A new report on the creation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has revealed that Catholic bishops actively worked to derail the hotline. The reason: the plan for the hotline included counseling of at-risk LGBTQ people.
The National Suicide Prevention Line, which goes into effect in July 2022, will offer mental health counseling services to Americans considering suicide by dialing 9-8-8 on any phone. Now, a new report has revealed that deputies of the Catholic Church quietly lobbied against the creation of the hotline, as it would affirm callers questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The National Catholic Reporter has revealed that “When the U.S. Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act last fall to establish a toll-free number with assistance for those with mental health crises, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops quietly lobbied behind the scenes against the legislation. The bishops’ justification? The legislation contained special funding for LGBTQ support.”
The same article also revealed that the Catholic Church also opposed the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 for the very same reason. “All persons must be protected from violence, but codifying the classifications ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as contained in S. 47 is problematic,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in a letter at the time.
The renewed scrutiny over the lobbying by the Catholic Church comes as the religious institution has also come out against the Equality Act, which is currently under consideration in the US Congress. The act would provide protections for LGBTQ people in housing and employment. President Joe Biden has indicated that should it pass, he will sign it into law. The council of bishops have opposed the law on the grounds that it represents a “violation of precious rights to life and conscience” and would “chip away at religious freedom.”
The news also comes following the announcement that the Catholic Church would refuse to bless same-sex unions. In a statement, the church said that God “does not and cannot bless sin: He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him.” The announcement has yielded wide criticism, as Pope Francis had previously spoken out in favor of legal protections for queer people, and singer Elton John revealed that the Catholic Church was a major investor in the film Rocketman, which dealt heavily in queer content.