A lay person in Spain has recently penned a reflection on LGBTQ pastoral care in the Catholic Church, providing a hopeful picture about what is being done to support this community and what the future of pastoral care could look like.
Originally published in Spanish by Christian Life Communities Spain, the article by Luis Mariano González García, powerfully states: “The time has come for LGTBIQ people to move from the simple apology of belonging to the Church, to the full recognition of the Kairos, the Time of God.” (The article was translated into English by the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which originally posted the article in both languages. The Christian Life Communities is a global network of small faith sharing groups.)
González sees the great need for pastoral care at the local level, observing that LGBTQ people have often been the ones doing this work:
“There are names and faces that have worked and still work actively in the reconciliation of the LGTBIQ+ reality and their faith in the Catholic Church. It is interesting to note that the work of welcoming and accompanying rainbow Catholics was initiated in the 1960s, being pioneered by the group DignityUSA, launched on the initiative of psychologist and Father Patrick X. Nidorf of the Order of St. Augustine (OSA), months before the Stonewall Riot.
“One of the first statements in the Catholic hierarchy was that of the Bishop of Brooklyn, New York, D. Francis John Mugavero, who in 1976 wrote a pastoral letter entitled: ‘Sexuality: God’s Gift’, directly addressing homosexual persons, affirming that they deserved to be treated equally in society and in the Christian community.
“It is important to note the joint apostolic work of Sister Jeannine Gramick of the Congregation of the Sisters of Loretto (SL) and Father Robert Nugent of the Society of the Divine Savior (SDS), forerunners in the LGTBIQ+ apostolate and co-founders of New Ways Ministry in the USA, which offers a Catholic space of reconciliation and social justice for the collective, their families and friends.”
González also points to initiatives operating in in Spain and more widely in Europe, including spaces for accompaniment, graduate education that includes classes on LGBTQ pastoral issues, parent support groups, and community organizing around LGBTQ issues, and a dialogue series. With so many hopeful and active ministries emerging, “[m]ay the examples of the good work of so many people, groups, communities and parishes encourage us to continue working for a more inclusive world and Church.”
Finally, González reflects on the true pride the Spanish Church should have in the emergence of these pastoral ministries:
“When CLC-Spain [began] in December 2020, after a long process of accompaniment and discernment, [and] published at national level the manifesto of support and recognition of sexual diversity and gender identities in their communities, I realized that something important was happening in the Church. I was witnessing this good work firsthand.”
“For the first time an apostolic life association was pronouncing itself as fully inclusive and encouraging us in the importance of becoming aware of the causes and effects of our permanent and persistent neglect. Everything can be otherwise, and in the Church as well.”
As LGBTQ Catholics and allies, it can be difficult doing this work when there appears to be little movement at the institutional level and a great emotional cost that is often underappreciated. González’s reflection encourages us to have gratitude for our ancestry that has laid the foundations for the work that we do today, to have hope in the many blossoming pastoral care initiatives around the world, and to dream of what the future can hold.
–Barbara Anne Kozee (she/her), New Ways Ministry, February 5, 2022