CV NEWS FEED // The Archdiocese of Baltimore released LGBT pastoral guidelines, which call on Catholics to show love to LGBT people in a way that always affirms and upholds Church teaching.
The document comes after the diocese hosted conversations with a diverse group of people, including parents, educators, and parishioners who identify as gay or lesbian.
Through the document, Archbishop William Lori hopes to provide “a way of approaching this ministry that is rooted in the life-giving tension we often find between charity and truth.”
In 2021, the archdiocese appointed Fr. Matthew Buening to coordinate the archdiocese’s LGBT ministry programs. With Father Buening’s help, the archdiocese developed the comprehensive letter, providing “guard rails” for future ministry efforts.
“It shows the out-of-bounds lines and the playing field,” Buening explained in an interview with the diocese’s newspaper. “It allows the Holy Spirit to guide these many ministries so they can go forward in the best and most effective way they can within those guidelines.”
The document emphasized the tension between charity and truth and ministering through that lens:
When it comes to the accompaniment of LGBT persons, two elements must be held in a life-giving tension. The first is our desire to welcome every person into a relationship with Christ and his Body, the Church. The second is the desire to lead people to the fullness of life that flows from knowing the liberating truth about the human person that has been revealed to us in nature and fully in the person of Jesus Christ.
The document notes that proper ministry will take a holistic approach that will recognize the complementary nature of truth and charity and, in return, lead to proper, holy formation.
“While we experience tension in balancing charity and truth, we also know that in Jesus, they are one. Truth is not an impediment to charity, and charity is no threat to truth; they mutually inform one another. Truth requires charity, and charity needs truth,” said the document.
“Navigating this tension is not easy. As the various ministries that are arising to serve LGBT persons have developed, it has become clear that there is often a struggle to hold these two essential elements in a life-giving tension,” the document continued.
Within the document are a variety of guidelines on proper ministry techniques. It emphasized that proper ministry will focus on accompaniment, not advocacy for reforming Church teaching.
“Ministry with LGBT persons should be shaped toward offering pastoral accompaniment rather than advocating for changes to Church teaching. We should see these as ministries of pastoral care rather than social justice,” the text states.
The guidelines call attention to the fact that every person is called to the virtue of chastity and that Catholics must be willing to walk together no matter their state of life.
“The baptized are called to conform their lives to the model of Christ, who was poor, chaste, and obedient. Chastity is the calling of every Catholic. For many, especially in our current culture, living chastely is a great struggle. Those who are engaged in this struggle may fail time and time again, but their striving deserves our deepest respect, admiration, and support,” read the document.
In recent years, dioceses across the United States have suffered pressure from LGBTQ activists for their LGBT pastoral guidelines addressing Catholic education. Baltimore’s document made no mention of schools or education regarding LGBT issues.
However, Buening hopes that the pastoral guidelines will help the archdiocese provide proper formation and ministry to LGBT individuals.
“If we embrace the truth that the church teaches, we’ll find that it’s actually not against anyone,” Buening said:
It’s meant for our human flourishing. It’s meant for us to live lives that will be a blessing to us. There’s a lot of work to be done on charitably and clearly conveying the church’s teaching. And once that happens, I think a lot of this tension that people feel will kind of dissolve a little bit.