Aug. 6, 2018. Last week, Pope Francis changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church to make the death penalty entirely unacceptable, saying it is “an attack” on human dignity. DignityUSA, the organization of LGBTQI Catholics and allies, welcomes this change, along with many other Catholics around the world. DignityUSA also notes that this news has some very important and particular implications for LGBTQI people. Therefore, DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke has issued the following statement:
- If it is to be consistent in its opposition to the death penalty, the Catholic Church must now back away from supporting or turning a blind eye in the ten or more nations where simply being homosexual and/or transgender can be punished by death. We call on Church officials to bring the same “determination” Pope Francis promised in working for the abolition of the death penalty across the globe to its eradication in these instances.
- Pope Francis’ action to change the Catechism on his own, without the approval of the College or Cardinals or any other official body, means that he can also change the harmful and dehumanizing language that says being gay is “objectively disordered,” and that all same-sex relationships “are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2357) This language undermines the safety, dignity, and spiritual and emotional health of many people around the globe and must be removed from the Catechism. We call on Pope Francis to change or eliminate this language, which has caused so much harm for so many through the years.
- Even where anti-LGBTQI violence is legally prohibited, LGBTQI people remain targets of violence and murder at rates much higher than cisgender and straight people. This, too, is a grievous assault on human dignity. The elimination of support for the death penalty should not be conditional on any aspect of the people involved, least of all on the completely innocent trait of sexual orientation or gender identity. This means that the Church must support the full human dignity of all people without exception. We call on Pope Francis and all Church officials to advocate vigorously for the lives and safety of LGBTQI people, as they must do for others.
- Finally, we call on all Catholics committed to justice and equality for LGBTQI people to insist that this important and welcome change in the Catechism be applied to LGBTQI people in the same way it is applied to others.