The End of Church Militant

By Hank Kennedy

We fighters for LGBTQ rights have to take our victories where we can get them. As state governments continue to try to take our rights away, as right-wing bigots fulminate about eliminating us from public life, as we reel in horror from the death of Nex Benedict, it’s nice to get some good news. What kind of good news? How about an anti-LGBT hate group shutting down?

In April, the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBT hate group Church Militant is closing its doors and shutting down its website. The group had its headquarters on Hilton Street, incongruously in Detroit’s premiere Gayborhood of Ferndale. The brainchild behind Church Militant was former broadcaster Michael Voris. Voris was incensed by what he viewed as inaccuracies about Catholicism presented in the book and film the DaVinci Code. He sought to clear up misconceptions about Catholicism through the website, later renamed Church Militant.

It appears that clearing up misconceptions about Catholicism was really a front for Voris’s true goal, spreading hatred and intolerance. Church Militant insinuated that more liberal Catholics were gay in an attempt to force them out of the church. They called composer of Catholic hymns Dan Schuette an “active homosexual,” and garnered even more publicity by calling the Archbishop of Washington D.C, a Black man, a “Marxist” and an “African Queen.” These racist and homophobic slurs were too much for the Detroit Catholic archdiocese, who wrote an official rebuke of the organization.

This rebuke did not lead to a moderation of Church Militant’s message. They promoted Holocaust denier and Trump-dinner guest Nicholas Fuentes and hosted a fawning interview with conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Within Ferndale, they attempted to get their neighbors on city council to fly their flag but wisely, the city decided against flying the flag of a hate group. In an episode that showed the group’s influence, Donald Trump’s head of the Federal Elections Commission, James E. Trainor, gave an interview to Church Militant. In his interview, Trainor called the separation of church and state “a fallacy” and declared that the 2020 presidential election was “a spiritual war.”

As to what else Church Militant did to earn their hate group designation, for one they endorsed the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy. They ran homophobic headlines like “Episcopal Sodomy: Exposing the Enablers” and “The Gay Rainbow is the Mark of the Beast.” They targeted a LGBTQ owned bakery by asking them to bake a cake with a homophobic message.

I only encountered Church Militant once, during a counter-protest in Royal Oak. They were there, along with the 11th District Republican Committee led by fellow bigot Shane Trejo, to protest a Drag Queen Story Time event at Sidetrack Books. Happily they were vastly outnumbered. An estimated two dozen protested the event but there were 1,000 joyful counter protesters. Church Militant and friends could not halt the event and had to slink away in defeat. No children were harmed by the storytime or by any bigots.

An obvious influence on the group was notorious historical resident of Metro Detroit: The Anti-Semitic “Radio Priest” Father Charles Coughlin, who broadcast in Royal Oak. Like Church Militant, Coughlin spewed hate against minority groups and theorized that foreigners and Communists were secretly controlling the United States. Coughlin’s hated minority was Jews, for Church Militant it was LGBTQ people. Also like Church Militant, Coughlin used modern media to spread his message. In the 1930s that was radio; today it is the internet. Church Militant seemed aware of the connection given that they posted an article to their website recommending Coughlin to members as a fighter against Communism and the welfare state. For obvious reasons, they avoided the swastika-covered elephant in the room of Coughlin’s Nazi sympathies.

A few months ago, Vorhis stepped down. He had admitted in a 2017 Atlantic documentary that he had “live-in relationships with homosexual men”, but that he was now no longer gay. Apparently that change did not take since he had been sending out shirtless selfies to male staffers at Church Militant, surely embarrassing behavior for such a virulently anti-LGBTQ organization. After that misfortune, the group was sued for defamation by Reverend Georges de Laire due to Church Militant publishing an article calling him unstable and vindictive. The costs of the lawsuit settlement are so great that Church Militant will have to shut down in April. When I mentioned at a vigil for Nex Benedict in Ferndale that Church Militant would no longer be in operation, there were cheers and applause.

While I may fantasize that Church Militant were driven out a pitchfork and torch-wielding mob out of a Gothic horror story, I’m glad to see them gone, regardless of what eventually shut them down. They are down for the count, regardless of who delivered the knockout blow. But, we must be ever vigilant and ready to mobilize against any groups that may try to take the place of that dark satanic mill of propaganda.

