A major impediment which has historically restricted the ability of the Catholic Church to properly implement it’s own instruction to treat gay and lesbian people with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” has been that far too long, bishops have refused even to meet with our people. There is abundant evidence that is now beginning to change.
The importance of this is that it is impossible to show genuine compassion or sensitivity for any people unless you understand the realities of their lives – and it impossible to acquire that necessary understanding unless you speak to them, or to people who share their experience. Far too often in the past, we’ve read of embarrassing apologies from people insisting that words they may have said “were not intended to offend” – which immediately displays their lack of sensitivity, arising from ignorance of how the words would be heard.
Fortunately, there have been numerous examples in recent years of lesbian and gay Catholics in many regions of the worlds having discussions with local bishops and cardinals, and even with some highly influential members of the Curia, and with at least two members of Pope Francis’ “inner cabinet” of nine cardinal advisors (Cardinal O’Malley of the USA, and Cardinal Gracias of India).
Some of these have been publicly reported, some have not. It is clear though, that the number of such meetings has been increasing, and are being held with increasingly influential figures. The latest of many such reports comes from Ireland, where the Primate of all Ireland, Archbishop Eamonn Martin, met with representatives of three different gay faith groups.
Ireland’s top Archbishop holds historic talks with Catholic gay group
Pro-gay faith groups have met Dr Eamon Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
The meeting with the Archbishop was requested by Faith in Marriage Equality (FiME) during the recent referendum campaign on same sex marriage. The meeting took place at the Archbishop’s residence in Armagh, on Wednesday, July 22.
Dr Richard O’Leary of Faith in Marriage Equality said “We believe it is a positive step to open dialogue with the Catholic Church as a contribution to the ‘reality check’ signalled by the Church after the vote for civil marriage equality.”
He was referring to the “reality check” Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin recommended to the Catholic Church following the success of the Yes campaign in the marriage equality referendum on May 22.
O’Leary continued “We were positively received by Archbishop Martin who said he was committed to continuing dialogue and that he was particularly concerned about the pastoral care of gay persons”.
Jim O’Crowley, a gay Catholic, shared with Archbishop Martin the experiences and views of gay Catholics and their families.
The delegation had sent in advance to the Archbishop, a copy of “To have and to Hold”: stories and reflections of LGBT people their families and friends” (edited by Patricia Devlin and Brian Glennon). Archbishop Martin said that he found it helpful to read this book and also to listen to accounts by gay Catholics.
-more at IrishCentral.com.