Yesterday, Bindings 2.0 reports on the Archdiocese’s gender policy for Catholic schools The Denver Post made public. The directive has been in force for several years. It is among the most comprehensive and toughest diocesan gender guidelines known to date, imposing restrictions not only on LGBTQ+ students but also on their families, teachers and allies.
Parents of LGBTQ+ children, as such parents have so often done, criticize the Archdiocese even when their children decide they can no longer be Catholic. Molly Hultzapple has a gay son, Johnny, who made headlines in 2019 after publicly coming out and denouncing Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s support for conversion therapy. The Denver Post reported:
“Molly Hultzapple vividly remembers what her son said the day he came out to her.
“‘I’m gay and I’m not Catholic anymore,’ she recalled Johnny’s words.
“She was devastated by the end of his sentence. Molly Hultzapple’s faith had served her so well, and she didn’t want her son to believe that the God he grew up with was abandoning him for the one he loved.
“‘You’re banging your head against the wall because even if a priest is kind, that’s not the message coming from our archdiocese,’ said Molly Hultzapple.”
This experience led to Molly Hultzapple becoming an outspoken Catholic ally, although she admitted her children will not return. She commented:
“‘I never believed the Catholic Church’s attitude towards gay people, but now I know what I didn’t do right. I should have spoken louder about it. It shouldn’t be necessary for your own child to tell you they’re gay for you to speak up.
“‘I know I’m not going to change the church, but I want to plant a seed. I want them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there’s an LGBTQ kid sitting there listening to what you’re saying. Think about what you’re doing to them. Maybe next time one of them will just hesitate before they start spreading hate.’”
Tricia Williams is another Catholic parent with a queer child who is committed to inclusion in the church. She participated in the archdiocese synodal process and, in a small group discussion, brought up the story of her queer child, Gaia Williams, and the need for a larger inclusion. The Denver Post reported:
“They will not bless my daughter’s marriage, but they will bless my pet,” said Tricia Williams. “It’s not about seeing her as a full person.”
“When Tricia Williams receives Holy Communion, she absorbs a little bit of the divine, she said.
“’Then my job is to be Jesus’ hands and feet in this world,’ said Tricia Williams. ‘And I’m using my divine power to speak from within, as someone who can’t wait to someday be a grandmother to my daughter’s children, and as a practicing Catholic.’”
Gaia Williams has remained Catholic, though the church was the hardest part of her coming out, which Williams specifically attributed to the archdiocese:
“’I know that communions can be beautiful and that religion itself isn’t necessarily the problem,’ said Gaia Williams. “It is complete disappointment with the archdiocese. When I was a kid, it made coming out that much scarier. . ‘I am Catholic and I will remain Catholic as I wish to be Catholic.’”
Sally Odenheimer is another Catholic who is critical of the Archdiocese. Her children attended Catholic schools, but eventually Archbishop Aquila and the Archdiocese made her leave the Church for a time. Since then she has returned:
“‘I felt like staying in the church means I support their ideology, but for things to change I have to be involved. . .People are leaving in droves. I came back because they won’t win. There are more of us who disagree with them, and we will not let them do so.’”
Secular LGBTQ+ advocates also condemn the Archdiocese’s gender policies. Out Boulder County issued a press release and video saying the organization is “deeply concerned” and that the policy poses a “danger” in mandating discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth. Michal Duffy, Director of Education and Research for the group, commented:
“‘This leadership is not consistent with the love cultivated in many LGBTQ+ Catholic families. I hope these families know there are affirmative faith communities where they are fully accepted and celebrated. This hateful leadership reflects the Archbishop, not the value or values of the many LGBTQ+ or LGBTQ+-affirming Catholics.’”
Nadine Bridges, executive director of One Colorado, identified the policy as discrimination, adding, “I wish archdiocese members would actually sit down with the community and have a really honest and authentic conversation about inclusion.”
New Ways Ministry encourages Catholics to respectfully connect with Archbishop Aquila about the damage being caused by school equality policies and other negative LGBTQ actions by him and archdiocesan officials. Emails can be sent to his secretary, Fr. Thomas Scherer at [email protected] You can also call 303-715-3263 for the Archbishop’s Office or use the contact form here.
—Robert Shine (him), New Ways Ministry, Nov. 14, 2022