Just last week it was Cardinal Schonborn saying to an Irish conference in preparation for the World Meeting of Families, that all families need protecting – including queer families. Also last week, another senior cardinal effectively acknowledged in a newspaper interview, that gay marriage is not a major issue for the Catholic Church.
In a remarkable and groundbreaking statement, a prominent Catholic cardinal has acknowledged that protecting and strengthening “the family” can include protecting those headed by same-sex couples.
The Catholic Church is doing whatever it can to strengthen the family, including families often considered nontraditional, said Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, the theologian who reviewed Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family.
“Favoring the family does not mean disfavoring other forms of life — even those living in a same-sex partnership need their families,” the cardinal said during a visit to Ireland, which next year hosts the World Meeting of Families.
Catholicnews,com (emphasis added)
For lesbian and gay Catholics, this is immensely significant, for several reasons.
Cardinal Schonborn is clearly close to Pope Francis, and has his respect, as shown by his prominent role in presenting the pope’s Apostolic Exortation “Amoris Laetitia (The joy of Love)”, following the Catholic bishops’ synod assembly on marriage and family.
On lesbian and gay inclusion in church, he has often been among the first to articulate positions which later became commonplace. Several years ago, he was the first senior cardinal to suggest that the time had come to stop focusing on homosexual genital acts, and to look instead at the quality of the relationships. At the time, there was speculation that he would be promptly rebuked by Pope Benedict XVI. When that did not happen, a series of other bishops quickly echoed Schonborn’s thoughts on this. Later, he further developed his thinking, by extending to support for legal recognition of loving and committed same-sex relationships, in civil unions. This new statement takes it one step further, in implicit recognition that in some countries (eg Ireland, where he was speaking). these legally sanctioned unions could include civil marriage. Given his track record of anticipating Church thinking, we should expect more bishops to start talking about respect for different types of families – including those headed by same-sex couples.
“Today, everybody can get married,” he said, but acknowledged “so many choose not to get married.” He suggested that the number of so-called irregular situations has increased enormously because the “framework of society has changed so much.”
Schonborn was in Ireland to address a conference, “Let’s Talk Family: Let’s Be Family.” In his remarks, he also noted that there have been times when large sections of the population (servants, for example) where not permitted to marry. Against this background, the Irish slogan “marriage for all” is just the logical extension of a long-term historical trend. Next year, Ireland will host the World Meeting of Families. It can be expected that with the “framework of society” having changed so markedly in the country, much of the discussion at the World Meeting of Families will at least consider all families.
It’s been widely expected, and now it’s confirmed by the BBC: same-sex marriage is coming to Taiwan. Note though that this is “same-sex” marriage, and not necessarily full marriage equality. The court ruling has given the parliament two years to legislate for marriage between same-sex couples, but it’s possible that such legislation could provide only for marriage, but not for any of the contingent rights that normally come with heterosexual couples. It could also take two years or more, for this decision to take full effect. There will not be gay wedding bells in Taipei, just yet.
This is the first Asian country to approve gay marriage, in any form – but it won’t be the last. We now have same-sex marriage approved, at least in principle, on every continent. That surely deserves
Taiwan’s top judges have ruled in favour of gay marriage, paving the way for it to become the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions.
The highest court ruled that current laws preventing members of the same sex from marrying violated their right to equality and were unconstitutional.
It gave parliament two years to amend existing laws or pass new ones.
Wednesday’s landmark decision came as the LGBT community faces increasing persecution in the region.
In a press release following the ruling, the court said that “disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders” constituted a “different treatment” with “no rational basis.”
The court concluded that “such different treatment is incompatible with the spirit and meaning of the right to equality” as protected by Taiwan’s constitution.
More at: BBC News
In a commentary at Commonweal, Paige E. Hochschild uses Amoris Laetitiae in an attempt to interpret what Pope Francis thinks about love and marriage.
What is striking in this analysis for lgbt Catholics, is that almost everything she describes as Francis’ thinking on the value of marriage, is equally applicable to same-sex couples and queer families – and almost nothing in it excludes us. There are passing references to the expectation of children, but these are almost throwaway lines There is furthermore, a note that for Francis, this is not the pre-eminent concern:
Francis warns that marriage is often seen as a “mere spontaneous association…a private affair,” rather than a “firm decision to leave adolescent individualism behind.” As such, marriage is a “social institution…a shared commitment, for the good of society as a whole.” In this regard, Francis is closer to a Thomistic understanding of sexual intimacy as ordered to the common good than to the emphasis on the “unitive-procreative” nature of the conjugal act characteristic of recent theological reflection.
