LGBTQI advocates from around the world gathered in Chicago last week for the Third Assembly of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC), a conference which ended with a daylong forum on the state of LGBTQI Catholic affairs.
The forum, “The State of the Global LGBTI Catholic Movement,” featured several panels and breakout sessions. Headlining the event, which was co-sponsored by GNRC and DignityUSA, were three U.S. theologians who addressed the theological mandate to do LGBTQI justice work:
- Miguel Diaz, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and professor at Loyola University Chicago;
- Mary Hunt, the co-founder and co-director of WATER (Women’s Alliance of Theology, Ethics, and Ritual);
- Fr. Bryan Massingale, a social ethicist professor at Fordham University, New York.
Preceding the theological panel, representatives from world regions spoke about how LGBTQI issues are playing out in their contexts. Representatives included:
- Africa: Brian Okollan (Kenya) and Ssenfuka “Biggie” Joanita Wary (Uganda)
- Asia-Pacific: Eva Auroroa Calleung (Philippines) and Benjamin Oh (Australia)
- Europe: Michael Brinkschroder (Germany) and Luca Galli (Italy)
- Latin/South America: Carlos Navarro Fernandez (Mexico) and Fernando Gonzalez (Chile)
- North America: Marianne Duddy-Burke (USA) and Robert Shine (USA)
During the afternoon, forum attendees participated in breakout groups on topics such as anti-LGBTQI criminalization, women’s issues, relationships with the hierarchy, and gender identity.
The forum culminated nearly a week of international conversations and network-building that happened during GNRC’s Third Assembly, the theme of which was “Proud and Prophetic.”
Bondings 2.0 will share insights from some of the assembly’s participants later this week, but let me offer a small reflection of my own. Participating in the assembly and the forum was a powerful reminder that we Catholics are truly a global church. The many different perspectives among members, including on LGBTQI issues, are clear. Activists from some African nations are fighting against anti-LGBTQ criminalization ,while German Catholics are seriously discussing same-gender partnership blessings. Most of us are somewhere in between.
But GNRC also showed how even across distances and divides, being Catholic facilitates a certain intimacy and solidarity. So,, beyond the task of sharing our work for LGBTQ equality, the assembly and the forum were gifts to the wider church. The LGBTQ advocates gathered in Chicago last week imaged what the church could be if we truly enfleshed unity in diversity.
Though I flew out from Chicago tired from a busy week, I am grateful for the reminder of just how alive the Holy Spirit is in our global Catholic movement for LGBTQI equality.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 8, 2019