Boston, July 29, 2013. Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, the nation’s leading organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, spoke today about comments made by Pope Francis during an onboard interview on his flight back to Rome following World Youth Day. In response to a reporter’s question, the Pope spoke about his views on gay priests, and, many believe, gay people more broadly.
“Pope Francis’ comments on gay people in the Church represent a very welcome change in tone from what we’ve heard from the last two Popes. For gay people to hear a Pope speak of us as people of faith and goodwill who should not be marginalized in society, rather than as threats to civilization, is a great shift.
“The overwhelming response to these statements has shown just how hungry lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics are for any kind of pastoral care from Church officials, and how much damage has been done to our community over the past two and a half decades.
“I would hope that Francis’ tone will be echoed by bishops and Cardinals around the globe. A shift like this could affect everything from the kinds of homilies preached at Sunday Mass, to how much leadership bishops take on anti-LGBT equality measures, to whether bishops speak out when laws making homosexuality a capital crime are being considered. It could definitely impact how welcome LGBT people and our families feel in our Church.
“Pope Francis has demonstrated a remarkable willingness to be present with those most marginalized in society. That is where the Church should be, and it’s right that he reminds us of this. Can he see LGBT people as among the marginalized, and walk alongside us? Will he enter into a dialogue, where he listens to our stories and learns about our lives, our relationships, our struggles to remain part of our Church? Over time, could this lead to substantive changes in church teaching or to where and how Catholic leaders become involved in LGBT rights issues?
“There has been significant change in what Catholics believe about LGBT people, and the degree to which they work for our equality, here in the US and in many other countries. Catholics are often in the leadership of efforts to increase the rights of LGBT people, but our Church leaders lag far behind. Perhaps this will be an opening that encourages more Church officials to enter into the kind of transformative dialogue that has propelled the Church forward.”
DignityUSA is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and allies. Founded in 1969, it is a founding member of Equally Blessed and the NunJustice coalition.