San Diego Auxiliary Bishop delivers homily at St. John the Evangelist parish on anniversary of “Always Our Children”

Bishop John Dolan: "These words offered by the U.S. bishops 20 years ago are my sentiments exactly"

Bishop John Dolan

San Diego Catholic Diocese Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan delivered the following Homily during the Mass today at St. John the Evangelist parish to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the “Always Our Children” message from the U.S. Bishops (full text):

Parents and family members of LGBT children – God’s children – and to all of you gathered today:

It is a joy to be with you this morning as we commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishop’s document, “Always Our Children.” This document was written then as “an outstretched hand of the bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family to parents and other family members” of LGBT children.

On this Day, we also celebrate the Catholic Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

 Here, we beg Mary, who is a mother and parent herself, to accompany with her prayers parents of children in the LGBT  community and all of us gathered here as we seek to find a welcoming place for all within the Body of Christ, the Church.

Now, as we prepare to celebrate this Eucharist, let us turn to Mary’s Son, Jesus our Savior and Advocate. As we do so, let us call to mind our sins and ask our Lord for pardon and peace.

Today we recall a document written by the U.S. Bishops and presented 20 years ago to the parents of LGBT children. “Always Our Children” was written at a time when good and faithful church-going Catholics were witnessing society quickly change before their eyes and the Church seemed – in their eyes – to stand still. At that time, some parents who were faced with their children “coming out,” courageously reached out to religious leaders – including Catholic priests – for guidance. Though courageous, the sense of guilt and shame – coupled with tears – was a part of their conversation.

Other parents preferred to not talk about it with their pastors, while others would even dismiss their children in order to avoid conflict with other members of their faith. In many of these encounters with pastors, parents were met with love and compassion as they discussed their children’s “new way of life,” while – sadly – others were met with words of condemnation; even if the hard words of their pastors were meant to express truths regarding their children.

Today, we also celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Admittedly, this Feast Day is very important to me and the Rosary itself is my favorite form of prayer. (It doesn’t look like it, but I walk nearly every day and pray two rosaries out and two rosaries back. This way, I can take care of both my physical and spiritual exercises at the same time. I recommend it. It’s good for the body and the soul.)

As we consider this Feast Day, I am reminded of St. Pope John Paul II’s Pastoral Letter in 2002 on the Holy Rosary. In his letter, Saint John Paul urged Catholics to see the rosary as “a treasure to be rediscovered” in our lives. He reminded us to approach the Rosary as a way of going to the “School of Mary” in order to discover the mysteries of Jesus her Son. By meditating on the five Joyful mysteries of Jesus’ birth and childhood, or the five Luminous mysteries of the Lord’s Ministry on earth, the five Sorrowful mysteries of Jesus’ passion and death, and finally the five Glorious mysteries of His resurrection and the bright promise that awaits us all, we were encouraged to assimilate the mysteries of Christ as we discovered the mystery of our own being.

As I re-read his pastoral letter on the Rosary, I was struck by these words: “The mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother, even when they do not involve her directly, for she lives from him and through him.”

These words, in light of our purpose here today, are particularly helpful as I speak to you parents. They need repeating: “Even when they do not involve her directly,” the “mysteries of Christ are the mysteries of His mother.” This is made perfectly clear in the annunciation account found in our Gospel today. Here, the Son of God becomes the Son of Mary. The mysteries of Christ are now incarnate within the Mother of the Lord.

Later, we read that Mary pondered these things in her heart. What parent doesn’t ponder the mystery of their child within their heart? What parent is not indirectly involved in the mystery of his or her child?

Returning to my earlier comments on those courageous parents who reached out to their pastors or faith leaders 20 years ago, and those who continue to seek guidance today, it is obvious to me that the words pastors choose to use when speaking of God’s children have an effect on their parents as well; even if indirectly. Again, the mysteries of Christ found in each child are the mysteries found in their parents.

This is why, in part, the pastoral letter, “Always Our Children,” was written for parents. For example, the bishops went to great lengths to include in the letter the following words for parents whose children were dying during the height of the AIDS epidemic: “Though HIV/AIDS is an epidemic affecting the whole human race, not just homosexual persons, it has had a devastating effect upon them and has brought great sorrow to many parents, families, and friends.”

