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Black Catholic scholars help launch 'Queer Catholic Theologians of Color' project

Last month in Chicago, a group of Catholic scholars launched a new group centering LGBTQ Catholic voices in the struggle against injustice.

Left to right: Dr. Miguel Diaz, Fr Bryan Massingale, Dr. Melissa Pagán, Dr. Craig Ford Jr. (New Ways Ministry)

Late last month, a number of outspoken LGBTQ scholars—including Fr Bryan Massingale—gathered at Loyola University Chicago for an event launching Queer Catholic Theologians of Color, an advocacy group aiming to reshape the conversation on intersectionality in the Church.

The three-day gathering, entitled “A New Agenda for Catholic Theology and Ministry”, was hosted from October 20-22nd and led by Dr. Miguel H. Diaz, former US Ambassador to the Holy See under President Barack Obama and current professor at LUC.

“This is the first meeting in history where a group of LGBTIQ+ Catholic theologians and advocates can expose and give visibility to the particularities of being LGBTIQ+, Catholic, and people of color,” said Diaz in a press release issued October 27th.

“Past and modern theology, including that dealing with sexual minorities, was mostly written by White and/or European theologians,” added Massingale, an ethics professor at Fordham University.

“So, without diminishing its value, it’s important to include the perspectives of those who are part of the Church in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America.”

Massingale, who was recently named Pax Christi USA's 2021 Teacher of Peace for his anti-racism advocacy, was joined at the QCTOC event by a number of other Black Catholic theologians, including Dr. Craig Ford Jr. of St Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. and Fr Kenneth Hamilton, SVD of Oakland, Calif.

Ford has been critical of Catholic sexual ethics in his various writings, including in pieces for New Ways Ministry and Commonweal; Hamilton is best known for his work with the Bowman-Francis Ministry, the Divine Word initiative he co-founded and which organizes the National Black Catholic Men’s Conference.

Seven Latino and Asian theologians also participated, including Diaz. He, along with Ford and Massingale, are listed as organizers of the group on its listing with the Louisville Institute, which sponsored the event in Chicago and is funding the larger QCTOC project.

According to its mission statement, the new group specifically “challenges current Catholic theological scholarship in gender and sexuality”.

“Given the life and death consequences of interlocking oppressions based on sexuality and racial/ethnic identity, Church leaders and the faithful need to listen to, engage in conversation with, and receive the valuable contributions that come from openly queer Catholic scholars and pastoral leaders of color.”

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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