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Vatican Document on Families Disappoints, But LGBT Faithful Commit to Working Toward Full Inclusion

by Mary Beth Maxwell April 08, 2016

As an LGBT Catholic, I, like many, was cautiously optimistic that the Vatican’s two-year discernment of the Catholic family would result in a document reflecting a definitive move toward a more LGBT-inclusive and accepting Church.

But the 256-page Apostolic Exhortation released by the Vatican Friday was a disappointment.

Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training expressed it best by saying that “while we welcome the opening for discussion that Pope Francis is providing, we are disappointed that his more open and loving message about LGBT people has not yet translated into fuller inclusion during the Church’s Year of Mercy.”

She also pointed to a well-documented fact: a strong majority of U.S. Catholics believe in equality for LGBT people. HRC and LGBT Catholics remain committed to continuing our work, along with our many supportive fellow congregants, toward full inclusion and participation in the Church. 

Said Maxwell: “Pope Francis is encouraging a dialogue that we hope will one day lead to the Church loving and embracing, not judging, LGBT Catholics and our families."

The good news today is that the Papal document pays scant direct attention to LGBT issues, focusing on other matters the Vatican views as integral to the family. While Pope Francis dismisses the blessing of our unions, he does not explicitly call for our exclusion. While he raises questions about gender and biology, the Exhortation doesn’t deliver firm answers. And he also speaks specifically to avoiding “every sign of unjust discrimination ... particularly any form of aggression and violence.”

We look to the day when Pope Francis’ compelling and inclusive pastoral approach blossoms into a full Church embrace of the LGBT faithful and their families, adheres to a doctrine rooted in the Gospel and not the biases of some.

Mary Beth Maxwell
Mary Beth Maxwell


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