The WORST Catholic LGBTQ News Stories of 2019

The results of the 2019 survey are in!  Last week, Bondings 2.0 asked its readers to rank which were the top ten best and top ten worst Catholic LGBTQ news events of 2019. We provided 15 “nominees” in each category, based on which of our 2019 posts received the most views.

Today we provide the results of the top 10 worst news events, and tomorrow we will close out the year with the top ten best.  The list below goes in descending order from the story with the most votes at the top of the list.  Following each item is the percentage of people who voted for that story. After the list, we will provide some short analysis, but we also encourage our readers to provide their own analyses in the “Comments” section of this post.

The Worst Catholic LGBTQ News Events of 2019

  1. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops doubles-down on their LGBTQ-negative agenda during their fall assembly, approving anti-transgender and religious liberty initiatives as strategic priorities for 2021-2024, as well as electing conservative leaders with poor records on LGBTQ issues.  54%
  2. TIED with Number 3:  Roncalli High School, Indianapolis, fires Lynn Starkey for being in a same-gender marriage. Starkey had served the school as a guidance counselor for nearly forty years, and was the second of an eventual three employees fired in LGBTQ-related disputes. 46%
  3. TIED with Number 2: Top bishops in the U.S. ask the Supreme Court to maintain a limited definition of “sex” (i.e., not include gender identity and sexual orientation)within federal law and therefore allow employers to discriminate against LGBTQ workers. 46%
  4. Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, describes gender-confirming surgeries for transgender people as “a Luciferian refusal” of God’s will. 42%
  5. U.S. Bishops say they are “gravely disappointed” that the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which would enshrine anti-LGBTQ non-discrimination protections into federal law. They also expressed support for the Trump administration’s proposed guideline to limit federal transgender protections in healthcare. 40%
  6. Krakow’s Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski releases a pastoral letter in which he claims the LGBTQ movement is comparable to Poland’s oppressive Communist government in the late 20th century and is the “next great threat to our freedom.” He also describes the movement as a “rainbow disease.” 39%
  7. The Archdiocese of Denver hosts a conference that promotes conversion therapy; one speaker suggests that gay people do not exist. Archbishop Samuel Aquila encourages parishes to include these deeply harmful practices in their work. 38%
  8. Top bishops in the U.S. welcomed a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ employees. 35%
  9. Roncalli High School, Indianapolis bars Pat Fitzgerald from volunteering at the school after he publicly supported his daughter, Shelly Fitzgerald, who was fired by the school over her same-gender marriage. 29%
  10. Roncalli High School, Indianapolis issues a new policy that threatens students with sanctions or expulsion for criticizing the school publicly. Students had led a protest against the school’s firing of two guidance counselors because of their same-gender marriages. 28%

Write-in Votes:

  • The LGBGTQ workers wrongfully fired (or not hired) grew to xxx.  This tally itself is the worst news of 2019 because it proves to millions of LGBTQ young people that the Vatican sees them as worthless and unredeemable.
  • The unscientific and backward Vatican Document “Male and Female He Created Them.”
  • Vatican’s Congregation on Catholic Education releases document entitled “Male and Female He Created Them.”

Commentary

One reader wrote to us that it was “disappointing that the majority of these focus on the US Catholic scene. It’s a universal church.” We agree that the list was heavily weighted with U.S. news.  It was not our intent to do so.  As mentioned, we based the list on the Bondings 2.0 posts which received the most views.  Our readership is very heavily U.S.-based, so that might be one reason to account for the heavy U.S. focus.  However, we think there may also be another important reason. This list is the worst stories, and sad to say, much of the negative Catholic LGBTQ news comes from the leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church–both individual bishops and the U.S. bishops’ conference, as a whole.  As members of the U.S. church, we are ashamed that so many–though not all–of the bishops in this nation continue to advance negative LGBTQ policies and proclaim negative messages about LGBTQ issues.

We think this point will be even clearer tomorrow when readers see the list of best Catholic LGBTQ stories which is dominated by events from around the world.  Only four of the 15 nominees had a U.S. connection, and only three of those made it to the final list. It sure looks like any major changes that come to the Catholic Church on LGBTQ issues will be due in large part because of what is happening around the globe, not because of one individual country.

A related observation is that of the ten items listed above, four of the ten, including the top story, are about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference still tends to be dominated by culture war bishops appointed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Yet, as readers of this blog will know, we have seen some positive individual bishops’ voices emerging from those who have been appointed by Pope Francis. May this latter trend continue!

The terrible trend of employees being fired from Catholic institutions because of LGBTQ issues unfortunately remained with us in 2019. Clearly, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis has emerged as “ground zero,” with Roncalli High School being at the center of these controversies.  Prayers are needed for those who have suffered by these actions and also for those who have caused them.

Finally, two of the write-in votes identify the Vatican’s document, “Male and Female He Created Them,” as one of the worst Catholic LGBTQ news events of the year. When the document was released in June, it caused great controversy because of its harsh condemnation of transgender and intersex issues. While that was a major news story, and was certainly very negative, judging by the small number of views it received, Bondings 2.0 readers responded more to the outpouring of Catholic leaders’ criticism of this document, resulting in very high views for our posts on these responses.  So, the criticism of the document was listed as a nominee for one of the best Catholic stories of the year. Check in tomorrow to see the “Best of” list and see how the criticism of the Vatican document fared as a news story there.

What do you find interesting about this list? Offer your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.

–Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, December 30, 2019

1 reply
  1. Rev. Diane Dougherty
    Rev. Diane Dougherty says:

    Discrimination in any form is to me an indication of a mental illness within the body. It is a cultural virus or infection in the body of Christ, most particularly spread freely by a male dominated hierarchical leadership that is not healthy and does not follow the teachings of Christ. Based in centuries of appointments to hierarchical positions for the purpose of maintaining power over Catholics-rather than gaining access to the power of the Holy Spirit with us, healthy catholics leave the institution as do their children….New Ways Ministry is a beacon of hope-shedding light on hierarchical illness. Now we need to find doctors that will help us heal from these cultural falsehoods and attacks.

    Reply

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