It is not a difficult task to think of horrible things that happened in 2020, including things that happened in the Catholic LGBTQ arena. Our world has seen so much hardship. What is difficult, however, is ranking the negative incidents as to which were the worst.
Thanks to Bondings 2.0 readers who responded to our annual poll for the “Worst and Best Catholic LGBTQ News Events,” today we can present a ranking of what are considered the ten worst Catholic LGBTQ news events of the past year. (Tomorrow, we will post the results of the “Best” poll.)
Here is the list of the top ten vote getters (actually 11 because there was a tie for number 10), along with the percentage of votes they received. (If you want to see the list of “nominees,” click here.) Following the list are some editorial comments about the results.
1. Polish church leaders continue using extreme rhetoric against the LGBTQ community, including the release by the nation’s episcopal conference of a document that claims church teaching on homosexuality is infallible and which seemingly endorsed conversion therapy. (60%)
2. The U.S. bishops continue to encourage the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle LGBTQ protections in areas such as healthcare and social services. (45%)
3. The majority of U.S. bishops remain silent after a right-wing Catholic website makes homophobic and racist attacks against now-Cardinal Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. (37%)
4. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Our Lady of Guadalupe case that employees of religious institutions are not covered by federal non-discrimination protections, undercutting the Court’s decision in the Bostock case to recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. (36%)
5. The discriminatory firing of LGBTQ church workers continues. This year’s firings include high school basketball coach Ashlie Langlinais and parish music minister Terry Gonda. (35%)
6. Vatican representatives at the United Nations object to language that seeks to expand LGBTQ protections, including for refugees. (32%)
7. The Archdiocese of Detroit bans Dignity/Detroit and Families with Dignity (formerly Fortunate Families Detroit) from church property and from receiving pastoral support from priests. (31%) TIE with #8
8. Despite opposition from LGBTQ groups and others, Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, is confirmed as the Trump administration’s latest appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. (31%) TIE with #7
9. Former Pope Benedict XVI writes in a new book that marriage equality is “absurd” and is linked to the Antichrist. (25%)
10. Two bishops, including Cardinal Raymond Burke, blame LGBTQ people for the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused more than 1.5 million deaths globally. (24%) TIE with #11
11. Bishops in Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Springfield, Illinois, all release new restrictive policies regarding transgender people. Among the policies included variously in these dioceses: the threatened expulsion of transgender students from Catholic schools and an insistence on referring to people by their assigned sex. (24%) TIE with #10
The continual ramping up of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from Catholic bishops in Poland earned the number one spot in this “Worst” list. Not surprising in a way, because there was so much news coming out of Poland which featured the nation’s bishops supporting and embellishing initiatives proposed by the governing, right-wing Law and Order party. The incorrect information in some of the Polish bishops’ statements, such as their promotion of reparative therapy as legitimate or their false statement that church teaching on homosexual activity was infallible, made their collaboration with the oppressive government even more egregious.
The U.S. bishops took the number two and three spots on this list for their own anti-LGBTQ support. They allied with the Trump administration to overturn LGBTQ protections, even as the administration espoused so many policies contrary to other items on the bishops’ agenda. In so doing, the bishops not only betrayed Catholic teaching on respecting the human dignity of LGBTQ people, but further eroded their moral authority among Catholics who opposed Trump’s policies on healthcare, immigration, racial justice, the electoral process, the death penalty, and more.
The bishops’ brought further disgrace and shame to themselves when they couldn’t even support one of their own, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, DC, when he was attacked with homophobic and racist slurs from right-wing Catholics.
Coming in at numbers four and five are two news stories about the terrible trend of LGBTQ church employees being fired. These rankings show that this issue is still a major concern for many in our church, and the issue continues to cry out for justice.
One surprise was that the item which claimed the number 10 spot, concerning two bishops’ comments trying absurdly to lay blame on the coronavirus did not garner more votes than it did. Given the prominence of the coronavirus in 2020’s news, our expectation was that this item would have received more votes. Perhaps its low-ranking is due to the fact that even though the bishops’ claims were hurtful to LGBTQ people, the total ridiculousness of their ideas may have made their assertions seem less harmful and more laughable.
What are your analyses or insights on these rankings? Share your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post. Stay tuned tomorrow for the results of the “Best of 2020” poll!
—Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, December 30, 2020