Schneible spoke in response to a messaging effort from the Equal Future website, launched Aug. 22 at an event held parallel to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. It is soliciting Catholics and non-Catholics to send messages to their regions’ delegates to the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocations, to be held Oct. 3-28.
The default text for the message alleges that there is “damage done to children when they are given the sense that to be LGBT would be a misfortune or disappointment.”
The website instructions ask writers to “respectfully explain why you feel children are still getting that sense, and the role played by the rules of the Catholic Church and/or of other organizations in society.”
It says letters to the delegates should ask them to consider the letter-writer’s story at the synod, and should ask for a reply. The letter submission form asks whether the writer was baptized Catholic. Answers include “prefer not to say.”
Daniel Mattson, a Catholic speaker and author of “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay,” reflected on the Equal Future campaign.
“I think the Church needs to do a much better job in reaching out to those who identify as LGBT. As one who used to see myself as a gay man, I’ve come to realize how empty the promises of the LGBT movement are,” he told CNA.
According to Mattson, the Church must proclaim her teachings as “truly good news, even when we fear that truth might be offensive.” He cited Christ's encounter with the rich young man, in which Christ's response made the young man go away sad.
“For a time, I went away sad, but I’m grateful no one in my life who truly loved me ever told me that the life I was living was morally acceptable! We never love anyone by not inviting them to live a moral life. Not all will go away sad, either.”
Mattson stressed the need for a “call to conversion” and to remember, “we can never be more compassionate than Jesus.” He also warned against “the willful refusal to speak about the health damages of living out a life of active homosexuality, particularly among men.”
“In nearly every area of both mental and physical health, the LGBT community suffers more profoundly than their heterosexual counterparts,” he said.
At least 60 groups from around the world are backing the Equal Future campaign. These include secular groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, GLSEN, Music4Children.org, and ALL OUT.
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, the U.S.-based New Ways Ministry, and Dignity USA are also named as backers of the project. Catholic authorities including the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago have rejected New Ways Ministry’s self-identification as a Catholic group.
(Story cotinues below)
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The director of the Equal Future campaign is Tiernan Brady of Ireland, who was director of the successful referenda in Ireland and Australia to give legal recognition to gay marriage. He told the Financial Times that his campaign targeting the Catholic Church will draw on practices from the Irish and Australian campaigns.
“I think one of the things we’ve found in all these campaigns is we can talk about rights all we want, but it’s human stories that people understand and that appeal to people’s humanity,” Brady said.
He said the initial inclusion of same-sex couples’ photos in literature for the World Meeting of Families suggested that there was already sympathy for such couples at the Vatican, even though the photos were later removed. Brady argued the Church will end up campaigning “against the sons and daughters of the men and women in your pews,” and churchgoers won’t understand it.
For Schneible, it is important to let each person tell their story.
“But we do not stop there,” she said. “As Catholic Christians, we believe that we must always seek to understand our own stories in light of the Gospel, the story of salvation”
The wider discussion often ignores people who have same-sex attractions and embrace chastity, she said.