In it’s response to Amoris Laetitia, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics expresses disappointment with a number of features, but also sees reasons for hope. Although the document has not yet opened the door to full lgbt inclusion in the Catholic Church, this could be the start of a process that could lead us there. In a striking image, they suggest that “maybe the key to the door is under the mat”.
The difficulties that they find with Amor Laetitia have been pointed out also by others. Of possibly greater importance, certainly for the longer term, are the signs of hope that they see. They welcome the fact that Pope Francis has opened up new ways for the Church to engage pastorally with the reality of its members’ lives, including all its LGBTQI people of God, and the Exhortation’s reinforcing the priority of respect for the human dignity.
They note, however, that it also opens up more questions than answers. One key question now is how The Joy of Love’s principles on personal and ecclesial discernment, primacy of conscience, respectful and justice-rooted pastoral care, and refreshed ways of doing moral theology can be applied within LGBTQI contexts.
(I would add that this is of critical importance. Confronting them honestly, in terms of the generally commendable sentiments spelled out for others in “irregular” situations, and with due respect for the findings of science, as required by the Church’s own declared doctrines, must lead logically to full acceptance and inclusion of lgbt people in church, and an end to the hostility we have been accustomed to, hitherto. It was suggested at the time of the 2015 synod, that one possible reason that LGBT people did not get more attention, could be because the bishops were coming to realise that this whole subject requires a great deal of further study – possibly even a full synod assembly devoted to the topic)
For this reason, the GNRC response concludes with a call for precisely this:
We therefore renew our call for a structured, international ‘listening process’ wherein the Church’s hierarchy and theologians can engage with LGBTQI Catholics, parents, and young people, including children in samesex families, alongside a diverse group of experts in the human sciences. Such a process will enable the whole people of God to develop its vision, language and teaching on human sexuality and gender identity.
The group’s full response has been published in English at its own website. Here follows their own summary, as it was released to the media:
IF THE DOOR IS STILL NOT UNLOCKED MAYBE THE KEY IS UNDER THE MAT ?
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics Responds to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love
Pope Francis’s response to the 2014 & 2015 Synods of Catholic Bishops on Marriage & Family, the Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love, raises more questions than it answers for LGBTQI Catholics, parents and families, globally. Disappointed by the light touch given to same-sex and gender identity concerns in the papal document, published 8 April 2016, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics welcomes, nevertheless, the fact that the doors of welcome in this Jubilee Year of Mercy have not been slammed shut definitively. However, the GNRC is pleased that Pope Francis offers some clues as to where the key might be found, even if it looks more like it might be under the door-mat!
Pope Francis has opened up new ways for the Church to engage pastorally with the reality of its members’ lives, including all its LGBTQI people of God. The GNRC welcomes the move away from outmoded theological understandings, and emphasis on law and regulations, to strategies which empower all who minister in the Church to stand alongside and learn from those whom it has previously considered ‘irregular’ or even ‘disordered’. A key question now is how The Joy of Love’s principles on personal and ecclesial discernment, primacy of conscience, respectful and justice-rooted pastoral care, and refreshed ways of doing moral theology can be applied within LGBTQI contexts.
The Exhortation reinforces the priority of respect for the human dignity of each person, not only in its rejection of homophobic and transphobic discrimination but in any form of aggression or violence towards LGBTQI people. These general statements need to lead to the Vatican’s active and public support for global de-criminalisation, as well as the condemnation of torture and the death penalty on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Vatican must be vocal in its support for LGBTQI human rights and the GNRC regrets that the unfounded allegation that aid to poorer countries continues to be linked to the implementation of same-sex marriage remains Vatican rhetoric.
Even though the emphasis on pastoral care priorities is warmly welcomed, the GNRC cannot ignore the continuing harm to spiritual and personal well-being caused by the use of untrue and inaccurate theological language such as ‘intrinsically evil’ and ‘objectively disordered’ . The GNRC welcomes the lack of such vocabulary in The Joy of Love but such categories foster prejudicial stances towards LGBTQI persons and communities, not least in contributing to higher-than-average rates of bullying, self-harm, and suicide among LGBTQI younger people.
LGBTQI Catholics, parents and families cannot continue to be treated as ‘problems’ that challenge the wider Church, but must be seen as active participants in the dialogue to which Pope Francis calls us all, with gifts to bring for the common good. We therefore renew our call for a structured, international ‘listening process’ wherein the Church’s hierarchy and theologians can engage with LGBTQI Catholics, parents, and young people, including children in samesex families, alongside a diverse group of experts in the human sciences. Such a process will enable the whole people of God to develop its vision, language and teaching on human sexuality and gender identity.
(A more detailed Global Nework of Rainbow Catholics response to “The Joy of Love” may be found on the GNRC website)
- “The Joy of Love”: Also for Lesbian and Gay Catholics?
- Amoris Laetitia – Goodbye to “Objectively Disordered”?
- Francis Proposes Better Psychosexual Training for Priests
- “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Step in Process that Is Far From Over, ay Commentators (Bondings 2.0)
- Some Hope But Not Much Joy for LGBT Catholics in Pope’s ‘Joy of Love’ Document (Bondings 2.0)
- Amoris Laetitia: Reaction from the Catholic Community (The Tablet)
- Bishop’s Letter of Apology Is a Model for Catholic Reconciliation | Bondings 2.0 (news.queerchurch.com)