The Catholic Church loves LGBT people with a profound love, just like it loves all of its other children. Various organizations within the church have as their main purpose the delivery of the Gospel to LGBT’s. All of us are sacred creations of God, and therefore deserve respect on the basis of our human nature. This essay treats an outreach effort of the church in this area.
In the rite of baptism, the liturgy joyfully proclaims, “you are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus.” Today, lesbian and gay Catholics are reminding the Church that they, too, have been baptized. Many are beginning to reclaim their membership in the body of Christ and the Church. As baptized persons, lesbian and gay Catholics share the rights of all the baptized: “to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church” (Catechism)
Increasing numbers of lesbian and gay people are taking another look at the Catholic Church, which they thought had previously rejected them totally and definitively. Many are discovering in the Church a new spirit of understanding:
“[I]t seems appropriate to understand sexual orientation (heterosexual or homosexual) as a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality and to recognize its relative stability in a person. Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen. By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose. The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them”(Pastoral).
“It is not sufficient only to avoid unjust discrimination. Homosexual persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity'”(Catechism par.2358, Always 6,9)
The U.S. bishops expressed their welcome of lesbian and gay people in 1976, and repeated it in 1991:
“Homosexual [persons], like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community.(To Live)
Today, many dioceses and parishes are inviting lesbian and gay Catholics to assume active roles in the Christian community. Ministries of outreach and pastoral services welcome lesbian and gay Catholics to share their gifts with the entire Church. By participating “in the apostolic and missionary activity of the people of God” (Catechism 1270), lesbian and gay Catholics are helping to build up the body of Christ.
Parishes and dioceses that have extended a welcoming hand to lesbian and gay persons and their families are discovering the spiritual dynamism and gifts they have to offer the Church. The flowering of these spiritual gifts has done much to allay the fears and prejudices which still exist among some in the Church. Lesbian and gay Catholics live out their struggles within the Church. They foster understanding, break down stereotypes, build bridges of cooperation and heal shattered relationships with family and friends. Exercising active roles within the Christian community, lesbian and gay Catholics allow gospel values and the best Catholic Tradition to shape the experience of what it means to be homosexual and Catholic.
The National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NAGDLGM) serves as a network for the increasing numbers of outreach programs sponsored by dioceses and parishes for lesbian and gay persons and their families.