Rainbow Catholics are urging the Pope and the Vatican to rein in LGBTIQ+-phobic prelates, warning that it is “literally a matter of life and death”.
– “Our Church cannot simultaneously claim to honor the dignity of all people and actively support the continuation of oppression”
“Several places in the world are becoming more dangerous for LGBTIQ+ people and… Catholic officials are fostering these threats”, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC), a worldwide coalition of groups working for the pastoral care, justice, inclusion, dignity, and equality of LGBTIQ+ people in the Church and in wider society, denounced in a September 2 press release.
In June, the GNRC released a report that found that even in the 21st century “there are still multiple forms of Church-influenced discrimination” against LGBTIQ+ people worldwide, in the words of report author Anne Marie Martindale.
Reflecting two months later on the findings of that report, GNRC co-chair Ruby Almeida explained that “what we found is that this oppression is often linked to the Church, either to particular statements or to teachings”.
“Our Church cannot simultaneously claim to honor the dignity of all people and actively support the continuation and even expansion of oppression against our Rainbow communities”, Almeida warned.
Fellow co-chair Christopher Vella added that recent Church-sponsored manifestations of LGBTIQ+-discrimination “are deeply distressing to us all, and literally a matter of life and death for some”.
– Polish Bishops “dehumanize” LGBTIQ+ people
Top of the list of the GNRC’s concerns about Church leaders contributing to anti-LGBTIQ+ violence and discrimination was the situation in Poland.
Last week, the Polish Bishops released a major document on human sexuality that among other things affirmed that the Church’s condemnation of homosexual acts is “infallible” and called for the establishment with Church money of ‘conversion therapy’ clinics designed to ‘cure’ people of their LGBTIQ+ orientation.
Not only has conversion therapy been repeatedly condemned by the vast majority of reputable medical professionals and spiritual leaders, but Polish LGBTIQ+ people are also battling a climate of increased social hostility driven by an aggressively anti-LGBTIQ+ conservative government.
For those reasons, GNRC European Regional Delegate Michael Brinkschroeder denounced that the Polish Bishops LGBTIQ+ insensitivity “dehumanize[s] LGBTIQ+ people and increase[s] the likelihood they may be subject to violence or coercive treatment”.
– Holy See representative to UN objects to special protection for LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers
The situation for LGBTIQ+ people in Poland, however, was not the only one worrying the GNRC.
The network of Rainbow Catholics also deplored that the Vatican representative to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, objected in July to a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report that recommended special protection for refugees and asylum seekers facing persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Even if Church officials can’t understand concepts such as sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTIQ+ refugees exist, and they are arrested under the same laws which prohibit same-sex relations, so they are discriminated against and prosecuted even inside the camps where they are supposed to seek asylum”, explained GNRC Japan member Junko Shimada.
GNRC Australia member Carolyn Minchin added that “Assisting LGBTIQ+ refugees is critical to their survival, due to the intensity of the violence and discrimination they suffer at every turn in their journeys as refugees”.
“Integration and invisibility are impossible for them, and silence on the question of how to improve safety for LGBTIQ+ refugees is costing lives on a daily basis”, Minchin stressed.
– Church must condemn conversion therapy
The words of bishops in Poland and at the UN are just the latest examples of the damage anti-LGBTIQ+ Catholic rhetoric can do, and that much in ways many Catholics may not be conscious of.
Due to that potential for harm, the GNRC called on Pope Francis and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin “to withdraw the Vatican’s objections to the UNHCR report and to assist the bishops of Poland in working with the LGBTIQ+ community in that country in a way that helps protect people from being marginalized and harmed”.
The Pope and the Vatican should also issue a clear condemnation of anti-LGBTIQ+ conversion therapy, the GNRC said, noting that the practice “has been discredited as harmful by nearly all credible social science and therapeutic organizations”.
Conversion therapy has even been described as tantamount to “torture” by a UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.