U.S. Archbishop Tells Transgender Catholic: “You Belong to the Heart of This Church”

Archbishop Wilton Gregory

A leading U.S. archbishop has told a transgender Catholic that they “belong to the heart of this church” and mentioned positively the dialogue he has had with the Catholic parents of LGBTQ children.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. made his remarks during a Theology on Tap event earlier this month where he addressed LGBTQ issues in responses to two questions. Rory, a transgender Catholic involved with Dignity/Washington, asked Gregory, “What place do I as a confirmed transgender Catholic and what place do my queer friends have here in this archdiocese?” The archbishop replied:

“You belong to the heart of this church. There is nothing that you may do, may say, that will rip you from the heart of this church. There is a lot that has been said to you, about you, behind your back that is painful and is sinful. I mentioned my conversation with Fortunate Families. We have to find a way to talk to one another, and to talk to one another not just from one perspective, but to talk and to listen to one another. I think that’s the way that Jesus ministered. He engaged people, he took them where they were at, and he invited them to go deeper, closer to God. If you’re asking me where do you fit, you fit in the family.”

Rory also invited Gregory to meet with Dignity/Washington, something his predecessor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, had chosen not to do. Gregory did not respond directly to that invitation, but his answer to another question may provide insight. Asked about healing in the church, the archbishop shared about his previous experience on LGBTQ dialogue:

“While I was the bishop of Atlanta, I was invited into a conversation with a group of parents who had sons and daughters who were gay and lesbian. They invited me, and I’m grateful that they did, to be in dialogue with them, to have me tell them first of all that they had to love their children and that the church had to love their children. That group was called Fortunate Families. It’s a loosely-knit national group. I was happy to do that.”

Gregory also referenced his support for Fr. James Martin, SJ, who the archbishop invited to speak in the Atlanta archdiocese despite some criticism. The archbishop’s record on LGBTQ issues has been quite positive. He acknowledged in 2014 that the Church needed to improve its pastoral care for LGBTQ persons. After marriage equality was legalized in the U.S., he called for all sides to be respectful and civil. Gregory has suggested the work of the 1960s civil rights movement continues today and includes efforts for lesbian and gay protections. In 2016, Gregory supported the Georgia governor’s veto of a “license to discriminate” bill that would have expanded anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

Archbishop Gregory has a full agenda in the Archdiocese of Washington, which is still recovering from the clergy sexual abuse scandals involving former Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the once-Cardinal, now-laicized, Theodore McCarrick. But the new archbishop should not neglect the pressing realities of LGBTQ Catholics both in the Washington-area and, given the prominence of his see, nationwide. Meeting with Dignity/Washington’s members per Rory’s invitation would be a fine initial gesture of his willingness to keep the dialogue begun in Atlanta going in D.C.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 30, 2019

8 replies
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    The Church needs more brave men like Archbishop Gregory to stand up to the hateful positions other have taken. Thank you Archbishop Gregory!

  2. Don E Siegal
    Don E Siegal says:

    Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory

    Archbishop Gregory has been a hero for me all the way back to his tenure as the bishop of Belleville, Illinois. He has always been conciliatory to people on the margins. To wit, all the pastoral acts noted in this post. I would like to add another while Archbishop of Atlanta:

    In 2018, a group of Catholics started a petition urging Gregory to remove “pro-LGBT” Monsignor Henry Gracz of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta from his position as a spiritual advisor to victims of sexual abuse for allegedly going against Church teaching. Gregory refused, saying that “there are [were] no plans” to remove Gracz from his advisory role. He added, “Msgr. Gracz is following the admonition of Pope Francis to accompany people on the periphery of society. His priestly heart is not closed to those who find themselves misunderstood or rejected.” [Poole, Shelia M.; Branch, Ben (September 4, 2018). “Catholic petitioners take offense to Atlanta pro-LGBTQ pastor’s role”. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.]

    Link: https://www.ajc.com/news/religion/catholic-petitioners-take-offense-pro-lgbtq-pastor-appointment/7Tgz2St6p6jr5TSfrjO6UL/

  3. Max Arbery Price
    Max Arbery Price says:

    A warm welcome to dialogue is always good to hear, though direct dialogue with LGBTQ people is what’s needed. Talking with parents and families is good, but what is so difficult about talking treating LGTBQ as adults and talking directly to them – other than the right wing backlash from the successors to scribes and pharisees in the church?

    This kind of welcome is like throwing a lifeline to people drowning a fast flowing river while your mates continue to tie them up and throw them in upstream. As long as no-one is ready to challenge the teaching of the church, and face the far-reaching ecclesial consequences of allowing that challenge, the welcome is in the end an attempt to undo the deadly effect of a destructive teaching.

    • Don E Siegal
      Don E Siegal says:

      Rory also invited Gregory to meet with Dignity/Washington.

      Max, I couldn’t agree with you more. So, let’s you and I as well as others who read this blog write Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory and ask him to accept the invitation and take up the request of Rory and meet with Dignity/Washington. (Note, the archbishop prefers Most Reverend as a nominative of address.)
      PO BOX 29260
      WASHINGTON DC 20017-0260

  4. Noel Siksai
    Noel Siksai says:

    I live in Atlanta, where he was our Archbishop before being reassigned to Washington. One of my prayers for him is that he be given the red hat. We need friendly voices like his in the Sacred College.

  5. Jan Rose
    Jan Rose says:

    Archbishop Gregory — We NEED you SO in the Archdiocese of Portland!! You would be perfect for us. Our current archbishop won’t even let us consecrate homemade flat bread because it causes crumbs. PLEASE pray for our parish–St. Francis of Assisi in Portland, OR. Blessings upon you!!


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