Documentary highlights LGBTQ+ issues in Church

THE AQUINAS PHOTO / lexi tapia JUSTINE JOHNSON, the Director of the Cross Cultural Centers, facilitated conversation in Loyola Science Center Room 133 Tuesday. The audience discussed tension between the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church.

THE AQUINAS PHOTO / LEXI TAPIA  /JUSTINE JOHNSON, the Director of the Cross Cultural Centers, facilitated conversation in Loyola Science Center Room 133 Tuesday. The audience discussed tension between the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church.

Published: October 9, 2015

MICHAEL MAZZUCA
Staff Writer

University students and members discussed the LGBTQ+ community within the Catholic Church after watching the new documentary “OwningOurFaith” on Tuesday night.

The 14-minute film follows several people within New York City’s LGBTQ+ community who have faced or are currently dealing with adversity stemming from the clergy.

Mateo Williamson is one of the people whose interview was cut into the film.

“I think LGBT(Q+) people are a gift to the Catholic Church because they enable us to see an immense diversity in God’s creation,” Williamson said.

Several of those interviewed in “OwningOurFaith”, including Williamson, attend Mass at their local parishes.

Some reasons for continued religious involvement include a strong spiritual connection and hope to encourage reform.

One gay couple said they remain members of the church in order to address the social tension between the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church’s conservative values.

The producers of “OwningOurFaith” interviewed The Rev., Dr. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“As a church for the first time, we’re being encouraged to pick up a different glass to look through: instead of what’s wrong with this picture, what’s great about this picture,” Conroy said.

The University is not afraid of serious discussion on this topic, evidenced by its diverse offices; Same Love, Same God retreat and events akin to Tuesday night’s.

Many students who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ group said they feel comfortable addressing challenges or issues in the Catholic Church.

SAFE Space is a new student group on campus that supports the LGBTQ+ community. Senior Leo Fitzsimmons and sophomore Chloe Alvarado are president and vice president of SAFE Space, respectively.

“SAFE Space stands for the Scranton Alliance for Equality … and it’s not just those in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also allies,” Fitzsimmons said.

Alvarado remembers transitioning from progressive Los Angeles to the more conservative city of Scranton as a first-year student. She experienced rejection by some after coming out to her peers. She notices the campus feels more accepting this year than last year.

“I think that the community has definitely grown,” Alvarado said. “I think we’re kind of creating a culture where it’s okay to be who you are… there are people on this campus who are okay with you, who will accept you, and love you.”

Internationally, the Catholic Church and LGBTQ+ community clashed on Sunday when Polish priest Monsignor Krysztof Olaf Chramsa was dismissed from the Vatican after revealing his gay relationship. He asked Pope Francis to reconsider the Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

In “OwningOurFaith,” Williamson brought up a social call.

“We need to be able to see God in every person and to look at other people and, even if we don’t understand why they are who they are, to say this is who you are and I’m going to love you all the same.”

Contact the writer: michael.mazzuca@scranton.edu