The advocacy group United and Strong Inc, (U&S) has welcomed the views expressed recently by two officials of the local Catholic Church that gay people should not be discriminated against.
Catholic Deacons – David Popo and Peter Fevrier appeared on the HTS programme Straight Up, last week where the issue was discussed and the position of the church that gay marriage was not in accordance with the will of God was explained.
It was also observed that the gospel is supposed to influence the lives of individuals and not the other way around.
At the same time it was noted that one of the principles of the Catholic social teaching is the inherent dignity of the human person irrespective of class, race, creed, nationality or choice of lifestyle.
United and Strong ‘s Communications and Advocacy Officer Bennet Charles has welcomed the stand against discrimination against gays, noting that in Saint Lucia the Catholic denomination may boast a membership of 50 percent.
“We believe that there is a responsibility by all Christian denominations to foster a society of anti-discrimination not just among their followers, but all Saint Lucians,” Charles said.
He told St Lucia Times that the catechism of the Catholic Church, containing dogmas and teachings of the church, names homosexual acts as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law.
Charles noted that the catechism also names homosexual tendencies as ‘objectively disordered.’
“The actual experience of LGBT practitioners, parishioners, may vary across parishes in Saint Lucia but negative experiences seem to be the norm. We are not too sure how or if the Catholic community reaches out to LGBT members, even with an understanding that the church does not approve of same sex relationships – even in committed ones,” the United and Strong official stated.
Charles expressed the view that there may be a significant gap between the views of the Catholic laity and the policies enacted by the Catholic leadership.
“What are the views in Saint Lucia of this generation of Catholics when it comes to same sex relationships and even families built on a foundation of love, Christianity and same sex parents?” He asked.
Charles observed that on the matter of transgender persons, there is still no official policy in the catechism of the Catholic Church.
He told St Lucia Times that the Vatican Extraordinary Synod in 2014 debated several issues related to LGBT inclusion, but did not address questions regarding transgender church members.
The United and Strong spokesperson asserted that this may have been an attempt to sweep the matter under the rug.
“A clear example of this was in 2015 when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responsible for enforcing Catholic doctrine, did not permit a transgender man in Spain to serve as a Godfather, effectively barring transgender Catholics from serving as baptismal sponsors,” Charles explained.
“Is this discriminatory or not?” He asked.
Nevertheless Charles noted that the policy of the Vatican is that those with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
“Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” he explained.
Charles said United and Strong would be most willing to meet with the clergy of the Catholic Church to have a conversation in advancing a working relationship, targetting a reduction in discriminatory behavior within the Parishes.