Denver Catholics Condemn Damage Done by Archdiocese’s LGBTQ-Negative Policies

Colorado Catholics are speaking out about the damage that the Archdiocese of Denver’s LGBTQ-negative policies and practices are producing. The criticism comes after an archdiocesan gender policy became public this week, which bans transgender students from Catholic schools and place other limitations on LGBTQ+ people.

Yesterday, Bondings 2.0 reported on the archdiocese’s gender policy for Catholic schools that The Denver Post made public. The policy has been in effect for several years. It is among the most comprehensive and harshest diocesan gender policies known to date, placing restrictions not only on LGBTQ+ students, but also on their families, teachers, and allies.

Parents of LGBTQ+ children are leading criticism against the archdiocese, as such parents so often have, even when their children decide they can no longer be Catholic. Molly Hultzapple has a gay son, Johnny, who made headlines in 2019 after publicly coming out and decrying Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s support for conversion therapy. The Denver Post reported:

“Molly Hultzapple remembers her son’s exact words the day he came out to her.

“‘I’m gay, and I’m no longer Catholic,’ she recalled Johnny saying.

“The end of his sentence devastated her. Molly Hultzapple’s faith had served her so well, and she didn’t want her son to believe the God he had grown up worshipping was abandoning him because of who he loved.

“‘You’re banging your head against the wall because even if one priest is kind, that’s not the message coming from our archdiocese,’ Molly Hultzapple said.”

This experience led Molly Hultzapple to become an outspoken Catholic ally, even while she acknowledged her children will not be returning. She commented:

“‘I never believed the Catholic Church’s stance on gay people, but here’s what I didn’t do right that I know now. I should have been more vocal about it. It shouldn’t take for your own kid telling you he’s gay for you to speak up.

“‘I know I’m not going to change the church, but I want to plant a seed. I want them to know beyond the shadow of a doubt, there’s an LGBTQ kid sitting there listening to what you’re saying. Think about what you’re doing to them. Maybe one of them will just hesitate the next time before they start spewing hate.'”

Tricia Williams is another Catholic parent with a queer child who has been an advocate for inclusion in the church. She participated in the archdiocese’s synodal process, raising the story of her queer child, Gaia Williams, in a small group conversation and the need for greater welcome. The Denver Post reported:

“They won’t bless my daughter’s marriage, but they’ll bless my pet,’ Tricia Williams said. ‘It’s not seeing her as a complete person.’

“When Tricia Williams receives Holy Communion, she absorbs a bit of the divine, she said.

“‘Then it’s my job to be Jesus’s hands and feet in this world,’ Tricia Williams said. ‘And I am using my divine power to speak up from the inside as someone who both cannot wait to be a grandmother to my daughter’s children one day and as a practicing Catholic.'”

Gaia Williams has remained Catholic despite the church being the most difficult part of her coming out, which Williams attributed to the archdiocese specifically:

“‘I know that church communities can be beautiful and religion, itself, isn’t necessarily the problem,’ Gaia Williams said. ‘It’s the utter disappointment with the archdiocese. When I was a kid, that made coming out that much more scary. . .I am Catholic, and I’m going to keep being Catholic the way I want to be Catholic.'”

Sally Odenheimer is another Catholic critical of the archdiocese. Her children attended Catholic schools, but eventually Archbishop Aquila and the archdiocese caused her to leave the church for a time. She has since returned:

“‘I felt if I was staying in the church, that meant I was supporting their ideology, but in order for things to change, I have to be involved. . .People are leaving in droves. I came back because they are not going to win. There are more of us who do not agree with them, and we will not let them do this.'”

Secular LGBTQ+ advocates are also condemning the archdiocese’s gender policy. Out Boulder County issued a press release and a video saying the organization was “deeply troubled” and the policy posed a “danger” in mandating discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth. Michal Duffy, the group’s director of education and research, commented:

“‘This guidance is out of step with the love cultivated in many LGBTQ+ Catholic families. I hope those families know that there are affirming faith communities where they will be fully accepted and celebrated. This hateful guidance reflects on the Archbishop, not on the value or values of the many Catholics who are LGBTQ+ or LGBTQ+ affirming.'”

Nadine Bridges, executive director of One Colorado, identified the policy as discrimination, adding, “I wish that the members of the Archdiocese would actually sit down with the community and have a really honest and authentic conversation on being inclusive.”

New Ways Ministry encourages Catholics to respectfully contact Archbishop Aquila about the harm being caused by the gender policy for schools, as well as other LGBTQ-negative actions from him and archdiocesan officials. Emails can be sent to his secretary, Fr. Thomas Scherer, at vice.chancellor@archden.org. You may also call 303-715-3263 for the archbishop’s office or use the contact form here.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, November 14, 2022

3 replies
  1. DON E SIEGAL
    DON E SIEGAL says:

    “New Ways Ministry encourages Catholics to respectfully contact Archbishop Aquila about the harm being caused by the gender policy for schools, as well as other LGBTQ-negative actions from him and archdiocesan officials.”

    How does one do that when one knows that the Archbishop has absolutely no respect for the person offering the polite constructive criticism? I’m not there yet. The best I’m able to do is to pray that the Holy Spirit would in the words of the prophet Ezekiel from the VII reading of the Easter Vigil:

    “I will sprinkle clean water upon you…A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:25a, 26. (NRSV Catholic Edition)

    Reply
  2. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    While I applaud these parents, their good intentions will be ignored . Too many Catholics will blindly support the Diocese or shrug off the concerns of these vocal parents. In labor disputes of the past, workers unionized. That same concept could have applications here.
    A month of withholding financial support might make a bishop pay attention. Conversely, it just might make their righteousness more strident. This was never the message of Jesus. He ate with so called ‘sinners’ and was scorned by the High Priests. Some things never change

    Reply
  3. Greg Carnevale
    Greg Carnevale says:

    The only thing ignorant bishops will understand is a boycott. A boycott of weekly contributions If they lock their wallets, the bishops will be brought to heel (to “heal ?”). The only Gospel they understand is $$$$$$!!!

    Reply

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