Complete Article HERE!

N.Y. Archdiocese Condemns Funeral of Transgender Activist at Cathedral

— In a statement, the pastor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan said the church was not aware of Ms. Gentili’s background, or her avowed atheism, when it agreed to host the Thursday service.

Cecilia Gentili, an activist and actress well known for her advocacy on behalf of sex workers, was celebrated at the funeral as “Saint Cecilia, the mother of all whores.”

By Liam Stack

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York condemned the funeral of a transgender community leader that was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday, calling the event an insult to the Catholic faith and saying it was unaware of the identity of the deceased — or her vocal atheism — when it agreed to host the service.

The funeral, which drew well over 1,000 people, celebrated the life of Cecilia Gentili, an activist and actress well known for her advocacy on behalf of sex workers, transgender people and people living with H.I.V. She was also a self-professed atheist, a topic around which she built a one-woman Off Broadway show.

The service on Thursday was an event that most likely had no precedent in Catholic history. The pews were packed with mourners, many of them transgender, who wore daring high-fashion outfits and cheered as eulogists led them in praying for transgender rights and access to gender-affirming health care.

People guide a coffin down the center aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Catholic liberals, including some parishioners at St. Patrick’s, said the church had done a good thing by hosting the funeral of a transgender person. Some conservative Catholics vehemently disagreed.

One eulogy, a video clip of which was widely shared online Friday, remembered Ms. Gentili as “Saint Cecilia, the mother of all whores,” to the thunderous cheers of a nearly full cathedral.

Catholic liberals, including some parishioners at St. Patrick’s, said that regardless of how some mourners behaved, the church had done a good thing by hosting the funeral of a transgender person. But the response from conservatives was fiery.

CatholicVote, a conservative group, called the funeral “unbelievable and sick” and said it was “a mockery of the Christian faith.” The Rev. Nicholas Gregoris, a co-founder of the Priestly Society of Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, called it “revolting,” a “blasphemous & sacrilegious fiasco” and “a deplorable desecration of America’s most famous Catholic Church.”

On Saturday, the archdiocese released a statement saying it shared the anger of conservative Catholics over what it called “the scandalous behavior” at Ms. Gentili’s funeral. The Rev. Enrique Salvo, the pastor of St. Patrick’s, said the church was not aware of Ms. Gentili’s background or beliefs when it agreed to host the service.

“The cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way,” the pastor said.

A priest stands and speaks at a pulpit. In front of the pulpit is a large photograph of Cecilia Gentili.
In its statement on Saturday, the archdiocese of New York said it shared the anger of conservative Catholics over what it called “the scandalous behavior” at Ms. Gentili’s funeral.

The funeral’s organizer, Ceyenne Doroshow, said on Thursday that Ms. Gentili’s family had kept her background “under wraps” because they feared the archdiocese would not host a funeral for a person it knew was transgender.

Ms. Doroshow said the family wanted Ms. Gentili’s funeral to be at St. Patrick’s because “it is an icon, just like her.”

On Saturday, the Gentili family was incensed by the church’s criticism and accused the archdiocese of “hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred” in a statement.

The family said the L.G.B.T.Q. community would continue to celebrate Ms. Gentili for how she “ministered, mothered and loved all people.”

“Her heart and hands reached those the sanctimonious church continues to belittle, oppress and chastise,” the family said. “The only deception present at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is that it claims to be a welcoming place for all.”

Members of Ms. Gentili’s family stand in a line holding hands just outside a cathedral door.
The Gentili family accused the New York archdiocese of “hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred” in a statement on Saturday.

The day before the funeral, the archdiocese described the service as a routine event, even after it was informed by a reporter that Ms. Gentili was a transgender activist.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, said that “a funeral is one of the corporal works of mercy,” a part of Catholic teaching the church has described as “a model for how we should treat all others, as if they were Christ in disguise.”

But on Saturday, Father Salvo said in the statement that the cathedral had held a special Mass of Reparation to atone for the funeral. Mr. Zwilling said the event happened that day.

“That such a scandal occurred at ‘America’s parish church’ makes it worse,” Father Salvo said, referring to the funeral. “That it took place as Lent was beginning, the annual 40-day struggle with the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace and mercy to which this holy season invites us.”

