I regularly say that I’m a “Pope Francis Catholic.” Over his ten-year papacy, his eyes opened wider and wider to social issues, including the LGBTQIA+ life issues. Pope Francis’s eyes were opened to the needs of the poor more than mine were in the beginning of his papacy. He has stretched me to better-understand the needs of humanity and love all people in a more radical way as Jesus did. Pope Francis consistently demonstrates that Jesus loves the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and the oppressed. Those trads only concerned with “upholding the law” have no concern or use for those they see as “less than” themselves. Like the Pharisees, they think they are higher and mightier than the “lowly” every day Catholic or everyday person. They do everything they can to exclude other Catholics from God’s graces and exclude others from the “The Table” yet they want to hoard all of Church’s gifts only for themselves. As I stated in my last piece, these trads see it as their mission to “Purify the Church” by any means possible, including endangering peoples’ lives they hate, inside and outside the Church. They want to use the Catholic Church’s power to oppress and endanger rather than to give love and life.
LGBTQ+ Catholics are as “real” as a people can get. They are radically-inclusive of those who are rejected, radically-loving of those who are unloved, and radically-defensive of oppressed and marginalized people because they themselves have sadly been rejected, unloved, and vulnerable for too long. Sometimes, I do not see how they stay Catholic. After the hatred and cruelty I’ve seen and heard from trads over the last 6 years, the Catholic Church desperately needs historically marginalized people, LGBTQ+ Catholics, and their families to be active and vocal members of the Catholic Church. We need them in order to stand up for those who don’t have a voice. There are life-threatening abusers in certain corners of the Catholic Church who wish to invoke their power and abuse over others and refuse to follow the catechism to treat all people with dignity, sensitivity, and respect. Hatred, death, and abuse will continue to reign from trads, not only in the Catholic Church but in broader society, if the power and influence of the Catholic Church isn’t used to give life as she does through Catholic charities. I believe that marginalized and oppressed members of the Catholic Church will make safe pathways for those who wish to be Catholic and safer pathways in broader society.
In order to make the Church and broader society safer, leadership must listen to everyday Catholics and people as Pope Francis has instructed. In response to my writings, priests, bishops, nuns, and monks have reached out to me in an effort to understand the disabled, neurodiverse, and LGBTQIA+ populations I serve. I am truly grateful to them. Many of you know that for me, LGBTQIA+ advocacy and ministry followed after years of disability and neurodiversity service and advocacy. My tunnel vision was too narrowly-focused on the disabled and neurodiverse. Once I discovered the LGBTQIA+ spectrum is more common in Neurodiverse and disabled communities, it was a “Holy Schniekies” moment for me. I can truly empathize with conservative clergy who are trying to understand the life issues of the LGBTQIA+ community and their families.
Catholics must follow the directive of Pope Francis to listen to every day Catholics and people. This will be the central theme of my next Patheos piece.