The largest network of women’s religious community leaders in the U.S., as well as more religious communities, have joined a statement against the bullying of LGBTQ youth. Additionally, priests in the Diocese of Lexington released their own statement of support.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has added its support for “God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth.” The statement, issued by eight U.S. bishops via the Tyler Clementi Foundation, was first released in January. Since then, four bishops and more than a dozen Catholic institutions have signed on. LCWR represents more than 30,000 women religious in the U.S. from some 1,300 member communities. You can read Bondings 2.0’s previous reports here and here.
New signers include: Benedictine Sisters of Chicago; Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambéry; Jesuit Schools Network; Paulist Fathers; Association of U.S. Catholic Priests; Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio; IHM Sisters of Monroe, Michigan; Xaverian Brothers; Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York; Sisters of Charity, New York; Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart; Brothers of the Christian Schools, District of Eastern North America; The Society of St. Edmund; and Sisters of Saint Joseph, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.
In a related note, 21 of the 46 priests in the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, issued their own statement in support of LGBT youth on Ash Wednesday. The National Catholic Reporter quoted the priests’ statement, in part:
“We make this statement to proclaim to our LGBT community, especially our youth, that we your pastors and priests stand with you, oppose any form of violence directed toward you, and denounce bullying, harmful rhetoric, and harassment directed at you.”
The diocese’s leader, Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv., was an initial signatory of the Clementi Foundation statement. He commented to NCR recently, “Pope Francis has given an example by meeting with LGBT individuals and same-sex couples; he can affirm their dignity and that they are beloved children of God. . .That should not be controversial in our Church.”
The diocese’s director of LGBTQ ministry, Stanley “J.R.” Zerkowski, explained the Lexington priests’ statement comes out of five years of dialogue. Part of the priests’ intention was to ask forgiveness of LGBT youth on behalf of the church in the season of Lent. Zerkowski commented:
“‘The church needs to ask for forgiveness for some of the rhetoric we’ve used and for some of the attitudes we have not stopped and we’ve even perpetuated. . .I hope this statement spurs other presbyterates to make a public stand with those who are on the periphery and often those that are subject to higher rates of suicide. . .If we’re a people of life, let’s put our names to that.'”
The Clementi Foundation is encouraging Catholics to show their gratitude to the bishops and religious congregations by signing their own name here. In addition, 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.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, February 20, 2021