New York City is home to roughly a dozen gay-friendly Catholic parishes that in many ways reflect the church’s softer tone on sexuality under the leadership of Pope Francis. But St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the seat of the powerful archdiocese, is not one of them.

Ms. Gentili, who died on Feb. 6 at age 52, had a complex relationship with religion, which she explored last year in her Off Broadway show, “Red Ink.”

After a religious upbringing, Ms. Gentili said in an interview last year, she came to identify as an atheist because she felt rejected by so many Christian denominations as a transgender woman.

“I used to go with my grandmother to the Baptist Church, and they didn’t want me there,” she said, adding: “I used to go to the Catholic Church, too, and both were such traumatic experiences for me as a queer person. So I came to identify as an atheist, but I know that so many trans people have been able to find a relationship with faith in spaces that include them.”

Complete Article HERE!

So, What Does Pope Francis Actually Think About Queer and Trans People?

— Pope Francis has established himself as one of the most boundary-pushing popes the church has ever had. Here are his stances on same-sex marriage, trans people, LGBTQ+ parents, and more.


Every few months, many LGBTQ+ folks find themselves asking the same question: what is even the deal with the pope?

Since becoming the 266th leader of the Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis — née Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — has established himself as one of the most boundary-pushing popes in modern history. That led a group of five cardinals to issue a list of concerns, or dubia, in October 2023 challenging some of his most radical positions on LGBTQ+ rights and other issues.

Still, in the Catholic church, “radical” is subjective. Francis has certainly taken many positions that soften Catholic doctrine when it comes to LGBTQ+ people and issues. That isn’t a hard thing to do, given that his predecessor Pope Benedict believes gay marriage will bring about the apocalypse and some leading bishops even lobbied against an LGBTQ+ suicide hotline. But Francis has also contradicted himself and split some very specific hairs regarding LGBTQ+ rights. And on a few issues, like the concept of transgender people, his principles are strictly orthodox.

With so many different statements released over the past decade, it can be hard to figure out what Pope Francis actually believes, especially about queer and trans people and how we live our lives and fit into the Church. Below, we’ve rounded up the highlights from Francis’ papacy so far to make sense of how Catholicism might slowly be changing, and in what ways it’s still the same old $30 billion tax haven we’re used to.

Pope FrancisWhat is Pope Francis’s stance on gay people?

Francis has generally taken the open-ended position that God loves gays and wants them welcomed in the church. In 2013, the Pope famously said that “if someone is gay and is searching for the Lord […] who am I to judge?” The statement was widely lauded at the time simply for being the first time a pope had ever said the word “gay,” rather than “homosexual,” in public remarks. (Since then, Francis has frequently spoken of “homosexuals” in various comments.) In 2015, Francis affirmed the ministry of Bishop Jacques Gaillot, who was removed from his ministry in 1995 after he blessed gay couples. In 2018 Francis said that gay Catholics are made and loved by God, and in a surprise meeting at the Vatican in 2020, told families of LGBTQ+ youth that “God loves your children as they are.”

But while he has regularly affirmed queer love in the abstract, the pope has been less positive about what all those homosexuals might end up doing with one another. While “being homosexual is not a “crime,” as Francis exhorted in January 2023, he went on to say that “it’s a sin […] first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.” This seemed to contradict another statement Francis made in 2019, when he said the “tendencies” to be gay “are not a sin.”

In particular, Francis has said that queer relations between clergy members are a “serious concern” and “worry” him. “The question of homosexuality is a very serious one,” Francis said in a 2018 book interview, and there was “no room” for anyone in the ministry to enter a queer relationship (though heterosexual ones were still okay).

“In our societies, it even seems homosexuality is fashionable. And this mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the Church,” he fretted, recommending “persons with this rooted tendency not be accepted into ministry or consecrated life.”

Does Pope Francis support same-sex marriage?

