DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Several American prelates are conveying support for Catholic homosexuals in the wake of the weekend's terror attack in a Florida gay nightclub, chastising the Church for its alleged "anti-gay" prejudice.
Following Sunday morning's attack at the Orlando nightclub that left 50 people dead, including the shooter, Omar Mateen, multiple bishops issued statements expressing their solidarity with the LGBT community. In a letter read to the Chicago's Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach (AGLO) before Sunday Mass, Abp. Blase Cupich declared the archdiocese of Chicago stands with "the whole lesbian and gay community."
"For you here today," Cupich wrote, "and throughout the whole lesbian and gay community who are particularly touched by the heinous crimes committed in Orlando, motivated by hate, driven perhaps by mental instability and certainly empowered by a culture of violence, know this: the Archdiocese of Chicago stands with you. I stand with you." The archbishop continued:
Let our shared grief and our common faith in Jesus, who called the persecuted blessed, unite us so that hatred and intolerance are not allowed to flourish, so that those who suffer mental illness know the support of a compassionate society, so that we find the courage to face forthrightly the falsehood that weapons of combat belong anywhere in the civilian population.
In an initial statement published Sunday on Facebook, the prelate ignored terrorist Omar Sateen's connection to the Islamic State and the Muslim faith as motives for the massacre, instead labeling "easy access to deadly weapons" as the cause of the mass shooting, the worst seen on U.S. soil. "We can no longer stand by and do nothing," Cupich declared. "Our prayers and hearts are with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, their families and our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters."
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego echoed the words of Cupich in a blog post published Monday, in which he asserted the "hatred and violence" behind the shootings are "rooted in a counterfeit notion of religious faith and magnified by [the American] gun culture."
"This tragedy is a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country," McElroy stated. "We pray for the Muslim community in our nation, who have acted in unanimity to deplore this act of violence and to reject hatred rooted in a distortion of Muslim faith."
Bishop Robert Lynch, head of the diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, in a blog post Monday accused the Church of alleged intolerance toward the LGBT community and stated it is "religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people."
"Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence," the bishop wrote. He concluded by asserting that "there are as many good, peace loving and God fearing Muslims to be found as Catholics or Methodists or Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists."
Father James Martin, editor-at-large of Jesuit magazine America, criticized those prelates who either did not publicly acknowledge the massacre or failed to mention the LGBT community in their statements. "This is revelatory," Martin wrote. "It reveals how the LGBT community is invisible to much of [the] Church. Even in death they are invisible. For too long Catholics have treated the LGBT community as 'other.' But for the Christian there is no 'other.' There is no 'them.' There is only 'us.'"
The statements come as reports swirl that the shooter himself may have been gay. Multiple individuals who spoke with the Orlando Sentinel and other news outlets claim 29-year-old Omar Mateen frequented Pulse nightclub for years prior to the massacre Sunday morning, and others recall receiving messages from Mateen on gay dating apps. A former police academy classmate of Mateen's also maintains the gunman was a closeted homosexual.
Mateen's ex-wife also alluded to a private homosexual lifestyle. "When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past ... that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, and there was a lot of pictures of him," she stated in an interview with CNN. "I feel like it's a side of him or a part of him that he lived, but probably didn't want everybody to know about."