Conversations on marriage and family initiated by Pope Francis have opened doors within the church for families which are considered “non-traditional” by church leaders. But could the pope’s shift to mercy and inclusion in church discussions be having public policy implications as well? There is good evidence from the United Kingdom that the answer is yes.
Like many episcopal conferences, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) released a voting guide ahead of the U.K.’s general election this June. These guides generally include both guiding principles and specific political positions, which too frequently are reduced to the bishops’ opposition to abortion and to LGBT rights.
It is therefore highly significant that CBCEW’s guide omits commentary on LGBT rights altogether, and poses questions rather than dictating positions on issues which are taken up.
Source: Bondings 2.0
Perhaps the tide is turning for lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Late last year, I made a 10-day visit to Poland, invited by the Campaign against Homophobia to give public addresses, interviews and a retreat for Faith and Rainbow, a group of LGBT Catholics.
I also had the opportunity to meet with Catholic opinion leaders like Catholic journalist Cezary Gawryś to get a sense of the state of affairs for Polish LGBT Catholics. Gawryś has been exploring the topic of LGBT people in the church.
Serving for two years as a volunteer counselor, he witnessed their efforts — spiritual, mental and also financial — to change their orientation. “I saw gay people who were not very affluent, taking loans to pay for their therapy,” he resumed. “The feeling of not being accepted by the church separated them from the community. They often isolated themselves from other people and carried on with their lonely struggle.”
Katarzyna Jabłońska, co-author with Gawryś of Challenging Love: Christians and Homosexuality, recounted an experience she had while working at home on the book. Her printer broke, and she asked her next-door neighbor, a good friend she had known for many years, to print it for her. Her friend returned, printout in hand, crying profusely, and told Jabłońska that one of her sons was gay. Although they had known each other for years, the neighbor had never spoken about her gay son until the printer incident.
The relationship between the L.G.B.T. Catholic community and the Catholic Church in the United States has been at times contentious and combative, and at times warm and welcoming. Much of the tension characterizing this complicated relationship results from a lack of communication and, sadly, a good deal of mistrust, between L.G.B.T. Catholics and the hierarchy. What is needed is a bridge between that community and the church.
I invite you to walk with me on that important bridge. To that end, I would like to reflect on both the church’s outreach to the L.G.B.T. community and the L.G.B.T. community’s outreach to the church. Because good bridges take people in both directions.
Source: America Magazine
I read a commentary this past weekend about the Anglican Church and marriage equality, and one of the points made has me thinking about why the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been so negative on LGBT issues.
An essay by Alf McCreary in Northern Ireland’s Belfast Telegraph responded to the Church of England General Synod’s recent rejection of a bishops’ report re-affirming marriage is only between a man and a woman. McCreary’s evaluation of the decision is:
“. . . [T]he Church is in a no-win situation. The latest developments in the Church of England , following a three-year process that had attempted to solve this most divisive issue, merely showed how difficult it is, if not impossible, to satisfy both sides.”
McCreary steps back a bit from the Anglican debate to look, somewhat wistfully it seems, at the Roman Catholic situation in regard to marriage equality:
Source: – Bondings 2.0
A fascinating blogpost at L’Espresso by Sandro Magister speculates that an article on women deacons at the authoritative “La Civiltà Cattolica” may have significance for the wider issue of women’s ordination.
For LGBT Catholics, the importance could be even closer to home. Consider these two paragraphs from the full text, in which I have made a simple change to just a few words – replacing “woman” and “women’s ordination” wherever it occurs, with “LGBT Catholics”.
Latest From Santa Marta. Open Doors For Women Priests – Settimo Cielo – Blog – L’Espresso
Moreover, another theologian adds, the “consensus fidelium” of many centuries has been called into question in the 20th century above all on account of the profound sociocultural changes concerning
womanLGBT Catholics. It would not make sense to maintain that the Church must change only because the times have changed, but it remains true that a doctrine proposed by the Church needs to be understood by the believing intelligence. The dispute over women priestsLGBT Catholics could be set in parallel with other moments of Church history; in any case, today in the question of female priesthoodLGBT Catholics the “auctoritates,” or official positions of the magisterium, are clear, but many Catholics have a hard time understanding the “rationes” of decisions that, more than expressions of authority, appear to signify authoritarianism. Today there is unease among those who fail to understand how the exclusion of womanfrom the Church’s ministry can coexist with the affirmation and appreciation of her equal dignity.”
How Catholic schools should be responding to LGBTI students – but usually aren’t:
Imagine this: you go to an all-girls Catholic high school and you identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Maybe you’re out or perhaps it’s something you’re too afraid to say out loud right now.
Before the keynote speaker goes on, your chaplain and six other teachers and youth workers are standing at the front of the atrium. They tell you if you’re LGBTQ+, there’s nothing wrong with who you are and they are here to support you.
You’ve heard about gay-straight alliances (GSA) before, but don’t know much about them. You find out it’s a student-run club that provides safe spaces for LGBTQ+ and straight-identified students to meet and support each other.
More at Jenna Tenn-Yuk
The fallout continued this week following the pope’s suggestion that the church should apologize to gay and lesbian people during his flight home from Armenia on June 26. (In fairness, Pope Francis also said an apology was due from the church “to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor…for having blessed many weapons.”)
The pope’s call for Christians to offer an apology to gay and lesbian people was also carefully welcomed this week by Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego. “I think it opens up a very helpful pathway to dialogue and hopefully healing,” he said. Pope Francis, Bishop McElroy said, brings to this dialogue with L.G.B.T. Catholics who feel marginalized by or alienated from the church a “renewed and deepened focus on the questions of accompaniment and the mercy of God for all of us.”
“We all walk together in a life of virtue and discipleship,” Bishop McElroy said, “and all of us fail at times.”
He adds: “We have to begin to incorporate that mercy into the depths of our hearts and souls in ways that are going to be uncomfortable for us…. We all need to be shown mercy; it is something that binds us together, not differentiates us.”
“What we need to project in the life of the church is ‘You are part of us and we are part of you.’ [L.G.B.T. Catholics] are part of our families.”
Source: America Magazine