Papal Appointments of LGBTQ-Positive Bishops Is Evidence of Shift in Church

Cardinal-designate Leonardo Steiner

Appointments made this week by Pope Francis continue enforcing the idea that winds in the church have shifted and that being an LGBTQ-positive cleric is no longer a barrier to leadership. Today’s post highlights two such sets of appointments following Bondings 2.0’s previous report on the appointment of Cardinal-elect Robert McElroy, San Diego, whose LGBTQ record is quite good.

Pro-Civil Unions Brazilian Bishop Set to Be Cardinal

In Brazil, Archbishop Leonardo Steiner of Manaus was among those named by the pope, along with McElroy, as one of the new cardinals set to be created in the August consistory. Steiner has made LGBTQ-positive comments in the past, including the endorsement of civil unions for same-gender couples.

In 2014, he offered that endorsement while serving as an auxiliary bishop in Brasilia. Interviewed by a Brazilian media outlet, Steiner said such couples “need a legal protection in society” in addition to support from the church. He cited Pope Francis and the Catechism as the basis of this stance, commenting further, “Acceptance and walking with them are necessary to reflect on what fits or doesn’t fit the reality experienced by homosexual people and what, in fact, is rightfully theirs, for their own good and that of society.”

Steiner’s prominence has risen recently, serving as vice president of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon Region, and he was just nominated as president of the Special Episcopal Commission for the Amazon. Previously, he served for eight years as secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil. He is well-known for his commitment to many social justice causes.

Liturgy Office at Vatican Gets Pro-LGBTQ Members0

While it may seem odd to cover matters of liturgy on this blog, new appointments to the members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments further reveal how LGBTQ-positive statements and actions are not impediments for Pope Francis. Among the bishops added to the congregation are Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago, Mario Grech of Malta, Luis Antonio Tagle of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Kevin Farrell of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. Each of these have a generally pro-LGBTQ record, in particular Cardinal Grech.

In the Catholic Church, personnel is very much policy. Who Pope Francis does—and does not—appoint, and where people are appointed, speak greatly. Were these appointments made because these leaders have supported LGBTQ pastoral care or rights in various situations? That’s a hard claim to make. But, it is obvious that such support does not disqualify such leaders, as it had done in the past. Moreover, it does seem likely that their positive approaches  to LGBTQ people is at least one of the factors Pope Francis takes into account when naming church leaders who model the church he seeks. At the very least, we can rejoice that the decades of popes suppressing prelates who were the least bit LGBTQ-positive are now over.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, June 3, 2022

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