Quest welcomes Pope Francis' clear words of apology to LGBT Catholics

Ruby Almeida, chair of Quest (LGBT Catholics) has approved the following text in response to Pope Francis' apology for past harm done to gay people:

Quest welcomes Pope Francis' clear words of apology to lesbian and gay Catholics. We share the view of some LGBT people who point out that this could and should have gone further, but there is time for that, later. For now, what matters is that this is a major turning point in the Catholic Church's response to lesbian and gay people. (Regrettably, the apology offered nothing to transgender Catholics). Other bishops have previously issued their own apologies, for example the German speaking small group at the 2015 Family Synod in Rome, and the two English bishops who attended, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Peter Doyle. We hope and expect that this clear example from the head of the Church, will encourage many more to follow their example.

Words of apology however, are not enough. Pope Francis has acknowledged the harm that has been done by the Church in the past. As Fr James Martin SJ has observed in a facebook post, this harm is real and deep, and for many LGBT Catholics, it is not just a matter of the past, but continues, even today. Hurt and wounds require healing. A closing resolution of the 2015 Family Synod resolved that special pastoral attention needs to be given to families with lesbian or gay people. Such families certainly include those headed by lesbian and gay people themselves.

The Family Synod and Pope Francis' "The Joy of Love" also emphasise the importance in pastoral care to people in complex situation, of accompanying and of listening to them.

With these principles in mind, Quest urges the bishops of the British church to take them seriously, and to look for ways to expand and improve its present standards of pastoral care to LGBT people. In our turn, we would like to offer our assistance to the bishops and other church structures (Catholic schools and university chaplaincies, for example), to make the Church more like the "field hospital for the wounded" that our pontiff has previously described.

[Quest is the only nationwide organization of British LGBT Catholics. For details of its work, see the website, and past issues of Quest Bulletin]