Welcome to Tuesday. A Jesuit priest writes about being a gay man in an institution where the only conversation about homosexuality frames it as a sin or a secret. Some Catholic bishops signed a statement in support of LGBTQ youth, while others released a statement opposing an executive order by the Biden administration extending federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people.
For almost 30 years, Fr. Jim McDermott has worked in the Catholic Church as a Jesuit seminarian and priest, a life he says has been tremendously rewarding and filled with challenges to grow and inspire people.
"At the same time, being a gay man in an institution where the only real conversation around homosexuality frames it either as a sin to be faced or a secret that must be kept has had costs," McDermott writes in a commentary for NCR. "Over time, you can begin to lose track of the fact that who you are is actually OK, or even that you exist. It's like you learn to hold your breath so well, you forget you still need to breathe."
Nobody tells those going into the priesthood to not talk about being gay while preparing to get ordained, McDermott says, it's just understood.
"I didn't have any problem with that expectation," he writes. "I didn't see how presenting silence as discretion can make the normal desire to share your own experience seem self-indulgent, or how calling it prudence can make you feel like a vandal. I didn't notice the weight that hung quietly over the idea of being up front, the flashing ambers warning of the harm you might do not only to yourself but to the order that has cared for you and helped you."
While some Catholic bishops — including a cardinal — recently signed a statement in support of LGBTQ youth, others released a statement opposing an executive order by the Biden administration extending federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people.
One statement, titled "God Is on Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth," was released on the web page of the Tyler Clementi Foundation — a group that fights anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools and faith communities.
The statement says Jesus taught mercy and compassion for all, particularly those who are marginalized and persecuted, and that the catechism urges Catholics to treat LGBTQ people with "respect, compassion and sensitivity."
The other statement, released Jan. 22 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expresses "concerns" with President Joe Biden's decision to extend existing federal protections against sex discrimination to include LGBTQ people.
Biden's executive order, signed Jan. 20, was based on the 2020 case Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the Supreme Court ruled that protections against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
This week, we continue our series, Building a Common Future, in which we asked Catholic politicians, activists and scholars to offer advice to President-elect Joe Biden.
"Building our common future: It's what the United States, indeed, the entire world needs right now," we wrote in an editorial introducing the series.
Don't miss the commentary on religious liberty from Melissa Rogers, a visiting professor at Wake Forest University Divinity School, and EJ Dionne Jr, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Recognizing religion's role in foreign policy and international development reflects both the necessity of this work and its constitutionality," they write. "We cannot understand our nation or world without understanding religion."
- Bishop Gabriel Malzaire's recent support of LGBTQ criminalization laws in the Caribbean nation of Dominica highlight the church's varied involvement in this human rights issue.
- Long before she burst into the public spotlight delivering her inauguration poem, Amanda Gorman got a standing ovation from fellow parishioners of St. Brigid Church in Los Angeles for reciting a poem she wrote about the parish.
- At Global Sisters Report, read a Q&A with Scalabrini Sr. Nyzelle Dondé, who directs the Honduran bishops' migrant ministry, which has adjusted to both the coronavirus and two hurricanes that struck in November.