“So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” 1 John 4:16
At the center of our faith is love—God’s love for all of creation and our love for one another. While the Vatican acknowledges the truth of this statement, it fails to recognize that love in all its forms is blessed by God, by denying love between two people of the same gender. As one of many advocates for inclusivity from within the Catholic Church Fr. Bryan Massingale has said, “Every human being is born with this innate desire to love,” and that “for those who are oriented toward members of the same sex...to have it being described as inherently or innately sinful without any qualification, that is crushing.”1 Massingale elsewhere asks: “How can something be positive, valued, and appreciated, and yet be sinful?”2
This is the crux of the matter. To call love between people a "sin" is directly counter to the idea that God is love. To condemn this love is to condemn God and that is the sin! God has no exclusions or caveats to the commandment to love. The Roman Catholic Church, and many other Christians, continues to choose prejudice over blessing, division over inclusivity. The church was not created to judge but to be the conduit of goodness and a builder of holy community.
As professor of Catholic ecclesiology Dr. Natalia Imperatori-Lee writes, “It boggles the mind that the hierarchy can affirm that LGBTQ+ persons are made in the image of God but that their unions are a sin. [...] Are they made in God’s image with the exception of their hearts? With the exception of their abilities and inclinations to love?"3
Let us be clear: God created this world and called it good.4 The goodness of God’s care and affirmation is for all God’s people, including those who are LGBTQ, created in the very image and likeness of God. The sacrament of marriage simply acknowledges that which God has already blessed—the deep and abiding love between people. In fact, it is love that is the blessing, love that leads us to joy, fulfillment, and the commitment to share in both good times and in bad. Affirming that holy blessing is an act of faithfulness.
God who is Love, we hold in Your unyielding compassion all those, particularly LGBTQ Catholics, who are harmed by the Vatican’s statement. We honor the holy dissidents of the Catholic faith working within the tradition to make the Church a true conduit of Your Goodness. And we praise You, God whose blessing persists even when fallible humans do not recognize it.
1. Quoted in David Crary and Luis Andres Henao, “LGBTQ Catholics stung by Vatican rebuff of same-sex unions,” abc News, accessed March 17, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/lgbtq-catholics-stung-vatican-rebuff-sex-unions-76472627
2. Amna Nawaz and Bryan Massingale, “Could the Vatican’s decree on same-sex unions turn people away from church?.” NBC News, accessed March 17, 2021, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/could-the-vaticans-decree-on-same-sex-unions-turn-people-away-from-church
3. Quoted in Crary and Henao, “LGBTQ Catholics,” abc News.
4. Genesis 1.