Well, yes, but actually no. Francis is a vocal supporter of legal “civil unions,” but that’s as far from Church orthodoxy as he is willing to stray. This position dates back to his pre-papal days as Cardinal Bergoglio, when he was a leading proponent for a 2010 same-sex “civil union” bill in Argentina. As soon as that bill fell through, however, Bergoglio wrote a letter to the Carmelite Nuns of Buenos Aires to sound the alarm about another bill legalizing same-sex “marriage,” which was ultimately successful. The law would represent “the outright rejection of the law of God,” the pope-to-be wrote at the time, by “a ‘movement’ of the father of lies,” — i.e., Satan — “that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

After Kim Davis infamously refused to grant same-sex marriage licenses to gay couples as a Kentucky county clerk in 2015, claiming she acted “under God’s authority,” Pope Francis met with Davis that September during his visit to Washington, D.C. A Vatican statement asserted Francis only interacted with Davis as part of an audience with “several dozen persons,” and that their meeting “should not be considered a form of support of her position.” But Davis and her lawyers at the conservative Liberty Counsel have told a different story, saying Francis said he would pray for Davis, “thanked her for her courage and told her to ‘stay strong.’”

The pope has continued to ride this line for years, calling same-sex marriage “a contradiction” in some 2019 comments that LGBTQ+ figures roundly condemned. Francis doubled down in 2021, saying that since “marriage” is a God-delivered sacrament, the Church did not have the power to alter its definition. Civil unions can “help the situation” in a legal sense, he explained, but “marriage is marriage.”

As of now, Pope Francis still holds that “civil unions” are the only way to reconcile the religious and legal definitions of marriage. In his response to five conservative cardinals’ complaints in 2023, Francis expressed support for clergy (like Gaillot) who bless same-sex unions, but only if those blessings “do not convey a mistaken concept of marriage.” That privilege is still reserved for “a man and a woman” — specifically, the ones who are “naturally open to procreation.” Super.

Pope Francis

What does Pope Francis think about transgender people?

Unsurprisingly, what the pope says about trans people doesn’t always match up with how he treats them. Francis is most infamously known among trans communities for comparing trans people to nuclear weaponry, comments that gave us the best flagging shirts of all time. “[G]ender theory […] does not recognize the order of creation,” Francis said in a 2014 interview, and thus “man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator” whose design “is written in nature.” Francis reiterated that concept in 2016, writing that trans youth “need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created” rather than physically transition.

In 2019, the Vatican distributed a memo entitled “Male and Female He Created Them,” a document which declared both trans and intersex identities “only a ‘provocative’ display against so-called ‘traditional frameworks’” that “seek to annihilate the concept of ‘nature.’” If you’re nonbinary, no you’re not: that idea is “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants,” wrote Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi in the memo, published by the Vatican Press. In early 2023, Francis went even further: “gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations” in the world, he said, because “it blurs differences and the value of men and women.” Later in the year, he did make an allowance that trans people could receive baptism, but only if doing so would not cause a “scandal.”

But despite apparently seeing them as unnatural threats to divine creation, Francis has at least provided some amount of material support to trans people in need, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Francis donated an undisclosed amount of money to a group of unhoused trans sex workers sheltering in an Italian church. Since then, he has gone on to meet with the same group at least five separate times, eating pasta with them and over 1,000 others at a lunch in November recognizing the Church’s World Day of the Poor.

For those trans people, the Pope is a major force for good, at least more so than he’s been viewed elsewhere in the world. “We transgenders in Italy feel a bit more human because the fact that Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church is a beautiful thing,” Carla Segovia told Reuters after the lunch. “Because we need some love.”

Does Pope Francis support LGBTQ+ parents and adoption rights?

On this, the Pope has taken a much clearer stance: not on your life. If a “marriage” is no longer between a man and a woman, then-Cardinal Bergoglio wrote in his 2010 letter to the Carmelite Nuns, adopted children will be irrevocably harmed from growing up with gay parents. “At stake are the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against in advance,” he lamented, “depriving them of the human maturation that God wanted to be given with a father and a mother.” (It should be noted that children raised by LGBTQ+ parents develop the same way their peers do, and may even have some advantages.)

Since becoming pope, Francis has not officially changed his stance. In 2013, a bishop reported that the pope was “shocked” by a civil union bill in Malta that would have allowed LGBTQ+ couples to adopt. The year after, Francis reiterated that children have “a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother” and warned against being tempted towards “the poisonous environment of the temporary.” As comparatively boundary-pushing as some of his other views might be, we wouldn’t expect Francis to change on this one anytime soon.

