Madison Diocese’s Funeral Guideline Hurts Both LGBT People and the Church
Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry
October 23, 2017
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Pastoral guidelines from the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, suggest denying normal funeral rites to lesbian and gay people who have chosen to marry or who have been in a committed same-gender relationship. These suggestions are blatantly discriminatory and seemed designed more to push peopleaway from the church than to receive them in a loving embrace at one of their most sensitive times of need.
While the church leaders of the Madison diocese may think that they are preserving the Church, they are, in fact, harming it by so callously refusing to provide any sort of solace to Catholic families who are grieving. What do these leaders think about how people, gay and straight, will respond to such a gesture? Clearly, many will find comfort and solace in other places of faith. Even if not enacted, this decision’s announcement alone will already cause people to flee.
Pastoral guidelines like this are directly opposed to the example that Pope Francis has been giving about welcoming all sorts of people to the church, even people with whom pastoral leaders disagree. Funerals are times that families will remember for a long time. If they are turned away at that point, it is very likely they will never return.
For the sake of the Catholic Church and for LGBT Catholics and their families, the Diocese of Madison should rescind this decision immediately and offer a public apology.