Catholic Church struggles to retain LGBT-supporting millennials

A historic and highly controversial event occurred on Saturday, Oct. 2: Monsignor Krysztof Olaf Charamsa, a Polish priest who served with the Vatican’s doctrinal arm, was released from his duties within the Vatican. This dismissal came following Charamsa’s public announcement of his homosexuality.

The announcement came via a webcast in which Charamsa stood side by side with his partner. During the video conference, Charamsa called upon Pope Francis to revise the Catholic doctrine on homosexuality. The current doctrine considers same-sex relationships to be sinful, a position the majority of the world is well aware of.

Monsignor Charmasa’s announcement did not come without a great deal of thought. He stated in an interview that his “decision on ‘coming out’ is a very personal decision in the homophobic world of the Catholic Church. It has been very difficult and very hard.” The announcement also came on the eve of the Synod of Bishops, a three-week meeting of bishops from around the world during which issues facing Catholic families are addressed. When asked if the timing of this event had any effect on his decision to make his sexuality known publicly, he responded: “The timing is not intended to pressurize anyone, but maybe [to create] a good pressure, in fact a Christian participation, a Christian voice that wants to bring to the synod the response of the homosexual believers to the questioning of Pope Francis.”

His mention of Pope Francis is especially interesting. Even though the pope is showing no desire to adjust the church’s teaching on homosexuality, one cannot forget that the pope famously said “Who am I to judge?” in reference to gay priests who seek to do God’s will in 2013. The pope would seem once again to be the most progressive-minded leader that the church has ever seen. He met privately with a transgender man in Spain this past January and reportedly met with a longtime friend who is homosexual in his recent visit to the United States.

So here is where the question arises: Is it time for the church to review and revise their teachings and views on homosexuality? Even though the self-identified Catholic population of the U.S. has been steadily rising since 1965, the total number of practicing Catholic priests and total number of Catholic parishes in the U.S. have both been on a steady decline since the same year. This suggests that even though more people are identifying as Catholic, less people are actually attending mass.

According to a study performed by the Pew Research Center, only 33 percent of Americans were in favor of gay marriage in 2003. As of 2013, 49 percent of adult Americans supported same-sex marriage. Additionally, 70 percent of those people born from 1980 and onwards, referred to as “millennials,” support same-sex marriage. These numbers all show that as interest in the church decreases, support of same-sex marriage increases. Taking all of the statistics into consideration, I believe that it is time for the Catholic Church to reconsider and revise its views on homosexuality. As part of the millennial generation, I am in full support of same-sex marriage and have had steadily decreasing interest in the church from a young age.

Monsignor Charamsa hits it on the head by stating that “Every homosexual person is a son of God... This is the will of God for our life, also for my life with him.” Religion is supposed to be something that provides people with hope in their lives. It should not matter how people identify. It should not matter if their sexual orientation disagrees with the teachings of the church. The fact that an organization will deny their homosexual members the right to be united under its jurisdiction is something that I find unacceptable.

Pope Francis is trying to bring the church into the 21st century, and this would be an excellent place to start. 70 percent of the prominent population in today’s age disagrees with the church on the topic of homosexuality. If the church hopes to remain prominent in the world, it very well may need to adapt. Going to mass is something that is supposed to present people an escape from their problems, not make them afraid of themselves. Until we reach a point in time when a prominent portion of the population is no longer persecuted for who they love, the world will be a divided place, and this is a place in which I will not be able to live 100 percent satisfactorily.

Jack is a freshman intending to major in journalism. Do you think the Catholic Church should change its stance on social issues to keep up with its younger constituents? Please send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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