Catholic laity more supportive of gay rights than hierarchy

A report in the Stamford (CT) Advocate tells about a support group for LGBT Roman Catholics that encourages sexual abstinence and avoiding same unions or marriage. It is a kind of middle way between the stand taking by the Catholic group Dignity USA, which is for full inclusion, and mindless gay-bashing. The problem is that a new study shows that most Catholic laity are way ahead of their heirarchy in accepting LGBT persons in their midst.

From the Public Religion Research Institute website:

Catholics are more supportive of legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall. Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43%) or allowing them to form civil unions (31%). Only 22% of Catholics say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.

When same-sex marriage is defined explicitly as a civil marriage, support is dramatically higher among Catholics. If marriage for gay couples is defined as a civil marriage “like you get at city hall,” Catholic support for allowing gay couples to marry increases by 28 points, from 43% to 71%. A similar pattern exists in the general population, but the Catholic increase is more pronounced.

Beyond the issue of same-sex marriage, Catholic support for rights for gays and lesbian people is strong and slightly higher than the general public. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace; 63% of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military; and 6-in-10 (60%) Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

The Stamford Advocate reports:

The new program called Courage, which has chapters around the world, does not condone physical sex between same-sex partners. But it creates a "spiritual support system which would assist men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love," according to the Courage website.

"We really needed to do something because a lot of people are hurting, because families are torn apart by this, and we really need to be responsive," said Deacon Robert Pallotti, who operates the Courage program in Connecticut.

"We do have a pastoral responsibility to do all we can to make people feel welcome in the church."

Catholic pro-gay groups generally had a negative reaction to Courage.

"Courage does not want to convert you to become heterosexual, so in some ways, it's a little more enlightened that the other programs that the Catholic Church has had for gays," said Phil Attey, executive director of the national group, Catholics for Equality. "But at its core it's still rooted in dangerous, harmful and barbaric thinking. The idea that you can suppress someone's sexuality and still have that person develop into a happy, well-adjusted person, well, there's very little evidence that that's possible."

Comments (3)

Catholic laity more supportive of gay rights than hierarchy

And, in other news, water is wet.

FWIW, I really don't see Courage as a "middle way". It's the flip-side of the coin of gay-bashing (ala "Do it---abstinence---Or Else!")

Starting a new chapter of "Abstinence-Only" in 2012 makes about as much sense as opening a typewriter factory (if typewriters were abusive!).

JC Fisher

The great perversity of the situation is that such a high percentage of Roman clergy are gay and yet publicly are so anti-LGBT.

I'm not surprised by the fact that RCs have a higher rate of support for same-sex marriage. This is a religious group that has always strictly differentiated between civil marriage and "marriage in the church".

Also, the group "Courage" isn't something new. I remember reading about this group when I was in high school in the 1990's. It was (and is) the GLBT group that follows the official teaching of the Vatican regarding homosexuality. It never fails to amaze me how the RC Church can say, "God loves you...but you're intrinsically disordered."

-Cullin R. Schooley

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