Boston, MA. June 26, 2016--Leaders of DignityUSA, the organization of LGBTQ Catholics and allies committed to equality and justice for LGBTQ people, welcomed the statement of Pope Francis today that the Church must apologize to gay people and to other groups that it has let down or offended throughout history. The Pope’s comments echoed similar remarks made last week by one of his closest advisors, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany.
On a flight back to Rome from Armenia on Sunday, the Pope revised his famous phrase about gay people from 2013, “Who am I to judge?,” saying this time, “Who are we to judge them?” The Pope also said, “I will also repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that [gay people] should not be discriminated against, that they have to be respected, pastorally accompanied. The matter is a person that has that condition [and] that has good will because they search for God.”
DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke welcomed the Pope’s remarks. “This could be a very important step in healing the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBTQ people,” she stated. “The frank acknowledgment by the Pope that Church teachings and practices have done immense harm to LGBTQ people over the centuries—leading to such evils as violence, oppression, self-hatred, the division of families, youth homelessness, and suicide—is essential.”
Duddy-Burke welcomed the Pope’s reference to the part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that says gay people should not be discriminated against. However, she noted that the Catechism also still uses such damaging and scientifically inaccurate language as “objectively disordered” and “intrinsically disordered” in reference to homosexuality. DignityUSA and its partner organizations in the Equally Blessed coalition, among others, have repeatedly called for such language to be eliminated.
Finally, Duddy-Burke said, “In order to bring about the full healing of the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBT people, the Church must not only acknowledge the wrongs of the past, but take concrete actions that demonstrate its commitment to treating LGBT people justly from now on. For example, Catholic institutions must stop firing LGBT people simply because their sexual orientation or marital status becomes known. The Church must stop conducting public campaigns that seek the right to discriminate unjustly against LGBT people in the civil arena on the specious grounds of ‘religious liberty.’ It must cease campaigns against same-sex civil marriage and LGBT civil rights protections around the globe. And it must speak out strongly and clearly against the horrific violence and discrimination that is often directed against LGBT people in countries around the world, including our own, many with substantial or majority Catholic populations.”