Category Archives: Pastoral Ministry

Synod “Lineamenta”: Good News and Bad News for LGBT Catholics

At Bondings 2.0, Frank DeBenardo writes that there’s reason for both hope and disappointment for LGBT Catholics in the Family Synod “Lineamenta”. That’s a fair appraisal. The disappointment is clear in a public statement from the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics – a loose coalition of Catholic groups from around the world, who will be gathering in Rome for a short conference at the start of the bishops’ synod. I plan to be among them. (The GNRC includes Quest and the Westminster Gay and Lesbian Pastoral Council from the UK, and Dignity and New Ways Ministry from the USA, as well as groups from Europe and Latin America).

My own initial response is likewise that it contains both bad news and good news. The bad news, is that it has so little to say about us. The good news is – also that it has so little to say about us. It’s obvious to me that the drafters of the document have no idea how to deal with the issue, and would far prefer that the matter simply go away quietly. It won’t.

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Francis and the Married Gay Activist: the Somosgay Response.

Since the news first broke of a planned meeting of Pope Francis with a Paraguayan married gay Catholic activist, I’vs been able to dig a little deeper into the matter, with the help of the Somosgay website, my very inadequate Spanish – and some  internet/ crowdsourcing translation.

From the Somosgay report, it seems that this is not a one – to one meeting between Simón Cazal, and the pope- he will simply be one of many on a guest list representing many branches of civil society. This does not necessarily diminish its importance:  Somosgay notes that the symbolic value alone, of being recognized as having an important impact on Paraguayan society, is valuable. On the other hand, they also expressed a hope that the lasting impact of the visit will be more than the merely symbolic.

For the full Somosgay response (in Spanish), go to their website. For an English translation, see my (crude) attempt below, based on a combination of Google translate, some knowledge of English grammar and syntax and crowdsourcing help from the linguistic community at Dyuolingo. (Anyone with better Spanish skills than I, is invited to improve my first stab, at Duolingo

The current best translation available,  I present below:ay

SOMOSGAY will meet with Pope Francis during his visit to Paraguay

Simon Cazal, in his role as co-founder and CEO of SOMOSGAY has been invited by the Paraguay Episcopal Conference, through the Organising Committee for the Visit of His Holiness Pope Francisco, to participate in the meeting with Pope Francis recognizing the high impact the organization has in Paraguayan society. This meeting will take place on July 11 at the Lion Condou Stadium at 16:30 pm.

This meeting, which is expected to draw together representatives of civil society, symbolizes openness and progress towards the LGBT community, remembering always the ultraconservative context that has (previously) characterized the Vatican.

While in 2013, during a press conference at the Vatican Pope Francis said “If a person is gay, seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” the positions of the hierarchy of the church has been at various times, inconsistent.

In spite of this, SOMOSGAY see this as a positive approach. In consultation with our broad social base, it has given us to respond in the same terms of openness to dialogue and promotion of a democratic culture of inclusion. We believe that in a country like Paraguay, already badly damaged by the disruption and confrontation, it is necessary to launch a broader process of dialogue that recognizes the diversity of positions and the different views we hold. In that regard, we hope that this gesture transcends symbolism and brings with it more substantial progress in the current positions of the Paraguayan Catholic hierarchy.

SOMOSGAY reaffirms that there is no contradiction between holding the Catholic faith and support the claims of the LGBT movement. The recent case of Ireland where more than 60% of its population, mainly Catholic, voted in favor of a constitutional change to ensure marriage equality and full legal recognition of homo families.

From this SOMOSGAY recognizes that this symbolic event begins to repair the damage to some extent the rhetoric local sectors of the hierarchy have caused for all these years. It is not a minor fact for the terms of the invitation to recognize the impact that our organization has achieved in society. We are also aware of the long way still to go. We understand that cultural change takes time and that is why we recognize the barriers that our culture has to establish a reality that churches stop discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans.

Finally, we reaffirm our position on the importance of strengthening the full exercise of Lay Paraguayan State respectful of freedoms and promoting equality. We will continue to work tirelessly in that direction. We need attention to pressing issues in health, education and access to decent work, areas where the state remains absent and needs strengthening.

