Catholics React Strongly Against Diocese of Marquette’s New Anti-LGBTQ Restrictions

Catholics have expressed their anger over the Diocese of Marquette’s new restrictions placed on LGBTQ people, which include prohibitions from the sacraments.

Yesterday, Bondings 2.0 reported on the set of directives from Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette that are the most comprehensive restrictions yet released by a U.S. diocese. They include instructions to deny sacraments to transgender people and those in same-gender relationships, prohibitions on such people in liturgical roles and church leadership, LGBTQ-negative education policies, and more.

LGBTQ advocates have reacted strongly, per The Washington Post:

“Jennifer Haselberger, a former chancellor for canonical affairs in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, said she was particularly puzzled by Marquette’s rule about baptism.

“‘There’s nobody who approaches baptism from a state of perfection,’ she said. ‘The presumption is the opposite. You come to baptism as a sinner, and original sin is forgiven you.’

“The diocese’s policy may also counter a part of canon law that says any person who has not yet been baptized is eligible for that sacrament, Haselberger said. A transgender person denied baptism for that reason could appeal to the Vatican, but Haselberger said it is unlikely that someone would risk the publicity and emotional challenge of that process.”

The Post reported further comments by Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry:

“At a time of increasing societal awareness of diverse gender identities, DeBernardo said he assumes that many bishops are fielding questions from priests about whether to administer sacraments to transgender or nonbinary people.

“‘I think that when the marriage equality debates in the U.S. ended in 2015, for the most part, with the Supreme Court decision, that the new issue for the U.S. bishops became gender identity, more than anything else,’ he said. ‘And I think with the new generation — that there’s new understanding of gender and more visibility for people who don’t identify with the gender binary — that this is going to come up.'”

Patrick Hornbeck, a gay theologian at Fordham University, tied the Diocese of Marquette’s restrictions to wider debates among the U.S. episcopate over the sacraments, in particular the Eucharist:

“Hornbeck. . .noted the policy comes at a time when many Catholic leaders have taken to drawing lines beyond which they believe it’s not possible for a person to be in good standing within the church. Recent debate among the U.S. bishops over whether President Biden and other Catholic politicians who support abortion rights can receive Communion exemplifies that trend, he said.

“‘The Diocese of Marquette seems to be adding fuel to that particular fire by saying that beliefs about gender and gender transition also fall into that category,’ Hornbeck said.”

Elsewhere, on Twitter, Jesuit Fr. James Martin posted in response to the directives:

“It is not a sin to be transgender. Transgender people are beloved children of God struggling to understand their identity. They need to be accepted with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity.’ As Cardinal Gregory told a trans person, ‘You belong to the heart of this church.'”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, linked the Marquette policy and similar ones to a 2019 document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, Male and Female He Created Them, which addressed LGBTQ issues. Duddy-Burke told NBC News:

“This educational mandate [from the Vatican] was sort of just put on the shelf by almost every other country in the world, but it just shows how many culture warrior bishops we have here in the United States, that they have really amplified this kind of teaching to the detriment of LGBTQ Catholics, who feel evermore excluded by the hierarchy of our church. . .If the church continues to have discriminatory attitudes, policies and teachings, the trend of people opting out of Catholicism is only going to continue.”

DignityUSA has launched a petition asking Bishop Doerfler to withdraw the policy, saying, in part: “The sacraments should not be weaponized, period. Not against LGBTQ+ people, not anyone.” More information is available here.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, December 11, 2021

4 replies
  1. Vic
    Vic says:

    Another wave of a Church that still
    Lives in the Middle Ages!
    Where did they get this Bishop who
    Is a member of the Inquisition!?

  2. Fred
    Fred says:

    Really need Pope Francis to start stepping in here. Embracing the “contradictions” is ok but this is downright destroying lives.

  3. Duane Sherry
    Duane Sherry says:

    We, the Church, were wide-awake when priests around the world were exposed for sexually molesting children; while bishops went to great lengths to hide their criminal behavior.

    Now you are targeting our brothers and sisters, our friends, and family, for being gay and transgender; marginalizing them with your decrees…

    We are the Church, and we will not surrender our God-given gifts of conscience and reason; our sense of fairness, and decency; our decision to love…

    We reject your legalism, mysoginy, rejection of science. We are the Church! We will remain the Church–without your bigotry. Take off your miters; listen to us. Or keep them on and watch us leave your Church to create one that is in keeping with the teachings of Christ.

    Either way–we, the Church are moving forward–with or without you!

  4. Finn
    Finn says:

    Bishop John Doerfler was right in what he did.
    The bishop said “Human persons are created in the image and likeness of God. We are beloved sons and daughters of the Father. Jesus Christ died for us, which shows the depths of our human dignity, Thus, we are to treat persons with same‐sex attraction and gender dysphoria with dignity and respect and all unjust discrimination is to be avoided.” He did not say to treat lGBTQ+ members less than other people but to accept them.
    The bishop said “The grace of God makes conversion possible. Thus, we must begin the journey of pastoral accompaniment by striving to foster a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Only then, can we shepherd people step‐by‐step to embrace and live the fullness of truth,” He did not, however, say LBGTQ+ members were to be damned to Hell because of their being sexually attracted to the same gender or having gender dysphoria. He did in fact say that it is not sinful to have desires of homosexuality, or to have confusion of your gender.
    The bishop says “We are not defined or identified by our sexual attractions or conflicts about sexual identity. Our fundamental identity is as a beloved son or daughter of God,”


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