KANSAS CITY, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A leading Catholic newspaper has named an openly gay "couple" as their persons of the year for 2015.
Progressive newspaper the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) designated Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, two "married" men, as persons of the year, describing them as being "emblematic of [the] major challenge facing the Church today."
The report claims Bourke and DeLeon are a "Catholic couple who can — and do — tell the story of the benefits of same-sex marriage," noting the two are "lifelong practicing Catholics and active members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish" in Louisville, Kentucky. They provide, says the NCR, a "faithful public witness as gay Catholics."
Bourke and DeLeon, who are currently raising two children, both garnered media attention this year as plaintiffs in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case in June that declared homosexual "marriage" a constitutional right.
The article, authored by the NCR editorial staff, declares that the Church is "past the time of 'love the sinner' platitudes" and that "countless gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics" deserve better than the "confused, uneven and often cruel" answers the Church is currently providing.
"Changing the law was a one-time event," the article says. "Change comes to peoples and communities slowly. As ordinary people — and one hopes Catholic bishops — come to know more people in same-sex marriages, hearts and minds will change. Acceptance will replace fear."
NCR goes on to quote dissident Catholic moral theologian Lisa Fullam, who stated following the June High Court decision that she was amazed by "how strongly" the Court's ruling citations "echo Catholic doctrine on marriage."
"[A] good first step for Church leaders would be to applaud the Court's decision in light of its overlap with Catholic values," continued Fullam, an associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University.
The editorial piece includes quotes from various prelates reacting to the June decision, including Philadelphia's Abp. Charles Chaput, who publicly lamented the ruling; Abp. Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who labeled the decision "a tragic error"; and Chicago archbishop Blase Cupich, who called for "mature and serene reflections as we move forward together."
But "between exuberance and bitter disappointment lies a vast middle ground," states the NCR, "the ordinary days that succeed the history-changing event, as we truly begin to live this new reality."
NCR's piece has been promoted by several pro-LGBT organizations, including the New Civil Rights Movement, GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and the Huffington Post.
In an interview Monday with the Huffington Post, Bourke said that he and DeLeon were "surprised and deeply moved" by the honor bestowed on them by NCR, claiming the "Catholic Church has long created a climate of shame and exclusion for LGBT Catholics and this bold statement by the National Catholic Reporter could be an important step in changing policies and rhetoric in the Church about God's LGBT people who seek only to be included and treated with the same dignity as anyone else."
Bourke had made additional headlines in August after his request for reinstatement as a leader in the local Boy Scout troop was denied by the archdiocese of Louisville. In 2012 Bourke had been forced to resign from his leadership position in Boy Scout Troop 325 owing to the organization's ban on openly gay scout leaders. Following a July decision to lift the ban, the archdiocese rejected Bourke's application, affirming the Catholic Church has "both the right and the responsibility to choose leaders whose character and conduct are consistent with Church teaching."
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