Statement issued as 19 pairs of Anglican, Roman Catholic bishops sent out on mission
Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have said that they are “undeterred” by the “serious obstacles” to full unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
In a Common Declaration, issued in Rome Oct. 5, the two say that the differences “cannot prevent us from recognizing one another as brothers and sisters in Christ by reason of our common baptism. Nor should they ever hold us back from discovering and rejoicing in the deep Christian faith and holiness we find within each other’s traditions.”
The Common Declaration was made at a service of Vespers in the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome, from where, in 595AD, Pope Gregory sent Augustine to evangelise the Anglo-Saxon people. Augustine became the first archbishop of Canterbury in 597.
During the service, 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from across the world were commissioned by the pope and the archbishop before being “sent out” in mission together. Among the 19 pairings are Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee John Bauerschmidt and Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore Dennis Madden.
Pope Francis told them: “Fourteen centuries ago Pope Gregory sent the servant of God, Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, and his companions, from this holy place, to preach the joyful message of the Word of God. Today we send you, dear brothers, servants of God, with this same joyful message of his everlasting kingdom.”
And Welby said: “Our Savior commissioned his disciples saying, ‘Peace be with you’. We too, send you out with his peace, a peace only he can give. May his peace bring freedom to those who are captive and oppressed, and may his peace bind into greater unity the people he has chosen as his own.”
of HIS HOLINESS Pope Francis
and HIS GRACE Justin Welby ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Fifty years ago our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey met in this city hallowed by the ministry and blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II with Archbishop Robert Runcie, and later with Archbishop George Carey, and Pope Benedict XVI with Archbishop Rowan Williams, prayed together here in this Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill from where Pope Gregory sent Augustine to evangelise the Anglo-Saxon people. On pilgrimage to the tombs of these apostles and holy forebears, Catholics and Anglicans recognize that we are heirs of the treasure of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the call to share that treasure with the whole world. We have received the Good News of Jesus Christ through the holy lives of men and women who preached the Gospel in word and deed and we have been commissioned, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be Christ’s witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8). We are united in the conviction that “the ends of the earth” today, is not only a geographical term, but a summons to take the saving message of the Gospel particularly to those on the margins and the peripheries of our societies.
In their historic meeting in 1966, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey established the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission to pursue a serious theological dialogue which, “founded on the Gospels and on the ancient common traditions, may lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed”. Fifty years later we give thanks for the achievements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, which has examined historically divisive doctrines from a fresh perspective of mutual respect and charity. Today we give thanks in particular for the documents of ARCIC II which will be appraised by us, and we await the findings of ARCIC III as it navigates new contexts and new challenges to our unity.
Fifty years ago our predecessors recognized the “serious obstacles” that stood in the way of a restoration of complete faith and sacramental life between us. Nevertheless, they set out undeterred, not knowing what steps could be taken along the way, but in fidelity to the Lord’s prayer that his disciples be one. Much progress has been made concerning many areas that have kept us apart. Yet new circumstances have presented new disagreements among us, particularly regarding the ordination of women and more recent questions regarding human sexuality. Behind these differences lies a perennial question about how authority is exercised in the Christian community. These are today some of the concerns that constitute serious obstacles to our full unity. While, like our predecessors, we ourselves do not yet see solutions to the obstacles before us, we are undeterred. In our trust and joy in the Holy Spirit we are confident that dialogue and engagement with one another will deepen our understanding and help us to discern the mind of Christ for his Church. We trust in God’s grace and providence, knowing that the Holy Spirit will open new doors and lead us into all truth (cf. John 16: 13).
These differences we have named cannot prevent us from recognizing one another as brothers and sisters in Christ by reason of our common baptism. Nor should they ever hold us back from discovering and rejoicing in the deep Christian faith and holiness we find within each other’s traditions. These differences must not lead to a lessening of our ecumenical endeavours. Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper that all might be one (cf. John 17: 20-23) is as imperative for his disciples today as it was at that moment of his impending passion, death and resurrection, and consequent birth of his Church. Nor should our differences come in the way of our common prayer: not only can we pray together, we must pray together, giving voice to our shared faith and joy in the Gospel of Christ, the ancient Creeds, and the power of God’s love, made present in the Holy Spirit, to overcome all sin and division. And so, with our predecessors, we urge our clergy and faithful not to neglect or undervalue that certain yet imperfect communion that we already share.
