Catholic Advocates Share Reflections on LGBTQ People in Their Homelands

Attendees at the Global Network of Rainbow Catholic’s 2019 Assembly in Chicago

Earlier this month, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) held its third assembly. Bondings 2.0 previously reported on a forum held as part of this assembly where advocates and scholars reflected on the state of the global LGBTQI Catholic movement. Today’s post features more personal reactions from several GNRC attendees who were asked about the most pressing LGBTQ Catholic issue(s) in their homelands.

Fr. Peter Marsh, Australia, attended the meeting and  summarized some of the key topics for La Croix International:

“Regional groups reported continued or increased experience of state sanctioned discrimination of LGBTIQ people. Delegates were especially concerned with the internal discrimination within the church itself.

“Delegates reported that not only are Catholic employees in Catholic educational institutions finding their jobs and roles threatened but in some countries the students are also experiencing discrimination as they are asked to waive their right to stay with the institution if they come out or support LGBTI anti-discrimination.

“Other key issues included the inadequacy of the Catholic church’s theology of sexuality; inadequate training of priests and pastoral carers to support LGBTIQ Catholics and how to get more women involved.”

The following are reflections from other attendees who spoke with Bondings 2.0.

Miel Feria

Miel Feria, Rainbow Catholics Philippines:

“Psychological violence, characterized by non-acceptance and non-recognition of their existence, is probably the most important issue faced by Catholic LGBTQ people in the Philippines. Though there are several incidents of latent violence against Catholic LGBTQ people, most, if not all, are subjected to psychological or emotional violence. The confusion and self-doubt that one feels when coming to terms with one’s sexuality is compounded and made worse by the guilt that one is made to feel. Worse, most of these are perpetrated by the families of LGBTQ people, with the help of people in the church.

“Praying the gay away” is common in the Philippines. I remember being told when I was younger that God did not make LGBTQ people. So who made me? Am I not a child of God too? People may sometimes joke about these things, but for someone who is struggling with or coming to terms with their sexuality, being made to feel less of a person when you barely know yourself results in irreparable damages. It was not until much later that I realized that these are not God’s words. I am one of the fortunate ones; there are a lot of those who never have this realization and stay away from the church permanently, or worse, out of fear of being rejected by their families, they remain in the closet their whole lives. It is so sad to see a church that preaches love and acceptance breed so much anger and resentment towards LGBTQ people.”

Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz, Red Católica Arcoíris México (REDCAM):

“Returning from the [2017 Global Network of Rainbow Catholics] Assembly, we began to contact and convene other communities throughout the country and began the project of the Red Católica Arcoíris México (Catholic Network Rainbow Mexico; REDCAM for its acronym in Spanish). Step by step, representatives were appearing from their cities who had started a project similar to ours. We coordinated and joined efforts, and in October 2018 we held the First Meeting of Rainbow Catholic Leaders in Mexico City. We had the participation of just over 60 representatives from 13 communities in different cities of the country, as well as individuals who work in collaboration with diverse pastoral ministries. In this meeting we also had the opportunity to count on the participation of Bishop Raúl Vera (an ally of the cause), Fr. James Alison, and representatives of GNRC communities in Italy, Spain, and the United States.

“We are currently working together to develop tools that support the development of our communities, offer workshops with topics of interest, and we are developing a work plan focused on three big needs detected: work with adolescents and young people, seniors, and relatives of LGBTI people. Now, other cities, other movements, as well as priests and religious have joined the cause, which makes us believe that it is possible to make a change within our Church, learning to build bridges (as Fr. James Martin says).”

Benjamin Oh

Benjamin Oh, Rainbow Catholics InterAgency for Ministry (Australia)

“The two main conversations in Australia for the LGBTIQ + ally Catholic community are: 1) The highly distressing debate around the rights of religious people to discriminate against LGBTIQ folks. The lives and dignity of LGBTIQ Catholics, and LGBTIQ folks in general, are once against thrust into the political spotlight as anti-LGBTIQ groups seek to make new federal laws that will give more license to religious peoples to discriminate against LGBTIQ persons. Prominent anti-LGBTIQ civil rights campaigners such as the archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, have joined with other anti-LGBTIQ groups calling for these laws. . .

“2) The Plenary Council 2020 (a national Catholic gathering) and the anxiety around meaningful engagement and representation of LGBTIQ Catholics, families and communities in the process. . .Many LGBTIQ Catholics are concerned that the diverse voices and lived experience that have been courageously shared in various ‘listening and dialogue’ sessions, will only be edited and erased in ways that fit decades long LGBTIQ-hostile narratives that often portrayed LGBTIQ as broken, sexually depraved, clients needing ‘healing’ from the church, rather than LGBTIQ Catholics as healers, forgivers, mediators in an institution that is homophobic, transphobic and disrespectful of their truths and realities.”

Meli Barber

Meli Barber, DignityUSA:

“I think one of the biggest issue facing LGBT Catholics in the U.S. is employment discrimination in Catholics parishes and schools. I live in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis where four LGBT+ teachers and guidance counselors have been targeted for termination by Archbishop Thompson; three of those employees have been fired.  I worked as a Director of Religious Education at a local parish in Indianapolis for almost six years; I proactively left my position before I proposed to my now wife. The Catholic Church teaches that every sign of unjust discrimination towards LGBT+ people should be avoided, yet they target LGBT+ employees for termination.”

Martin Kolenič

Martin Kolenič, GayChristians Slovakia:

“As for Slovakia, there are probably two most pressing issues concerning the relationship of the LGBT+ Catholics and the Roman Catholic church. The first one is the strict interpretation of LGBT+ persons that choose to live with a partner and fully realize their personhood as “intrinsically disordered” sinners. The second issue stems from the first one quite naturally. The local clergy and hierarchy do not engage with groups that accept partnerships and sexuality of LGBT+ persons in its fullness as it would probably be seen as legitimizing sin. Therefore, no dialogue occurs. This freezes the situation in its current, unfortunate state when the church is quite hostile towards its LGBT+ members, ignoring the shifts in the view of homosexuality that are going on elsewhere in the world.”

For Bondings 2.0’s full coverage on the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics’ work, click here

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 29, 2019

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