Does the Pope at least like my pets?

Bad news! Owning pets is also a metaphysical threat to the fabric of reality, even for straights. “Many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats,” Francis said in 2022, calling the trend a “denial of fatherhood or motherhood” that “diminishes us” and “takes away our humanity.” We can only imagine what the guy thinks of Sapphics who own more than one litterbox.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis Meets, Dines with Trans Women After Controversial Baptism Decision


Pope Francis recently hosted a Vatican luncheon for a group of transgender women, many of whom are sex workers or migrants from Latin America, according to Fox News.

This gathering took place as part of the Catholic Church’s “World Day of the Poor.”

The pope and these transgender women have developed a close relationship, which originated during the COVID-19 pandemic when the pontiff assisted them when they were unable to work.

Now, they have monthly VIP visits with the pope and receive support in the form of medicine, money, and other essentials.

The luncheon was a broader event, with around 1,200 impoverished or homeless individuals also attending inside the papal audience hall to enjoy a full meal and dessert.

This invitation to transgender women aligns with a recent Vatican document that generated controversy.

Released earlier in the month, the document affirms that individuals dealing with gender identity disorders are permitted to be baptized or serve as godparents under specific conditions.

While responding to a query from Brazilian Bishop Giuseppe Negri of Santo Amaro, the guidance from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by Pope Francis, maintains that the baptism or involvement as godparents must not cause “scandal” or “disorientation.”

This nuanced stipulation has been praised by LGBTQ+ advocates.

Pope Francis: ‘Who Am I to Judge?’

Prominent LGBTQ+ organizations are applauding Pope Francis for his message of inclusivity, recognizing that gay and transgender individuals have historically felt marginalized within a church that officially characterizes homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered.”

Francis has been on a trajectory toward greater acceptance, starting with his notable “Who am I to judge” remark in 2013 about a purportedly gay priest, AP reports.

In January, he reinforced this stance by asserting that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

The pope has consistently evolved his position, emphasizing that everyone, unequivocally, is a child of God, loved by God, and welcomed in the church – a sentiment expressed with the resounding declaration, “todos, todos, todos” (everyone, everyone, everyone).

However, this judgment-free perspective isn’t universally shared within the Catholic Church.

A recent synod, a gathering of bishops and laypeople at the Vatican, stopped short of explicitly advocating for the welcoming of LGBTQ+ Catholics.

Pope Francis’ approach has faced strong opposition from conservative Catholics, including cardinals.

Despite internal divisions, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like GLAAD and DignityUSA see Pope Francis’ inclusive tone as a powerful message.

They believe it could encourage political and cultural leaders to cease the persecution, exclusion, and discrimination against transgender individuals.

Lunch with Pope Francis

Latin America migrants and sex workers had the opportunity to share a meal with Pope Francis featuring cannelloni pasta filled with spinach and ricotta, followed by meatballs in tomato-basil sauce and tiramisu for dessert, THEM noted.

“We transgenders in Italy feel a bit more human because the fact that Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church is a beautiful thing,” Carla Segovia, a 46-year-old sex worker from Argentina, said, expressing gratitude.

Claudia Vittoria Salas, a trans tailor and house cleaner from Argentina, had a personal connection to the recent declaration by the Catholic Church regarding trans godparents.

She shared that she had previously worked as a sex worker to support her nieces and nephews, to whom she served as a godparent. She found herself seated next to Pope Francis during the lunch.

“Before, the church was closed to us. They didn’t see us as normal people; they saw us as the devil. Then Pope Francis arrived, and the doors of the church opened for us,” Andrea Paola Torres Lopez, a trans woman from Colombia, said, reflecting on the changing perception of the church.

Complete Article HERE!

Vatican says transgender people can be baptized, serve as godparents

Pope Francis greets crowds during the weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.

By and 

The Vatican released guidance that says transgender people can be baptized, serve as godparents and witness weddings in the Roman Catholic Church, under certain circumstances, reflecting a continued opening by Pope Francis to the LBGTQ+ community.

The document, signed by Francis and Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, was published on the website of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on Wednesday. It responds to questions from a bishop in Brazil.

