As Pope Begins U.S. Visit, HRC Releases “Coming Home” Guide for LGBT Catholics

by HRC Staff

Coming Home to Catholicism and Self” highlights personal stories and guidance on building a fulfilling faith relationship

WASHINGTON - Today, just hours after Pope Francis began his historic trip to the U.S., the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released a guide to help LGBT Catholics who are seeking to reconnect with their faith and build more inclusive church communities.

Coming Home to Catholicism and to Self, features the inspirational personal journeys of Catholics including Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, which works for the full inclusion of the LGBT faithful in the Church; and Hilary Howes, a transgender woman who joined the Church when she married, but says her faith truly developed during her transition.

The guide  also provides advice on finding a path to engagement with a faith that, in its official teaching, continues to describe “homosexual acts” as “intrinsically disordered,” yet is led by a pontiff whose engagement with LGBT people has been more inclusive and less judgmental.

This morning, at an official White House arrival ceremony, Pope Francis said that, “American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination.” At the same time, LGBT Catholics in the U.S. continue to face rejection within the Church, and there have been numerous instances of LGBT teachers fired for who they are and who they love.

“We hope that this guide will help LGBT Catholics begin or renew their relationship with their faith, and use this moment and Pope Francis’ willingness to engage in a more inclusive conversation to reconnect with their beloved traditions,” said Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of the HRC Foundation’s Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives. “There is much work left to do, but let’s seize this opportunity to live openly and fully as LGBT Catholics.”

“The Catholic Church is not a building, not the magisterium, not the leadership, not the laws,”  Howes says in the guide. “It’s the people of God. Catholics share a great commitment to social justice….the majority are on the side of the lesbians, gays and bisexuals. The majority believes in equality for transgender people. We’re one of the most accepting of all mainline churches.”

Indeed, survey after survey, including HRC’s own polling, show overwhelming support among U.S. Catholics for LGBT equality and non-discrimination laws. While the doctrine of the Catholic Church is still far from inclusive of the LGBT community, U.S. Catholic laity is helping lead this country’s march toward equality. And many Church leaders are providing private pastoral support to LGBT parishioners, even if they are not able to do so openly.

The Catholic guide is the second in a series of HRC faith guides -- guides for Muslim and Jewish LGBT faithful will be released in the coming months -- and contains myriad resources for the LGBT faithful and encourages them to join the conversation on Twitter at #welcomeushome and #LGBTCatholics.

More resources for LGBT Catholics, and information about the pontiff and his U.S. visit, can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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