Catholic Church Continues its War on Gays

The Roman Catholic Church has been in the news quite a bit lately. At times, it seems like positive change is happening. We saw this recently when, under pressure, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago issued an apology for his comments comparing the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan. It was a small victory, and was prompted by a large outcry, but gave us a glimmer of hope that the Roman Catholic hierarchy may be slowly coming in line with the vast majority of Catholics who already support their LGBT friends and family.

Then, we saw a barrage of stories that brought us back down to earth, for now. Since there’s been extensive media coverage of Cardinal George in Chicago (and in Green Bay), the following is a roundup of other actions and statements from the Roman Catholic hierarchy that continues to alienate and demonize both LGBT people and fair-minded Catholics.


The American Independent has reported that Archbishop John C. Nienstedt has ordered his priests to either speak in support of the proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment, or to remain silent. If a priest opposes the constitutional amendment which would constitutionally ban marriage equality, the priest is forbidden from speaking his opinion publicly. Instead, that priest has been instructed to speak to Archbishop Nienstedt personally. The order for priests to remain silent was given in a speech last October. Presumably this was the same time that the Minnesota bishops organized teams of priests and married couples to canvas the state to support the amendment. A letter was sent to those who did not attend the speech. A copy of the speech was leaked to the Progressive Catholic Voice, which has now published the full text.


The Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, is launching an abstinence program for gay and lesbian Catholics. According to the Hartford Courant, the Archdiocese is establishing a chapter of the anti-gay so-called “support group” Courage“to support men and women who struggle with homosexual tendencies and to motivate them to live chaste and fruitful lives in accordance with Catholic Church teachings.” While not technically an “ex-gay” program, Courage encourages gay and lesbian people to live in chastity. The story has been picked up by CNN, giving it national attention.


The Bishop of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernández, used his Boxing Day sermon on December 26 to make the outlandish claim that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is participating in a conspiracy to make half of the world’s population gay within twenty years. The comments were picked up by el Pais.

New York & Maryland

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and former Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien who are known for their opposition to LGBT equality, have been elevated to the office of Cardinal. Dolan is particularly well-known for his vocal opposition to marriage for same-sex couples, most recently and vocally about the passage of marriage equality in New York State.

With so much Roman Catholic LGBT-related news lately, GLAAD reminds media outlets and our own constituency that the vast majority of Catholics are supportive of LGBT people, including marriage equality, despite opposition from Roman Catholic hierarchy. GLAAD wishes to amplify the voice of LGBT-affirming Catholics, including organizations such as DignityUSA, Equally Blessed, Fortunate Families, Catholics for Equality, and so many more national, statewide, and local affirming Catholic organizations. GLAAD continues to call on the media to lift up stories and voices of LGBT-affirming Catholics who will likely differ from the hierarchy on issues of LGBT equality.

Those of us who identify with the Christian faith will continue to pray for a change in the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s attitude toward LGBT people, for LGBT Roman Catholics, and for ourselves as we continue to work for justice, peace, and reconciliation for all God’s children.

Complete Article HERE!

Same-Sex Marriage Endangers Humanity, Says Pope

Pope Benedict XVI today unleashed some of his strongest antigay rhetoric yet, telling diplomats from about 180 countries that same-sex marriage threatens “the future of humanity itself.”

In some of his strongest antigay rhetoric yet, Pope Benedict XVI said today that same-sex marriage threatens “the future of humanity itself.”

The Catholic pontiff made the comment in his annual State of the World address to the diplomats from about 180 nations who are assigned to the Vatican, Reuters reports. He said the traditional family, “based on the marriage of a man and a woman,” is “not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”

Benedict has a long history of staunch opposition to gay rights, both before and since he became pope in 2005. Also, next month he will bestow the title of cardinal on New York City archbishop Timothy Dolan, who strenuously fought his state’s marriage equality law (which nonetheless passed last June) and in September sent a letter to President Obama criticizing his administration’s decision to no longer defend the antigay Defense of Marriage Act.

Complete Article HERE!

Archbishop orders priests to oppose or stay silent on gay-marriage

“There ought not be open dissension on this issue,” is the message the Catholic hierarchy is telling priests in Minnesota — “this issue” being same-sex marriage.

In a private speech to Minnesota’s priests last October, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt said that any priest who disagreed with the church’s efforts to place a constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples should remain silent. Any disagreements should be brought to him personally, he said. The Catholic Church in Minnesota has been a driving force for the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment since it passed onto the 2012 ballot last May.

Nienstedt later sent the text of that speech to priests who were unable to participate in the gathering. Someone in the church recently leaked the text to the Progressive Catholic Voice, a group working for reform within the church. On Thursday, PCV published statements condemning Nienstedt’s speech.

In the speech, Nienstedt told the priests he expects participation in getting the amendment passed from everyone within the church:

It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead. The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all — on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally.

Nienstedt also noted that he’s created teams of “a priest and a married couple” to go into Catholic schools to talk about the amendment.

In a public statement, various members of Progressive Catholic Voice said the Archbishop’s direction is unbelievable.

“When I first read this letter I couldn’t believe that the Archbishop was telling priests and deacons to be silent if they were opposed to the marriage amendment,” said Paula Ruddy, parishioner at Minneapolis’ St. Boniface. “Is one’s position on whether the State constitution should be amended a matter of Church doctrine? How are Catholics to form their consciences if their pastors are not candid with them?”

