Local LGBTQIA+ community reacts to pope’s recent endorsement

Local News

Pope Francis' documentary 'Francesco' shows him supporting same-sex civil unions

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – This week the world learned that Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions.

It’s news that was broken Wednesday during the premier of the documentary “Francesco.”

In the film, Pope Francis said, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

The Catholic faith teaches that all people are to be treated with dignity and respect, but they believe homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”

Tim Bortner, CEO of Full Spectrum Community Outreach Center, said the endorsement is a big step in the right direction.

“I think it was a great gesture on his part. I think that this is important for the LGBT community that are religious,” said Bortner.

Full Spectrum is the LGBTQIA+ center for the Mahoning Valley and they provide six free support groups monthly to the community.

“We are 100% volunteer based, and we’re 100% donation based,” said Bortner.

Donations taken by Full Spectrum Outreach Community Center for the LGBTQIA+ community in the Mahoning Valley.

To support what they do for the LGBTQIA+ community click here. Individuals can donate online or by mail, and can also give items such as clothing, toiletries and food.

“Every donation is used to keep the center afloat and with COVID, we’ve been struggling for the last six to eight months here,” said Bortner.

Jan Baharis, is a member of PFLAG, which is a national organization that started in 1972. According to their website, “PFLAG is the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies.”

Since PFLAG hasn’t released a statement as of Friday afternoon on the pope’s endorsement, Baharis wanted it to be clear she was speaking as a member of PFLAG and as an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Gay people are children of God like anybody else and that is, I think, a wonderful step forward for acceptance worldwide,” said Baharis.

She said she was raised Catholic and thinks the pope’s endorsement is wonderful because everyone is made in the image of God.

“I hope that Catholics can appreciate that the pope has taken really very giant steps for the Church and it’s something we need to recognize and understand,” Baharis said.

She knows it won’t be easy for all Catholics to accept the endorsement, but she hopes they all come to realize the pope is speaking the truth.

Reverend Joseph Boyd of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown agreed that it’s wonderful and about time. He said it’s a big moment for current and former Catholics that are close or related to people that are in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I think that anybody who is against opening up our faith to anyone on the margins, including the LGBTQ+ community, are in a losing battle,” Boyd said. “I think that we are on the right side of history if we open up our churches and our faith communities to openly embracing all people, especially people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community.”

They’ve been flying a flag representing the LGBTQ+ community for over a decade at the church.

“We partner with any faith group that is open to LGBTQ+ people and that includes and Catholic parishes in Youngstown,” Boyd said. “We are very excited to partner with any Catholics that take this as a sign that this is a step in the right direction of history, and want to open those doors for themselves and for their communities.”

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