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Panel discusses LGBT issues, Catholocism

| Friday, December 2, 2016

When in 2013, Pope Francis, referring to gay and lesbian persons, said “who am I to judge?” he sparked a conversation on the Catholic Church’s stance on LGBT issues that has continued over the past few years. In a panel hosted by Campus Ministry, PrismND and the Gender Relations Center on Thursday evening in DeBartolo Hall, professor of theology at Providence College Dana Dillon and Dr. Patrick Beeman, an Air Force obstetrician-gynecologist, discussed the LGBT community in relation to the Church and Catholic teaching.

After a brief discussion of the meaning of mercy by both panelists, Beeman talked about how his initial “knee-jerk reactions” against gay marriage and other LGBT issues changed when he went through a divorce, another act formally condemned by the Catholic Church.

“I ran in circles that were uber-Catholic and I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’” Beeman said. “Then I realized that it doesn’t matter; I’m still called to be a Catholic.”

Beeman said he was able to apply this same logic to those in the LGBT community, who he said could still seek Christ despite the Church’s official opposition to their actions. He said he moved more toward becoming an ally of LGBT people as a result of this experience.

Dillon said supporting LGBT individuals falls within the greater Catholic social teachings on the common good and preferential treatment for the poor, which she said applied not just to those poor in wealth, but also marginalized groups.

“The Catholic common good is the good of all and the good of each, where the two serve one another, rather than being in competition,” she said. “I think it is certainly true with the LGBTQ community, a historically marginalized group. Where we stand exactly in our Catholicism and our Catholic identity, we need to stand with those marginalized and vulnerable.”

The panelists also discussed what Catholics can do better to aid LGBT individuals. Beeman said he thought Catholics ought to be better in helping gay or lesbian couples when they choose to start a family.

“Yes, we don’t think that artificially produced pregnancies are a good idea for lesbian couples or for anyone, but couples who are going through pregnancy … we must be supportive of their health,” he said.

Dillon said there must be a constant fight against derogatory speech and actions.

“Every single one of us [should work] to create that environment resisting hate and oppression,” she said. “It is a different discussion … arguing about principles and about people and how we talk to them.”

Dillon said her stance as an LGBT ally has often exposed her to criticism, especially when she defended John Corvino, an advocate for gay marriage, in his attempt to speak at Providence College. Corvino’s 2013 appearance at Providence was canceled.

“I got lectured by people in Campus Ministry and the theology and philosophy [departments] on cooperating with evil, for my willingness to stand up and defend Church teaching and [to] also allow this man to come and speak on campus,” she said.

Dillon concluded with a plea for acceptance by all Catholics.

“I want to suggest that however you identify — gay, Catholic, both, neither — try to find ways to actively give people permission to be your friend and ally without agreeing on everything,” she said.

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About Lucas Masin-Moyer

Lucas Masin-Moyer is a Sophomore at Notre Dame majoring in Political Science and American Studies, with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. He serves as Associate News Editor, lives in Morrissey Manor and hails from Telford, Pennsylvania.

Contact Lucas
  • Chrizmart

    I love Prof. Dillon’s sage advice and parting shot.

    Yes, getting along with people of differing opinions, being civil and respectful towards them, even showing them friendship, is solid proof of any profession of Christianity.

    The “closed shop” world… the insularity and navel gazing… of some Christians is a worry.

    Those who opposed Dr Corvino’s appearance at Providence need to take stock. In the end, what will matter is how much we loved, especially how much we loved those who disagreed with us. Giving a platform to someone whose views may not be universally appealing does not imply support for those views, but it would have been the courteous thing to do: the loving thing to do. Besides, Dr Corvino is a very entertaining speaker. The loss was theirs.