Wider and deeper than our differences are the faith that we share and our common joy in the Gospel. Christ prayed that his disciples may all be one, “so that the world might believe” (John 17: 21). The longing for unity that we express in this Common Declaration is closely tied to the desire we share that men and women come to believe that God sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to save the world from the evil that oppresses and diminishes the entire creation. Jesus gave his life in love, and rising from the dead overcame even death itself. Christians who have come to this faith, have encountered Jesus and the victory of his love in their own lives, and are impelled to share the joy of this Good News with others. Our ability to come together in praise and prayer to God and witness to the world rests on the confidence that we share a common faith and a substantial measure of agreement in faith.
The world must see us witnessing to this common faith in Jesus by acting together. We can, and must, work together to protect and preserve our common home: living, teaching and acting in ways that favour a speedy end to the environmental destruction that offends the Creator and degrades his creatures, and building individual and collective patterns of behaviour that foster a sustainable and integral development for the good of all. We can, and must, be united in a common cause to uphold and defend the dignity of all people. The human person is demeaned by personal and societal sin. In a culture of indifference, walls of estrangement isolate us from others, their struggles and their suffering, which also many of our brothers and sisters in Christ today endure. In a culture of waste, the lives of the most vulnerable in society are often marginalised and discarded. In a culture of hate we see unspeakable acts of violence, often justified by a distorted understanding of religious belief. Our Christian faith leads us to recognise the inestimable worth of every human life, and to honour it in acts of mercy by bringing education, healthcare, food, clean water and shelter and always seeking to resolve conflict and build peace. As disciples of Christ we hold human persons to be sacred, and as apostles of Christ we must be their advocates.
Fifty years ago Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey took as their inspiration the words of the apostle: “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3: 13-14). Today, “those things which are behind” – the painful centuries of separation –have been partially healed by fifty years of friendship. We give thanks for the fifty years of the Anglican Centre in Rome dedicated to being a place of encounter and friendship. We have become partners and companions on our pilgrim journey, facing the same difficulties, and strengthening each other by learning to value the gifts which God has given to the other, and to receive them as our own in humility and gratitude.
We are impatient for progress that we might be fully united in proclaiming, in word and deed, the saving and healing gospel of Christ to all people. For this reason we take great encouragement from the meeting during these days of so many Catholic and Anglican bishops of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) who, on the basis of all that they have in common, which generations of ARCIC scholars have painstakingly unveiled, are eager to go forward in collaborative mission and witness to the “ends of the earth”. Today we rejoice to commission them and send them forth in pairs as the Lord sent out the seventy-two disciples. Let their ecumenical mission to those on the margins of society be a witness to all of us, and let the message go out from this holy place, as the Good News was sent out so many centuries ago, that Catholics and Anglicans will work together to give voice to our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring relief to the suffering, to bring peace where there is conflict, to bring dignity where it is denied and trampled upon.
In this Church of Saint Gregory the Great, we earnestly invoke the blessings of the Most Holy Trinity on the continuing work of ARCIC and IARCCUM, and on all those who pray for and contribute to the restoration of unity between us.
Rome, 5 October 2016
HIS GRACE JUSTIN WELBY HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
Complete Article HERE!
By John Bingham
Christians who support same-sex marriage are not “abandoning the Bible” the Archbishop of Wales has insisted, as he told leading Anglicans that sex in a committed gay or lesbian relationship is perfectly “proper”.
Dr Barry Morgan used his final address to the governing body of the Church in Wales, ahead of his retirement, to urge members to rethink traditional beliefs about same-sex relationships as being sinful.
Even Biblical texts often cited as condemning homosexuality, such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone, could be “interpreted in more than one way”, he said.
Read as a whole, it is not possible to argue that there is “one settled understanding of what the Bible says” on sexuality and a range of other topics, he claimed.
Dr Morgan, a prominent liberal figure in the church, is stepping down in early 2017 after 14 years as Archbishop, the longest serving primate in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
In his address he cites a string of examples from both the Old Testament and New Testament in which, he said, different passages effectively contradict each other on topics as diverse as the status of eunuchs in Jewish society to the use of violence in retribution.
“What all this shows is that within the Scriptures themselves, there are radical shifts in understanding in what it means to discern the will of God,” he said.
“It absolutely will not do to quote texts from parts of the Bible in a simplistic way without reference to their contexts.”
Overall, he said, Christianity should welcome those “excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by society”.
