In an essay published yesterday by National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters quotes approvingly a statement by Washington, D.C. Cardinal Wuerl on his blog defending the firing of LGBT employees of Catholic institutions who marry a same-sex partner, but claiming that the Catholic church "welcomes" "everybody," LGBT people included.
"[Cardinal Wuerl] then immediately affirms that the Church welcomes everybody, including LGBT Catholics."
But if you are gay and married, then the Archdiocese of Washington does not welcome you.
And that's the truth, plain and simple. Singling out LGBT employees who contravene magisterial teaching by marrying, when you don't single out and fire heterosexual employees who also contravene magisterial teaching by living together before marriage, by using contraceptives, by divorcing and remarrying: this is the very antithesis of welcome.
And it's downright dirty and ugly for leaders of the Catholic church to keep using the word "welcome" to describe what they're doing to LGBT people when they single them out in this unjust way. You cannot be more unwelcoming to a human being than to deprive him or her of a livelihood, of daily bread, of healthcare benefits, of a social context in which to use his/her God-given talents, while using moral principles selectively to apply to some people and not to others.
What Catholic leaders are doing to LGBT human beings as they fire them right and left when these human beings choose to marry legally is shameful, and it's shameful for Catholic journalists like Michael Sean Winters to defend all of this and try to pull a rhetorical veil over it with the word "welcome." Winters concludes his defense of Wuerl by saying that if the church is too heavy-handed in dealing with LGBT people, it will play into the hands of those who want to attack church teaching on marriage.
Magisterial teaching about human sexuality and marriage is not written in stone. It has developed over time and will continue to develop. The process of development requires that the church permit open, wide, respectful conversation about its teaching — not that it silence and drive away targeted groups of dissenters (and this is what it is doing by singling out LGBT Catholics, firing them, driving them from the church), while ignoring, in the case of the teachings about human sexuality, the 90%+ heterosexually married Catholics who reject church teaching about contraception.
Far more central to what the church stands for are its teachings about love, mercy, and justice. How can LGBT Catholics or anyone who cares about the lives of these Catholics even begin to hear those teachings — which are foundational to Catholic teaching in a way that the teachings about sexual morality and marriage are not foundational — when they're treated in such a grossly unjust and unwelcoming way by Catholic institutions?
How are those foundational teachings served by the unjust targeting and firing of LGBT employees of Catholic institutions? What meaning can those foundational teachings possibly have when LGBT employees of Catholic institutions are being fired right and left? What meaning can those foundational teachings have in the real world and not the world of self-serving rhetorical fantasy, when LGBT employees of Catholic institutions are being fired right and left?
John Hobson is entirely correct: Welcome? What welcome?!