2018 is coming to a close. So, it’s time to look at what Bondings 2.0 readers have determined are the Worst and Best Catholic LGBT news events of the past 12 months. Earlier this week, 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.
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), along with the percentage of votes the item received. Following the list are some observations on the results. On Monday, December 31st, we will present the results of the voting for “Best” events.
The Top Ten Worst Catholic LGBT News Events of 2018
- Gay priests once again become scapegoated as the cause of the sex abuse crisis, unleashing even a wave of commentary trying to prove this unsubstantiated idea. Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, publicly denounces Pope Francis as supporting unproven theories that “gay networks” of clergy are running the church. 68%
- Aaron Bianco, a gay pastoral minister in San Diego, is forced to resign his job out of safety concerns after months of abuse caused by ultra-conservative Catholic websites publish information about his family and residence. His case highlights the trend that ultra-conservative Catholic websites are creating a “toxic atmosphere” in the Church over LGBT issues. 51%
- In an interview, Pope Francis reaffirms the hierarchy’s ban on ordaining gay men to the priesthood, saying that having gay men serving as priests is “something that worries me” and that he believes that homosexuality has become “fashionable. 41%
- Church workers continue to be fired or disciplined for LGBT issues. At least six new cases became public this year, with likely many more whose stories remain unknown. 38%
- Four prominent U.S. Catholic bishops sign an interfaith anti-transgender manifesto entitled “Created Male and Female: An Open Letter from Religious Leaders.” The website of the United States Conferene of Catholic Bishops becomes the internet host for this statement. 36%
- A priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago holds a ritual burning an LGBT ministry rainbow with cross banner even after being warned by Cardinal Blase Cupich not to do so. 34%
- Tanzania’s Cardinal Polycarp Pengo says “It is better to die of hunger than to receive aid and be compelled to do things that are contrary to God’s desire,” referring to an unsubstantiated claim that Western aid is tied to his nation’s acceptance of pro-LGBT initiatives. 32%
- Buffalo and Philadelphia join a growing list of dioceses who close down adoption and foster care services rather than allow lesbian and gay couples to be considered as placements for children. 28%
- At the Synod on Youth, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput asks recommends that the term “LGBT” not be used in the meeting’s final report because he does not believe that “LGBT Catholics” exist as a category for the church. 23% (TIE with #10)
- At a meeting of an Italian Catholic family association, Pope Francis says that despite varied definitions of family, the family as “man and woman in the image of God is the only one.” 23% (TIE with #9)
Other: A reader suggested that another story be considered for the list: the growing trend of conservative Catholic websites’ vicious attacks on church institutions over LGBT issues.
It is not surprising that the issue of scapegoating gay priests for the sex abuse crisis was voted the #1 worst event of the year. The clergy sex abuse crisis was clearly the most important general Catholic news story of the year, and so the unjust and unsubstantiated scapegoating of gay priests as the cause of the problem was sure to be of top concern for Catholics interested in LGBT issues.
Interestingly, the top four stories all involved cases of LGBT people working in the church. Obviously, church leaders need to address this issue more comprehensively and justly. As LGBT people become more and more visible in society, they will also become more visible in the church. Yet, so many church leaders continue to pretend, as Archbishop Chaput suggested (see #9), that LGBT Catholics don’t exist. Let’s hope and pray that 2019 will be the year that they take their heads out of the sand and recognize not only the existence of LGBT people in the church, but also the wonderful gifts they bring to the ecclesial community.
This awareness on the part of the church’s leaders will be especially important because of the developing trend cited by item #8 on the list. Catholic leaders are going to have to start developing better approaches to LGBT people in church social service agencies. The “scorched earth” approach harms all involved, and will only end up with the church surrounded by wasteland.
Do you agree with the list? Do you agree or disagree with the analysis? Offer your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.
Tomorrow, we end the year on a happier note with the list of the BEST Catholic LGBT news events of 2018!
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 20, 2018