Over the last few days, we've all prayed a great deal for the Synod on the Family, and there have been many postings on the question of the church's pastoral response to divorced and remarried Catholics. But yesterday's New York Times op-ed, the number of vicious responses it engendered on this page, and the moving testimony of Ron and Mavis Pirola at the Synod today, make me ...think that perhaps it would be good to pray specifically for LGBT people tonight. For, as the Pirolas said, they are part of our family too.
Today I received dozens of messages from LGBT Catholics expressing their pain, after having read some of the comments on this page. It's not surprising that they feel so much pain. I'm sad to say that too many Catholics, in almost every corner of our church, from chanceries to sacristies to homes, still harbor hatred and fear of gays and lesbians. It's not only scandalous but sinful.
But there are other reasons for their pain. Some people may not know that over 20 percent of hate crimes are violence against people based on their sexual orientation (the vast majority being LGBT people). Or that LGBT youth are in this country four times more likely to commit suicide. Worldwide, in five countries and in parts of two others, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty, while a further 70 countries imprison citizens because of their sexual orientation.
Today's Gospel, in which Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan, may also speak to us about LGBT persons. For the parable is not only about being compassionate to someone in need, but how the carrier of grace is often the one who has been rejected, despised and marginalized.
So tonight, perhaps we could pray for our LGBT brothers and sisters. Let us pray for an end to violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as well as an end to the kind of language, especially within our church, that may lead to hatred for, rejection of, or violence against gays. And let us work so that every gay person feels as welcome as everyone else does in the church into which they were called at their baptism--by God.
Our friend Fr. William Hart McNichols has graciously allowed me to share with you his icon "The Passion of Matthew Shepherd," which depicts the murdered young man before the fence post to which he was tied and beaten to death in 1998. May it lead you to prayer.