In our parish priorities, we state, “St. John the Baptist Catholic Community offers Christ-like inclusion and acceptance.”
To further this goal, the parish staff, for its own development, is reading Fr. James Martin’s book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. Martin takes those last words from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches that Catholics are called to treat homosexuals with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (#2358).
One of the insights Martin gained was realizing that far more people than he had imagined are touched by this topic. Many Catholic families are affected by LGBT issues, be they moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents uncles and aunts, cousins, or friends of gay Catholics.
Martin does not start with those issues that are divisive for the gay community: our Church’s teaching on marriage and sexual relations. His approach is to focus on how we first can build a bridge in order for folks to be more receptive and understanding of our Church’s teaching. The more foundational issue is our baptismal identity. We are all children of God, members of the Body of Christ.
What does it mean to offer Christ-like inclusion and acceptance? In part, it means being a place where all people will experience respect, compassion, and sensitivity. That challenges all of us.