Pride backlash targets Catholics who are trying to be more like Jesus

Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown faced a small protest during its third-annual Pride Mass.


Inside the church on this June evening in Georgetown, Joseph Chee finally felt welcome.

“Let us build a house where love can dwell. And all can safely live,” he sang, alongside dozens of parishioners gathered to celebrate Christ’s love during Pride month.

Chee, who went to Catholic school, who studied Carmelite theology, who belonged to conservative political groups and who knew for a good part of his 30 years that he was gay, had spent years searching for his place in the world and in a church that didn’t seem to want him.

“I felt very alienated from all the communities that I had,” he said. “I felt deeply convinced that I wasn’t supposed to leave the church, you know? But I was like, ‘Where is my place?’”

But under the leadership of Pope Francis, who last year publicly rejected judgment of gay people, Chee sensed an opening.

Joseph Chee, 30, found a home at Holy Trinity Catholic Church after years of feeling out of place as a gay, Catholic man.

Outside, a small band of protesters, upset that Holy Trinity Catholic Church dared hold a Pride Mass, had gathered to remind him of all he had overcome.

Waving red, crusader-style banners emblazoned with a golden lion and wearing lion brooches and sashes of the same, lipstick red, protesters proclaimed that the worshipers and every rainbow flag flying in America this month were unwelcome and part of a “battle against the powers of hell.”

“A coup occurred virtually overnight, with no guns fired, no bombs dropped, no biological warfare unleashed, even within the most conservative and political and military circles,” Doug Mainwaring, who once lived openly as a gay man and championed same-sex relationships, said into a speaker aimed at the attendees, who were protected by a police patrol. “The speed of the capitulation has been stunning.”

What’s really stunning is this virulent and strident backlash against Pride celebrations across the nation this month, where a small, vocal and cunningly strategic group is orchestrating a summer of hate. Haters have shut down similar church services in Pennsylvania and Michigan and orchestrated boycotts of Bud Light, Pride-themed Target products and even the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Conservative groups were emboldened by a June 1 tweet from the U.S. Conference of Bishops that they took as a call to action against pride celebrations in June: “Join us in honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus this June, a time to deepen our devotion to His endless love and mercy. Let us open our hearts to receive His grace and share His message of hope with the world.”

The church’s relationship with the LGBTQ community is complex, but Pope Francis at a news conference last year said that gay people “should not be marginalized because of this, but that they must be integrated into society.”

Pope Francis releases a dove as a symbol of peace at a Catholic Church in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Sept. 30, 2016. The pope said last year that gay people “must be integrated into society.”

D.C. is home to a parish where Chee and dozens of folks like him have found their place, where an LGBTQIA+ ministry has thrived and reconnected Washington lawyers, doctors, students, congressional staff members with the church of their childhood, the church many of them felt had rejected them.

The ministry was founded thanks to “a commitment by the Jesuit order to make sure that the spiritual needs of all marginalized community are being met,” said Ernie Raskauskas, 71, who has been a Holy Trinity parishioner for decades.

He went to Gonzaga College High School, Holy Cross College, Catholic University. He’s got the Catholic bona fides. In Georgetown, he finally found a place to be Catholic and gay after the Jesuits “decided that the LGBTQIA communities were very marginalized, that our spiritual needs weren’t being met, and that they were going to make a special effort on this.”

The parishioners are all deeply Catholic and found a place at Holy Trinity — and nearly everyone I spoke with said this explicitly — where they can be fully themselves.

“It may be difficult to be queer in Catholic spaces,” said Cerissa Cafasso, 40. “But it can also be a challenge to be Catholic in progressive spaces.”

She’s a lawyer and bisexual and never gave up on practicing Catholicism, but wasn’t totally comfortable until she came to Holy Trinity. “I can be myself, my full person, with no throat clearing.”

During the Mass, the faint sound of drums and bagpipes could be heard coming in from outside between the hymn’s verses.

The protesters were with an ultraconservative group based in Pennsylvania called America Needs Fatima. They organize Rosary Rallies around events that frighten them, like Pride parades and church services that openly embrace marginalized communities.

Doug Mainwaring speaks outside Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, protesting their third-annual Pride Mass.

Less than two dozen of them did all this on Wednesday, trying to disrupt the third-annual Pride Mass at President Biden’s church, something they ignored the past two years (which coincidently wasn’t close to an election).

They achieved little, beyond surprising the neighbors.

“Seriously? That’s so sad,” said a 19-year-old Georgetown University student who was shocked to see the protest on her street. “And it’s weird this is happening today.”

Really weird. Especially right after Pride Fest on Sunday where sponsorship tables included Washington Gas, Wegmans, the U.S. Census, Lockheed-Martin and the CIA, among others. These entities — and hundreds more — recognize that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex or asexual is normal, boring even.

