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Should Catholics attend Pride events?

We know the Vatican has a long-held stance against LGBTQ rights, but plenty of lay Catholics disagree with them on this issue. One of them, John Gehring, is now calling for more Catholics to march in Pride parades, in part because of the blatant homophobia displayed by Church leaders like the recent tweet from a bishop that said homosexuality is harmful to children.

As a Catholic who loves both my church and my gay friends and family, I’m sickened by this expression of hypocrisy, homophobia and fearmongering. At a time when the Catholic Church is struggling to reclaim moral credibility after systematically covering up decades of child abuse, the idea that a Catholic leader would declare Pride events “especially harmful for children” reveals a stunning lack of self-awareness.

Catholics who attend Pride events are reclaiming their humanity and honoring the basic dignity of those they love in response to a history and culture where gay, lesbian and transgender people have often been discarded by their religiously conservative families and rejected by churches. Those who consider themselves “pro-life” Christians can’t ignore the reality that sexual minorities are disproportionately at risk for self-harm and targeted for violence.

From a Catholic perspective, Gehring’s position should seem sensible. He’s not asking for the church to change its stance on homosexual acts, which isn’t going to happen any time soon. He is, however, asking his brethren to stand in solidarity with a marginalized group whose safety in public spaces is compromised. That’s not an unreasonable request.

It’s possible, however, that an overtly Catholic presence at Pride events will not be welcomed by all participants. The Church stands in the way of LGBTQ rights even as individual Catholics may be wonderful allies. To use a Pride event to put the Catholic Church in a positive light may come across as insensitive or callous. Better for those participants to admit the Church is wrong and promise to fight against it on these issues than to show temporary support for LGBTQ people while giving money every week to an institution that works to harm their community.

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