Boston — In a one-on-one conversation following a public speaking engagement, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley said that the firing of church workers because of LGBT issues is a situation that "needs to be rectified."
Earlier in the evening, the cardinal spoke of the need to include and minister to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in light of Pope Francis' new vision for the church.
O'Malley spoke Sept. 11 as part of a panel marking the launch of Cruxnow.com, a Boston Globe website aimed at covering the Catholic church.
Answering a question as part of the panel, O'Malley said, "I think the Holy Father's notion of mercy and inclusion is going to make a big difference in the way that the church responds to and ministers to people of homosexual orientation. The Holy Father is talking about reaching out to the periphery and very often this is a group that is on the periphery. It is not necessarily that the church is going to change doctrine, but as somebody said, the Holy Father hasn't changed the lyrics, but he's changed the melody.
"I think the context of love and mercy and community is the context in which all of the church's teachings must be presented, including the more difficult ones. The same could be said about abortion and so many others. It is only when people realize that we love them that they will be open to hear the truth we want to share with them."
At the end of the event, I had the opportunity to speak to O'Malley one-on-one. The cardinal said that we must first convince people we love them before talking about the Ten Commandments. I pointed out that it has been hard to convince LGBT Catholics and their allies of this love when so many church workers have had LGBT-related employment disputes with Catholic schools and parishes. In response, O'Malley said this trend "needs to be rectified."
A particular job in the church may require a married person to be in a Catholic marriage, but for most jobs marriage would not be a requirement, O'Malley also indicated. Most of the employment disputes involved same-sex couples legally marrying, announcing an intention to marry, or publicly acknowledging a long-term committed relationship.
[Bob Shine is on the staff of New Ways Ministry, a national ministry of justice and advocacy for LGBT Catholics.]