For lesbian and gay Catholics, there is dynamite in Cardinal Walter Kasper’s expectations for the October Synod. Recall, that he has form in this. Addressing the 2014 consistory of cardinals, his reflections on more sympathetic pastoral response to divorced and remarried Catholic gave advance notice that would be a major them of the initial, extraordinary synod. So it proved. Now, he has given notice of a different them that could be a major focus of this years synod: same -sex couples and recognition of their unions. (Lifesite News agrees with my interpretation, greeting the news with horror. What distresses Lifesite usually pleases me).
In an important interview with Corriere, Cardinal Kasper was responding to questions about the Irish referendum on gay marriage, and the implications for the Church. Responding to a question, he notes that popular support for gay marriage or civil unions is a “reality” for the Church in Ireland, and in other European countries. (That applies also to Italy, where the Irish result has galvanised politicians in their efforts to provide for civil unions). This means, he says, that it is time to discuss it – and at the 2015 synod, he topic (of same – sex unions) will become
But it is a reality that many of the faithful in the Church of Ireland have voted for, and I have the impression that in other European countries the climate is similar.
And then, what will the Church do?
It has been too silent about these themes. Now is the time to discuss it.
At the October Synod?
Of course. If the next Synod of the family wants to talk about the family according to Christian understanding, it must say something, must respond to this challenge. The last time the issue was marginal but it now becomes central. I can not imagine a fundamental change in the position of the Church. It is clear in Genesis, it is clear the Gospel. But the traditional formulas with which we tried to explain this, clearly, no longer reach the minds and hearts of the people. Now this is not to set up barricades. Rather, we must find a new language to state the fundamentals of anthropology, man and woman, love … .. A language that is understandable, especially to the young.
– Full English text at Queering the Church
Let’s be clear. He is very explicitly not anticipating any change in core doctrines, and nor should he. What he is anticipating, is an unequivocal rejection of the previously dominant offensive language. For many LGBT Catholics, it is the language that is really damaging, more than the doctrines. Vatican rules can be ignored in good conscience, just as most opposite – sex married couples, or couples engaged to be married, or many others, already do. It’s more difficult to withstand the emotional and psychological damage done by frankly disordered language.
More important, once the language and practical pastoral ministry change, adjustments to doctrine are sure to follow.
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