Yesterday, the Bondings 2.0 post opined about how much has changed in the church on LGBTQ+ issues since the resignation of Benedict XVI almost ten years ago. As further evidence of the change, it is interesting to note that The National Catholic Reporter’s (NCR) list of their most popular news stories of 2022 included three stories focused on LGBTQ+ issues in the Church.
The newspaper’s top ten list is based on the number of views that each story received, so it is not necessarily a ranking of the most significant stories of the year. Still, the popularity of stories connected with LGBTQ+ issues indicates the great interest that NCR readers have in these topics, and so indicating their importance in the life of the contemporary church.
In the list’s second place is the story that Pope Francis unscripted remarks at a weekly general audience in which he advised parents of lesbian and gay people not to condemn their children. The NCR story reported:
” ‘Never condemn your children,’ said Francis, who said that parents should accompany such children and ‘not hide behind an attitude of condemnation.’ “
NCR’s list also reported that their TikTok about this news event was their most popular TikTok of all time, gathering nearly 850,000 views.
Bondings 2.0‘s reporting of this news can be found here and includes further details from the pope’s message and previous support of parents with LGBTQ+ people.
Following close behind in the number three position on the list is the news report about the elevation of San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy to the College of Cardinals. McElroy has been one of the most LGBTQ+ supportive members of the U.S. hierarchy, and the NCR list highlighted that fact. The original report of McElroy’s appointment also mentioned this detail:
“He has been among the most vocal champions of Pope Francis’ pastoral agenda among the U.S. hierarchy, frequently echoing the pope’s prioritization of environmental concerns, migration and a more welcoming approach to LGBTQ persons.”
New Ways Ministry’s statement welcoming McElroy’s appointment can be found here. For all of Bondings 2.0’s posts about Cardinal McElroy, click here.
In the sixth position on NCR’s list was an article about the statement by Luxembourg’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, who also heads the pan-European Catholic bishops’ conference, calling for a change in the church’s teaching on homosexuality. The news account reported:
“I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct,” Hollerich said. The cardinal said it was time for a fundamental revision of church teaching, and suggested the way Pope Francis had spoken about homosexuality in the past could lead to a change in doctrine. . . .
“It was important for the church to remain human, Hollerich said. He added that he knew of homosexual priests and laypeople in the archdiocese of Luxembourg. ‘” ‘And they know that they have a home in the church,’ said the cardinal. ‘With us, no one is dismissed because they are homosexual, with us no one has ever been dismissed because of that.’ “
Hollerich’s comments were made in support of a public statement of identity by 125 LGBTQ+ church workers in Germany, called “#OutInChurch.” The statement by these church workers was chosen by a Bondings 2.0 readers’ poll as one ot the top ten best Catholic LGBTQ+ news stories of 2022. For all Bondings 2.0 posts on #OutInChurch, click here.
It must be noted that later in the year Hollerich somewhat modified his supportive comments by de-emphasizing a change in doctrine while still maintaining his support of a process of dialogue in the church on LGBTQ+ issues. Moreover, he also made headlines later in the year when he called for an end to discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
For Bondings 2.0’s post on Cardinal Hollerich’s original statement supporting revising church teaching on homosexuality, click here.
A fourth story on NCR’s list is indirectly related to LGBTQ+ issues. In the fourth position on the list was an account of Dublin’s Archbishop Dermot Farrell’s comments that “Radical change is coming in the church,” as he called for new forms of church outreach ministry. The NCR report mentioned that the archbishop’s call for new ministry was inspired by Pope Francis, stating:
“Pope Francis is offering us a way of being church, the synodal pathway, of walking together more closely and being a church that is hope-filled, despite many challenges.”
Although LGBTQ+ issues were not specifically mentioned in this article, it should be noted that in September 2021, just f0ur months previous to the NCR story, when speaking on the same topic of new forms of outreach ministry, the archbishop stated:
“There has to be an outreach to the LGBT community and that certainly is changing in the church. . . .
“There is an outreach to people of the LGBT community who want to be involved in church life and that’s a welcome change, it wasn’t in the past a welcoming place so we do need to do that.”
LGBTQ+ issues are certainly front and center of the church’s agenda, making news and headlines daily. Interesting to note is that of the four stories cited above, only one of them is from the U.S., indicating that LGBTQ+ issues are certainly of concern to the global church–or, more precisely, to the Western church.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, January 3, 2022