 And, while some faith leaders, politicians, and celebrities were linking God’s wrath to this terrible disease, the bishops stated emphatically, “We reject the idea that HIV/AIDS is a direct punishment from God.” In some way, I hope these words offered some comfort to parents of those with HIV or who died from AIDS at the time. This is just one of the reasons for the pastoral letter.

It is true that “Always Our Children” was not warmly received by many Catholics in the U.S. It was too left-leaning for some; even though the bishops then made it clear that the letter was not breaking any new ground on sexual morality, chastity, and mature sexual development according to Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

The document was also too right-leaning for others; especially as the language used in the document regarding homosexuality seemed stilted and even offensive to many in the gay community. However, recall that the letter was “an outstretched hand of the bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family to parents and other family members.”  And, for this reason alone, it was a start. It became an opening for more fruitful dialogue and civil discourse.

Twenty years later, the dialogue and discourse continues, but it isn’t always fruitful or civil. The unshaking ideologies of people from those without and within the LGBT community are daily blogged, tweeted, and Facebooked in ad hominem, yellow-journalistic, fake-news style where now the Mysteries of Christ and the Good News are lost and good people are directly or indirectly hurt. Such rhetoric has to stop! It is for this reason that, while the Church’s teachings and truths are still defined, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) wrote:

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.” 

More recently, Fr. James Martin, SJ, shared the same challenge for members within the LGBT community. In his book, Building a Bridge, Fr. Martin laid out the number of times LGBT members had spewed violent malice in speech. He argued that taking such a hurtful road is only “a perpetuation of a cycle of hatred.” Fr. Martin offered the alternative road: “Being respectful of people with whom you disagree is at the heart of the Christian way.”

Ad hominem attacks and lies about those with whom we disagree must always be avoided. As our Catechism states, “If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.” Civil discourse and fruitful dialogue cannot be forfeited by those who uphold the teachings of the Church and/or by those who struggle to incorporate our teachings within their personal lives.

The opposite of uttering falsehoods and deplorable verbal attacks is the Gospel of Truth. The Truth that begins with the Joyful Mystery of the Angel who spoke unto Mary. This Truth, the Son of God, became incarnate and now became Mary’s Son.

We read later that Mary pondered all of these things – the mysteries of Her Son – in her heart. And, like a good parent, she pondered these things as she accompanied her Son throughout his life; from the Joyful events of his childhood, throughout his mission to the sick, the sinners, and ultimately to the cross at Calvary. But, as we hear Jesus on the cross give Mary to the Beloved Disciple – the Church – we see that Mary accompanies us all. She stands by us all.

This is why, in our First Reading, we see Mary in the Upper Room with the apostles. And when the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, rushed upon Mary, he rushed upon her sons. Although many of these sons previously ran from the Lord and even denied Him, they were still her sons. Indeed, we will always be her sons and daughters, as well as brothers and sisters, of the Lord.  There is no denying this.

And, to you parents, there is no denying your own sons and daughters, whatever their walk in life. You, like Mary, stand in the middle of your own domestic church and within the wider Church. This is your vocation. And for this, I thank you.

Like Mary, we stand with all members of the Church. With those who live in the heart of Christ, or in his bosom, and even in the peripheries. It is for this reason, the U.S. bishops 20 years ago, offered these final words in their pastoral letter, directing them specifically to our children:

“This message has been an outstretched hand to your parents and families inviting them to accept God’s grace present in their lives now and to trust in the unfailing mercy of Jesus our Lord. Now we stretch out our hands and invite you to do the same. We are called to become one body, one spirit in Christ. We need one another if we are to  . . . grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love” (Eph 4:15-16).

Though at times you may feel discouraged, hurt, or angry, do not walk away from your families, from the Christian community, from all those who love you. In you God’s love is revealed. You are always our children.”

