Trocaire Welcomes Community to Panel Discussion on ‘LGBTQ and the Church’

Trocaire College will host a panel discussion on the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church on Thursday, April 12. The discussion will take place from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Margaret Wendt Center at Trocaire’s main campus at 360 Choate Ave., and the event is open to the public.

LGBTQ inclusion and participation in church life is one of the most divisive issues within U.S. Christianity today. A wide range of doctrinal positions dot the religious landscape.

“Some denominations offer full acceptance/participation to queer members, including the sanctioning of same-sex marriage and ordination for openly gay men and women,” said Bob Shearn, Trocaire’s director of Mission, Ministry and Service. “Other denominations limit or oppose full participation in the community’s life. Both sides of the argument offer cogent reasons for their positions, often drawn from the religious tradition itself.”

The panel, “LGBTQ and the Church: Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” will feature academics, pastors, and pastoral ministers from various Christian traditions, and grapple with topics including the authority of scripture, human dignity, the moral life, and what it means to be human.

“These questions are not purely academic—they have real effects on our brothers and sisters in Christ who just happen to be gay,” Shearn said. “On the pastoral level, nuance often govern the response of ministers and members alike who seek both to honor official positions and offer a compassionate response to queer members.”

Panelists include:

  • Monsignor Robert Zapfel STD (Diocese of Buffalo priest, moral theologian)
  • Sister Sharon Erickson RSM (Sister of Mercy, retired pastoral minister)
  • Father Thomas Mitchell (Episcopal priest, Trocaire philosophy faculty member)
  • Stanley Zerkowski (Executive Director, Fortunate Families in Lexington, Kentucky). Fortunate Families is a “Catholic Family, Friends & Allies Ministry, supports LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers by facilitating respectful conversation … especially with bishops, pastors and Church leadership.”
  • Heike Peckruhn (Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Daemen College)

Members of the community is welcomed and encouraged to attend this event, especially church administrators, pastors, pastoral and campus ministers, members of local congregations and of the LGBTQ+ community, family members, allies, and anyone interested in exploring one of the most complex issues facing the Christian church today.

Parking is limited—guests are invited to park on the streets surrounding Trocaire, or in the Salem Lutheran Church parking lot on Whitfield Avenue in the visitor’s parking area. Whitfield Avenue is located off McKinley Parkway near the McClellan Circle. A free Trocaire shuttle runs continuously from the lot to the college.