The backlash is fueled by folks who had little to say about Pride a year ago, but are now reacting to grievances and fears being broadcast by conservatives, by an unprecedented raft of anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeping statehouses. It’s so profound, the Human Rights Campaign issued its first-ever “state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans.”

“It’s ridiculous,” said a gay man who traveled about five hours to walk up those steps of Holy Trinity, to sit in a pew and to — finally — exhale.

He’s in his 30s, lives in a conservative town in Pennsylvania, works at very conservative organization and is only out to his family. He asked me several times to preserve his anonymity in our interview.

Deeply Catholic, he kept trying to go to church, knowing what he knows about himself, about what those in the pews next to him think of him. “I wouldn’t feel welcome,” he said.

Ever since he accidentally found Holy Trinity’s online Mass during the pandemic (he said his mouse bumped a tab and opened the link, he called it a “God sighting”) he’s been attending their services, online, then in person, making that drive. Five hours each way, as often as he can.

His mom came with him on Wednesday, and they knelt together.

Complete Article HERE!

LGBTQ Catholics dream of a changed church, while seeing reasons to hope


As a child in inner-city Milwaukee, Father Bryan Massingale’s grandmother gave him a leather-bound copy of The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, along with a dream that he might need it someday.

“My grandmother was not delusional. She did not live in denial of reality,” said Massingale, a Jesuit priest who holds an endowed chair in ethics at Fordham University, in New York City. “Her gift was a vision, an act of hope. It was a dream, a hope, a reminder that the neighborhood, with its drugs, violence and rodent-infested corner store with overpriced goods, did not define or limit who I could be.”

That’s important to know, he declared, since he was speaking as “a Black, gay priest and theologian” at Fordham’s recent Ignatian Q Conference for LGBTQ students from Jesuit campuses. This event was a “space for our dreaming, for queer dreams” of hope for “despised and disdained and stigmatized peoples,” he added.

“I dream of a church where gay priests and lesbian sisters are acknowledged as the holy and faithful leaders they already are,” he said, in a published version of his address. “I dream of a church where LGBTQ employees and schoolteachers can teach our children, serve God’s people and have their vocations, sexuality and committed loves affirmed. …

“I dream of a church that enthusiastically celebrates same-sex loves as incarnations of God’s love among us.”

Theological visions of this kind inspire hope for some Catholics and concern for others.

Thus, the North American phase of the Vatican’s global Synod on Synodality found “strong tensions within the Church,” while participants in the virtual assemblies also “felt hope and encouragement and a desire for the synodal process to continue,” according to the 36-page report (.pdf here) released on April 12 by U.S. and Canadian Catholic leaders.

Catholics are “called to act co-responsibly in a synodal fashion, not to wait until we know how to do everything perfectly, but to walk together as imperfect people,” said one group, in its summary of the process. Another group added: “When Church structures and practices are dynamic and able to move with the Holy Spirit, everyone is able to ‘use their gifts in service of the Church and of each other.'”

Calling for “greater inclusivity and welcome” within the church, the final report said this was especially true with “women, young people, immigrants, racial or linguistic minorities, LGBTQ+ persons” and “people who are divorced and remarried without an annulment.”

But the report also warned about the “danger of false or unrealistic expectations regarding what the synodal process is meant to be and to ‘produce,’ since people living in “North American culture” tend to focus on “measurable results and … winners and losers.” Some participants, for example, questioned calls for “radical inclusion,” while asking about the “pastoral and even doctrinal implications” of that term.

The explosive nature of these debates jumped into the news weeks later when the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York hosted, next to a side altar, a “God is Trans” exhibit.

In his written explanation of his art, Adah Unachukwu said this display “maps the queer spiritual journey” through “Sacrifice, Identity and Communion.” There is, he added, “no devil; just past selves” and “Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane.”

After seeing headlines, Archdiocese of New York officials promised to investigate the exhibit at the Paulist Fathers parish. The congregation also offers, on its website, an “Out at St. Paul” ministry to the “Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer community.”

Media reports early this week noted that parish leaders changed the name of this art exhibit, but that it remained in place.

Massingale delivered his Fordham address before that controversy. However, he did stress that Catholics must dare to share dreams of change – even those with “an inherently subversive quality” – while seeking a “new and more just social order.”

Referring to the “wedding banquet at Cana,” when Jesus turned water into wine, the Jesuit theologian called for a changed church in which “people of all races, genders and sexualities rejoice at the presence of love” and a world in which “spiritual wounds will be healed, where faith-based violence will be no more, where fear and intolerance are relics of history.”

Complete Article HERE!

Church’s ‘God Is Trans’ Display Sparks Controversy

— ‘The Church Should Not Be Promoting This’

By Michael Foust

A church in New York City has divided members and ignited a social media debate after hosting an art display claiming “God is trans.”

