If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
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 in these pews, they shared the pulpit during a symbolic Sunday Mass.
“Chicago is celebrating Pride and, of course, today is Father’s Day and, conveniently, we tick both of those boxes,” said Duyka. “In all honesty, if you had told us as young boys who wasted countless hours of our lives in church trying to ‘pray the gay away’ that we someday would be standing in front of all of you in our Catholic church talking about our family on Father’s Day, we would never have believed you.”
At this historic parish, their adopted daughters are thriving. The youngest was baptized with no complications, unlike the “secret ceremony” for their first daughter at a previous church. In 2016, the Old St. Pat’s altar featured — for a month — photos of victims from Orlando’s Pulse nightclub massacre. Parishioners shook the couple’s hands during the Sign of the Peace. There was no need to worry about hearing sermons opposing gay marriage or seeing conversion-therapy pamphlets.
The Father’s Day reflection by Duyka and Shingleton filled the homily slot in the Mass, following the Gospel reading. 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 inspired online debates since it occurred in the powerful Archdiocese of Chicago, led by Cardinal Blase Cupich.
Pope Francis recently named Cupich to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Chicago cardinal has been a fierce defender of the pope’s “Traditionis Custodes” (“Guardians of the Tradition”) document limiting the use of the Tridentine (traditional) Latin Mass. Under its authority, Cupich has also restricted other worship traditions favored by Catholic conservatives, such as priests celebrating Mass “ad orientem” as opposed to the modern “versus populum” stance 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 forbidding blessings for same-sex couples. That Vatican statement declared that since “God cannot bless sin,” the church cannot bless sexual relationships outside of traditional marriage. Clergy can bless single adults — including “persons with homosexual inclinations” — if they live celibate lives.
Pope Francis signed this document, which noted that while same-sex unions may contain “positive elements,” this doesn’t “render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”
Cardinal Cupich’s response noted the Vatican had offered “nothing new on the Church’s teaching on the Sacrament of Matrimony.” Heeding other 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 in 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 bulletin note about a gay men’s ministry and discovered it wasn’t a “love the sinner, hate the sin” group. The priest who welcomed them said, “while other Catholic churches and their leaders may be tone-deaf, Old St. Pat’s has figured it out.”
Both men were raised in church but said they had never been welcomed as gay men.
“We can handle that. We’re grown-ups,” said Duyka. “We wanted to raise our children in the Catholic church — which was, after all, our church, just as much as it was the church of the people who would not shake our hands.” However, he added, they “didn’t want to expose our children to bigotry and have them feel any shame or intolerance about their family.”