PICKART: Catholic Church must live up to teachings

The+Vatican+in+Vatican+City+in+Rome%2C+Italy.+Photo+via+Flickr+

The Vatican in Vatican City in Rome, Italy. Photo via Flickr

This story is part of a series called “Moving On, But Not Forward.” As we see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, this series draws attention to the social issues that were less prioritized during the pandemic but are now coming back into the public spotlight. 

The Vatican’s appalling and disagreeable stance against same-sex marriages is one that will not only affect the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, but also the Catholic Church and organized religion as a whole. 

The Church’s statement is deeply unfortunate and extremely detrimental toward the LGBTQ+ community, as the Church denied any form of same-sex marriage blessings March 15. In a message approved by Pope Francis, the response stated that Church’s stance on same-sex marriages would not and will not align with that of the progressive society. 

There is no doubt that denying blessings to same-sex couples will only further enhance the pain and anger of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, especially those who are Catholics.

This pain and anger is justified, and those feelings should be encouraged among all Catholics. For an institution that constantly preaches “love of thy neighbor,” this is the greatest hypocrisy. 

On top of this hypocrisy, the Vatican also explained that the Church refuses to bless sin, alluding to same-sex marriages as such. This is extremely disappointing. 

In doing so, the Church failed to even recognize same-sex marriages as marriages and, instead, used the term “union” to acknowledge a civilly recognized marriage that exists between members of the same sex. Grace, love and faith persist in same-sex relationships and should be recognized for their uttermost beauty and authenticity. 

What is perhaps most frustrating about the Vatican’s stance is the fact that it identifies gay and lesbian individuals as “persons with homosexual inclinations,” while asking that the LGBTQ+ community recognizes the “genuine nearness of the Church … and receive the teachings with sincere openness.” In doing so, the Church attempts to deny that denying blessing of same-sex couples is any form of discrimination. If that is not discrimination, I do not know what is.

While the Church asks the LGBTQ+ community to remain open, it is directly closing off and restricting the capabilities of same-sex couples and marriages in the Church, thus again committing complete hypocrisy. 

Loving, faith-filled marriage, no matter the orientation of the couple, should be valued and celebrated in the Church.

A community that has been the recipient of prejudice and have been constantly reminded that their livelihood, by nature, is a sin from the Church has no reason to remain open to the Church’s said teachings and practices. It is nearly impossible for the LGBTQ+ community to feel the genuine nearness of the Church that discriminates against them. They owe nothing to the Church as an institution. 

The Church is stuck in the past and fails to change with the ever-evolving society around it, ultimately doing a disservice to both Catholics and the rest of society. Catholicism is declining at an alarming rate, with an 18% decrease in membership in the last two decades. I am not surprised and I suspect that membership will continue to decline with the Church’s discrimination against nontraditional marriages and identities. 

As a Catholic, my parents and my education instilled in me a sense of love for the world around me, an appreciation for all people and all orientations and a deep commitment toward fighting for justice and against all injustices. 

While I want to stand with and for the Church at all times, I cannot when the Church denies the love of a community that I care deeply for. In fact, I will gladly stand against the Church and demand better. I am angry and I am ashamed of my faith’s institution. This is wrong. It is simple: The labeling of LGBTQ+ couples as an act of sin is absolutely abominable and an act of violence. 

The Catholic Church must do better. It is committing a deep act of violence against the LGBTQ+ community, and it is directly contradicting Catholicism’s golden rule: Love your neighbor as yourself.

At Marquette, students and faculty must actively combat such violence and discrimination in its teachings. We are to demand that the LGBTQ+ community be welcomed and celebrated by the Church. Their love is not a sin, and their love and livelihood, too, is filled with faith. 

I urge Catholics everywhere and students at Marquette recognize love as love. 

Though the pandemic continues and our journey toward health is not quite finished, it is essential that members of the Church community continue to fight the injustices of the Church as an institution and commit toward a more welcoming, inclusive Church.

While the pandemic disrupted our lifestyles, the discrimination and prejudices against the LGBTQ+ community have still remained and the inequities still prevail. There is still so much work to be done.

In my life experience, I am reminded that love perseveres again and again, and that is enough. Love is enough.

Today and every day after, Catholics everywhere must demand the celebration, blessing and recognition as authentic, faith-filled love in the Catholic Church. 

This story was written by Max Pickart. He can be reached at max.pickart@marquette.edu