My brothers and sisters, these words offered by the U.S. bishops 20 years ago are my sentiments exactly. Be assured of my prayers for you. The Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries of Christ abide in you. With Mary, with all the Saints, with Pope Francis, Bishop McElroy, our priests, your parents and families, and all who love you, we will accompany you. And as we do, we will ponder the mysteries of Christ within you.



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  1. You know the leftists are grasping at straws when they celebrate an old, irrelevant, non-authoritative document whose first version was required by Rome to be revised because it didn’t accord with Catholic faith. It was drafted and released by a committee, not by the conference of bishops. The homophiles on that committee tried to get away with obscuring Catholic doctrine, but Rome said, “No way,” and required corrections to the document. The Left will try, but it won’t succeed in normalizing the abnormality and immorality of homosexuality.

  2. Michael McDermott says:

    Aids is not a Punishment from God – it is a Human Disease, Spread primarily via Homo-Anal Coprophile Perversions
    Indeed – Sinners are Always Our Children, yet some of their Behaviors, spreading even Newer Treatment Resistant Diseases via the Conga Line of Buggery, should Not to be Pandered to
    We, as a Church, need to Distinguish between the Behaviors Causing So Much Harm (like the Homosex Ephebophle Attack on Adolescent Boys) and ‘orientations’ that are Often the negative Result of Such Molestation of Young Men
    Pope Francis Tells Facebook, Internet Companies They Must Protect Children From Sexual Expolitation

  3. St. Christopher says:

    Homosexual sex is always a mortal sin — always — and neither the Pope, or any bishop or priest, can make this foundational fact any different. Church ceremonies that show compassion, but fail to also show the need to face the reality of what homosexual activity is doing to one’s soul and the need to confess this sin and the need to avoid even the “near occasion” of this same sin, are heretical.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      That is also not true. For something to be a mortal sin, the person needs to be culpable, which is not always the case. There is no such outrage expressed for straight people who do exactly the same things in bed as straight people, is there, yet it would be just as sinful. Why do you think that is?

      • You know why ” Your Fellow Non-Catholic”? Because we call it a sin. We know it is a sin. We don’t have parades to celebrate fornication. We don’t push fornication clubs down kids throats in K-12 like the sodomists do to brainwash kids to think sodomy is great. You should be shouting from the mountain tops what homosexual sex does to people-not just the soul but the body. Read this and then come back and tell me how wonderful it is to be a homosexual.

        • Your Fellow Catholic says:

          gracie says “We don’t have parades to celebrate fornication”. Apparently you have never attended Saint Patrick’s Day parades or Bay to Breakers in San Francisco. The reality is that whatever sexual activity you want to talk about is engaged in by more straight people than gay people, and it is just as sinful. So your statement that “we know it is a sin” is just bogus. You are blind to the sins of straight people. All you want to do is blame gay people – when they do exactly the same things in bed as straight people.

        • Gracie ..Wonderful? I presume you are straight? If so, unless you are very young. I also presume you’ve experienced the joys and sorrows of love? I was in love with a woman whom God took far earlier than most. Wonderful? Yes, but also painful ..actually “for better or for worse.” I got through her death only with the help of my parents and siblings, her parents and my pastor. I think that’s the kind of thing the authors of All Our Children had in mind.

          • My condolences to you in the death of the person you loved. It is such a blessing for you to have supportive family and a supportive pastor.
            The document is called “Always Our Children.” There is a mistake in the title of this article.

          • I’m sorry. The error was in the headline of the Sept 15 article.

      • A sin to be mortal: 1. It must be grave matter – which sodomy is 2. the person must know it is a sin. 3. The person willfully will continue with the sin . The outrage is in response of the active denial of the sin -which straight people do not engage in activism yet.

      • St. Christopher says:

        “YFC”: You queries are disingenuous. Homosexual sex is a blasphemy against God’s Natural Law. Whatever the moral issue, if any, of a married man and woman having anal sex, they are licitly married before God and the Church, something a homosexual man or woman can never be. Homosexuals may never licitly have sex with another of their gender, never.

        But listen, given the nut case heretics Pope Francis relies on at the Vatican and their absolute love of sodomite activity, you might be in for a future treat. Francis is already demanding change to the Code of Canon Law so who know what you might have in store.

