Perhaps no one did more to raise the profile of LGBT issues at the synod on youth than Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput. This prelate with a strongly negative LGBT record highlighted the issue in the first days of the synod when he claimed in his talk to the assembly that “LGBT Catholics” do not exist as a legitimate category in church discourse.
His intervention made LGBT issues a topic of public controversy at the synod, with several church leaders rebutting him, and causing great curiosity in the synod press corps about how the meeting would deal these topics now that Chaput had made them a bone of contention.
A Catholic News Service interview with Chaput published on October 25th by Crux captured a further comment on LGBT people. The article stated:
“The archbishop said it is a ‘sadness’ for him when ‘people who have same-sex attraction talk about themselves’ only or primarily by referring to their sexual orientation.
” ‘I think that you’re God’s beloved more than you’re that. So, I’m not going to call you that. I don’t think that’s what God called you,’ he said.”
I’ve already commented on the fact that what Chaput and those who agree with him get wrong is that “LGBT” is not necessarily a primary descriptor, nor does it necessarily have ideological implications. Such understandings are clearly in the eyes and minds of the beholder, not in those who describe themselves in this way.
But, I think Chaput’s comment that “I don’t think that’s what God called you” is perhaps even more harmful, not to mention clearly wrong. If Chaput would take the time to listen (as the synod seems to keep calling bishops to do) to LGBT Catholics, he would learn that for many–and probably, most–understand that God has indeed called them to live a life free of shame and fear by accepting and affirming their sexual orientations and gender identities. Many describe their “coming out” processes as a calling, a vocation, a spiritual experience.
A call is a very personal and intimate thing. Chaput may disagree with LGBT Catholics on a variety of issues, but it is not possible for him to know the ways that God has created them, called them, and named them.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, October 26, 2018