Father Mychal Judge, the Franciscan priest and NYFD Chaplain who died in the line of duty at the foot of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001has become an icon for gay Roman Catholics. For example, a parish in Syracuse, New York, is erecting a statue to both honor Judge’s witness and to demonstrate to the community that this parish chooses to continue that witness.
Daniel Burke writes for RNS:
When All Saints Church sought to signal its hospitality to gays and lesbians, the Catholic parish in Syracuse, N.Y., turned to a well-known image from the 9/11 attacks: five firefighters carrying a body from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.
The body belonged to the Rev. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan fire chaplain who rushed to the burning buildings and was killed by falling debris. Later, a half-hidden secret emerged about the gallant priest: he was gay.
All Saints hopes the statue will demonstrate that the parish, following Judge’s lead, is committed to closing the chasms between rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight, said the Rev. Fred Daley, the church’s pastor.
Moreover, Daley said, the monument will memorialize a man who, like many gays and lesbians, struggled to fit into a church that considers homosexual desires “an intrinsic moral evil” and seeks to prohibit gay men from becoming priests.
“Here’s a gay person who was committed to celibacy, flourishing in the priesthood. It breaks so many stereotypes that people have,” said Daley, who came out as gay himself in 2004.“For young gay people in particular, how good it is that Mychal Judge can be a role model for them.”