Always Our Children — 15 Years Ago Today

Fifteen years ago today the Catholic Bishops of the United States had one of their brighter moments in recent history.  On September 10, 1997, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB) published Always Our Children, A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers (and available from the USCCB bookstore here).

As the title indicates, this document was addressed not to gays and lesbians directly, but rather to the parents of “homosexual children” and to pastoral ministers.  Nonetheless, it marked a significant milestone in presenting a more positive understanding of God’s gay children, standing squarely on the side of respect for the full human dignity of gay and lesbian people. It even addressed the issue of persons living with HIV/AIDS, stating unequivocally (as the times demanded), “…we reject the idea that HIV/AIDS is a direct punishment from God.”

Sadly, the intervening years since this publication have not seen the hoped-for progress that LGBT Catholics continue to pray for.  May the recognition of this important anniversary reinvigorate our prayers that one day soon, leaders of our Church may — like the man whose ears were opened in the Gospel story from yesterday’s liturgy — be able to hear the stories of their LGBT brothers and sisters and learn from the loving and faith-filled experiences of our lives how the Living God is alive and well, doing wondrous deeds even today.

LGBT Students at The Catholic University of America

Here’s my letter to John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, in support of CUAllies and their request for official recognition as a gay-straight student organization at CUA.

John Hugh Garvey, JD
President,
The Catholic University of America
Washington, DC

April 17, 2012

Dear President Garvey,

Last evening, I had the privilege of gathering with a group of CUA students and their friends in front of Gibbons Hall. We remembered the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes) that the griefs and anxieties of the people of every age are indeed the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. We recalled the teaching of the US Bishops (Always Our Children) that even those whom God created with a homosexual orientation are worthy of dignity, respect and the right to participate actively in their communities. We lit candles, walked to the Przbyla Center, and prayed.

As an alumnus of The Catholic University of America (National Catholic School of Social Service, MSW, 1998), I am writing to add my voice to the chorus of others expressing strong support for the request from CUAllies that this be an officially recognized student organization at CUA.

One of the most fundamental tenets of our Catholic faith is that each and every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Every human person is to be treated with dignity, respect, charity, and love.  The Catholic understanding of the human person, informed by what we know from so many fields of inquiry, recognizes that one’s sexual orientation is essentially a given and relatively stable reality: it is not a choice or a “lifestyle” or a something that one can change.

You have the great privilege of leading a Catholic university, an institution which seeks not only to explore and impart the truths gleaned from so many fields of scientific and academic inquiry, but also the truths gleaned from the best of our Catholic Christian tradition. Truth, which cannot be incompatible with itself, challenges us to see the full human dignity even in God’s sons and daughters whom He created with a sexual orientation that differs from most of their brothers and sisters.  Some of these sons and daughters are members of the CUA community – they are faculty, staff and alumni. Most especially, however, they are students – students who deserve to learn and grow in an environment that not only tolerates their full humanity, but that also encourages them to grow in understanding themselves so that they are better able to understand others and the richly diverse world their education will help them to serve.

Please recognize CUAllies as an official student organization of The Catholic University of America.

Wishing you Easter joy,

Timothy MacGeorge, MDiv, MSW