At least two bishops who previously made LGBTQ-positive comments have been named to the list of clergy that Pope Francis will create as cardinals next month.
Pope Francis announced the surprise October 5th consistory last weekend, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Among those named where Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna and Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg who have both made LGBTQ-positive comments in the past.
Archbishop Zuppi wrote the preface for the Italian edition of Fr. James Martin, SJ’s book, Building a Bridge, on LGBT issues in the church. The archbishop, who is sometimes referred to as the “Italian Bergoglio,” explained the book was “useful for encouraging dialogue, as well as reciprocal knowledge and understanding.” He also affirmed Martin’s decision to refer to LGBT people with the terms they use to call themselves (e.g., lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender), saying it was “a necessary step for beginning a respectful conversation.”
During a press briefing at last year’s Synod on Youth, Bondings 2.0 asked Zuppi about whether bishops at the Synod were moving towards greater dialogue. He replied that lesbian and gay pastoral ministry is “an important topic.” Referencing an LGBTQ Catholic group in his archdiocese, Zuppi continued:
“There are different sensitivities, and we must also consider different situations on the basis of geographical areas. It is not viewed the same in the West as it is in Africa. It is not just a new issue. This is borne out by the fact that the group of Catholic homosexuals from Bologna is more than thirty years old. In my opinion, it is a pastoral question, and as such I believe it should be treated: when it becomes ideological it becomes more complex and it is better to leave it aside.”
Luxembourg’s Archbishop Hollerich also serves as president of the European bishops’ conference. He addressed the topic of gay priests during the Vatican’s summit on clergy sexual abuse that occurred last February. The New York Times reported on his remarks:
“‘[Hollerich] said on Saturday that some bishops kept returning to homosexuality as a cause for abuse because ‘some people have some models in their head and they will always keep to it.’
“He said he and other bishops had sought to change their minds.
” ‘I tell them the prime minister of my country is homosexual,’ he said. ‘And he would never abuse children.’ “
In addition to Archbishops Zuppi and Hollerich, two other appointees named by Pope Francis are seemingly LGBTQ allies.
In 2015, Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, joined Cardinal Peter Turkson, then president of the now-defunct Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in meeting with two representatives from the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christian Groups to discuss decriminalization laws. Czerny, who now serves as undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development’s Migrants and Refugees Section, also founded and led the African Jesuit AIDS Network for a number of years. He has been named by the pope as one of two Special Secretaries for the upcoming Synod on the Amazon.
Finally, Archbishop José Tolentino Medonca, the Vatican’s Archivist and Librarian, has spoken positively of LGBTQ ministries as far back as 2010. The Catholic Herald reported that he has been criticized for lesbian and gay pastoral work, and wrote a preface for a feminist theology book by Benedictine Sr. Teresa Forcades who is a very public LGBTQ advocate.
The other clergy named by Pope Francis for the October consistory are:
- Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, Indonesia;
- Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez of Havana, Cuba;
- Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa, Democraric Republic of Congo;
- Bishop Álvaro Ramazzini Imeri of Huehuetenamgo, Guatemala;
- Archbishop Cristóbal López Romero of Ribat, Morocco;
- Archbishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
But beyond the records of individuals, the next consistory could have another, larger impact on LGBTQ issues in the church. After October 5th, Pope Francis will have appointed more than half of the College of Cardinals members eligible to vote. John Allen of Crux stated plainly:
“One could go on, but the point should be clear: This is a consistory in which Francis is elevating a cohort of like-minded churchmen, positioning them to help advance his agenda right now and also to help ensure that the next pope, whoever it may be, isn’t someone inclined to roll back the clock.
“In other words, Francis will come out of this consistory in a stronger position to lead – and whether that’s good news or bad, naturally, will depend on whether a given Catholic happens to like the direction he’s heading.”
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 4, 2019