Is the Catholic Church warming up to the LGBT?
The Roman Catholic Church seems to be opening up to the LGBT community by using the term “LGBT” for the first time in an official Vatican document.
Coupled this with Pop Francis’ supposed advice to a gay man and it makes the community wonder: is the Church warming up to us?
Catholic Church’s document on the youth
It was the Vatican that issued a paper that looks into the Catholic Church’s relationship with young people, and noted that “some LGBT youth” wanted to benefit from a closer relationship with the church.
This is significant as prior to this, the Catholic Church had described the LGBT only as people with “homosexual inclinations” and “homosexuals.”
This official document from the Vatican, regarded as an instrumentum laboris, was released early to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. This event is due to happen this October.
However, while the new messaging is welcome, LGBT advocates say that nothing has changed as of yet.
“This change in language signals that church officials are beginning to understand that they have to treat LGBT people with simple respect by referring to them with more accurate terms,” said Grancis DeBernardo, executive director of the New Ways Ministry, which is pushing for equality for LGBT Catholics.
“While these developments are welcome changes in the church’s style of discourse, it must be noted that there is nothing in the new document which indicates that the Vatican is, as yet, willing to entertain changes in church policy on LGBT issues,” De Bernardo said.
Catholic Church stand against the LGBT
Currently, the Catholic Church is against same-sex relationships, a traditional teaching the Vatican admits is unpopular among the youth and driving or unsettling other Roman Catholics.
However, the document, which was presented at a press conference, said that questions of sexuality in the Catholic world need to considered “more openly and without prejudice.”
“The Synod’s primary aim is to make the whole church aware of her important and not at all optional task of accompanying every young person, without exclusion, towards the joy of love,” Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said during the presscon.
Cardinal Baldisseri, who is the secretary general of the Vatican’s synod office, had also said his office was “diligent” about respecting young people’s work.
Pope Francis and the Catholic Church
Add to this the recent news that the Vatican had also invited Reverend James Martin, who is an outspoken advocate for church outreach to the LGBT community to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin this August.
“The message from the Vatican to LGBT Catholics is this: you belong,” Fr. Martin told Associate Press in reaction to the invitation.
It’s notable that these steps by the Catholic Church toward the LGBT community is being done under aegis of Pope Francis.
The Pope has made several statements that he is accepting of LGBT people and was the first pontiff to use the word “gay” while discussing in 2013.
However, he also told a general audience at the Vatican that the family as “man and woman in the image of God is the only one,” which excludes same-sex partners and single partners.
Mixed signals under the Catholic Church
So what is it really? Is Pope Francis really open to the LGBT? Is the Catholic Church warming to us?
Recently, the Pope was reported to have told Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man and a survivor of cleric abuse, in a private meeting that “God made you like this and loves you like this.”
Ruth Hunt, chief executive of LGBT advocacy group Stonewall UK and writing for The Guardian, said Pope Francis’ words to Cruz were “a striking affirmation that LGBT people of faith belong in church and in religious communities.”
Likewise, John Gehring, author of “The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church” and writing for The New York Times, said that the Church citing the LGBT in an official document is good progress.
“Five years into the Francis papacy, a pope who emphasizes mercy and strikes a more welcoming tone toward LGBT people is helping to rescue the church from a culture-war Christianity that drives people away,” Gehring said.