Fordham Hosts LGBTQ Catholic conference

Fr. James Martin, organizer of the conference, likened the Bible story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave to LGBTQ Catholics coming out of the closet.

Fordham University recently held an LGBTQ Catholic Ministry conference aimed at bring together Catholic LGBTQ individuals.

Fordham University recently hosted an LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Conference, “Outreach 2023,” from June 16 to 18 at its Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan. 

The conference, organized by the blog of the same name, aimed to bring together Catholic LGBTQ individuals. Speakers called on attendees to advocate for “progress” in accepting LGBTQ people in the Church, in the face of opposition from conservative clergy and Catholics.

”To marginalize is a sin,” Fordham President Tania Tetlow said during a speech. “To love is our command. You are loved by the church made up of the People of God; the church we claim, the church we fight for, because we know it must constantly strive to better live up to the Gospels.”

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”After a remarkable transformation in attitudes and understanding of LGBTQ issues and a new willingness to acknowledge and celebrate the complexity of gender and gender identity, we see a vicious opposition,” she added. “I imagine that many of you here are exhausted and afraid … What I pray fervently is that it is the seismic force of the progress that creates the flailing, terrible backlash. And we cannot forget that progress.”

”The People of God don’t have a problem with this,” Fr. Bryan Massingale, a theologian from Fordham who publicly came out as gay in 2019, told students at the conference. “Other clergy have a problem. The bishops have a problem. The People of God, no.”

Fr. James Martin, editor of America Magazine and organizer of the conference, likened the Bible story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave to LGBTQ Catholics coming out of the closet. “While the grace might be coming from God to come out, or to transition … the taking away of the stone and the unbinding is something that the community and friends and family can help us with,” he said.

In a show of support, Pope Francis sent a letter to Fr. Martin, expressing his prayers and best wishes for the conference. The May 6 letter, handwritten in Spanish, signified the pope’s support for the event at Fordham University. 

The conference was met with significant pushback. An online petition from TFP Student Action garnered over 93,000 signatures. 

“[T]he summit features a line-up of dissident speakers who share a common objective: Normalize unnatural vice and subvert Catholic moral teaching,” the petition stated.

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In 1970, Joseph Crowley, Dean of Students at Fordham, said, “The recognition of any homosexual group is completely inconsistent with the history and tradition of Fordham as an educational and social institution.”

Today, however, Fordham boasts an “LGBTQ and Ally Network of Support,” one of the stated goals of which is to “[p]romote an understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students that is rooted in the Jesuit tenet of Cura Personalis and the principle that all persons should be treated with dignity and respect, which is explicit in Catholic teaching.” 

The Higher Education Research Institute found “12 to 16 percent of Fordham’s senior class identified as LGBTQ+.”

Campus Reform contacted every relevant party for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.