This weekend in New York City the LGBT community celebrates “Pride Weekend.” In the wake of the Orlando massacres, this event takes on great significance. Now, not every LGBT person will march in a parade this weekend or this month. Some people prefer to stand on the sidewalks and cheer. Some don’t much like parades at all. Sadly, some still have a hard time accepting who they are, and also struggle with their relationships with God.
So I’d like to offer some reflections for LGBT Catholics, and for LGBT youth in particular, who may be struggling with their relationships with God and with the church.
First of all, remember that you were created by God. Psalm 139 says about God, “For it was you who formed my inward parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.”
Have you ever thought of it that way? God knit you together in the womb. God made you the way you are, and gave you to the world. You are God’s gift to the world. You are, as the psalmist says, “wonderfully made.”
Second, for those who feel excluded from the church, remember that you have as much place in the church as the pope does, or your local bishop does—or I do. How do I know this? Because you were baptized. With the sacrament of baptism, you were welcomed into the church. At First Communion, you were welcomed around the table of the Lord, and at Confirmation you were sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Of course it doesn’t stop there. You need God’s grace, you need to confess your sins and you need to be open to continuing conversion. But so does everyone else. So you’re just as much a part of the church as anybody.
Third, listen to what Pope Francis says in his apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia," "The Joy of Love." “We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.”
You may feel that the church hasn’t always welcomed you but things are changing. Pope Francis is fond of using the word “accompaniment.” People in the church are more and more being encouraged to accompany you. So have hope in your church.
Fourth, try to find a parish where you feel welcomed. I know that can be hard. Many big cities have parishes that welcome LGBT Catholics, but not all of them. In that case, try your best to find a parish where you can worship in peace with your brothers and sisters. Sometimes Sunday Masses run by campus chaplaincies at local Catholic colleges or universities may feel more welcoming. Everyone should feel welcome in church, including you.
Fifth, remember that Jesus loves you. Often LGBT people feel on the margins in the church. But in the Gospels, we see how Jesus consistently goes out to people on the margins, welcoming in them into the community. Jesus always sought out those people who felt excluded and made them feel included.
So get to know Jesus—by reading the Gospels, spending time with him in prayer, encountering him in the Eucharist and finding him in your brothers and sisters. Jesus understands you. He gets you. So get to know him.
Overall, have pride in who you are: a beloved creation of God, a member of the church, and a brother and sister to Jesus, who loves you more than you can know.