Chicago archbishop decries targeting of gays in Orlando attack

LGBT bashing must stop

David Gibson  Religion News Service   in NCR Jun. 13, 2016

Archbishop Blase Cupich walks down the aisle after his Installation Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on Nov. 18, 2014. (Reuters/Charles Rex Arbogast/Pool)

(Note: In this note what CCV wishes to highlight  is the reaction of Catholic bishops in US to the mass shoot out in Pulse Gay club in Orlando and contrast it to something similar that happened and happens in India. The root cause  in Orlando was a detestable attitude coupled with hatred towards gay sex and certain religious convictions. Comparisons are odious, but they help us  see where we stand. Orlando attack was the worst ever since the 9/11 which destroyed the twin towers in New York. Both were done by single individuals. 9/11 brought  world wide condemnations from both political and religious world leaders. Orlando  was compared to Paris terrorist attack and also to San Bernadino in California and is condemned  first  by world’s political leaders and then by religious teachers. Few Catholic bishops who roundly condemned are mentioned in the two reports below (more bishops must  have spoken out) are Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,  Archbishop Cupich of Chicago, Orlando diocese Bishop John Noonan, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski , Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, Fla., Bishop Robert Lynch besides Jesuit Fr. James Martin, a priest and popular writer, many Catholic leaders  and of course Pope Francis to start with. Six bishops are  named here.

Something similar comparable to terrorist attack happened also in India. A gang of 14 remote controlled by three Catholic priests waylaid an innocent Catholic bishop Gallela of Cuddappah diocese, blind folded him, stripped and tortured him for money and plump posts in the diocese on April 25th  last and abandoned him on the highway at 2 a.m. all unheard of in history. Heard of anything similar happening in the world? Still, if no hue and cry came from Indian bishops, and no systematic public action taken or planned against culprits, if James Kottorstony silence is maintained by the hierarchy, what is the public to conclude, if not that our bishops are racists,  caste conscious, practioners of caste  in their private life and promoters of it in society by their silence as a sign of approval? What is the remedy? For full editorial read: Stop  practicing Catholic Casteism! In CCV. james kottoor, editor)

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has decried the apparent targeting of gays and lesbians in the Orlando nightclub massacre and called for greater efforts on gun control, the first senior U.S. Catholic churchman to identify a likely reason the victims were singled out and raise the controversial issue of access to weapons.

"Our prayers and hearts are with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, their families and our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters," Cupich said in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.His comments came as details emerged about the early morning attack by a Florida man — a Muslim who pledged loyalty to the extremist Islamic State group — that left 50 dead and more than 50 injured.

It was the largest mass shooting in U.S. history and the worst terror attack since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. "In response to hatred, we are called to sow love. In response to violence, peace. And, in response to intolerance, tolerance," Cupich said. Cupich, whose city faces a scourge of gun violence, also raised the issue of gun control.

After Memorial Day, the number of people shot this year in Chicago was at about 1,500 — up more than 50 percent over last year, according to the Chicago Tribune. Of those, at least 250 had been killed.The attacker in Orlando, Omar Mateen, 29, who was killed in a shootout at the club with police, recently bought a handgun and an AR-15-style assault rifle, the type of weapon commonly used in mass shootings.

"The people of the Archdiocese of Chicago stand with the victims and their loved ones, and reaffirm our commitment, with Pope Francis, to address the causes of such tragedy, including easy access to deadly weapons," Cupich said. "We can no longer stand by and do nothing."Earlier Sunday, the Vatican released a statement saying that the attack prompted "the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil" in the pope, who called for prayers for the victims and their families.

The statement did not mention the sexual identity of the victims or the mass marketing of weapons — a topic the pontiff raised in his historic address to Congress last September.The Vatican statement Sunday did say that Francis hopes "that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity."Cupich has been one of the few U.S. prelates to speak out against gun violence and for gun control, but his mention of the sexual orientation of the victims in the attack at a gay nightclub was unusual as well.

