A Spanish priest has encouraged a conference of lesbians and bisexual women, telling them that “we are all human beings, equal in dignity”.

– A lament for the “ordeal” LGBTIQ+ people have to go through to receive the sacraments

“For me today is a very special day. A day in which one still feels very broken because of all that we have been through, but very happy to be with you”, Father Ángel García Rodríguez told LB Talks, Spain’s largest event for lesbian and bisexual women.

The online conference September 12 was organised by an association – also named LB Talks – that fights against the double discrimination suffered by lesbians and bisexual women and works for the equal rights and opportunities of LGBTIQ+ women and men.

Father Ángel – known in Spain as ‘Padre Ángel’ – was introduced at the congress as “an example of diversity, because in his church, in San Antón, all families are welcome, nothing is taken for granted. LGTBI families and other types of families”.

In his remarks, Padre Ángel drew on those experiences of his in his parish in Madrid, lamenting “how much we have suffered” in the local church “when sometimes some people arrive who have had to go through an ordeal to receive the sacraments, as if they were something different from everyone else”.

Padre Ángel welcomed all forms of diversity as a gift to society and the Church, and recalled that Pope Francis himself has called the Church to unconditionally welcome LGBTIQ+ people.

“One of the most precious reflections I have found in Pope Francis says that he who rejects homosexuals [and] lesbians doesn’t have a human heart. He says that we are all human beings and that we are all equal in dignity”, the priest explained.

– LGBTIQ+ people come to Madrid parish from hundreds of kilometres away “asking only to baptise their children”

Further on in his talk, Padre Ángel recalled that “the Synod of Bishops on the Family, which took place in 2014, produced an extensive document which launched a reflection on the problem of the family today. It supported that the Catholic Church should welcome everyone, including homosexuals, lesbians, and those of different sexual orientations”.

“It has been years since we heard this in the Church”, the priest celebrated.

Explaining in more detail his outreach in the parish of San Antón to the LGBTIQ+ community, Padre Ángel explained that “couples come to our church from Bilbao, from Almeria…” – cities hundreds of kilometres away from the Spanish capital – “and they come asking only to baptise their children; they want to be part of the Christian family and have found difficulties”.

“I always tell them that, truly, we are always happy to have people in the church. Not just one, but every one”, the priest insisted.

– “If we bless cars and pets… how can I not bless two people who love each other?”

Padre Ángel also told his audience that he recognised that “many of you have suffered in your childhood and youth the pain of rejection because of your sexual orientation”.

But the priest told them: “You have been champions and I tell you that it has been worth your while to fight”.

Telling the LB Talks attendees that it makes him “sad to think that there are people who might feel different” because of their affective orientation, Padre Ángel reiterated his recipe for unity in diversity: “We all must be one… we have to love each other without making distinctions”.

“This is why I tell you that it has been worthwhile to attain social acceptance, although there is still much to be done”, the priest stressed to the group, congratulating the organisers by telling them that “with events like this, you are going to make – we are going to make – this society richer in values, in equality”.

Although he justified the Church’s continuing veto on blessing same-sex relationships as an instance of each institution having “its rules and its codes”, Padre Ángel admitted that for him personally it is impossible not to bless someone “when they ask for it”.

“If we bless cars, pets… how can I not bless two people who love each other?”, the priest asked.

“That’s why I keep saying that pity those who question blessing people, or even condemn them. We were born to bless, to love, to be with the people”, he emphasised, before concluding with a blessing on conference attendees themselves: “Blessed are you, truly blessed because you are making this a better world. You are helping us all to be happier”.

More on Novena on Padre Ángel:

Spanish priest, on LGBTQ outreach: “We became priests to bless people, not to curse them” (watch)

Spanish priest invites Catholics desperate for Mass during COVID-19 to “become volunteers and give out food and medicine”

Brains behind Pope’s new 24/7 “field hospital” church in Rome denounces criminalisation of poor

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.