In previous centuries, churches had shifted their position dramatically on issues such as slavery, he added.
He said: “What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned … so taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the church.”
He went on: “We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by his society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of his day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality.”
Some branches of Anglicanism, including the Church of England, have sought to sidestep the question of clergy in same-sex relationships by insisting they should claim to be celibate.
Last week the Bishop of Grantham, the Rt Rev Nicholas Chamberlain, disclosed that he is in a same sex relationship but made clear that he observes celibacy.
But Dr Morgan pointedly rejected the celibacy requirement, quoting a passage from a recent book of essays on the subject, entitled Amazing Love, which argues: “Christians have discovered that most people flourish best when this living for others finds its focus in a commitment to one other person: when a couple make a lifelong commitment within which sex properly belongs.”
He added: “Those of us who were or are married have found that to be the case. Why would we want to deny such a possibility for those who are attracted to their own gender?”
Complete Article HERE!
When journalist and videographer Eric Kruszewski first learned about LEAD, an LGBT church outreach program started at St. Matthew Catholic church, he knew he needed to see its work in action — and capture the stories of the people involved.
His curiosity took him to Baltimore, MD, where St. Matthew is located and where he met Father Joe Muth, Jr., the church’s pastor, who is passionate about welcoming members of the LGBTQ community and their allies back into the faith. Kruszewski’s resulting video series tells stories that range from a lesbian former nun’s decision to leave the Church to a mother of gay and straight children learning how to be an ally.
“I don’t think the institutional church realizes how hurtful they are to homosexual people,” Muth says in the video above, one episode in the series.
LEAD, which stands for LGBT Educating and Affirming Diversity, meets every month. During meetings, people are welcome to introduce themselves to the group and speak about their faith, their sexuality, and how those two parts of their identities interact. It was during these meetings that Kruszewski was able to see just how devoted the members were to Catholicism, in spite of the hostile treatment they’d received before coming to St. Matthew.
“I was astonished at how people could have such unwavering, strong faith, even though they’re looking at a church that doesn’t fully accept them,” Kruszewski told Refinery29.
He said that this may stem from the fact that most LEAD members grew up with the Church and are, in fact, all baptized Catholics.
“When you’ve spent decades believing in something and living its teachings, it’s really hard for somebody to say, ‘Now that you’ve found your sexuality, you can’t believe anymore,'” Kruszewski said.
Fortunately, LEAD and Muth have become major sources of security and positivity for everyone who joins St. Matthew, regardless of their sexual identities. It’s a rare safe space for LGBTQ Catholics who seek to maintain — and nurture — these two seemingly disparate parts of their identities.
Check out the video above to learn the stories behind LEAD and some of its members, and watch the rest of Kruszewski’s series here.
Complete Article HERE!
by Nick Patricca
Why do so many gay people remain loyal to the Catholic Church?
A dear friend of mine who is a Catholic priest brought this question up during dinner when I was trying to decide upon a topic for my September op-ed in WCT. I have worked with and in Catholic organizations my whole life and it is stunningly obvious that LGBTQ persons have always been involved in the life, work and mission of these Catholic communities. Yet, I had never thought through the why’s and why-not’s of this fact.
My priest friend honed this question to a sharp point to prod my interest. I paraphrase him: ‘Without the gays and women and other groups routinely abused by the institutional Church—such as divorced people and couples who practice birth control and partners in non-church sanctioned marriages—our pews would be empty!’
I remembered how my mother had to suffer several bouts of cancer before the ‘Church’ would permit a hysterectomy, and how one of my aunts would not go to communion because she practiced birth control to protect her health and the well-being of her family. I remembered their steadfast work for their parish throughout their lives.
[Aside: I had another aunt who loudly scolded women who complied with destructive church rules: “Those are laws made by men not by God.” She also terrorized the pastor—a really good man—by sitting in the front pew directly under the pulpit with an old-fashioned alarm clock with large bells on either side which she boldly wound up and set to 10 minutes.]
My priest friend was not finished with me. Again I paraphrase him: ‘What about the arbitrary firing of gay people who have worked for years and years openly and successfully for Catholic institutions only to be told that they are no longer welcome and that they are not ‘good’ Catholics or worse ?’ He cited the case of J. Colin Collette who is suing on civil-rights grounds the Archdiocese of Chicago and Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness for ‘wrongful and unlawful dismissal’ from his position as music director at Holy Family. The archdiocese sought to have the case dismissed on ‘ministerial exception’ grounds. On July 29, 2016, a federal judge in Chicago rejected this procedural motion and allowed the case to proceed. ( newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/tag/colin-collette/ ).
