Catholic LGBT Ministry Responds to McAleese Calling Church Teaching ‘Evil’

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

June 29 ,2018

MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland In an interview on the eve of Dublin’s LGBT Pride Parade, the former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has called Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality “evil.” McAleese, who is also the mother of a gay son, said:

“My church’s teaching on homosexuality is, in my view, evil. It educes to homophobia; homophobia is evil. It ruins people’s lives. It has ruined families’ lives. It has caused people to commit suicide. It has caused people to live in dark shadows.”

The former Irish president, who holds an advanced theological degree from the Gregorian University in Rome, has often been frank and candid on the hierarchy’s positions on women and LGBT issues.  These latest comments reflect the thought of many Catholics around the world, especially LGBT Catholics and their loved ones, who have been so wounded for so long by harmful language and ideas from the Vatican, local bishops, and clergy.

While her language may sound harsh, it reflects the direction of even many bishops who have recently spoken out about the need to discuss new approaches to LGBT issues.  She has put into clear and powerful detail how much harm the church’s teaching has caused.  Mary McAleese speaks with the fury of a mother whose love for her offspring, which mirrors God’s love for all people, will not be silenced.

Catholic advocates for LGBT people have for decades been delivering the same message that McAleese offered, yet we have not heard such strong language from so prominent a Catholic before.  Perhaps no one has said it as boldly as she has.  The strength of her language comes not only from her thoughts, but also from the passion and urgency with which she speaks.  Her words sting because for too many decades, church leaders have ignored the calls from the faithful for greater LGBT acceptance.  Her words are piercing because the hierarchy which has not paid attention to the pain of LGBT people. Additionally, we must remember that members of the hierarchy are responsible for heightening the rhetoric of LGBT discussions into even greater feverish and negative language.

While her message is powerful, and needed to be said, it is truly depressing that the Catholic LGBT discussion has become a shouting match.  Such shouting, though, is necessary to attract attention to the terrible tragedies caused by magisterial ignorance and apathy.

This statement should be a signal of the urgency for greater discussion of LGBT issues in Catholicism, and also of the need for changes in both doctrine and pastoral practice.

The hierarchy could start by offering a greater welcome to LGBT people and families at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August, including allowing them to speak officially at the event.  Church leaders should also invite LGBT youth to speak at the Youth Synod at the Vatican in October.