The schism between the hierarchy and the people of the Roman Catholic Church

In recent news, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church have given both positive and negative signals on the issue of the acceptance of LGBT people into the Roman Catholic Church. Despite the ebb and flow of the issue of LGBT recognition amongst the bishops and cardinals that make up the upper level of the hierarchal system, there are varying degrees of separation between them and their congregation. This raises the question: Are the senior authorities of the Roman Catholic Church out of touch with the congregants of the Roman Catholic Church?

When asked about if he thinks the Church would ever bless a same-sex couple's marriage, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the Vatican's highest ranking expert on Church law, replied, "For us, and not just for us but for human culture in general, marriage is between a man and a woman." Though he clarified that the church does not judge LGBT couples, he went on to say,

But to bless this type of union…to say that they are like (heterosexual) marriages, never. This is simply for reasons of logic and identity. To bless them is not part of the way we see Christian doctrine.

Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and now the Cardinal Perfect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, was interviewed by LifeSiteNews, an anti-LGBT news site, and asked about how Catholic parents planning a Christmas gathering should deal with their gay son asking to bring his partner to the party, where grandchildren will be present. His response was that the "delicate" question itself was "made even more delicate by the aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda."  He went on the record saying,

If it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn't expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.

He goes on to say that, "we know that with time, these relationships leave the person profoundly unhappy" and provides additional commentary to his thoughts on LGBT relationships.

There are many people within the Roman Catholic Church, cardinals, clergy, and congregations alike, who advocate for LGBT recognition and equality in the Roman Catholic Church. At the University of Notre Dame, administration has announced that it will extend benefits to employees with same-sex spouses, after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in Indiana. In an email sent to the employees, the school stated,

Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage. However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately.

Notre Dame is not the only school affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church who is taking measures to ensure the equal treatment of LGBT people. Saint Peter's Preparatory School, a Jesuit, all-male private school in Jersey City, New Jersey, also supported LGBT equality by participating in #spiritday yesterday. They went purple on Facebook to stand against bullying and in support of LGBT youth.

At the Vatican's synod on marriage and the family, Bishop Mario Grech, bishop of Gozo and president of the bishops' conference of Malta, gave a talk where he urged the acceptance of LGBT members. He spoke of how his talks Drachma Parents, an affiliate with Malta's Catholic LGBT organization Drachma, impacted his views. Drachma Parents was started by Joseanne and Joseph Peregin, parents of a gay son, after being inspired by Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry, a pro-LGBT Catholic ministry. New Ways Ministry has spoken out in support of a transgender woman who wants to become a nun, they have spoken against church firings, and they have been instrumental in being a voice for LGBT people at the synod.

Perhaps one significant mark of progress is the report released from the Vatican on Monday in which we saw a shift in how the Roman Catholic Church talks about LGBT people and relationships.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions, it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.

In the effort for LGBT recognition in the Roman Catholic Church, these statements are a step in a new, more inclusive direction. New Ways Ministry says it best,

This call to dialogue has been absent in church discussions of sexuality for way too long. It presents the hope that future changes that are even more welcoming and accepting of lesbian and gay people and their families can develop down the road.  Once church leaders engage in dialogue with lesbian and gay Catholics, I am confident that these leaders will see the deep faith, love, and witness to the Gospel that is active in their lives and loves.

The dialogue at the synod is a massive event for the LGBT community. It is a huge step for LGBT recognition with the Roman Catholic Church and for equality. Research shows that 43% of people within the Roman Catholic Church are in favor of marriage equality and 73% believe there should be laws to protect LGBT people in the workplace. More than half of the people in the Roman Catholic Church don't believe that same-sex relationships are a sin.

GLAAD partnered with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation to release a guide that highlights media coverage of faith-based LGBT issues. "In Focus: Faith, LGBT People, & the Midterm Elections" is a much-needed resource, especially during this Midterm election season, to amplify the voices of LGBT advocates in the faith community whose views are covered by those who may be spreading anti-LGBT messages.

Visit to learn more about GLAAD's Religion, Faith & Values program.