Let us take a closer look at the Collette case. After 17 years of praiseworthy service as music director—attested to by the vigorous support of many members of the Holy Family Community—J. Colin Collette was fired from his position in the summer of 2014 because he announced on Facebook his intention to marry his same-sex partner William Nifong.
As I understand the matter, Holy Family dismissed Collette for ‘publicly planning to enter into a non-sacramental or non-church sanctioned marriage’ because as director of music Collette is in a ‘ministerial position’ and must ‘as such’ represent the teachings of the Catholic Church. The ‘public’ part of this reason is noteworthy since it seems the Holy Family parishioners were well aware of Collette’s sexual identity.
Throughout this dispute, Collette has resolutely affirmed his strong commitment to the Catholic faith and to the Catholic community he has served for 17 years. In an interview published in a Chicago Tribune blog post ( March 8, 2016 ) Collette described his protest against his firing as a call for justice within the Catholic Church for the many LGBTQ people who faithfully serve their communities—a call for justice not unlike the call for justice for those who suffered sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
And, let us not forget the many gay Catholics who serve as nuns, priests, brothers, and other types of ministers—an issue for another day and another column.
In reading several of Collette’s discussions of his commitment to the Catholic faith, I was reminded of the excellent work Garry Wills has performed for us Catholics through his intellectually rigorous investigations of our history, which bring to light a ‘Catholic Church’ so wondrously rich with diverse spiritual traditions and polities and yet so profoundly simple in its obedience to the universal message of Jesus. ( See, for example, Why I Am a Catholic, Garry Wills, 2002. )
The Catholic Church has a strong, effective social-justice tradition respected worldwide by governments and peoples of all faiths and intellectual persuasions. It is long past the time for the Catholic Church to implement the principles of its social-justice policies to its own institutional structures in our contemporary world.
Complete Article HERE!
By Geraldine Gittens
Former president Mary McAleese has said that seminaries in Ireland should be “gay friendly”.
This week it emerged that a closer eye will be kept on how Maynooth’s seminarians spend their time from now on as part of a stricter regime being introduced in the wake of the gay dating app scandal.
The Irish Independent reported that all trainee priests will now be required to eat their evening meal in the college rather than being allowed to dine wherever they choose. They will also be required to attend evening rosary at 9pm, which hasn’t been obligatory until now.
The seminary council will now eat both breakfast and dinner with the seminarians in the historic Pugin Hall rather than in the Professors’ Refectory.
But Dr McAleese, a staunch Catholic who campaigned fearlessly for a yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, told the Daniel O’Connell Summer School in Kerry yesterday that the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality was worryingly dangerous, according to the Irish Times.
“We have the phenomenon of men in the priesthood who are both heterosexual and homosexual but the church hasn’t been able to come to terms with the fact that there are going to be homosexuals in the priesthood, homosexuals who are fine priests,” Mary McAleese said.
“They haven’t been able to come to terms with that because the teaching of my church, the Catholic Church, tells them that homosexuality is, of its nature, intrinsically disordered – those are the words of Pope Benedict and that homosexual acts are, in his words, evil,” she added.
“I am just worried that the Maynooth controversy seems to be concentrating on the wrong things. A seminary should be a place where people feel welcomed, not somewhere where they feel welcomed, not somewhere where they feel policed – after all, there are young people who haven’t yet taken a vow of celibacy.”
In 2012, Pope Benedict sent two archbishops to Maynooth to investigate whether it was “gay friendly”.
“They wanted to be reassured that neither place was, in their words, ‘gay friendly’… so they walked away happy that they were gay unfriendly, hostile to gay people – what sort of message does that send out to young men who are there who are gay, to priests who are gay?” Dr McAleese said.
The tighter controls being implemented in the seminay are part of a suite of measures announced on Wednesday by the trustees of Maynooth which included a review of “appropriate use of the internet and social media” by the 50 or so trainee priests and their staff.
Earlier this month, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin withdrew his seminarians from Maynooth following allegations that students were using gay dating app Grindr.
Complete Article HERE!
Earlier this year, a small group of self-identified homophobic men were given the chance of a lifetime. They were presented with the rare opportunity to prove — despite the pervasive theory that homophobia is an expression of repressed homosexuality — that they themselves are actually straight.
