Keeping up with all the Catholic-related Pride news and events this month has been a challenge. Bondings 2.0 has reported already on the controversy when Rhode Island’s Bishop Thomas Tobin warned that Pride celebrations were “especially harmful to children;” on liturgical composer David Haas’ new Pride song “You Made Me Wonderful;” and on the many events put on by New York City Catholics to welcome World Pride. New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo also reflected last week on how the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots is a time for joyous prayer. But there have been plenty of other items that we have compiled in today’s post now that Pride month has ended.
In Kentucky, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington offered his support for Pride on Twitter as celebrations in that city began. He tweeted:
“With Lexington Pride underway, I am grateful for the presence of people of faith reaching out to those who have been turned away or felt rejected by the Church. Our arms are open to all who seek the Lord with good will!”
This tweet is Bishop Stowe’s second time affirming Pride, which he also did in 2017 when he sent a positive letter to organizers of Lexington’s interfaith Pride service. The bishop has a very positive record on LGBTQ issues, including giving scriptural reflections at New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium in 2017.
In Italy, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa cancelled an event planned by local priests who wanted to offer public prayers of reparation against Pride. The Archdiocese did not allow the prayer services to take place in three different churches, as planned, and directed “the faithful interested in reparation to pray elsewhere,” reported Gay News. Bagnasco’s intervention is notable because he has a largely conservative record in the church.
In Ontario, Canada, LGBTQ advocates have launched an email campaign to Kingston Archbishop Michael Mulhall that calls on him to remove Fr. R.J. Chisholm, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church. The complaints were in response to Chisholm’s publication of an anti-Pride bulletin announcement which echoed Bishop Tobin’s words that Pride was “especially harmful to children. Campaigners argued that Chisholm “is directly contradicting papal edict with his statement” and “promoting a dangerous and harmful culture of hate” towards LGBTQ people.
On Saturday evening, June 29th, Jesuit Father James Martin preached the homily at a pre-Pride Mass at St. Francis Xavier parish, Manhattan. In his sermon, Martin encouraged LGBT Catholics and their family members to “be tough, be free, be hopeful.” At one point he exhorted the congregation:
“Claim your place in your church. Be rooted in your baptism. Know that you are fully Catholic. You know, lately I’ve been hearing that it’s not enough for the Catholic church to be ‘welcoming’ and ‘affirming’ and ‘inclusive.’ And I agree. Because those are the minimum. Instead, LGBT people should fully expect to participate in all the ministries in the church. Not just being welcomed and affirmed and included, but leading. But to do that you have to keep your hand to the plow and you have to be tough.”
You can read the entire text of Fr. Martin’s Pride sermon by clicking here. A video of the homily is also available here.
Finally, the Tampa Bay Times published a small story about Raymond Castro, a key figure in the Stonewall riots who later married Frank Sturniolo in a Catholic church, albeit without legal standing or any formal recognition by the hierarchy. About a decade after Stonewall, the Times reported, Castro and his soon-to-be husband “walked into an empty Catholic Church on Long Island with two gold wedding bands, made promises, kissed and considered themselves married.”
For all of the controversies that Pride month has caused in Catholic circles, what remains most clear is that LGBTQ Catholics and their allies celebrated this month regardless of what critical bishops said and did so because of their Catholic faith, not in spite of it.
For Bondings 2.0’s full coverage of Catholic-related Pride news and opinion, click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 1, 2019