Catholics challenging the line on LGBT people

Catholics are challenging the church’s stance on homosexuality and transgender rights. Patrick Hornbeck writes in the CNN BeliefBlog “why good Catholics are challenging church line” and Equally Blessed reports that over “90% of American Catholics support transgender rights”:

My Take: Why good Catholics are challenging church line on homosexuality

By Patrick Hornbeck , Special to CNN, from CNN’s BeliefBlog

Editor’s Note: Patrick Hornbeck is an assistant professor and associate chair for undergraduate studies at Fordham University.

The Roman Catholic Church has long been a reliable source for one-dimensional storylines: Victims of sexual abuse call for justice. Parishes close as numbers of clergy plummet. Rosary-clad Catholics protest outside abortion clinics.

Perhaps nowhere has the storyline seemed more clear-cut than with regard to the church’s treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their relationships.

Official Catholic teachings describe gay or lesbian orientation as “an objective disorder” and tell those who love their same-sex partners that they possess a “tendency… toward an intrinsic moral evil.”

Catholic bishops have been public advocates for laws banning same-sex marriage, and some have sought to prevent LGBT Catholics and their allies from fully participating in the Church’s rituals and activities

But neither formal teachings nor bishops’ statements tell the whole story.

From the Press Release by Equally Blessed


Equally Blessed hails laity’s willingness to to ignore bishops’ “insensitive and uniformed” teaching

WASHINGTON, D. C., November 8, 2011–The majority of American Catholics disagree with the teachings of their bishops on sexual issues so often that it is a wonder that the news media continues to speak of the Catholic Church’s position on a given issue when what they really mean is the position of the Catholic hierarchy.

This is nowhere more evident than in recent polling on transgender issues that found that 93 percent of American Catholics believed that transgender people deserve the same legal rights and protections as other Americans. The hierarchy, on the other hand, teaches that transsexual individuals do not exist, and that those who believe themselves to be transsexuals suffer from a psychiatric disorder.

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute also found that approximately three-quarters of Americans—from across the political and religious spectrum—believe that Congress should pass employment nondiscrimination laws to protect transgender people. A similar majority favor Congress’s recent expansion of hate crimes legislation to protect transgender people. U. S. Catholic bishops have opposed laws that extend legal protections to lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

“This is a momentous finding reinforcing the fact that Catholics have clearly formed their consciences despite being fed nothing but inaccurate information by the bishops,” said Casey Lopata, co-founder of Fortunate Families, a member of Equally Blessed, a coalition of faithful Catholics who support full equality for LGBT people in the church and in civil society. “The hierarchy’s unwillingness to even moderate its views on human sexuality in the face of strong scientific evidence and volumes of personal testimony have cost it all credibility on issues of human sexuality.”

“The survey results give us reason to be glad,” said Frank DeBernardo, director of New Ways Ministry, another Equally Blessed member organization. “Over and over again we have seen lay Catholics ignore a hierarchy that urges them to acquiesce when friends and family members are marginalized by unjust laws. We may be a long way from the day when our bishops finally recognize the pain and suffering their insensitive and uninformed teachings have helped to inflict on transgender people, but until then we can take comfort that those teachings are almost universally ignored.”

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