Seismic Shift in Rome: New Catholic Document Praises Same-Sex "Partnerships"

by HRC Staff

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today commended Catholic leaders meeting in Rome for using  new, inclusive language in referring to the LGBT community.

The preliminary but potentially ground-breaking document released today by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops asserted that LGBT people have “gifts and talents to offer the Christian community,” and, for the first time, referred to LGBT couples as “partners” instead of sinners.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

"For the LGBT Catholics in the United States and around the world, this new document is a light in the darkness—a dramatic new tone from a Church hierarchy that has long denied the very existence of committed and loving gay and lesbian partnerships.”

The new language comes at a time when many in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy continue to use heartless and derogatory language in referring to the LGBT faithful, while Pope Francis encourages a more compassionate approach.

The document, read today to the gathering, says that the Church does not view gay unions as on the “same footing as matrimony between a man and a woman.” But it goes on to assert the following: "Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners."

Griffin said he hopes that the message coming out of the synod resonates well beyond Rome.

“It is clear that Pope Francis' message of mercy and inclusion is alive and well,” Griffin said, “and I hope the American Catholic bishops who have recently spent millions of parishioner dollars in political campaigns targeting their LGBT brothers and sisters are listening closely."

Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, HRC Foundation's Director of Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives, who is currently on a cross-country prayer journey designed to bring attention to the Rome synod, said that the new document shows that despite resistance from U.S. bishops, “the Vatican has heard the voices of Catholics around the world who see their faith as something that can include LGBT people, and honor their lives and relationships."

"While this isn't by any means a full acceptance of LGBT equality within the church, it's a huge step toward making LGBT Catholics feel welcomed in their communities of faith, rather than approaching them with judgement,” she said.

Since 2008, there have been more than 40 reported cases of LGBT employees fired or let go by Catholic institutions because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Human Rights Campaign is 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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