures canceled in Catholic venues because of their support for LGBT people. (44%)
- A National Catholic Reporter investigation into the Knights of Columbus’ finances reveals that the Knights have spent significant money to oppose pro-LGBT initiatives. (42%)
- Church leaders, including Pope Francis, continue to decry the undefined concept of “gender ideology” as part of their statements criticizing the transgender equality movement. (36%)
- In at least two cases, transgender individuals are denied health care at Catholic hospitals. (29%)
- Archbishop Broglio of the U.S. Military Archdiocese supports President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces. (27%)
- An Illinois state court upholds the firing of Colin Collette, a gay man fired from his job as parish music director because of his intent to marry his partner. (21%)
- In Malawi, Catholic bishops promote and participate in nationwide marches which were held to oppose the legalization of homosexuality. (18%)
- U.S. bishops deny that transgender people exist, deny modern medical science, claim that transgender people cause their own suffering, claim that anti-LGBT clergy are the real victims in the transgender rights debate, and lobby for laws forcing transgender people to live as if they are cisgender (“Created Male and Female,” interfaith letter signed by four USCCB committee chairs, 15 December 2017).
- Related to #6 (above) specifically, the USCCB’s release of “Created Male and Female.”
- Hong Kong priest cancels Christmas mass for LGBT community after Catholic Church warns of gay ‘sinfulness.’
It’s no surprise that the denial of sacraments and pastoral care (including, in one diocese, funerals) for legally married lesbian and gay people is the number one worst story of the year. Those events were among our most shared posts on this blog and our social media accounts, and they attracted a high number of very strong comments. Just as all politics is local, so is all church politics concerning LGBT issues. So it stands to reason that local censures against LGBT people will be viewed more negatively than more general pronouncements.
Three of the 10 worst stories involved transgender issues explicitly, showing that this topic is clearly a new area of contention in church conversations.
Two items concerned church employment issues, indicating that Catholics consider the trend of firing people from church jobs because of LGBT issues a negative phenomenon.
What other insights do you find in this list of the ten worst news events of the Catholic LGBT world? Share your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.
—Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, December 30, 2017