Yesterday, New Ways Ministry released a theological statement supporting LGBTQ non-discrimination that was endorsed by more than 250 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, and writers.
Entitled “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination” a positive case is made for why Catholics can and should support protections for LGBTQ people. The statement reads, in part:
“Because LGBTQ people suffer from unjust discrimination due to structural inequalities in law and social institutions, our Catholic faith compels us to speak out in support of the principle of non-discrimination. Non-discrimination would alleviate the personal suffering of LGBTQ people, provide them equal access to our society’s opportunities, and, in many cases, save lives. . .
“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people. We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination. . .must be curbed and eradicated’ (Gaudium et Spes, 29). We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality.”
The reality for LGBTQ people is, however, not one where human dignity is respected and social equality is experienced. The statement highlights the many ways LGBTQ people face discrimination in healthcare, employment, interactions with police, and public accommodations. It adds, “Such discrimination is often compounded by gender, race, religion, class, or other factors.” Forced closeting, conversion therapy, and higher rates of suicidality are problems with which many LGBTQ people contend. The statement responds:
“Scripture strongly affirms that God hears and responds to the cry of the poor and suffering. Society’s failure to protect LGBTQ people has left them crying out for justice. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we too must hear and respond to this cry by pursuing policies and laws that remedy such grave injustices. To do any less would abdicate our responsibility as Christians to live the Gospel in public life by advancing the good of all people, especially those on the margins.”
To explain why the Catholic faithful can and should support such non-discrimination protections, the statement draws on Catholic Social Teaching. Values such as the right to participate in society, a preferential option for the marginalized, and the pursuit of the common good are highlighted. The statement continues:
“Catholics are thus faced with an important question: Should the church’s sexual ethics tradition or its social justice tradition be the primary lens with which to examine LGBTQ equality initiatives? We believe it is imperative for Catholics and their leaders to rely on the social justice tradition.
“As early as 1983, the Washington State Catholic Conference declared that ‘…prejudice against homosexuals is a greater infringement of the norm of Christian morality than is homosexual…activity.’ This excerpt neatly distills the idea that opposition to discrimination is an ethical claim prior and superior to that of any sexual or gender ethic. This concept is strongly supported by Catholic reasoning. . .”
The statement concludes with an insistence that now is the right moment for Catholics to more vocally and publicly support LGBTQ non-discrimination both because there is “the urgency of preventing human suffering and violations of civil rights” and ” the church’s and society’s understandings of LGBTQ people have changed in the following important ways.” These understandings include new science around sexuality and gender, the witness of “healthy, holy, and wholesome ways that God’s revelation is manifest” in LGBTQ people, and the widespread support of the U.S. laity for LGBTQ people. The statement comments:
“Moreover, our church has placed a renewed emphasis on its social teaching as a constitutive aspect of its evangelical mission. The Catholic Church today, enlivened by the dangerous memories of those on the underside of history, proclaims the Reign of God especially when it proclaims social justice. This reorientation, begun at Vatican II and developed in theology and the magisterium over the past six decades, calls Catholics and all people of good will to be seekers of peace and doers of justice wherever inequities and suffering exist. If LGBTQ people, who still face myriad forms of discrimination, are not included in our church’s call for justice, its other entreaties for justice will be perceived as untenable.”
The statement ends with an appeal for all Catholics to endorse it and the cause of LGBTQ non-discrimination protections currently being debated not only in church, but in the wider society. If you would like to add your endorsement to “A Home for All,” you can do so by clicking here.
Tomorrow’s post will include commentaries about the statement from several endorsers.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 10, 2021