        • Well said St. Chris, sodomites fail see this fact…

        • Your Fellow Catholic says:

          “Whatever the moral issue, if any, of a married man and wmen having anal sex, they are licitly married…”

          Well, you realize that it is intrinsically disordered for ANY couple to engage in anal sex, right? And morally sinful, even if married, if they are otherwise culpable.

          You may not realize this, because you think it is the “gay” part that is sinful. But you would be incorrect.

  4. The constant bantering on an on about the sodomites Here is a quick sermon for you… Conform your lives to the will of Christ or burn in Hell end of story.. Tell me Bishop will next box platitudes that adulterers are also our children? so sick of these cowards.

  5. No mention of “Courage” or “Encourage “? Shame on you Bp. Dolan! The Anglicans and Protestants have already gone down this road and their parishioners have fled in droves!!

  6. Michael McDermott says:

    Social Justice 4 Who? All Children have a Male Father & Female Mother, and They Know It

    “France eyes legalizing assisted reproduction for gay women in 2018
    The right of lesbian couples and single women to have access to assisted reproduction was “a matter of social justice” and will likely be legislated next year, a French government minister said on Tuesday…
    “It was a campaign promise. It will be honored,” Marlene Schiappa, minister for gender equality

  7. The Church needs to announce that God deeply loves persons with same sex attraction. He loves their parents as well. He does not approve of homogenital behavior, but still loves those who so engage and will do all he can to bring them and all of us to chastity and to spiritual perfection. On my website, this is the short talk I would have given at a prayer service to bishops, priests, those with ssa and their families; Click “on the occasion of the Mass to celebrate always our children”. I never would have done this in a Mass because of the non Catholics present and the dubious state of so many who might try to present themselves and possibly fall into sacriligious communion.

    • But Fr. P., doesn’t this count??? “Now, as we prepare to celebrate this Eucharist, let us turn to Mary’s Son, Jesus our Savior and Advocate. As we do so, let us call to mind our sins and ask our Lord for pardon and peace.” ( Bp Dolan) So much easier than actually humbling oneself by going to confession, repenting, promising to sin no more and then receiving absolution from the priest. And so Protestant!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is a very good homily. At first I misunderstood the part about Fr. Martin, then I realized he was criticizing LGBT people for attacking Christians.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      There has been a lot of criticism of Father Martin and his book by people who have not read it. You are indeed correct, Anonymous. Martin criticizes LGBT people who at times unjustly smear the entire Church with the sins of their fellow pew-sitters. It is a criticism I agree with. Thank you for acknowledging what Martin ACTUALLY wrote, not what people ASSUME he wrote.

  9. Linda Maria says:

    The Bishop has a big responsibility, to teach to all, the Christian Virtue of Chastity! Especially on the Feast of the Holy Rosary!! It is a basic, Christ-like, Christian Virtue, that ALL must learn and practice, to comply with God’s Plan, for our Salvation!! Many good prayers, Rosaries, and acts of mortification, should be offered to God, by all Catholics– especialy, for all those who struggle with sins of the flesh! We need days of penance, and Friday abstinence, as well as daily Rosaries in eveery church, all over the world, for Spiritual Combat against sin, in union with Our Lady and Her Divine Son — to help all to become holy, and close to Christ!!

  10. Linda Maria says:

    Christ loves all sinners very much– YES, we are all His “wayward children!!” And He loved us so greatly, that He shed His Blood on the Cross, for our Salvation!! He died for me and for you, to open the Gates of Heaven, and Eternal Life with God, there! We all must practice Christian Virtues, and strong Spiritual Warfare, with lots of penance against Sin, all together, as a Church! Practice, pratice, practice!! Knowing we are all DEEPLY LOVED by God!! It is the job of the clergy and nuns– to love Christ’s children– and to daily teach them all their Catechism, so they may all hope to get to Heaven, as good Catholics!! We badly need good Catholic leadership, in our clergy and nuns, to help Christ in His work!!

    • Linda Maria says:

      Christ said, in the Beatitudes, in His Sermon on the Mount– “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!” We all must seek to see Christ in each other, with pure hearts!

