April 8, 2016, Boston, MA. Pope Francis’ long-anticipated response to two sessions of a world-wide Synod on the Family, an Apostolic Exhortation entitled “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), is a tremendous disappointment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics and their families, says DignityUSA, a leading organization of Catholics committed to LGBT equality.
“In this document, Pope Francis has continued the characterization of LGBT people as unable to fully reflect the fullness of God’s plan for humanity,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director. “We had hoped for much more, and many, many people are profoundly disappointed today.
“While in many areas, the Pope urges respect for individual conscience, and pastoral flexibility, when it comes to same-sex relationships and gender identity questions, Francis simply reiterates the long-standing teachings of the Church. There is no flexibility. He says same-sex relationships are in no way equal to marriage between a man and a woman, and that gender must be respected as created. The document also talks about the situation of families ‘whose members include persons who experience same-sex attraction, a situation not easy for either parents or children.’ There is no recognition that embracing and affirming LGBT family members can bring grace and wholeness to a family,” said Duddy-Burke.
DignityUSA also expressed frustration that while Amoris Laetitia calls for respect for the dignity of all people regardless of sexual orientation, and the avoidance of ‘unjust discrimination,’ there is no strong call for an end to anti-LGBT violence, for Church officials to avoid inflammatory statements against the LGBT community, or for a clear statement that LGBT people and supporters are welcome to participate in the Church’s sacramental life and ministries. “While the Pope acknowledges the Church has been too rigid in other areas, there is no repentance when it comes to LGBT people. We need to see changes in teaching and practice before we can move forward,” said Duddy-Burke.
Duddy-Burke also noted that the document repeats a falsehood that was part of previous Synod reports. “It is absolutely untrue that international development aid from Western nations is conditional on support for same-sex marriage. The repetition of such a claim in the Pope’s statement lends unfortunate credibility to something that is simply untrue.”
“Clearly, Church officials, up to and including Pope Francis, still have little idea of the reality of LGBT people’s faith, lives, and family situations. This document continues to demonstrate a tragic ignorance. Many LGBT people and families have offered to share their experience with Church officials, and often get a deaf ear. This document reflects that sad reality,” said Duddy-Burke.
DignityUSA is the nation’s foremost organization of Catholics committed to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics in our Church and society. Founded in 1969, it is a founding member of the Equally Blessed coalition.