The “God is Trans: A Queer Spiritual Journey” display at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, a Catholic congregation, includes artwork that maps the “queer spiritual journey,” according to a description of the artwork at the church. The New York Post first reported on the controversy.

“The church should not be promoting this,” one member told The New York Post. “I understand there are transgender people. I pray for all people, but enough is enough.

“It seems like they are trying to force the agenda on others,” the member said. “Also, when a friend asked a priest about this, they didn’t answer. You can’t put this out on the altar and then hide.

“That’s what gets the church in trouble.”

The pro-transgenderism display by artist Adah Unachukwu conflicts with the teachings of the Vatican. Pope Francis this year called gender ideology “dangerous” and said it blurred “differences and the value of men and women.” In 2019, the Vatican released a document saying it’s a “fact” that “a person’s sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity.”

The description of the artwork said it focused on three points: Sacrifice, Identity and Community.

“The painting Sacrifice and its complementary act in the film speak to the need to shed an old life and personhood in order to be able to focus on your spiritual need,” the description said. “There is no devil: just past selves. Identity is the most impactful part of the exhibition. What does holiness look like? What does your god look like? Are these two portrayals that can be merged? Finally, Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane to speak to one another. This part of the installation is about a spiritual home and the ways we can achieve this home in our everyday lives.”

Some church members supported the display.

“I don’t understand the art, but this church is very liberal, which is why I love this church,” Cherri Ghosh, 80, told The Post. “They are really in the present when others are not.”

Complete Article HERE!

Father Bob’s blunt response to clergy on same-sex marriage

— Tributes are flowing for high-profile Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire, who has died at age 88.

Father Bob Maguire


Father Bob is being remembered for his charity work and social justice campaigning, helping the poor, homeless and marginalised and minority communities in Melbourne, including LGBTQIA+ people.

The “maverick” priest was a high-profile media personality, known for speaking his mind and frequently called out church leaders.

In 2017, Father Bob Maguire gave a blunt instruction to fellow clergy during the same-sex marriage postal survey.

After a Catholic Archbishop cited society’s ban on incestuous marriages to argue why same-sex couples couldn’t wed, he urged fellow clergy to “shut their mouths” during the campaign.

Speaking to The New Daily, Father Bob declared “clergy are the worst politicians” and urged the church to show compassion.

“When it comes to these issues I think we should shut our mouths,” he said.

“A big number of people [would] want to hear a strong line. But it would be better if the church and other religions were involved in pastoral care with their communities rather than in politics.”

He added that he had no problem with same-sex marriage becoming secular law and said the issue was one for the “secular world”.

Years earlier, Father Bob Maguire made headlines in 2011, telling the Herald Sun he was open to blessing same-sex civil union ceremonies, albeit outside the church.

He said he didn’t have a personal view. But he said he considered it his duty to help anyone in need, including gay couples.

“Not only do I have an administrative responsibility but I have also pastoral responsibility,” he explained.

“And pastoral care would be taking care of the two people involved and their friends and their associates.”

Father Bob lashed out at Cardinal George Pell

But at that time, Father Bob Maguire accused Catholic Cardinal George Pell of punishing him for being “open to all”.

He described his ejection from South Melbourne’s parish as a “dishonourable discharge”.

“George Pell has declared those of us Vatican II-ists to be Cafeteria Catholics. Whereas he and his lot are authentic Catholics,” Fr Maguire told AAP.

“We live in the real world, we’re open to all, we’re not exclusive, not easily offended, we’re sacrificial.

“We put ourselves at the service of all kinds of people whether they’re church-going or not.”

Father Bob ‘stood up for LGBTIQA+ equality when few others would’

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led tributes to Father Bob Maguire, describing him as a “great Australian”.

“An irrepressibly cheerful champion for all those battling disadvantage, he dedicated his life to brightening the lives of those most in need,” the PM said.

Rodney Croome, from Just.Equal Australia and ex-Australian Marriage Equality campaign director, said Father Bob was a staunch supporter of LGBTQIA+ Australians.

“Fr Bob Maguire was a brave and tireless advocate for LGBTIQA+ equality. He will be greatly missed,” Croome said.

“He stood up for the recognition of same-sex relationships and against anti-gay and anti-trans prejudice when few other public leaders were willing to do the same.”

Rodney added, “At a personal level I found my conversations with Fr Bob a source of great inspiration that kept me going during tough times.”

“Fr Bob was always true to his Christian values of love and inclusion, regardless of the fears and prejudices of others.”

Complete Article HERE!