A transgender person “may receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful,” so long as this does not cause “scandal or disorientation” among other Catholics, terms that were not further defined in the document, dated Oct. 31. It also says that transgender people “can be admitted to the role of godfather or godmother” and that “there is nothing” in canon law prohibiting transgender people from witnessing marriage ceremonies.

The guidance published by the Vatican is not new and largely stems from a “confidential note” on “transsexualism” published in December 2018, the Dicastery said. It was not clear whether parts of the guidance had been publicly shared before. It contradicts a 2015 ruling from the Vatican, which at the time barred a transgender man in Spain from becoming a godparent.

Francis has removed conservative officials who once led the powerful Dicastery on Vatican doctrine and placed Fernández, an Argentine cardinal considered close to him, at its helm. Last month, Fernández and Francis issued guidance that opened a door to blessings of same-sex couples, as long as a distinction was made with the sacrament of marriage.

Officially, however, the church still teaches that homosexuality is “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law.” The pope’s continued outreach to the LBGTQ+ community comes after the first part of a major Vatican summit — or synod — ended in October with delegates deeply divided over outreach to gay people. The synod’s closing document failed to mention the phrase “LGBTQ+,” as used in preliminary materials and grouped the question of “sexual orientation” under “new” and “controversial” ethical issues, including artificial intelligence.

But the publication of the guidance this week was praised as a step toward inclusion by rights groups.

Sarah Kate Ellis, head of the LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization GLAAD, said in a statement that the affirmation “sends an unequivocal message to political and cultural leaders around the world to end their persecution and exclusion of transgender people,” and she praised Francis for “continuing to break down barriers.”

Francis DeBernardo, editor at the LGBTQ-focused New Ways Ministry, said welcoming transgender people more fully to Catholic sacraments is “a good step” but stressed, “that welcome needs to be expanded even more now.”

Same-sex couples cannot be married in the Catholic Church, and Catholic teaching condemns what it calls “homosexual acts” as “intrinsically immoral.” Given this context, Francis has surprised the public with statements going back to the early days of his papacy, when he said in 2013 “who am I to judge them?” in response to a question about gay priests. In January, Francis said that while he considers homosexuality a sin, it is not a crime. In October, he suggested an openness to priests blessing same-sex couples.

Benjamin Oh, co-chair of the Asia Pacific Rainbow Catholics Network, wrote in an email that the newly published document can be seen as “a sign of hope for LGBTIQA+ Catholics, that truth, justice and love can prevail,” stressing that “LGBTIQA+ people have been a part of every community in all human civilization, and that includes that of the Catholic church community.”

While the Vatican’s statement is new to most people in the community, Oh said there are already many baptized transgender Catholics, some of whom are godparents and godchildren, too. “The dichotomy of two opposing communities of LGBTIQA+ versus Catholic church is not an entirely truthful and helpful one,” Oh said.

Still, LGBTQ+ people face significant obstacles to full acceptance in the church, and churchgoers’ experiences can vary widely across dioceses and parishes, according to Human Rights Watch. The document released by the Vatican this week also appeared to raise questions about whether it is appropriate for same-sex couples living as spouses to become godparents, though it did not seem to shut the door entirely.

The U.S. Catholic bishops issued guidelines this year intended to stop Catholic hospitals from providing gender-affirming care. Some Catholic dioceses, smaller districts of the church, have enacted policies that prohibit students and workers at Catholic institutions from using the pronouns that match transgender students’ identities. One such policy in Massachusetts requires students to “conduct themselves at school in a manner consistent with their biological sex,” local media reported. Transgender teachers have been fired from Catholic schools after coming out.

Kori Pacyniak, who studies the religious experience of transgender Catholics at the University of California at Riverside, said in an email that the church’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community has been historically fraught. They cited phrases by the church “referring to ‘homosexual acts’ as ‘intrinsically disordered’ and referring to so-called ‘gender ideology’ as harmful and evil.” But “even when official teaching harms LGBTQ people, that doesn’t mean that LGBTQ people are any less Catholic or less faithful,” Pacyniak said.

Pacyniak praised Francis for “trying to guide the church into a more welcoming place,” though such efforts are “often incredibly slow-going.” Still, Pacyniak added, just because there is more work to be done “doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the small steps along the way.”

Complete Article HERE!