(WB) More than 250 Catholic leaders in the U.S. have endorsed efforts to protect LGBT people from discrimination.

A statement that New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based group that ministers to LGBT Catholics, released on Monday notes “our Catholic faith compels us to speak out in support of the principle of nondiscrimination.”

“Nondiscrimination would alleviate the personal suffering of LGBTQ people, provide them equal access to our society’s opportunities, and, in many cases, save lives,” reads the statement. “Ending discrimination of this type would also benefit the common good of all people in our society. If LGBTQ people were allowed to flourish as full human beings and as equal citizens, our communal, cultural and social life would be greatly enhanced by their gifts.”

The statement notes “scripture strongly affirms that God hears and responds to the cry of the poor and suffering.”

“Society’s failure to protect LGBTQ people has left them crying out for justice,” it adds. “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we too must hear and respond to this cry by pursuing policies and laws that remedy such grave injustices. To do any less would abdicate our responsibility as Christians to live the Gospel in public life by advancing the good of all people, especially those on the margins.”

“The time has come to remedy this grave injustice, and our Catholic tradition holds the tools to fix this problem,” concludes the statement.

“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers and ministers, we care deeply about our church and our society. Our strong endorsement of nondiscrimination towards LGBTQ people comes from careful reflection on scripture, our church’s tradition and teachings, our academic studies and our experience of the lives of LGBTQ people,” it reads. “In these sources, we witness the Holy Spirit speaking through them to guide us to live more faithfully the Gospel mandate to pursue justice by hearing and responding to the cry of the poor and marginalized.”

Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, and New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo are among those who signed the statement. Georgetown University’s LGBTQ Resource Center is one of the dozens of organizations that have endorsed it.

New Ways Ministry released the statement against the backdrop of laws in Florida and other states that target transgender student-athletes. The statement also coincides with the Vatican’s more moderate tone on LGBT-specific issues under Pope Francis’ papacy.

Francis last fall publicly endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples.

The pontiff has said gay men and lesbians should not be marginalized. The Vatican in 2020 gave money to a group of trans sex workers in Italy during the country’s coronavirus lockdown, but church teachings on homosexuality and gender identity remain unchanged.

“The relationship between the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons has long been fraught with tensions, negative emotions, and confusion,” reads the New Ways Ministry statement. “Harsh statements from high-ranking church leaders against LGBTQ equality initiatives in the civil arena have often succeeded in limiting the rights of LGBTQ people, causing great offense and allowing great social and personal harm to befall this marginalized community.”

“Equally alarming to us as Catholics is that a vocal section of our church leaders too often does not fully consider Catholicism’s most fundamental teachings and values when taking positions on LGBTQ social policy initiatives,” it adds. “By supporting civic policies that promote discrimination and by opposing policies that would produce equality, these leaders bypass the Catholic Church’s proud social justice tradition, the product of more than a century’s development of social doctrine that increasingly supports the human rights of all people without exception.”