LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has a new archbishop who will take over at the end of March. His record on fighting racism and the push for equality is widely heralded as being excellent and remarkable, but when it comes to the LGBTQ community there’s a different, not as progressive, review.
In a news conference Tuesday, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre said he’s willing to talk to the LGBTQ community.
Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, is skeptical.
He says Fabre's history says otherwise, and he doesn't think Fabre is the leader who will move the LGBTQ community forward.
"I'm disappointed in the appointment of Archbishop Fabre,” Hartman said.
Hartman said the feeling isn't new; he was disheartened by Louisville's former Archbishop, Joseph Kurtz. He was appointed in 2007, and is retiring this year.
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"I've been a lifelong Catholic,” Hartman said. “I've been nothing but disappointed by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and I fear that my disappointment will continue under Archbishop Fabre.”
Hartman said Kurtz donated money to the anti-marriage movement for LGBTQ couples in Maine, and he said Kurtz avoided meeting with the fairness campaign for more than a year and never approved a state-wide fairness law which would protect LGBTQ rights throughout Kentucky.
However, in a 2018 editorial written by Kurtz, published in the Courier Journal in response to gay marriage, he said:
"In a pluralistic society, we understand that not everyone will agree with our way of life, nor we theirs. But disagreement does not diminish the inherent dignity of every life. We all stand equal before God and are in need of his mercy and love."
As for Fabre, according to the National Catholic Reporter publication, in January, Fabre signed on to a letter that raised concerns with President Biden's decision to extend existing federal protections against sex discrimination.
Also, in 2015, a newspaper in Louisiana reported Fabre said that Catholics should not attend gay weddings or provide services for them, like a cake or flowers.
"These are the kinds of messages that lead to the disproportionate level of depression, self-harm that so many LGBTQ people feel and, unfortunately, so many LGBTQ Catholics feel,” Hartman said.
Tuesday in Louisville, Fabre was questioned about acceptance of the LGBTQ community and said he is open to meeting with Hartman and others.
"I hope that they would find in me someone who is willing to listen to them, someone who is willing to journey with them, someone who is willing to invite them to come to know the Jesus Christ that we know,” Fabre said. “They are very welcomed and I hope that they will find a welcome here in the Archdiocese of Louisville."
Hartman says former State Representative Jim Wayne, leader of Catholics for Fairness, is drafting a letter to the archbishop to ask to meet and discuss a statewide fairness law.
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