Scholars at a U.S. university gathered queer Catholic theologians and advocates of color for a dialogue to focus on the intersections of their experiences, including LGBTQ identities.
The racially and ethnically diverse group of queer Catholics came together at Loyola University Chicago for a dialogical event called “A New Agenda for Catholic Theology and Ministry: Perspective of Queer Theologians of Color.”
Hoping to capture the global and diverse church, participants hailed from the United States, Mexico, Chile, India, and the Philippines. The group shared their experiences, reflections, and insights on the relationship between Catholic theology and race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, migration, and religious syncretism. The conference’s guiding statement was “Towards justice, Towards the Catholicity of our Church – All of our Identities or None of Them.”
Miguel Diaz, the former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and a professor at Loyola University Chicago, said in his introduction:
“This is the first meeting in history where a group of LGBTIQ+ Catholic theologians and advocates can expose and give visibility to the particularities of being LGBTIQ+, Catholic, and people of color.”
The panelists asserted that the church must listen and gain a deeper understanding of multicultural LGBTQ communities. Rev. Bryan Massingale, a theologian at Fordham University, said:
“Past and modern theology, including that dealing with sexual minorities, was mostly written by White and/or European theologians. So, without diminishing its value, it’s important to include the perspectives of those who are part of the Church in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America.”
Other panelists included Melissa Pagán, an associate professor and director of Graduate Religious Studies at Mount Saint Mary’s University, and Craig A. Ford Jr., an assistant professor at St. Norbert College.
The scholars and activists shared their expertise on how social structures, such as white supremacy, classism, identity, and economic equality strongly affect LGBTQ Catholics of color. They strive to challenge the church by advocating for inclusiveness and universality.
The conference was part of a larger project about queer Catholic theologians of color funded by the Louisville Institute. The conference proceedings will be published. The project mission states:
“This project challenges current Catholic theological scholarship in gender and sexuality and opens new avenues to reflect on these human experiences from the perspective of race and ethnicity. While Catholic theology and the Church in the United States have both benefited from contributions made by queer theologians, there is an urgent need to explore the interlocking layers of oppression and life-threatening experiences that queer persons of color face, especially with respect to issues of racism, hetero/sexism, and immigration status.
“This project opens new venues of scholarship and carries profound implications for those engaged in ministry, in particular those ministering among queer persons of color. Queer persons of color within the Catholic Church must contend with multiple layers of invisibility in theological reflection and pastoral ministry. Given the life and death consequences of interlocking oppressions based on sexuality and racial/ethnic identity, Church leaders and the faithful need to listen to, engage in conversation with, and receive the valuable contributions that come from openly queer Catholic scholars and pastoral leaders of color.”
The project’s participants and paper titles are:
- Dr. Miguel H. Diaz, John Courtney Murray, S.J., University Chair in Public Service and former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. Article: “La Virgen of Sexiles – Mariconeando the Experience and Language of Grace”
- Dr. Melissa Pagán, PhD – Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Religious Studies at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Article: “Les Indocumentados: The Coloniality of Gender, Complementarity, and Rethinking Border Being/s”
- Dr. Craig A. Ford Jr., PhD, Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College. Article: “Following the Drag Queen Prostitute: Towards a Queer of Color Account of the Natural Law”
- Dr. Elsie Miranda, PhD, Independent Scholar. Article: “A Journey to Radical Love: Encountering the Divine at the Intersection of Faith and Culture”
- Ruby Almeida, Media Lecturer, Quest LGBTI+ Convenor and Co-chair in the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. Article: “Sisters Where Art Thou?”
- Dr. Bryan Massingale, STD, James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics at Fordham University. Article: “I’ll Fly Away: Toward A Black Queer Spirituality of Desire, Transformation, and Resistance”
- Fernando González, B&A Bachelor Universidad de Chile, Media Executive in the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. Article: “A Frontier inside the Frontier: Diversity and Inclusion in the Ibero-American LGBTIQ+ Welcoming Catholic Communities”
- Carlos Navarro, Freelance Journalist and Co-founder of the National Network of Rainbow Catholics México. Article: “Indigenous and Homosexual: Multiple discriminations in Mexico and Latin America”
- Dr. Michael Sepidoza Campos, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Theology and Religious Education, De La Salle University Manila; and High School Teacher, Schools of the Sacred Heart San Francisco, California. Article: “Transfiguring Baklâ”
- Dr. Kenneth Hamilton, PhD, Independent Scholar. Contact: 2733 Park Blvd; Oakland, Ca, 94606 . Article: “‘All for Which He Deserves to be Burned’: The 1886 Ugandan Martyrdom, Sodomitical Discourse, and Colonial Hagiography.”
Robert Shine, associate director of New Ways Ministry, commented on the meeting:
“Too often, Catholic theology has marginalized theologians who are not white, male, and ostensibly straight. This convening is a major step in righting such injustices. It challenges scholars–and indeed all Catholics–to be attentive to the complexities of identity which compound oppressions, but also enhance gifts. And it re-emphasizes a truth that we cannot forget: an LGBTQ movement that is not actively anti-racist fails, just as a movement for racial justice fails if it does not fully include queer and transgender people. New Ways Ministry commends Miguel Diaz, Fr. Bryan Massingale, and Craig Ford, the organizers of the project for making this initiative happen, and we eagerly await what comes next in this project.”
—Elise Dubravec, New Ways Ministry, November 4, 2021