In 2023, Pope Francis said many positive things about LGBTQ+ people. Perhaps more important than his spoken words, however, are the gestures he performed. To name just a few: he met with Sister Jeannine Gramick and New Ways Ministry leaders for a 50-minute conversation, he appointed a number of pro-LGBTQ+ delegates to the Synod assembly last October, he greeted leaders of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in St. Peter’s Square, and he sent congratulatory messages to two Catholic LGBTQ+ organizations on the occasions of their 50th anniversaries.
One more gesture is quite notable. In November, he hosted a World Day of the Poor luncheon at the Vatican for 1,200 people. Among those invited were a group of transgender women from Naples, some of whom sat near Pope Francis at the event, the theme of which was from the prophet Tobit: “Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor.“
Catholics who support LGBTQ+ people are always excited when Pope Francis says something positive. Yet, how often do we follow his example of outreach and support?
New Ways Ministry invites our supporters and blog readers to consider following Pope Francis’ example closely by organizing a public event at your parish, Catholic school, religious congregation, prayer group, or other church-affiliated community to promote encountering with transgender and nonbinary people, as well as becoming educated about their lives and journeys.
The event can be something informal, such as an afternoon social or an evening meet-and-greet. Or it could be a more formal listening session, where members of the transgender community are invited to share their stories. Perhaps the event will be a fundraiser to support a local non-profit organization which aids transgender people. Whatever the activity, be sure to invite transgender and nonbinary people to be a part of it.
The idea behind this invitation to parishes and faith communities is to do something that enhances welcome for the transgender and nonbinary people in our midst and that creates an opportunity for cisgender Catholics and trans people to grow in dialogue. To help you brainstorm and plan such an event, consider referring to New Ways Ministry’s web pages on gender identity, parish ministry, and Catholic education.
When your parish or community hosts such an event, please take a few moments to write up a short paragraph about what took place. If you have pictures with people who are comfortable being public, please send them along, too.You can send these materials to [email protected]. In the future, we may post them here on Bondings 2.0 as a way to encourage other parishes and faith communities to do the same.
If you or your community have been energized by Pope Francis’ welcome of LGBTQ+ people, please consider following his luncheon example by organizing your own welcoming event. Such an event not only builds relationships, it is a sign for fellow Catholics and the trans and nonbinary community alike that we desire a Catholic Church where truly “All Are Welcome.”
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, February 6, 2024