  11. Elizabeth M. says:

    Hasn’t he heard about Courage?

  12. Michael McDermott says:

    A Great Analysis of the ‘Leaders’ of the movement… Ahem
    “What Alfred Kinsey and Hugh Hefner Had in Common
    Kinsey’s claim to fame was his 1948 volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male…
    Kinsey – was a pederast who enjoyed public nudity, made explicit sex films and eventually developed such an extreme sadomasochistic form of autoeroticism that some believe it caused his untimely death in 1956.”

    Yet it was not enough for him to reputedly have sex with men, women, minors, and family members. Instead, as Judith Reisman notes, “Kinsey solicited and encouraged pedophiles, at home and abroad, to sexually violate from 317…

  13. Michael McDermott says:

    A Great Analysis of the ‘Leaders’ of the movement… Ahem
    “What Alfred Kinsey and Hugh Hefner Had in Common
    “Kinsey solicited and encouraged pedophiles, at home and abroad, to sexually violate from 317 to 2,035 infants and children for his alleged data on normal ‘child sexuality.’
    Many of the crimes against children (oral and anal sodomy, genital intercourse and manual abuse) committed for Kinsey’s research are quantified in his own graphs and charts.” (Table 34)

  14. Linda Maria says:

    All those committed to following Christ, whether clergy or laymen– need a great deal of maturity, strength, and courage! It is not easy! One must learn to think and to act maturely, like an adult– and “when the going gets tough– the tough get going,” as the old saying goes!! We must pick up our painful cross– and go! Christ is there, always, to walk beside us! A good Church must have a mature, strong, deeply committed clergy, that we all can rely on– especially for the many tough times and situations, in life! Immature clergy weaken and destroy our Church, and hurt us all very badly!! A poor gay man struggling with sin, kneels down in the Confessional– what does the Bishop say to him??

  15. Anne Wilson says:

    I can’t recommend more highly the beautiful book by Daniel Mattson “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay,” published by Ignatius Press. In it he elucidates the Church’s loving and constant teaching regarding chastity for us all, uniting our suffering to Christ, the gift of loneliness, reclaiming our sexual reality, claiming our belovedness, and many more pertinent topics. It is a book for all of us. If only our bishops would read it and redirect their leadership.

  16. By not addressing the SIN of homosexual behavior during the homily or a call for repentance was wrong. The Bishop did nothing but encourage homosexual behavior and lead the LGBT community to believe their behavior is acceptable in God’s eyes. They are loved by God but their behavior does not. Bishop McElroy recently called faithful followers of Catholicism “a cancer,” because they refuse to align with the liberal pro-LGBT agenda and God-forbid, speak out. He used the typical leftist labels towards those who disagree with him and his fellow fallen church leaders: homophobes and bigots. Moreover, that is not all of it. This misguided Bishop dared to say, “But chastity is not the central virtue in the Christian moral life. Our…

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s Catholic therefore one assumes everyone know that homosexual sex act are sinful, gravely sinful and you can go to hell for it.
      The homily was to the parents. It did not encourage homosexual behavior.
      Bishop McElroy called vilification a cancer. He did not call faithful Catholics a cancer in the Church.
      When people misrepresent things that other people say and do and attribute motives to them that are not true it is sinful and it can even be a mortal sin.

  17. It appears that the good bishop’s remarks are entirely in accordance with the Cathechism of the Catholic Church written under the direction of Pope Benedict XIV and promulgated by St John Paul the Great. Our brothers and sisters struggling with same sex attraction are to be welcomed into the family of the Church and encouraged in the struggle to live a holy and decent life. This is true for all of us as we are all sinners!

  18. Michael McDermott says:

    Open Your Eyes Father Martin
    Anthony Esolen

    Father James G. Martin, S.J., is either a cruel or a foolish man
    It does not seem to be the first. But if it is not that, it must be the second, because that alone can explain how a Catholic priest can live in the midst of massive and unprecedented family breakdown, and the chaos, loneliness, and alienation consequent upon it, and still wave the banner for the latest innovation in sexual confusion

    He is good at telling stories. Let me tell a few

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.