by Charles Joughin •
WASHINGTON – Hours after same-sex couples began legally marrying across the state of Florida, two very contrasting messages emerged from Roman Catholic Church leaders in the Sunshine State. In a letter from the Archdiocese of Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski suggests that any and all employees risk termination for sharing opinions on social media that are “inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church," including support for marriage equality. Shortly thereafter, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Petersburg published an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times in which he denounces “notions which might suggest that same-sex couples are a threat incapable of sharing relationships marked by love and holiness.”
“These contradictory narratives cause a bit of whiplash for Catholic Floridians,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation Director of Latin@ Catholic Initiatives Lisbeth Melendez Rivera. “In Miami, Catholics are told they can’t even publicly congratulate their LGBT loved ones celebrating marriages today. Yet across the state in St. Petersburg, the Church’s message is one of compassion celebrating the love and value of same-sex couples. I can tell you it wouldn’t take long for me to decide which of these church leaders’ sermons I’d prefer to hear.”
Since his elevation to the papacy, many have celebrated Pope Francis’ message of inclusion and respect when it comes to the Catholic Church’s stance toward the LGBT community. Yet there remains a public bipolarity among the Church leadership across the country and around the world on how the Church messages around LGBT issues.
Late last year HRC embarked on a campaign, "Pray, Listen, Discern for LGBT Families," coinciding with the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, at which Pope Francis sought answers from the Church leadership on questions related to LGBT relationship recognition, families and pastoral care.
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