Dear Sisters and Brothers –
My heart is heavy as I begin to write. This is a very difficult week for a number of reasons. The first one is a story in this morning’s paper which details the horrific events in Atlanta – additional, bigger, more tragic versions of the rising anti-Asian violence in our country over the last year. Recent reports have raised to our individual and collective consciences this insidious prejudice, carried out against our Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who are experiencing discrimination and living in fear and isolation.
A second reason my heart is heavy is the new directive from the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, released on Monday, which forbids the blessing of same-gender unions. It continues to use the harsh and cruel language of “objectively ordered” and “disordered” when speaking about LGBTQ Catholics. I think that it lands especially hard given Pope Francis’s history in speaking about these issues: In the first year of his papacy, Francis famously said, “Who am I to judge?” when talking about how he would treat a homosexual person in confession. Three years ago, he told a clergy sex abuse survivor that “it doesn’t matter you are gay. God made you that way and he loves you the way you are, and it doesn’t matter to me.” And just a few months ago, the Pope made clear that he supported same-sex civil unions because of the legal protections they provide. So to hear this pronouncement, in language that is the furthest thing from the pastoral tone we’ve come to expect from Francis, is hurtful, heartbreaking and embarrassing.
It seems as though Lent and the nearness of Easter should provide me some great inspiration, but I feel I have none today. However, St. Ignatius does, and I can say this with certainty: God is found in all things. In all things, including the deep loss and senselessness of the violence in Atlanta, if only weeping with families and friends. God will be found in the lives and loves of “people of good will and who seek out the Lord.” God will be found in the passion of those standing in solidarity with our AAIP and LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers. I also say with deep conviction that we stand with all who hurt this week, as fellow US citizens and Catholics. You belong to us, and we belong to you. And we are here to listen to you in order that we can stand with you more humbly and with deeper compassion, for we want to walk with you into a kinder, more just country and church.
Oremus pro invicem.