Miguel Diaz, a theologian and a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, has taken up Pope Francis’ exhortation to care for internally displaced persons by connecting it with the problem of homelessness in the U.S. today. In particular, Diaz highlighted the plight of LGBTQ people, especially youth, who are housing insecure. He writes in the National Catholic Reporter:
“While homelessness impacts persons from all walks of life, some populations are more vulnerable than others. For instance, in any given year, an estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness. Moreover, 40% of our nation’s homeless youth are members of the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ persons, too often, may already be experiencing ‘displacement’ from familial relationships. Those that come from socially marginalized racial and ethnic communities (e.g., black and Latinx) experience this kind of displacement at a much higher rate than the rest of their peers. They also suffer more regularly the physical and emotional threats to life that come with homelessness.
“The lives of the LGBTQ young men and women I have interacted with in Chicago, who are members of this homeless body, certainly reflect this heartbreaking reality. Sadly, I must say, religion and religious perspectives play a contributing role in the displacement of these marginalized youth. Those who accompany LGBTQ youth made homeless observe, ‘The cause may be the family’s poverty. Sometimes it is because of their parents’ mental illness or drug addiction. But the reason we hear most frequently is religious rejection — parents whose religious beliefs cause them to reject their LGBTQ children.'”
Diaz’s point about religious rejection is one Catholics cannot forget in discussions about LGBTQ issues in the church. In a country where Catholics constitute nearly a quarter of the population and in a church whose teachings on homosexuality are quite harmful, religious rejection is not an abstract concept for the faithful. It is a scandalous reality that Catholic parents are forcing their LGBTQ children onto the streets.
Elsewhere, Diaz has spoken powerfully about the need for unity in the church where all, including LGBTQ people, are treated well. His words remain a relevant call to action in light of LGBTQ homelessness:
“We will continue to reject all forms of tribalism that privilege the experience of some baptized members of Christ’s body over that of others so that the Church can grow in its Spirit-led mission to become more truly ‘catholic,’ that is, inclusive of every people, tribe, and nation (Acts 2: 1-11).”
—Robert Shine, February 22, 2020