Two major Catholic opinion leaders have come out in support of LGBTQ Catholics in Detroit, where the Archdiocese continues to suppress LGBT groups’ efforts to gather and to minister to their communities.
A National Catholic Reporter editorial frames its LGBTQ support with Pope Francis’ famous 2013 “Who am I to judge?” quote. After explaining the long history of good works that Dignity/Detroit and Fortunate Families have done for LGBTQ Catholics and their families, the editorial details the historical and current discrimination that LGBTQ people face in Catholic places of employment, and the most recent ways that the Detroit archdiocese has censured these two affirming groups. The editors write:
“Stop judging ministries that have been sincerely serving Catholic folks for decades. Stop judging LGBT Catholics trying to find their place in the church so they can tend to their spiritual lives. Stop judging families, friends and allies who support one another and their LGBT brothers and sisters. Stop judging employees by their marital partners instead of by their job performance.”
Similar support for Dignity/Detroit and Fortunate Families comes from an open letter penned by LGBTQ activists in Malta and co-signed by supporters worldwide. The letter, published by Drachma LGBT, Malta’s LGBTQ Catholic organization, was written by Joseph and Joseanne Peregin, founding members of the Drachma Parents Group, of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, and of the European Network of Parents of LGBTI+ persons. It was endorsed by prominent LGBTQ advocate Fr. James Alison, and LGBTQ Catholic groups in the Philippines, Australia, UK, Spain, Chile, and India. The letter opens as an address from an “international group of Parents who happen to have children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or intersex—as well as God’s precious gift to our families.”
The letter calls the expulsion of Dignity/Detroit and Fortunate Families/Detroit ‘heartless,’ and uses the parable of the loaves and the fishes to explain their response:
“To give oneself to God is an expression of one’s uniqueness – one’s five loaves and two fish. They may seem insignificant in a sea of multiple needs, deep hunger and parched thirst. Yet they are the gifts we bring that Jesus blesses and multiplies, to feed his many followers. Parents’ organizations…are indeed offering our five loaves and two fish, in the hope that God’s grace would bring forth a bounty of richness to the rest of the Church.”
The Peregins emphasized the nurturing role of the family, and how all families must come together to support the LGBTQ community—for everyone’s benefit:
“As Mother Church, it makes no sense to tell any of her children that they are not welcome – it only enforces suffering to an already damaged relationship. It sounds just as bizarre as expecting one child to stay away from the dinner table simply because of being somewhat different to the rest of the children. It sounds just as merciless as being like those parents seated at the dinner table with only some of their children – while knowingly keeping their other children clear away – how could they ever enjoy a proper family meal, unless they were ALL gathered together?”
The writers call out the hypocrisy of church officials committing the ‘sin of inhospitality,’ noting ‘the sheer audacity of some who believe the church is solely their property.’ They write:
“Our LGBTI+ children form part of the body of Christ no less than our bishops and clergy. They have a vocation in the church and their gifts and qualities are as precious as those five loaves and two fishes of the young boy in the miracle.”
In their conclusion, the writers make clear that LGBTQ persons and their families are “the community Jesus claims as his Church,” and that “This is a Eucharistic people of God.” They stand as clear and lifelong allies in the search for justice and representation in the Catholic Church. As the national and international attention surrounding the discriminatory actions towards Dignity and Fortunate Families continues to grow, we hope that many more publications and organizations will speak up in similarly strong support.
—Catherine Buck, New Ways Ministry, June ??, 2020