Earlier in the text, Hochschild is even more explicit on what she sees in Pope Francis’ as the essential attributes of love – and these can apply equally to same-sex couples:
Francis’s thinking becomes clearer after reading the first three chapters. Love and marriage, he notes, are not identical, but marriage is the appropriate home for love precisely because the essential character of marriage is indissolubility. More important, the end of marriage is conformity to Christ. These two theological ideas—indissolubility and growth in the likeness to Christ—sum up how Francis thinks about love
Source: Commonweal Magazine
Approval for gay marriage in church is continuing to spread across several denominations and regions, not only in civil law. The Lutheran Church in Norway is the latest example, giving overwhelming support in a church conference. (Formal change to the rules will come later). As time goes by, there will be more denominations giving formal approval, and more local groups and pastors conducting marriages or blessing services without approval. (And yes, that already includes some Catholic priests, in some regions). For LGBT Christians, especially the young coming to terms with their sexuality for the first time, this is of major importance. It will become increasingly difficult for some Christian pastors to sustain the traditional line that loving, committed same-sex relationships are inherently and obviously sinful, while others are giving public endorsements of those relationships in front of their local congregations. Instead, the opponents will have to start to come up with sound scriptural and theological evidence for their views – and will find that such evidence is much flimsier than they have supposed.
Church of Norway Officially Embraces Gay Marriage: ‘A Historic…Shift in the Church’s Teaching on Marriage’
The Church of Norway voted at its annual conference on Monday to allow gay marriage, with the Christian body joining the French Protestant Church, the U.S. Episcopal and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denominations, among others, in now supporting same-sex unions.
Same-sex marriages may now be conducted, in Church, across Scandinavia (at least, in the region’s national churches, the Lutherans).
Sweden paved the way in 2009. With the support of Swedish bishops, the same legislation that provided for same-sex marriage, included provision for gay marriage in Lutheran churches.
Iceland followed suit when it approved gay marriage the following year, in 2010. Again, this was by parliamentary legislation, but with the support of the country’s bishops.
By Nordic standards, Denmark was slow to legislate for full gay marriage – perhaps because as the first country to approve a form of civil partnerships that were popularly thought of as gay “marriage”, way back in 2009 they did not feel the need as keenly as their neighbours. Nevertheless, when they did finally approve full equal marriage in 2012, that also included provision for same-sex weddings in Lutheran churches.
For some years, Norway was the laggard. Gay civil marriage was approved back in 2009, but for years, a handful of Lutheran bishops resisted all attempts to extend that to church weddings. Now, in a vote by an overwhelming margin of 88 out of 115, a Norwegian Lutheran church conference has voted to extend marriage services to same-sex couples.
Norway’s Lutheran church votes in favour of same-sex marriage
Norway’s Lutheran Church voted on Monday in favour of allowing same-sex marriage, becoming the latest of a small but growing number of churches worldwide to do so.
Last year the French Protestant Church allowed gay marriage blessings, while the U.S. Presbyterian Church approved a change in the wording of its constitution to include same-sex marriage.
In a vote at the annual conference of the Norwegian Lutheran Church on Monday 88 delegates out of 115 in total backed same-sex marriage.
“Finally we can celebrate love independently of whom one falls in love with,” said Gard Sandaker-Nilsen, leader of the Open Public Church, a religious movement within the church that had campaigned to change the rules.
In the pursuit over marriage equality around the world, LGBT Catholics have been accustomed to a range of standard arguments used by many bishops and other Catholic opponents of same-sex marriage. As our own advocates have regularly countered, many of the claims presented in support of these arguments are either unsubstantiated or just plain misrepresent reality. Others simply miss the point.
We now have a powerful ally in support of our counters to these “Catholic” defences of supposedly traditional marriage: Pope Francis. Continue reading Pope Francis’ Blistering Attack on Catholic Marriage Discourse.
At first reading, many lesbian and gay Catholics could be disappointed with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love). There’s little enough about us to start with, and what there is, seems to do no more than restate the familiar but badly neglected platitudes about “respect”, and the need to avoid violence and persecution. Right up front in its opening pages, the document restates the mantra of the family as consisting of one man and one women, and children – and the purpose of marriage as intertwined with procreation. Later, there is yet again, a firm restatement of opposition to gay marriage. Above all, there is absolutely no hint of any change in the hurtful established Catholic doctrines on sexuality.
Closer examination however, reveals some cause for optimism, certainly in the longer term. Continue reading “The Joy of Love”: Also for Lesbian and Gay Catholics?
In an unusual move, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has asked bishops around the world to host their own press conferences for the release of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of the Family). He has asked that where possible, these should be held on the same day as the Rome presentation, Friday April 8th, and should feature an expert on family ministry, a theologian, or a (married?) couple who are capable of getting through to a wide audience.
The news was reported yesterday by the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. Here follows my free English translation, of the key paragraphs:
The Pontifical Council for the Family has asked all bishops to prepare a press conference for the day of publication of the Apostolic Exhortation in response to the Synod on the family.
As we wait for Pope Francis’ formal response to the bishops’ synod “Assembly on Marriage and Family”, it’s worth looking back and taking stock.
Many lgbt Catholics voiced disappointment with the assembly proceedings and report, because they had so little to say about same-sex relationships. Others saw this relative silence as a positive sign, concluding from it that the bishops realize that the whole issue of homosexuality requires deeper study. However, there is at least one reason why the report, when it comes, will be worth close attention from gay Catholics: Francis’ conclusions on divorce will have resonance for us, too. Continue reading Waiting for Francis – Divorced and Remarried, Same-Sex Couples