There’s little question that the way we discuss LGBTQ persons and issues needs significant improvement. At worst, when pastors and catechists talk about homosexuality in Catholic spaces, they present LGBTQ individuals as enemies or speak about them with pity. But even many of the better homilies and lessons, given with compassion and good intentions, will talk about LGBTQ persons as mission fields or projects—as people outside the Church.
In this environment, it’s not surprising that many Catholic LGBTQ young people feel like they don’t belong in the Church, or worse, experience the Church as a place of harm. In a recent article in America, Eve Tushnet wrote, “For most people, religious participation protects against suicide. But for L.G.B.T. youth, studies have found either no protective effect of religious participation or, in one study of college students, a higher rate of suicidality among more-religious youth.”
In response to that finding, Eve (who appeared on a recent episode of Pope Francis Generation) helped start a project called Building Catholic Futures, a ministry where queer people who accept Church teaching in full are working to nourish the faith and hope of the next generation. She said this initiative started after a friend of hers asked, “What if we could reach kids before their faith gets damaged? What if, by the time a young person begins asking questions about their own sexual orientation, they already trust that there is a place for gay people in the Catholic Church?”
BCF is working on creating resources for pastors, catechists, teachers, and parents that are 1) completely faithful to the Church’s moral teaching, and 2) communicate to the LGBTQ students sitting in our classrooms, pews, and homes that they are:
- infinitely loved by God and destined to share in God’s divine life;
- have been given a personal mission in the Church and the world;
- and this mission includes a life lived in love and service of others.
Some of the ways that BCF will accomplish this is by presenting stories of gay Catholics who lived lives of love and holiness and by developing mentorship training for gay or lesbian practicing Catholics who are able to act as leaders in their local churches. Their goal is to ensure that LGBTQ young people are truly seen, accompanied, and encouraged at every point where they encounter the Church, demonstrating that there is a place for them in the Church.
BCF is also working on a “roadshow” where BCF leaders would come to a diocese and offer:
- public presentations;
- workshops with clergy, educators, and parents;
- a one-day retreat for LGBTQ practicing Catholics;
- and a devotional event for the broader LGBTQ community (a chance for the Holy Spirit to touch people who may have been away from church for a long time and need a safe way to be with Christ in the Eucharist or the Blessed Mother).
In the current stage of this project, BCF is reaching out to two different groups of people for help. The first group is anyone who is interested and able to help them bring the roadshow to their diocese. Second, BCF wants to get feedback from priests about where they are encountering young people’s questions about sexual orientation or gay people’s place in the Church, what pastoral needs they see for young LGBTQ people, and what kinds of support would be most useful to them.
If you’re a priest, want to help bring BCF to your diocese, or are just someone who is interested in hearing more from Eve about Building Catholic Futures, please .
And please read Eve’s article in America that goes into more detail about this project.
Image: Adobe Stock. By TTstudio.
Paul Fahey lives in Michigan with his wife and four kids. For the past eight years, he has worked as a professional catechist. He has an undergraduate degree in Theology and is currently working toward a Masters Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He is a retreat leader, catechist formator, writer, and a co-founder of Where Peter Is. He is also the founder and co-host of the Pope Francis Generation podcast. His long-term goal is to provide pastoral counseling for Catholics who have been spiritually abused, counseling for Catholic ministers, and counseling education so that ministers are more equipped to help others in their ministry.