How to build a bridge of hearts and minds: change needed across the LGBT/Church divide

21 June 2017 | by James Martin

Sexuality and the Church


The Church is often experienced as an unwelcome, even hostile, place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics. One of the most respected voices in the American Church suggests that an emotional and intellectual conversion is needed – on both sides / By James Martin

In a frequently overlooked passage, the Catechism of the Catholic Church asks Catholics to treat the “homosexual person” with “respect, compassion and sensitivity”. This does not mean there will not be disagreement and debate about the Church’s teaching on sexuality; but the Church works best when it embodies these three virtues, whatever the issue might be.

In recent years, the larger social climate has become more divisive, and opposing factions increasingly regard each other with contempt. The “echo chambers” created by social media intensify the sourness of public discourse. Only where there is respect, compassion and sensitivity can bridges be built.

Let’s reflect on one of these virtues: compassion. The word comes from the Greek pasch, meaning to “experience” or to “suffer with”. Can the Church treat the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with compassion? And can the LGBT community reciprocate?

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