SOMOSGAY continues to promote the democratic construction of a culture of dialogue, contributing to a diverse, plural Paraguayan society, peaceful and inclusive, with full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and their families; in their homes, their schools, their workplaces and recreation.

Pope Francis’ Invitation to Married Gay Activist: Full Text (Spanish)

Below is the full Spanish text of the letter received by Simon Cazal, taken from an image he posted on Twitter.  My Spanish is even weaker than my German and Italian, so I will not yet be making any attempt at an English translation. (I would really appreciate any help in this respect, from readers with stronger Spanish. I know you’re out there!)

Even so, a few points are worth noting, that are not clear from the Buzzfeed report:

  • This is an invitation to Cazal, in his capacity as executive director of Somosgay
  • The invitation is sent in recognition of the impact his organization is having on Paraguayan society
  • The introductory paragraph is clearly a quotation (it is not clear from where), stressing the value of dialogue.

On the other hand, it’s not absolutely clear to me from the text, that this is an invitation to meet directly with Francis, as stated by Cazal in his tweet, or to meet with the organizing committee. (He may have had additional clarification of that, before tweeting).


Asunción, 04 de junio del 2015.


Simon Cazal

Director Ejecutivo

Somos Gay


De nuestra consideración:

“Es hora de saber cómo diseñar, en una cultura que privilegie el diálogo como forma de encuentro, la búsqueda de consensos y acuerdos, pero sin separaria de la preocupación por una sociedad justa, memoriosa y sin exclusiones. El autor principal, el sujeto histórico de este proceso, es la gente y su cultura, no es una clase, una fracción, un grupo, una élite. No necesitamos un proyecto de unos pocos para unos pocos, o una minoría ilustrada o testimonial que se apropie de un sentimiento colectivo. Se trata de un acuerdo para vivir juntos, de un pacto social y cultural”. (1)

La Conferencia Episcopal Paraguaya, a través de la Comisión Organizadora de la Visita de Su Santidad el Papa Franciso, reconoce el alto impacto de su organización en la sociedad paraguaya, por lo que invita a 1 (un) representante de la misma a participar de este encuentro a realizarse en el estadio “Leon Condou” (Marcelino Noutz casi Avenida España – Asunción), el dia sábado 11 de julio. El invitado accederá al estadio entre las 13:00 y las 14:30 hs.  Adjuntamos la ficha de registro, que deberá ser devuelta por este medio hasta tres días posteriores a la recepción de est nota. La invitación es de carácter personal e intransferible y deberá ser retirada del Seminario Metropolitano (Av. Kubitschek 661 y Azara) a partir del 1 de julio.

Contamos con la presencia del representante de su organización como contribución para que este encuentro fortalezca el desarollo de una cultura de la confianza, que nos permita a todos los paraguayos construir un país mejor.

Reciba nuestra cordial saludo y la benedición en la paz de Nuestra Señor Jesuscristo

Evangelical Leader Comes Out – in Support of Full LGBT Inclusion in Church”

It’s now well established that while Catholic leaders remain  hostile to gay marriage (and on balance, hostile to full inclusion in Church), a majority of ordinary Catholics are supportive . For evangelical Protestants, most people remain firmly opposed to any form of accommodation to LGBT people, in secular law, or in Church.

However, that is changing, rapidly. Millenial evangelicals, the youngest age group, already support gay marriage. A steadily increasing number of evangelical church leaders are similarly coming around.  Tony Campolo is just one example. In this opening statement, he sets our his evangelical, Bible – respecting credentials – and also his new support for “for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church”. (For the reasoning that led to this change of heart, follow the link).


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A French Example of Diocesan LGBT Ministry.

A facebook post at LGBT et catholicisme, un lieu d’échange et de dialogue has drawn my attention to an interesting example of sensitive LGBT ministry in the French diocese of Créteil. What I particularly like about this initiative:

  • Incorporating the rainbow flag into its logo, on a Catholic diocesan website
  • the clearly non-judgemental approach, with an emphasis on listening and prayer
  • the collaboration with two organisations outside the diocesan structure, which each have an explicit welcome to LGBT Christians, their friends and their families (and yes, the “T” here is specifically spelt out).


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Kasper: Same – sex Unions “Central” to the 2015 Family Synod.

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).

Gay marriage

Continue reading Kasper: Same – sex Unions “Central” to the 2015 Family Synod.