June 13, 2016

I commend you for capturing so well the spirit of Pope Francis' comments on mercy in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) ("Pope Francis: Open hearts will lead the brokenhearted to fullness of life," WCR editorial, May 16).

These are the very things we need to say to our Catholic LGBTQ students: we need to offer them mercy, not the law; a mother, not a taskmaster; in order to welcome them into a relationship with Jesus who has mercy on them.

I believe this based upon a presentation I attended on Camp Fyrefly, a summer camp for LGBTQ youth. The presenter shared that the majority of camp participants identified as atheists even if raised in religious homes.

I was very saddened but not surprised to hear this. Many of these young people may have heard their pastor "apply moral laws . . . as if they were stones to throw at people's lives" or encountered those with the closed hearts of "one used to hiding behind Church teaching."

I believe that we have done a great disservice to these young people by being so hostile toward them that they have distanced themselves from their faith - a faith that could have brought them much peace in their daily lives.

You write: "Jesus' way was not the way of judgment and exclusion. The ones he judged harshly were those who piled up laws and duties on the weakened backs of the sorrowful."

Would that the mercy expressed by the pope toward divorced Catholics could be extended to LGBTQ members of our Catholic community whose experience of our judgment and exclusion leads to high levels of suicide.

Bathed in God's mercy, all of us, including the LGBTQ members of our society, are much more inclined to journey toward Jesus than to be bathed in the crippling judgments of others.

Patricia Grell