Power in the Pews

Thanks to a new Pew Poll, we can all rejoice to see the sea change of acceptance of same-sex marriage across almost all demographics.

As a Catholic in exile, I am overjoyed at the progress my church is seeing.  Just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage, two out of every three Catholics — an amazing 67 percent — told the surveyors that they now support marriage equality.

The stunning statistic is nearly identical to mainline Protestant support (68 percent), and is way above black Protestant (44 percent) and white Evangelicals (35 percent) support. The only religious group that exceeds Catholic and mainline Protestant support is the religiously unaffiliated (85 percent) category.

And the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and church leaders are making a difference.

High-profile priests and recently elevated prelates are encouraging acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals as a valid, non-sinful lifestyle within the Church.

Just last month, Fr. James Martin, editor-at-large for the Jesuit magazine America, was recently appointed by the Pope to the Vatican as a communications consultant.  Previous to this appointment, Fr. Martin published a pro-LGBT book, “Building A Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” that was backed by Vatican and U.S. church officials.

Then we have Joseph Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, who personally welcomed homosexuals to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark as part of a LGBT+ Pilgrimage and Mass. We must be mindful here that the Pope just elevated Tobin to be a Cardinal of the Church, an elector of the next Pope, while passing over the conservative Archbishop of Philadelphia once again.

In Chicago, we have Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, who spoke to New Ways Ministry, an LGBT+ Catholic advocacy group, which has been condemned by some officials by Vatican and U.S. Church leaders.

The 51-year-old Franciscan, who was ordained as Bishop of Lexington in May 2015 by Pope Francis, gave two Gospel reflections at the April 28-30 symposium, which was called “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.”

“Christian morality is more concerned with the well-being and dignity of the person than with rules, norms or commandments. Jesus seems to teach this on many occasions,” Stowe told the 300 or so participants at the conference in a reference to Matthew 12:1-14, reported the National Catholic Reporter.

Just recently, the Diocese of San Diego announced that Fr. John Dolan, a priest with an LGBT-positive record, has been appointed by the Pope to be an auxiliary bishop of that Diocese.  With this appointment, we can see how Pope Francis is reshaping the leadership of the Catholic Church in America.

While our Republican leaders are trying force an unnatural way of life on us, that of legal discrimination in the form of Religious Liberty laws, it is refreshing to see the progress LGBTQ+ America is making on the major religious denominations and citizens alike.

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