Ruddy is also a member of the editorial board of the Progressive Catholic Voice.

That group’s editor, Michael Bayly, called the speech problematic.

“The Archbishop’s letter is problematic in many ways,” he said. “As a gay man, I find it particularly offensive that he can’t even bring himself to name gay and lesbian people. We’re simply a ‘minority’ seemingly out to destroy the church and civilization. Such an absurd caricature would be funny if not for the hurtful and damaging consequences to individuals, couples and families resulting from the Archbishop’s anti-marriage equality activism.”

Minnesota’s Catholic hierarchy has come under intense scrutiny over its support for the anti-gay constitutional amendment.

In the run-up to the 2010 gubernatorial election, the church sent out approximately 400,000 DVDs and mailings urging Catholics to vote for Republican Tom Emmer, the only candidate in the race who opposed marriage equality for same-sex couples and a staunch Catholic.

The campaign, paid for by an anonymous donor and produced by the Knight of Columbus, sparked protests against the church.

More recently, the Archdiocese’s lobbying wing, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, has joined with the National Organization for Marriage and the Minnesota Family Council to form the Minnesota for Marriage Coalition, a group dedicated to passing the amendment in November.

Complete Article HERE!

New church group to assist gays draws criticism

A new program by the Archdiocese of Hartford to provide a spiritual support system to assist men and women with same-sex attractions to live chaste lives has drawn criticism from the gay community who say it can do more harm than good.

The new program called Courage, which has chapters around the world, does not condone physical sex between same-sex partners. But it creates a “spiritual support system which would assist men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love,” according to the Courage website.

“We really needed to do something because a lot of people are hurting, because families are torn apart by this, and we really need to be responsive,” said Deacon Robert Pallotti, who operates the Courage program in Connecticut.
“We do have a pastoral responsibility to do all we can to make people feel welcome in the church.”

Catholic pro-gay groups generally had a negative reaction to Courage.
“Courage does not want to convert you to become heterosexual, so in some ways, it’s a little more enlightened that the other programs that the Catholic Church has had for gays,” said Phil Attey, executive director of the national group, Catholics for Equality. “But at its core it’s still rooted in dangerous, harmful and barbaric thinking. The idea that you can suppress someone’s sexuality and still have that person develop into a happy, well-adjusted person, well, there’s very little evidence that that’s possible.”

Attey, however, said the church’s stance on gays isn’t pushing him out of his faith.

“Most non-Catholics don’t understand the Catholic experience, which is very much rooted in family and community,” Attey said. “It’s not unlike someone who is a Jew. He might not attend his synagogue, but that doesn’t make him any less Jewish. We will always be Catholic, regardless of what comes out of our hierarchy.”

Attey said that most rank-and-file Catholics, in fact, support the gay community, and because of this, gays feel comfortable in the church.
“American Catholics are the most supportive faith group in the country on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues. That may come as some as a surprise to a lot of people, given the harsh statements from the hierarchy, but if you look at the people and the `body church,’ it’s the most pro-gay church in the country.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke of the Dignity USA agrees. Dignity USA is the nation’s largest advocacy group for LGBT Catholics.

“You really have to differentiate between Catholics and the church hierarchy,” she said. “Even the Catholics who go to church every single week are more supportive toward gays than the population as a whole.”

She said that this might spring from the Church’s demands for the humane treatment of a host of other groups that have often go neglected and even hated — prisoners, the sick, the poor, men on death row, and so forth.

“Catholics are more supportive of gays than any other denomination according to the Public Region Research Group, and that surprises a lot of people,” she said.
As for the future, Attey said he doesn’t expect the Vatican to change its posture on gays anytime soon.

“We don’t expect any dogmatic change on LGBT issues anytime soon, but what we do expect is that more and more Catholics will be speaking out on their own on LGBT rights,” Attey said.

“This is a place where the leaders have to catch up with the truth that Catholics are living out every single day in their families and in the workplace,” said Duddy-Burke.

Pallotti said not all of the hierarchy in the archdiocese was on board with Courage from the outset.

“Many of them were fine with this, but we wanted to educate those deacons who had a reluctance to get involved or had some resistance, and many were dealing with their own personal feelings on this,” Pallotti said.
He said that Courage is sanctioned by the Vatican as the “only approved approach.”

The Rev. Paul Check of St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk, who runs the Courage meetings, explained that Courage “addresses homosexuality as a lived reality in the lives of individual people.”

Check said that “there’s no doubt” of the difficulty of the church’s teaching on homosexuality.

“But we have a way for people to live this teaching, and that’s where Courage comes in,” Check said. “Really, as a matter of natural justice and pastoral charity, we have to have a way for people to live that teaching. It’s difficult and challenging, but it helps people with this particular struggle.”

The roots of the Connecticut Courage chapter grew in the gay marriage debate in the state, Pallotti said.

“I was very fearful of the emotional backlash that was I was witnessing in Connecticut during the gay marriage debate,” Pallotti said. “So I went to the archbishop and I said, `OK, yeah, this is our position (to oppose gay marriage), but I’m concerned about people who are whipping up hate against gays as if they have the Plague or something — and some Christian churches were doing that. We had to confront this head-on.”

The Connecticut Courage chapter will meet twice a month “somewhere in Greater Hartford,” he said, and the exact location will be disclosed only to those who plan to participate. If there’s sufficient interest, other chapters might be set up in the state.

Complete Article HERE!