Vancouver Catholic Archdiocese apologizes to LGBTQ2S+ community

Following a settlement between White Rock Pride Society and Star of the Sea Parish, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has issued a formal apology to the LGBTQ2S+ community.

In 2019, White Rock Pride attempted to book the Parish's community hall for its annual fundraising event. The Parish rejected the booking and the Pride Society filed a human rights complaint. The BC Humanist Association was among five groups granted leave to intervene in the hearing.

The BCHA intended to argue on the extent to which an organization can rely on freedom of religion to justify discrimination when participating in the public, commercial sphere.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of the BC Humanist Association said:

While this settlement means that the fundamental questions around what amount of discrimination is permitted by the BC Human Rights Code will remain unanswered, this is ultimately a great result for the members of White Rock Pride Society and for the broader LGBTQ2S+ community in Metro Vancouver. We hope that the Church stands fully behind the commitments it has made today.

The joint statement released by Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and Star of the Sea Parish says, in part:

People in the LGBTQ2+ community have been deeply hurt all too often by coldness, rejection, judgement, exclusion, and lack of loving support from members of the Catholic Church. For whenever this hurt has occurred, we sincerely apologize.

Homophobic and transphobic approaches to dialogue are hurtful and are often rooted in fear. Fear is opposed to love. We are sorry for those times when individuals in Catholic institutions acted out of fear, not out of love. We are sorry, too, whenever such actions of individuals led to people feeling rejected or isolated. Members of the LGBTQ2+ community have expressed feelings of anxiety, depression, hurt, rejection and even suicide because of this sense of rejection and isolation.

This should never happen.

When Catholic teachings on moral issues arise that others may not accept, we commit to answering questions with patience, honesty and gentleness, free of arrogance or prejudice. When our communities interact, there is never any excuse for disrespectful encounters, poor listening, or lack of sensitivity to one another.

We acknowledge that, in the past, not all interactions between members and representatives of the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ2+ community have been guided by the principles of respect, sensitivity and love. We apologize for this and are sincerely committed to improving our interactions going forward.

In their release, the Parish and Archdiocese also commit to providing "greater clarity on the management of rental requests by non-Catholic groups."

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