Metro Weekly

Catholic bishops to LGBTQ youth: ‘God is on your side’

Eight U.S. bishops joined the Tyler Clementi Foundation in sending a message of support to young LGBTQ people

catholic, bishop, lgbtq, youth
Photo: Mateus Campos Felipe / Unsplash

A group of Catholic bishops have signed a statement affirming their support for LGBTQ youth, declaring, “God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

Eight bishops from across the U.S. — including Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Newark, and Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester — signed the statement, which was released by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, a nonprofit that tackles online and offline bullying, harassment and humiliation.

“As Catholic Bishops in the United States, we join with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in standing up for at-risk LGBT youth in our country,” the statement reads. “As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ taught love, mercy and welcome for all people, especially for those who felt persecuted or marginalized in any way; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that LGBT people are to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity.'”

The bishops state that “all people of goodwill should help, support, and defend LGBT youth,” noting that they “attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight counterparts,” are “often homeless because of families who reject them, and who are “the target of violent acts at alarming rates.”

“The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you,” the bishops state. “Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

Speaking to America Magazine, Archbishop Wester said he wanted LGBTQ youth to know “you have worth, you have value and you’re a child of God.”

Wester said the church’s teachings “need to be understood in the proper context of love and mercy.”

“Sometimes people can make equivocations, ‘Well if it’s a sin to engage in a homosexual act, then I must be terrible person,’” he said. “The church doesn’t doesn’t teach that and it’s important [young people] don’t get that erroneous impression.”

Bishop John Stowe, of the Diocese of Lexington, Ky., said he signed the statement after hearing reports of LGBTQ students being bullied in the diocese’s schools.

Stowe said that “offensive remarks” are often “left unchallenged or even laughed at by faculty” and that young LGBTQ Catholics endure “traumatizing experiences” such as “social rejection and concerns about God’s love for them and whether they had any hope of salvation.”

Jane Clementi, cofounder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, said she hoped young LGBTQ people would “read this statement and feel supported, know they are not alone and know that there are members of their faith community that support them.”

The foundation is named after Clementi’s son, Tyler Clementi, who died by suicide in 2015 while attending Rutgers University, after his roommate and another student cyberbullied him by invading his privacy and using his webcam to broadcast footage of Clementi kissing another male.

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