MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — The Catholic Diocese of Marquette has received national attention for its instructions on some aspects of pastoral care for LGBTQ people.
The instructions were released in July but gained attention recently following posts on social media.
According to the Diocese of Marquette, the instructions, “focus on an accompaniment with dignity and respect for the person, while remaining faithful to the teachings of the church.”
“It’s establishing a mutual relationship of trust with another person, so we journey together and we walk together in the path of conversion and towards deeper faith in Jesus Christ,” said Bishop John Doerfler. “There’s a deep need for us to reach out and accompany all people and in a particular way today. I wanted to give some direction to our priests, our deacons other people in pastoral ministry to reach out to people of same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria because they need our love, they need our friendship we need to walk with them and that’s the central focus of the instruction.”
News 8’s U.P. sister station, WJMN, asked Doerfler what the instructions were meant to do and what they were not meant to do.
“The root of being a Catholic is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that gives life a whole new direction, and this is what the document is meant to do, to help give people that new direction towards Jesus Christ,” Doerfler said. “It is not meant, in any way, to look down upon people to discriminate against people, to condemn people. It is not meant to do that in any way whatsoever.”
According to a statement for the Diocese, the church teaches that persons experiencing feelings of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria is not sinful, but freely acting upon them is.
The instructions read in part, “Experiencing feelings and desires that are not in accord with the true meaning and purpose of sexuality is not sinful. To commit a sin, we must know that something is wrong and freely choose to do it.”
DignityUSA, an organization dedicated to “celebrating the wholeness and holiness of LGBTQI Catholics,” published an article, saying the instructions, “Excludes transgender people and those in same-sex relationships from most of the Catholic Church’s sacraments, and prohibits them from serving in many other roles, is being seen as going farther than any other diocese’s public statements.”
Doerfler responded, explaining that section of the instructions.
“If someone is doing something that is causing scandal or being very disruptive to the life of the church, or other types of things, then the priest should talk to the person about that. The point there is never just to restrict the sacraments from people but to help them look at their behavior and have some change of mind and heart so they can be properly disposed to receive the sacraments,” said Doerfler.
Doerfler said everyone is welcome in the church.
“You’re most welcome. You’re most welcome. I’ve had the privilege of counting among my friends persons with same-sex attraction. and you are most welcome. Jesus loves you with the depths of his heart and wants to come more deeply into your life,” added Doerfler.
WJMN has also contacted Upper Peninsula Rainbow Pride, a group which, according to its Facebook page, is “focused on bringing pride events to the UP, to work toward connecting all the LGBT organizations located in the UP to one central location, and to provide supporting resources.” UP Pride Board Members are preparing a response which will be included, once it is received.