Philadelphia archbishop advocates LGBT erasure from Catholic Church

Philadelphia archbishop Charles J. Chaput has objected to the use of the term LGBTQ being used in official documents from the Catholic Church in a speech at the Synod of Bishops on Young People.

Addressing the conference on October 4, Chaput criticised the lack of a specific focus on “why Catholic teaching about human sexuality is true,” in favour of attention towards LGBT issues.

A document released ahead of the Synod, which started on October 3 in Vatican City and will close on October 28, mentioned the need for the church to listen to the needs of LGBT youth—using the acronym for the first time.

Chaput used his platform to condemn the decision as a departure from traditional Catholic teachings on human sexuality, according to a transcript of his speech published in the Catholic Herald.

He said: “What the Church holds to be true about human sexuality is not a stumbling block. It is the only real path to joy and wholeness.

“There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis speaks to Bishops, as Charles Chaput the Archbishop of Philadelphia looks on, at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania on September 27, 2015. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty)

“This has never been true in the life of the Church, and is not true now. It follows that ‘LGBTQ’ and similar language should not be used in Church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the Church simply doesn’t categorise people that way.”

The Philadelphia archbishop has a record of controversial decisions against Catholics who do not live in strict observance of the church’s teachings on relationships. In 2016, he issued a directive forbidding sexually-active LGBT+ people, divorcees and “couples living in sin” from receiving and dispensing the Holy Communion as well as serving on parish councils and instructing the faithful.

“But two persons in an active, public same-sex relationship, no matter how sincere, offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community,” Chaput’s directive read, quoted in NBC News.

Chaput also opposed raising the topic of LGBT+ families at the 2015 World Meeting of Families which was hosted in Philadelphia that year and attended by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis (R) confers with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput (L) during the Festival of Families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 26, 2015. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty)

In his remarks at the Synod, Chaput seemed to blame recent “confusion” in the church for the widespread and long-standing cases of child sex abuse by members of the clergy.

“The clergy sexual abuse crisis is precisely a result of the self-indulgence and confusion introduced into the Church in my lifetime, even among those tasked with teaching and leading. And minors—our young people—have paid the price for it,” he said.

Chaput has previously faced criticism by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) for resisting the organisation’s calls to defrock Philadelphia priest Monsignor William Lynn, who became the first US Catholic official to be convicted for covering up the clergy’s child abuse in 2012. He is due to face retrial in 2019.