Franciscan Leaders Join Catholic Bishops in Condemning Bullying, Violence toward LGBT Youth

HNP Communications In the Headlines

In accordance with the Catholic-Franciscan tradition, which recognizes and celebrates the God-given dignity of every human being, the leaders of six provinces belonging to the Order of Friars Minor in the United States added their support to a statement signed by Catholic bishops and dozens of religious orders and institutions that condemns bullying and other acts of violence toward LGBT youth.

The leaders of Holy Name Province and the other five provinces of the US-6, the group working toward the formation of a single coast-to-coast Franciscan entity, announced their participation on March 8.

The statement was signed in January by 10 U.S. Catholic bishops in support of the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s vital work of standing up for LGBT youth and calling attention to their vulnerability to bullying, harassment, violence, and suicide. By signing on to the statement, the Franciscan leaders reaffirmed their support of their LGBT sisters and brothers and condemned any form of violence against them.

In addition to Kevin Mullen, OFM, of Holy Name Province, the provincial ministers of the other provinces who signed the statement were David Gaa, OFM, of St. Barbara Province (based in Oakland, California); Jim Gannon, OFM, of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province (in Franklin, Wisconsin); Thomas Nairn, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province (St. Louis, Missouri); Mark Soehner, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province (Cincinnati, Ohio); and Ron Walters, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province (Albuquerque, New Mexico).

The statement, “God Is on Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth,” is below.

As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ taught love, mercy, and welcome for all people, especially for those who felt persecuted or marginalized in any way; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that LGBT people are to be treated with ‘respect compassion and sensitivity.’

All people of goodwill should help, support, and defend LGBT youth, who attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight counterparts; who are often homeless because of families who reject them; who are rejected, bullied and harassed; and who are the target of violent acts at alarming rates.

The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying, or harassment directed at you.

Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.

As of March 15, more than 80 Catholic religious orders and institutions had signed onto the statement – up from 66 on March 1. Their names can be found on the Tyler Clementi Foundation website. Updates about this and related initiatives are posted on the organization’s Facebook page.

The Foundation was established after the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi, a first-year student at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, to prevent bullying through inclusion and the assertion of dignity and acceptance. Its mission is to end bullying in schools, workplaces, and faith communities.

Clementi had been harassed and cyberbullied for being gay. A videotape recorded by his roommate soon after the start of the academic year, and Clementi’s subsequent leap from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River, sparked global news coverage and dialogue about bullying and harassment of the LGBT community.

The Foundation’s chief executive officer, Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mother, speaks to parents and community leaders about the need to go beyond the mere acceptance and tolerance of children who come out as LGBT, and, rather, to embrace them as wondrous creations of God.

Earlier this year, the six Franciscan leaders issued a statement denouncing the violence that occurred at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, and in 2017 they released a statement about the violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.