The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, regarding the #OutInChurch initiative launched by LGBTQ church workers in Germany.
New Ways Ministry stands unequivocally with the people of Germany’s #OutInChurch movement, an initiative in which 122 Catholic LGBTQ people who work for church institutions have come out publicly.
For far too long, LGBTQ Catholics employed in the church have suffered injustices and indignities, living and working fearfully in an institution which should be promoting justice and human dignity. Over the past decade, in the U.S. alone more than 100 stories have come to light about people who lost their jobs in Catholic schools, parishes, and other institutions because of LGBTQ identities. This is the tip of the iceberg, as our organization knows of so many others who have suffered likewise, but prefer to keep their stories quiet as a way to protect their lives and families.
The German movement’s manifesto makes clear that this employment scourge is not an isolated problem, but one that is inherently linked to discrimination in Catholic teaching and practice. For many decades, New Ways Ministry, along with other Catholic organizations around the globe have been calling for church leaders to end such discriminatory anti-LGBTQ language, ideas, and practices.
The #OutInChurch movement puts flesh onto the words that so many have spoken and written in support of LGBTQ people all these years. They show us the human beings whose lives are stymied and degraded by discriminatory practices. They put human faces on people who are often spoken about abstractly.
The courage and vulnerability of these brave 122 people remind us of Christians through the church’s history who risked greatly to witness to what they know is the Spirit of God working in their lives. We pray these church workers will not suffer penalties or persecution for the simple act of coming out and speaking from their consciences. We pray that they do not experience a new form of martyrdom by being fired, penalized, or persecuted for witnessing to their faith.
We call on all Catholics to join these 122 church workers in speaking out boldly in their local churches in the support of all LGBTQ people–those who work in the church, those who pray in the pews, and those who stand on the margins.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, January 24, 2022