US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Can't Catholics be "diverse"?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Of all the things the Catholic Church should be able to claim easily, it is diversity; there are 1.2 billion of us after all. But it seems one bishop, Joseph Martino of the Scranton, Pennsylvania diocese, doesn't think Catholic diversity includes gay people. He criticized Misericordia University, a college in the Scranton diocese owned by the Sisters of Mercy, for hosting Keith Boykin, a gay African American whom the Scranton Times-Tribune calls a "gay rights advocate"--though it's hard to know exactly what that means. (You can read their coverage here.) Martino called for the closure of Misericordia's Diversity Institute, which hosts speakers and gives workshops on religion, race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

Martino claimed that giving Boykin the microphone was somehow contrary to church teaching, but it is actually church teaching the gay and lesbian people should suffer no "unjust discrimination," with the "unjust" part being the rub between the bishops and many in the gay community, as well as in the church as a whole.

But what bothers me most is that Martino and those like him seem to suggest that being gay and being Catholic are somehow mutually exclusive. The fact of the matter is, the church has many gay members--probably baptized long before they knew they were gay--who continue with much struggle to keep their rightful place in the church. There may be disagreements on how being gay and discipleship go together--just as they are disagreements about how being straight (or American for that matter) and discipleship go together--but that doesn't mean we all--gay, straight, and otherwise--aren't still equally Catholic.

Indeed, it is a disservice to all the People of God to say that such a conversation can't occur in a Catholic institution. Where else should Catholics be discussing these issues?