“Let us pray”: Catholic masses for LGBT inclusion in Mexico City

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“Let us all pray,” asks Gonzalo Rosas, a Jesuit priest who celebrates masses for the inclusion of LGBT people in Mexico City, now with an additional motivation: the pope’s endorsement to bless same-sex couples.

“Let us all pray,” asks Gonzalo Rosas, a Jesuit priest who celebrates masses for the inclusion of LGBT people in Mexico City, now with an additional motivation: the pope’s endorsement to bless same-sex couples.

The appointment is at the Sagrada Familia, a majestic parish in the Roma neighborhood where Father Gonzalo has worked for eleven years and officiates Sunday Eucharists with the LGBT community once a month, which are replicated in three churches in the capital.

When speaking during the sermon, Víctor Rodríguez affirms that he and many others come because they feel “excluded”, as when he was pressured as a teenager to leave the seminary because of his homosexuality.

Then he invites the congregation to pray for those who reject them: “For that little priest who took me out of the church for being the way I am,” says Rodríguez, 39, who attends with her husband.

Rosas, in turn, addresses the faithful with inclusive language.

– “Miracle” –

Father Gonzalo’s mission when he arrived at the temple, in 2013, was to get to know the community. He discovered “new faces” .

“I FOUND A LOT OF SEXUAL DIVERSITY, I LOOKED FOR ORGANIZATIONS, YOUNG PEOPLE TO DIALOGUE. THEY TOLD ME ‘FATHER, THE CHURCH EXCLUDES US’ (…). I INVITED THEM TO SEE WHAT PATH WE COULD TAKE TOGETHER AND THE IDEA OF ​​A MASS AROSE”

, recalls the 68-year-old priest, companion of Pope Francis.

In the church there was already a choir of LGBT young people who had left the seminary and used to meet to pray in a house, remembers Eduardo Andrade, director of the musical group.

With the arrival of Father Gonzalo “the possibility was seen of making his sexual orientation visible” and formalizing the masses, adds Andrade, of the Teresa Collective, a theological organization aimed at LGBT people.

The priest says that his superiors authorized the celebrations on the condition that they did not become politicized.

Uncomfortable, some parishioners marginalized themselves, recalls Andrade, who describes these Eucharists as “unique” experiences in Latin America.

“THERE ARE SOME COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE MASSES, BUT THEY ARE ONCE A MONTH OR EVERY TWO MONTHS AND IT IS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, OR IF THEY ARE OPEN, IT IS NOT MENTIONED THAT THERE IS AN LGBT COMMUNITY”

, says the also member of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.

Last December, the Pope authorized the blessing of same-sex couples, clarifying that it is consecrated to people and not to the union, outside of liturgical rituals.

The following month, after mass, the first two blessings of the Holy Family were given

“IT WAS A MIRACLE FROM GOD, WE ARE VERY CATHOLIC. I NEVER THOUGHT THAT A CHURCH WOULD ACCEPT ME WITH MY PARTNER, MY SEXUALITY”

Mexico City was a pioneer in Latin America by approving equal marriage in 2010. Twelve years later the Supreme Court legalized it throughout the country, where 72% of its 126 million inhabitants declare themselves Catholic.

  • A third of the states also accept homoparental adoption, and Father Gonzalo has even baptized a couple of babies with two mothers.

– Reconciliation –

Andrade acknowledges that for some LGBT sectors the blessings authorized by Francis are a “crumb”, but he celebrates it. “It is better to take a small but safe step.”

In a neighboring neighborhood, Vincent Schwahn, a retired Anglican priest married to a Mexican by law and church in his native United States, recognizes one step “in two thousand years of homophobia.”

But he criticizes the restrictions. “It’s like blessing a car,” adds Schwahn, who officiated at an Ash Wednesday ceremony at a market on February 14.

Director of Casa Koinonia, a religious organization aimed at the LGBT community, Schwahn believes that “all parishes should be inclusive.”

Wearing a black T-shirt that says “blessed” in the colors of the rainbow and a cross on his neck, Andrade beats the beat of the chorus.

The voice of Regina stands out, a pedagogue who defines herself as a non-binary person, with a made-up face and colorful blouse.

“At the first mass I arrived ‘heteronorm’, dressed typically. But they told me, ‘Where is the outfit, where is the makeup?’ And when I enter, I see that this is different. I reconciled with the Church “, explains fan in hand.

Although the majority of attendees are members of the LGBT community, friends, and family, some go on their own.

“This is what we have to learn, we are all human beings, we all have to respect each other,” says Irma Juárez, 77 years old.