Additional bishops, as well as communities of men and women religious have added their names to a statement against anti-LGBTQ bullying released last month by eight U.S. Catholic bishops.
Four more U.S. bishops have added their names to the Tyler Clementi Foundation statement supporting LGBTQ youth, reminding them that “God is on your side.” In addition to the eight initial signatories, new signatories include Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan of San Diego, Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, and retired Auxiliary Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces.
As the bishops’ statement, entitled “God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth,”made headlines, others have spoken publicly to support the bishops’ words.
Communities of men and women religious have signaled their support. These include: Loretto Sisters/Loretto Community; Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America, Province Leadership Team; Sisters of Charity of Nazareth; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Ursuline Sisters of Louisville; and the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) also issued a supportive statement. Noting that they have long advocated for the rights of the LGBTQ community, the AUSCP lauds the bishops who signed the Clementi Foundation statement, and references Pope Francis’ comments in a documentary released last fall as clear condemnation against bullying. Fr. Greg Barras, chair of the AUSCP leadership team, explains the root of their call to support the LGBTQ community: “Our pastoral experience has been one of great suffering with the pain inflicted by some in our church and society upon the vulnerable among us.”
The Clementi Foundation statement has been welcomed by Catholic organizations that advocate for the inclusion and equality of LGBTQ individuals. Robert Shine, associate director at New Ways Ministry, told The Huffington Post that the public affirmation made a difference for LGBTQ youth and families, but that concrete action was also needed: “Proactive steps will make real the bishops’ message to LGBTQ youth that God is indeed on their side.”
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, agrees on the need for tangible change to back up the bishops’ words, noting the real impact on the lives of individuals: “This is for many an issue of whether they can graduate from school, weather they have safe housing, even whether they live or die.” The creation of safe and affirming spaces at Catholic schools and parishes would actually help protect LGBTQ youth in a myriad of ways, such as ensuring they were not subjected to homilies condemning their queer or transgender identity.
Duddy-Burke remains hopeful and encourages continued conversation to keep moving forward. She said, “ I would urge LGBTQ youth, their family members, their teachers, and church ministers who work with them to write to bishops–those who signed the statement and those who didn’t–about what these words mean to them, and what their expectations are. I urge our church leaders to really listen to what is said.”
Even as some bishops continue to sign onto the statement, others have claimed to welcome the action while choosing not to add their names in support. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who has been an outspoken opponent of marriage equality said in an email to Crux, “I am appreciative of this reaffirmation of the Church’s care for those who are struggling with sexual identity issues, especially when they are targets of bullying and suffer rejection even from the very ones who should love them and support them.” He added, “The church stands in solidarity with them and all her children, to help them live a life of virtue.”
To show your gratitude to the bishops and religious congregations who have signed the statement, add your name here.
If you would like to write respectfully to your local bishop and encourage them to sign, you can find their contact information using New Ways Ministry’s “Contact Your Bishop” feature here.
—Angela Howard McParland, New Ways Ministry, February 12, 2021