Two European archbishops offered LGBTQ-positive remarks to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), which was celebrated this past Tuesday.
In Malta, Archbishop Charles Scicluna encouraged parents to accept LGBTQ children as a mandate of the Gospel. Newsbook reported:
“‘My appeal to parents is this: accept your children as God the Father has done. Jesus is looking at your children – as he looks at each and every one of us – when he tells us that he is giving us a new commandment to love one another,’ the Archbishop said.
“The same commandment, he continued, also required us to consider the way in which refugees are treated. . .
“John’s account of Jesus giving the new commandment to his disciples after the Last Supper – with his death imminent – was the gospel of the Fifth Sunday of Easter. In the Archbishop’s view, this commandment was the most precious gift Jesus shared with the world, and one that should guide the way people related to one another.
“‘It feels like Jesus is telling us: if I have come on earth for one thing, it is to show you the way of love,’ the Archbishop said.”
Scicluna has been an LGBTQ-positive voice among the hierarchy for more than several years now, as well as holding high positions at the Vatican. He participated in IDAHOBIT events as early as 2014. In February of this year, he met with LGBTQ advocates in Malta and rebuked a priest who made anti-gay comments, going so far as to threaten the priest with sanctions if the harmful rhetoric continued. In 2013, while he was an auxiliary bishop, he called for the church to respect gay people. He gave a soft defense oflove in same-gender relationships, saying at one point, “Love is never a sin. God is love.” Scicluna did not punish –and even affirmed– the LGBTQ outreach ministry of a priest who blessed a same-gender couple’s union in 2015. He has said the church should apologize to LGBTQ people (though opposed civil unions), and he condemned “conversion therapy” with an apology for a church report which had supported it.
In Italy, Archbishop Corrado Lorefice of Palermo issued a prayer for IDAHOBIT that asked for Catholics to “commit ourselves to distance ourselves from all prejudice and discrimination, from all fear that it causes enemies to be identified and walls to be built.” He continued, also referencing parents (via Google Translate):
“And so that a culture of respect and acceptance may spread and each one – regardless of sexual orientation – is recognized as a person and knows the closeness and boundless love of God, let us allow ourselves to be provoked by the face furrowed by tears but full of tenderness of many mothers and fathers who carry the burden of labor and discrimination of their children.
“May they provoke us in building fraternal and synodal Christian communities, open to welcome, where everyone can be listened to, accompanied and valued. May they be a living memory of the reflections of the maternal and paternal face of God who always welcomes home and celebrates the expected and rediscovered children.
“May they help us clear the hearts of the boulders that we are ready to throw, so that they return to being hearts of flesh animated by the vital Breath of God’s love, capable of recognizing and loving how God loves.”
Lorefice previously led an ecumenical service for IDAHOBIT back in 2018, saying at the time, “we firmly deplore that homosexual persons have been and are still subjected to malicious expressions and violent actions.” For a number of years now, IDAHOBIT vigils have been held at Catholic parishes in several Italian cities, including Palermo.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, May 19, 2022