Many Catholic leaders expressed their grief and horror at the massacre, and called for prayers.But it was rare to find any mention either of the gunman's apparent motive or the fact that gays and lesbians were targeted.Indeed, even using the terms "gays and lesbians" is notable, as churchmen tend to prefer the term "homosexuals" or to speak of people with a "same-sex attraction."

The head of the Orlando diocese, Bishop John Noonan, late Sunday afternoon called for a prayer vigil for Monday evening but made no mention of the fact that the attacker targeted a gay nightclub.Noonan lamented the "massive assault on the dignity of human life" and said prayers had been offered for "victims of violence and acts of terror … for their families and friends … and all those affected by such acts against God's love."

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski also did not mention the sexual orientation of many of the victims but in his statement said: "Hatred blinded the conscience of the perpetrator of these horrible acts, acts no one must be allowed to excuse or justify. The survival of civilization demands zero tolerance towards such acts of barbarism. Hate-inspired terrorism is still a clear and present danger in our world."

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik warned late Sunday against "taking out our grief or anger on any group of people" and added: "Our Muslim neighbors are grieving over this tragedy as much as our gay and lesbian neighbors. We are all God's children. May we love, honor and respect one another as such."

A brief statement from the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, bemoaned the "unspeakable violence," called for prayers and "ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every person."

That statement contrasted with Kurtz's statement a year ago after the shooting massacre in a black church in Charleston, S.C. Speaking two days after the attack on Mother Emanuel by a white supremacist, Kurtz repeatedly condemned the "racism and the violence so visible today" and called for efforts to combat both, in personal change and through public policies.

It remains to be seen if Catholic leaders will become more specific in their comments in the coming days. The American hierarchy is currently gathering in California for a closed-door retreat that is expected to last several days.Other Catholics have not been hesitant to note the elephant in the room, as it were.

Jesuit Fr. James Martin, a priest and popular writer, tweeted early Sunday afternoon that while he was not sure about the gunman's motivations, "church leaders must speak out against hatred and violence directed against LGBT people."


Another Report Follows: Florida bishop on Orlando attack: Sadly, Religion  'often breeds contempt' for LGBT people

In the wake of the terrorist attack on a gay Orlando nightclub, St. Petersburg, Fla., Bishop Robert Lynch lamented the role religion has played in breeding contempt for the LGBT community.

“Sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people,” Lynch wrote on his blog Monday. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.”

The bishop’s comments came a day after a gunman, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, killed at least 49 people and injured another 53 early Sunday morning at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. While the federal investigation into Mateen’s motives is not complete, his father has told media outlets his son had recently expressed anti-gay sentiments.

“Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God,” Lynch said. “We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that.”Lynch, 75, began the blog post saying he wrote “with a heavy heart,” and that a day earlier he could only muster a sympathetic text to neighboring Bishop John Noonan of Orlando. The St. Petersburg bishop offered his prayers for those who died and who are still in recovery. ​

In a statement Sunday, New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic LGBT outreach ministry, criticized church leaders that omitted references to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in their conciliatory statements. 

“The Orlando murders should move all Catholic leaders to reflect on how their silence about homophobic and transphobic attitudes and violence contributes to behaviors which treat LGBT people as less than human and deserving of punishment. This sad moment in our history should become a time when Catholic leaders speak loudly and clearly, with one voice, that attacks on LGBT people must stop,” said its executive director Frank DeBernardo.

Lynch has previously spoken out against anti-gay sentiments and has advocated a greater pastoral response to same-sex couples.“I do not wish to lend our voice to notions which might suggest that same-sex couples are a threat incapable of sharing relationships marked by love and holiness and, thus, incapable of contributing to the edification of both the church and the wider society,” he wrote in a January 2015 op-ed column following Florida’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

In his blog Monday, the bishop also echoed calls for a ban on the sale of all assault weapons, which he said extended beyond the scope that the Constitution authors envisioned when adding the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights.“If one is truly pro-life, then embrace this issue also and work for the elimination of sales to those who would turn them on innocents,” the bishop said.

Lastly, Lynch labeled attempts to bar Muslim people from entering the U.S. as “un-American, even in these most challenging of times and situations.” “Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God’s ears. It has to stop also,” he said.

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