Landon Duyka and Alex Shingleton had almost given up on Catholicism.
Then they found Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago, where their family was welcomed because the parish practices what its clergy calls “radical inclusivity.” This year, the two husbands created an online buzz when, after a decade on these pews, they shared the pulpit during a symbolic Sunday mass.
“Chicago celebrates Pride and of course today is Father’s Day and conveniently we tick both of those boxes,” Duyka said. “In all honesty, if you had told us as young boys who wasted countless hours of our lives in church trying to ‘pray gay people’, we would one day be standing in front of all of you in our Catholic church talking of our family on Father’s Day, we would never have believed you.”
In this historic parish, their adopted daughters thrive. The youngest was baptized without complications, unlike the “secret ceremony” for their first daughter in a previous church. In 2016, the Old St. Pat’s altar featured — for a month — photos of victims of Orlando’s Pulse nightclub massacre. Parishioners shook hands with the couple during the peace sign. There was no need to worry about hearing sermons opposing same-sex marriage or seeing conversion therapy pamphlets.
The reflection on Father’s Day by Duyka and Shingleton occupied the niche of the homily of the Mass, after the reading of the Gospel. There was no homily, even though canon law requires a “priest or deacon” to deliver one during Sunday masses with a congregation.
The details of this Pride season Mass have inspired online debates as it took place in the powerful Archdiocese of Chicago, led by Cardinal Blase Cupich.
Pope Francis recently appointed Cupich to the Vatican Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Chicago Cardinal has been a fierce defender of the pope’s document “Traditionis Custodes” (“Guardians of Tradition”) limiting the use of the Tridentine (Traditional) Latin Mass. Under his authority, Cupich also restricted other traditions of worship favored by Catholics. conservative, such as priests celebrating Mass “ad orientem” as opposed to the modern “against populum” position in which, when at the altar, they face their congregations.
On LGBT issues, Cupich made news with his response to a 2021 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith text banning blessings for same-sex couples. This statement from the Vatican said that since “God cannot bless sin,” the church cannot bless sex outside of traditional marriage. The clergy can bless single adults – including “people with homosexual inclinations” – if they live in celibacy.
Pope Francis signed the document, which notes that while same-sex unions may contain “positive elements”, this does not “make them legitimate objects of ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist in the context of a union. not ordered to the creator’s plan.”
Cardinal Cupich’s response noted that the Vatican had offered “nothing new on the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of marriage.” Heeding further words from Pope Francis, he said the Archdiocese would “redouble our efforts to be creative and resilient in finding ways to welcome and encourage all LGBTQ people into our family of faith.”
Duyka and Shingleton said they knew something was different the first time they visited Old St. Patrick’s. They saw a briefing note about the ministry of a gay man and discovered that it was not a “love the sinner, hate the sin” group. The priest who greeted them said, “While other Catholic churches and their leaders may be deaf, Old St. Pat’s understands that.”
Both men were raised in the church but said they were never welcomed as gay.
“We can handle this. We are adults,” Duyka said. “We wanted to raise our children in the Catholic Church – which was, after all, our church, as much as it was the church of people who didn’t shake hands with us.” However, he added, they “did not want to expose our children to bigotry and make them feel shame or intolerance towards their family”.
Commenting on the miracle in which Jesus fed 5,000 people, Shingleton added: “When people in this faith community read today’s Gospel, they see that Jesus did not first ask the people present that day whom they loved before offering to teach them, before deciding that they were worthy to hear him speak.
Terry Mattingly runs GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is a principal investigator at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.