And they failed! Lol.
Such are the results of a study recently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, titled “Homophobia: An Impulsive Attraction to the Same Sex?”
Researchers at the University of Geneva tested 38 heterosexual male subjects by having them first rate their levels of “homonegativity” to determine how antigay each of them were. Then the men participated in a sneaky little series of photo experiments designed “to evaluate their impulsive approach tendencies toward homosexual stimuli.”
The first experiment involved showing the (again: straight male) subjects a series of images of straight or gay couples in the center of a computer screen, and then repeatedly moving a small human figure toward or away from the central image several times. The second test required the men to rate images of gay or straight couples while equipment monitored how long their gaze lingered on each picture.
Altogether, the tests revealed that “men with a high homonegativity score looked significantly longer at homosexual than at heterosexual photographs,” while the non-homophobic men skipped by them more casually, at a “neutral” pace.
“For some homophobic men, there is a conflict between their reflective and their impulsive system,” lead researcher Boris Cheval said in an email. “They declare themselves as anti-gay, but [at] the same time they have an impulsive attraction toward same sex stimuli.”
“They declare themselves as anti-gay, but [at] the same time they have an impulsive attraction toward same -sex stimuli.”
Cheval previously told PsyPost that these results alone don’t exactly prove the men’s homophobic views are because of their own repressed homosexual desires. But he did point to a hidden gem of a study from 1996 for further reading.
In the 1996 study, researchers exposed 35 self-identified homophobes and 29 non-homophobes to gay, straight and lesbian porn. The men’s dicks were then literally monitored throughout the viewing process for each, which is just savage and amazing.
“Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli,” that study concluded. “Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.”
Complete Article HERE!
Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer calls for more ‘progressive’ teaching on sexuality
The Catholic church needs to open itself up to the possibility of having gay priests, according to the leader of the Seanad, Senator Jerry Buttimer.
Mr Buttimer trained for five years in the Maynooth seminary before deciding against the clerical life.
He was also the first openly gay Fine Gael TD and campaigned for the passing of the marriage referendum last year.
He said the recent controversy surrounding gay seminarians at Maynooth brought to the fore the need for the Irish church hierarchy to embrace LGBT people of faith and make them part of the church.
Mr Buttimer said it was “hardly a surprise” that there were gay men studying for the priesthood.
“As a person of faith, I pray and yearn that my church and its leaders would move to be more progressive, open and transparent around the teaching on sexuality.”
Mr Buttimer said he cherished his time in Maynooth and that it had left “a lasting impression” on his life.
“The deans and professors I studied under were very genuine men. I still believe today that they were in the main interested in developing and educating young men to be good priests.
“The church is nothing without its people, all of its people. Many of us pray for a church that is inclusive, welcoming, accepting, open and transparent. We could do a lot better.”
He said opening the church up to the LGBT community would lead to an increase in vocations.
He also said it was time for the church not to “gloss over real issues”.
“These are issues surrounding celibacy, sexuality, formation and how the church treats LGBT people, but especially LGBT people of faith, members of its own church, who want to be ordained or play a pastoral role
Complete Article HERE!
By: Lucy Tiven
Considering this year’s Republican party platform — what some say is the most anti-LGBTQ platform in the GOP’s history — it can be easy to forget that Christianity and being LGBTQ or supporting gay rights aren’t mutually exclusive.
A pamphlet from an LGBTQ pride parade, shared Monday on Imgur and widely circulated online, brilliantly uses quotes from the Bible to explain why Christian faith and LGBT pride need not contradict.
The pamphlet addresses LGBTQ Christians’ worries that God might disapprove of them, and responds to common homophobic interpretations of Bible stories.
It also tackles experiences LGBTQ people might have being kicked out of religious institutions, and the way religious people can use the AIDS crisis to stigmatize homosexuality.
The pamphlet sends a message that LGBTQ can still have honest relationships with God, and supplies powerful responses — straight from the Bible — to give anyone who tells them otherwise.
Many readers — including trans and gay Christians — expressed their appreciation of the post in comments
Others claimed that the importance of tolerance was central to — but often omitted from — churches’ messages.
Some asserted that they still believed the Bible to be overwhelmingly anti-LGBTQ, or took issue with using scripture to justify anything.
A few commenters focused on the specific biblical text included in the images, but other responses proved that it struck a nerve even with readers who were not gay or were not Christian.
