“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 the church.”
The illustration of Archbishop Gregory’s words is drawn in vibrant color that’s reminiscent of a sunset, including the signature light blue and pink of the transgender flag. There are bright yellow hearts around the word heart, and may do, may say is emphasized in the center. Archbishop Gregory’s name is included in the corner as attribution, but it’s not the central focus of the piece; rather, his message stands as a universal truth, as a message from God.
At a Theology on Tap event where Gregory spoke the referenced quote, he was prompted with a question by Dignity/Washington member Rory, a transgender Catholic. Rory asked: “What place do I as a confirmed transgender Catholic have here in this archdiocese?” In response, Gregory said the above, and then continued:
“There is a lot that has been said to you, about you, behind your back that is painful and 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 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 you fit, you fit in the family.”
The artwork is done in Br. Mickey’s signature style: bright, hopeful, and inclusive. On his website, the artist lists affiliations with the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales, Catholic Relief Services, Grünewald Guild, Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis, and Sacred Threads, and shares digital versions of many of his other images pieces. Originally from Philadelphia, Br. Mickey taught for ten years at De Sales University, Pennsylvania, and he now lives and works in Camden, New Jersey. Much of his art celebrates faith through a social justice standpoint, and his recent piece on Archbishop Gregory’s statement is no exception.
Br. Mickey’s work, shared on Facebook by Fr. James Martin, SJ, is a great way to further circulate Archbishop Gregory’s message of unconditional belonging for transgender Catholics. ‘Liked’ nearly 3,000 times, and shared more than 500 times, the image has garnered a slew of supportive comments from the Washington area and more widely.
While much of the conversation around the church’s response to LGBTQ people can be focused on dark and ugly areas of discrimination, it is heartening to see such a lovely depiction of a prominent bishop’s words shared widely. We hope this message will continue to spread, and the church will evolve to fully embody what it represents.
—Catherine Buck, New Ways Ministry, March 6, 2020