You may have heard of the special Diocesan Mass for Catholic Families with homosexual members. The Mass was held by our Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan on October 7th, to mark the 20th anniversary of a pastoral message issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offering “an outstretched hand to the parents of LGBT family members”. It was also in response to the recent Diocesan Synod on Marriage, in which the parishes were challenged to “identify and minister to families who are alone, isolated or on the margins”. (See The Southern Cross, November 2017 issue, page 4.)
The USCCB article “Always our Children” assures parents of homosexual children that they do not have to choose between their love for their children and their love for their Church. Parents are encouraged to accept and love their children no matter what. While the church has clear teachings regarding homosexual behavior, we do not condemn anyone for their sexual orientation. Members of the gay and lesbian community should be made to feel welcome in our communities and allowed to be involved in various ministries, including any special ministries they may be particularly gifted and qualified for.
In his book, Building a Bridge (with a forward by our Bishop Robert McElroy), Jesuit priest James Martin also calls on the Church to reach out to members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Community, first by fostering an attitude of welcome, respect, compassion and sensitivity towards its members.
Jesus himself often reached out in welcome to those who did not fit into the mainstream. He was often criticized for sitting down to have table fellowship with people who were commonly thought of as “sinners and tax collectors”.
Pope Francis also calls us to reach out to those on the peripheries, to welcome them and journey with them on the path to holiness. While we have clear church teachings on proper directing of our human sexuality, part of our pastoral mission is to assist each person to find God’s plan for them as they struggle with their own self-understanding and as they try to find fulfillment in meaningful human relationships.
Bishop McElroy, speaking at the end of Mass told the packed church “Pope Francis is calling us to reach out to everyone with a message of radical inclusion. Sadly, there has been an estrangement and an alienation with LGBT people, and the Church needs to take steps to heal that”. Bishop McElroy said “the diocese is making an effort to reach out to the LGBT community at parishes across San Diego”.
Here at St. Catherine Labouré, we want to extend our pastoral support to any parents with LGBT sons or daughters. I have asked one of our parishioners, Deacon Jim Keeley to lead our outreach ministry to LGBT persons and families. Please call Deacon Jim (858) 774-9917 if you wish to discuss your family or individual concerns.