You can read and share the full pamphlet on Imgur.
Complete Article HERE!
We have once again witnessed a devastating and horrific act of mass murder. On June 12, 2016 a violent young man and fellow citizen who was heavily-armed, psychologically-troubled, and professing hatred of LGBT people and allegiance to a radical and violent form of Islam killed 49 people and injured another 53. These kinds of mass shootings happen regularly in the United States; this is the most recent and the most lethal.
Many have responded with the usual statements about keeping those who have died and their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers. But some Catholic bishops have responded to the shootings at Pulse, the Orlando gay nightclub, in a way that goes beyond these all-too-familiar sentiments. Instead, these bishops seem to be adopting the much more inclusive pastoral vision of Pope Francis—a vision that embraces a “culture of encounter” with those with whom one has serious disagreements.
Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida called for a ban on weapons designed for mass killing and rejected barring all Muslims from the country as un-American. But this was not all he said. He also expressed dismay that religious people can express hatred and contempt for LGBT people in a way that makes acts of violence against them more likely.
Similarly, Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago decried gun violence and, addressing the gay and lesbian community as “our brothers and sisters,” said, “We stand with you.” Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, CA wrote, “This tragedy is a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country.”
To understand the true impact of the bishops’ words, one must also consider the other statements from the church regarding LGBT people. In 1997 the Committee on Marriage and Family Life of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released the document “Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers.” This document was warmly welcomed by some for the kind, pastoral tone it adopted. It was criticized for the same reason by others, who wanted a more rigorous emphasis on homosexual behavior as seriously sinful.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.” (Church officials using the terms LGBT or gay and lesbian is still a very recent and rare occurrence.) The catechism continues: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
Leaving aside for the moment the philosophical and technical meanings of the term objectively disordered, what is “unjust” discrimination? In 1992 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released “Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons.” In this statement there is a condemnation of violence against gays and lesbians; however, there is also an acceptance of many other forms of “just” discrimination against LGBT people—in housing, employment, adoption, and military service. From this statement, it seems that the only unacceptable behavior against LGBT people is a violent attack.
The recent statements of the bishops responding to the tragedy in Orlando seem to go beyond the very mediocre, minimalist understanding of discrimination offered by the CDF. In a very Pope Francis-like move, these bishops directly or indirectly address some very challenging questions to the church itself. What does it mean for us to consider LGBT people “our brothers and sisters”? In what ways do Catholics breed contempt for LGBT people? Where can we find and how can we combat the anti-gay prejudice that exists in the Catholic community?
We need our bishops to give us guidance concerning the anti-LGBT prejudice and contempt that exists within the Catholic Church. A continuing silence is not morally courageous or pastorally responsible.
No normal human being should have any problem condemning acts of violence directed toward someone because of his or her sexual orientation. However, as a Catholic community, we need to do much more than just condemn violence. For example, it is legal in many states to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, or transgender. If we believe that this represents unjust discrimination, then how is it that our church is not on the front line working to end it? Surely we can’t congratulate ourselves because we explicitly condemn violence against LGBT people. Who doesn’t? Can’t we as a church do better than that? Shouldn’t we be actively doing something to end other forms of unjust discrimination?
Given the way that the Catholic Church has spoken about LGBT people and given the church’s stance against the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage, we will probably not be a welcome presence in the fight against LGBT discrimination, at least initially. However, that is all the more reason to speak out. If the Catholic Church is to have any moral credibility when we address issues like same-sex marriage or the natural moral ends of sexual intimacy, then we as Catholics must be willing to spend time and money fighting against injustices suffered by our LGBT brothers and sisters. We should not feel as if we need to change or water down our moral teachings, but we should look and act a lot more like Jesus Christ in our fight for justice. This is one of the more powerful lessons we should be learning from Pope Francis.
For some, the only experience they might have of the Catholic Church is being told that they or their favorite uncle, kindest teacher, or most generous neighbor is “gravely disordered,” “intrinsically evil,” or an “abomination.” In the face of having their dignity or that of the people they love diminished and insulted, these people, without an understanding of the technical vocabulary of moral theology, may conclude that it is the church itself that is “gravely disordered” or “intrinsically evil.” In order to persuade them that this is not the case, the Catholic Church should be much more willing to work in solidarity with and on behalf of communities that are suffering unjustly, even when we do not agree with all the beliefs of that community.
Complete Article HERE!