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Capitol Hill: Faith in inclusion

— Faith in inclusion

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

‘Members strive to create a tolerant and open world’


St. Mark’s Episcopal Church ( is the Episcopal Church closest to the United States Capitol building. In the last decade, it is perhaps best known for hosting the annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence, the most recent of which President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on Dec. 7.

The church is less well known as a “straight” faith community that has provided a home for LGBTQ people since the late 1980s, when “faith community” often meant “homophobia.”  LGBTQ people have always been a minority of members, but have never felt like a minority because being queer is just like being a lawyer: an interesting fact that does not define us. Perhaps the defining characteristic of St. Mark’s is that we live our faith by telling and listening to our stories. Here following are several that illustrate that point.

For example, Keith Krueger started coming to St. Mark’s in the mid-1980s and found a welcoming, mostly straight community. “During the start of the AIDS crisis, St. Mark’s immediately stepped up to support the Episcopal Caring Response to AIDS (ECRA), and the community particularly supported my late partner in me during difficult times…. I stay because it is a community that values questioning and living together as we journey through life. The best part of St. Mark’s are its members who strive to create a tolerant and open world,” Krueger said.

John Lineberger, a long-standing member who recently died, took adult confirmation in 1989 where everyone was invited to be “authentic,” and share their story. He asked the clergy how welcome gays were at the church and told they had held every office of authority, but gay issues were “not talked about.” So, he asked if that meant “you have a place here, but don’t make trouble.”

That question sparked a loud, overheard discussion between the Rector and Associate Rector, and he was then told, “You are absolutely invited to be honest about your life here with us without exception. There is no disconnect between being a member of St. Mark’s and being gay.” John was relieved, and felt like he had been overhearing his parents having an argument. “I liked the people of St. Marks and didn’t want to have to go back to church shopping. I had found home. Maybe it was messy, but it was home,” Lineberger wrote.

Rob Hall’s first Sunday was in 1988 on the 100th anniversary of the church on the invitation of a straight work friend. He was closeted then because he came from a southern tradition and was involved in Democratic politics. He found that “St. Mark’s was the perfect place for me to find my path as a progressive Christian and to help guide me spiritually as I came out while serving on the Vestry (the Church’s governing board) “with the help of great friends, compassionate clergy, and a good therapist.”

One of the clearest signs of queer acceptance came in 1997. Jim Adams had retired and we were in the search/discernment period for our next rector. Interestingly, our Priest-in-Charge during the search was Jim Steen, an openly gay man. The race for Senior Warden (lay leader of the Vestry and Parish) was probably the most consequential election in parish history. One candidate was a pillar of the community and former senior warden who advocated for continuity, including possibly installing as Rector the most recent Associate Rector Susan Gresinger (who had recently departed so she could be considered). Rob was the other and told the community that he favored an open process and wanted to see the work of the search committee. The questions parishioners asked him showed that they realized he represented change. Rob remembers that, “My sexuality was brought up in every single conversation. . . . I would be St. Mark’s first gay senior warden serving with a gay interim priest. Would the community think we were becoming a gay church? Would I take the parish in another direction before a new rector could be installed? At 36, was I too young to take the helm of the parish?”

Rob won and led us through a period of change, including calling an African-American rector, Paul Abernathy, who would serve for the next 17 years (and sometimes included in his sermons that his gay brother had died of AIDS). In 1999, the parish, after a series of meetings, also decided to embrace same-sex unions. At the final meeting, about 80 of us were grouped in tables who talked and then reported to the rest of meeting. What was amazing was that virtually every comment was positive. One parishioner quipped during one of those meetings that “We already decided this issue when we elected Rob.”

Lesbian Belle Elizabeth McCain came to St. Mark’s in 1989. She came at Rob Hall’s invitation and, though she identified as straight, she was naturally welcomed by the gay men in the choir. “We were preparing to go on a tour in England and I came out at the choir retreat. Actually, somebody sort of outed me by saying ‘We hear there is a lesbian soprano.’” She says she has always felt accepted as a lesbian at St. Mark’s. “Jim Adams defended me to my homophobic and fundamentalist brother” telling my brother that “I was a respected member of the church and that I was accepted as a lesbian.”

Years ago, she recalls, LGBTQ members formed the Lavender Lions (now the Lambda Lions). The group continues to meet on a sporadic basis. The parish now has several gay couples who are parenting children, at least two couples engaged and planning weddings.

As for me, I came — and came out —- much later. I was a married “straight” man when my then-wife and I came to St. Mark’s. After a horrible divorce, I finally figured out I am gay in 2001. I don’t really think about being gay at St. Mark’s because there are so many of us in so many roles, including our Rector, Michele Morgan, a married lesbian, and our Seminarian, Joel Martinez, a married gay man. I’m now the church’s treasurer, continuing the tradition of LGBTQ people in church leadership roles.

Complete Article HERE!