PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A strong message is circulating around the world concerning the Catholic and LGBTQIA community.
Wednesday, Pope Francis asked parents to not condemn their children if they decide to come out.
“This is borderline revolutionary for the Catholic Church. I think this pope seems historic in that way,” said Peoria Proud Board Member Nicole Livsey.
Livsey said some members of the LGBTQIA community cannot or do not practice anymore due to traditional views.
“The stigma is if you identify as LGBTQ, there is no way you can practice religion,” said Livsey.
At Peoria Proud, Livsey said they keep a close eye out for affirming faith providers.
“By affirming, what I mean is the church is welcoming to all people and willing to perform marriage ceremonies,” said Livsey.
Livsey said religion can also be thought of as a support system. She said members of the LGBTQIA community tend to feel less supported by religion, so they form their own groups.
“What you see a lot in the LGBTQ community is a created family, or what we like to call a chosen family. Those are the folks you decide to associate with and they kind of become your family. This could be because your family is not accepting, or they are still coming to terms with your sexuality,” said Livsey.
Erik Braun, a counseling professor at Bradley University, said family support plays an important role in a person’s mental health. Braun uses the Ecological Model to explain.
“In this model, it talks about the individual,” Braun said. “There are these spheres of influence, starting with the most direct. Your family and friends have the most impact on that.”
Braun said not having friends and family support during these situations can make the journey harder. Braun said it leads to feeling isolated and confused.
Conservatives in the 1.3 billion-member Church have said Pope Francis, who has sent notes of appreciation to priests and nuns who minister to gay Catholics, is giving mixed signals on homosexuality and confusing the community.