Roman Catholic officials followed Pope Francis’ lead in decrying the “terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando.” Violence toward who?
I see almost nothing in which the Church identifies the victims of the Orlando shooting as gay men and women. In this utterly heartbreaking moment, I am hurt and angered by the Church’s lack of care of the whole gay person, including the identification of the gay victims when it matters most: in their martyrdom.
The free world demands that Pope Francis come out and name the victims of the Orlando massacre and hate crime, and identify them as homosexuals born in the image and likeness of God. Until Francis comes out in support of LGBT people during one of their most vulnerable moments he contributes to that “absurd and terrible violence” that others their community and makes them the target of any extremist with access to hate, and arms.
Naming the victims as gay men and women is an important next step in a papacy some years removed from Pope Francis’ historic, off-the-cuff invocation, “Who am I to judge?”, uttered when he was asked what he thought about gay priests. That was a promise that’s yet to be kept.
The LGBT community, many of whose members are spiritual and religious, demands a clear and direct response from Francis and the Church he leads about a murderer who deliberately targeted the gay nightclub Pulse, knowing full well that it would be packed on a Saturday night during Gay Pride month. They were murdered because a big chunk of the world still does not accept gays or their lifestyle.
That includes the Catholic Church, which still teaches that gays who pursue a gay lifestyle live in sin.
The Orlando Gay Massacre demonstrates that the world is far from safe for LGBT people; even in America where inroads like gay marriage are recent and welcomed , there are many people who remain intolerant about homosexuality.
Catholics and Muslims should examine their collective souls because they both view gays as sinners. If caught in a gay sexual act in certain Muslim countries, such persons can be put to death or sentenced to life in prison. Although the Catholic Church isn’t as extreme in her treatment of gays, she clearly doesn’t accept them; they aren’t allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist at Mass with other Catholics. If they have gay sex, the church views them as sinners, people no longer in a state of grace —no longer in good communion with God.
Why doesn’t Pope Francis address the gays of the world, tell them that they are accepted, that God loves them, the church loves and accepts them? Why doesn’t he invite all gays throughout the world to come forward to the communion rail and receive the Holy Eucharist? Why cannot he echo the theologian Paul Tillich and say to all gays: “You are accepted”?
How sad it was to hear Pope Francis say only this after the Orlando tragedy, “We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity.”
Could he not have shared with the world the names of some of the men and women killed?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops response to the Orlando tragedy was mixed to say the least. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz proclaimed that it reminds us life is “precious.” Whose lives? The Bishop of Orlando, Bishop John Noonan, begged for “God’s mercy to be upon us.” Which us? Be specific.
In the midst of the Orlando Gay Massacre, sexually active gay men could not donate life-saving blood. Sexually active gay men who are Roman Catholic cannot receive Holy Communion at Mass. These are holy actions denied to gay Catholics. Such irony! The donation of blood saves lives; the blood of Jesus Christ saves souls, as taught by the Church.
When Archbishop William Lori voices grief over the loss of the innocent, he doesn’t acknowledge that these innocent gay people died because of who they are. Like his fellow prelates, misses the mark, and reaffirms their affirmation of the Church’s anti-gay theology and anti-gay rhetoric.
Pope Francis is known to be horrified at all violence, a horror he often discusses in his writings as he confronts violence and injustice throughout the world. The Church calls the world to solidarity with the victims, and to emphasize the dignity and worth of every person. But it is hard for me not to challenge the Church at this most crucial moment in gay ascendancy! Where are the gay Catholic seminarians, priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals? Having been a Jesuit for ten years, I know that there are many gay religious within the church. Why not come out in an act of solidarity?
A papacy that once promised an historic welcome of LGBT people, is closing its arms. Friendship is based on love, and Pope Francis has yet to reveal his love. Now is the time to show it, and be an example to the world.