Listen to your juniors (and sophomores and seniors)

With so much conversation on the rainbow-button-wearing-and-denied-communion college students, I thought I'd draw attention to two related items.

In response to the suicides of five LGBT college students across the country in the past month, the student editors of Boston College's The Heights campus newspaper have written a superb editorial calling for reconciliation and conversation around the issue of homosexuality in the church: "The Church has to face the fact that there are thousands, maybe millions of Catholics out there praying for some real discussion about the deeply personal struggle in their souls. This is, perhaps, the great theological question of our time, and BC, if it aspires to be a leader in the Catholic world, should explore ways to submit the question to rigorous examination." Bravo to the editors for engaging this issue in a way that is at once bold, serious, and faithful. If we want to keep them in the church–and I sure do–they deserve the conversation they are asking for.

A new Pew research poll on support on same-sex marriage indicates that Catholics as a whole may be ready for just such a conversation: Following other recent research on Catholic support for gay marriage, Pew finds a plurality of Catholics (46 percent) support it, while 42 percent oppose it. That's a reversal from 2008 and 2009.

What's even more curious is that the shift should occur as the bishops have rolled out their national marriage initiative and have become increasingly vocal in the public square on the question of same-sex civil marriage. It's hard to argue that Catholics don't know where their bishops stand. They're just not buying it.

As I have argued elsewhere, it isn't good for the church when shepherds and flock go their separate ways on such an issue. The time has long been ripe for a more open discussion about this question; I am convinced it is only when many voices are heard on this matter–GLBT Catholics, their parents and families, along with bishops, pastors, and theologians–that we will come to a fuller truth on this difficult matter.