Catholic opinion on LGBTQ issues changing, challenging the Church’s anti-gay stance

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The majority of Catholics in the United States support same-sex marriage and the ordination of women into the priesthood, and agree with Pope Francis’ recent statement that the Church has become too focused on abortion, homosexuality, and contraceptives, revealed a survey released by Quinnipiac University on October 4.

The survey is the latest evidence of a new trend among Christian practitioners in the US, where public opinion among church goers differs from the message being put out by the religious institutions they attend.

On October 7, the Huffington Post reported on the increasing trend amongst those attending private Catholic schools to protest their schools’ decision to fire teachers and staff because of their same-sex relationships.

While Catholic schools have a right to fire teachers who do not conform to the Catholic teachings under the protection of the First Amendment, the decision to do so has sparked controversy in local communities, where thousands have signed petitions asking for openly gay staff to be reinstated.

“What we know, what everyone knows, Catholic and non-Catholic, is that the younger generation is much more supportive of marriage equality than older generations, which is the indicator that it is the future,” said Frank DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a pro-gay Catholic group to the Huffington Post on October 7.

That support is evidenced in the survey released on October 4, where it is reported that 60 percent of US Catholics support gay marriage, compared with 31 percent who do not.

While the poll supports the assertion that gay marriage is more popular among younger Catholics, the percentage difference between the age groups is actually quite slim.

In each age group, the percentage of Catholics that support gay marriage was very similar. Among those in the 18-49 age group, 64 percent support gay marriage, compared with 62 percent in the 50-64 age group, and 46 percent who were 65+ years of age.

“On the two issues that have prompted some pulpit thundering, same-sex marriage and abortion, Catholics are right in line, or even a little ahead, of their non-Catholic neighbors,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Another issue on which practitioners differ with the institution: women in the priesthood.

“There’s one big issue where Catholics split with current church practice: by 2-1 they’d like to have women priests. Women and men feel about the same on this issue,” Carroll said in the report published on October 4.

Catholics are not the only religious group pulling away from the dogmatic teachings of their respective institutions — projects like Not All Like That, reported on by 429Magazine in September, show a different side of the Christian community than the one represented in popular media. Christians who support marriage equality and the rights of the LGBTQ community are stepping out and making their position known, changing the face of their religious communities, and reaching out to LGBTQ.

“The time has come for our friends and allies to stand up, speak out, and declare to the world that we are also guided by powerful principles and hold venerated values,” said Wayne Besen of the NALT Christian project in his video.

“This includes full acceptance of LGBT people, with no reservations, no excuses, no qualifiers, and absolutely no ambivalence,” he continued.

429Magazine

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