Category Archives: Pastoral Ministry

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).


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

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).


Continue reading A French Example of Diocesan LGBT Ministry.

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.

Cardinal Kasper: We Must Respect Positive Elements in Same – Sex Unions, Reject Hurtful Language

Cardinal Parolin’s stupid and insensitive claim that the Irish referendum result is a “defeat for humaniy” has been widely reported in the English press. There’s been less coverage to rather more encouraging responses by others in the Vatican. Italian and French media have also reported on more encouraging responses by Cardinals Bagnasco and especially by Cardinal Kasper, who will have an influential role in October’s family synod. In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera he acknowledges that the Church must recognize the democratic decisions of voters, says that “now is the time to discuss” these things, and that the Church must find a “new language” in doing so, avoiding the hurtful language and discrimination that have been common in the past. These sentiments will be especially important for bishops in Italy in the months leading up to the synod, as the country faces its own prospect of civil unions.

The Irish result has galvanized Italian politicians, who have promised a civil unions bill “soon”. The political debate is likely to be played out precisely during, or immediately before, the October family synod. There will certainly not be any approval given to gay marriage, and even support for civil unions is unlikely, but we know that the possibility of some – form of recognition or valuing of same – sex couples has at least been discussed, for example by the gathering in Rome of bishops and theologians from Germany, Switzerland and France, called by the presidents of the respective bishops’ conferences. Coupled with the new emphasis on respectful dialogue, and the Kasper’s admission that democratic decisions must be respected, it seems probable that after the synod, responses to same – sex couples and their relationships will be substantially changed, in practice if not (yet) in actual teaching.

Unfortunately, the Corriere interview is behind a paywall.  However, at the French LGBT Christian facebook page LGBT et catholicisme, un lieu d’échange et de dialogue, there is an image of the front page.

I’ve been also been able to locate reports on it from the French La Croix, and also from a secondary Italian source (for which I’ve stupidly not noted the link), which with the help of Google, I’ve been able to translate.

First, the report from La Croix, in the original French, interspersed with my English translation. Thereafter, the Italian text and its translation:

Le cardinal Kasper affirme que des éléments de bien peuvent exister dans une union homosexuelle

Cardinal Kasper says that positive elements may exist in a homosexual union

Le président émérite du Conseil pontifical pour la promotion de l’unité des chrétiens s’exprimait mercredi 27 mai dans une interview au quotidien italien Corriere della Sera.

The President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was speaking Wednesday, May 27 in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.


Pour le cardinal Kasper, la miséricorde est la clé de l’existence chrétienne

For Cardinal Kasper, mercy is the key to Christian existence


« S’il existe une union stable (dans un couple homosexuel, NDLR), des éléments de bien existent sans aucun doute et il faut les reconnaître », affirme le cardinal Walter Kasper dans le quotidien italien Corriere della Sera mercredi 27 mai.

“If there is a stable union (in a homosexual couple, Ed), positive elements undoubtedly exist and must be recognized” says Cardinal Walter Kasper in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera Wednesday, May 27

« Mais nous ne pouvons pas comparer cela (avec le mariage, NDLR), poursuit cependant le président émérite du Conseil pontifical pour la promotion de l’unité des chrétiens en assurant que « la famille formée d’un homme et d’une femme et ouverte à la procréation est la cellule fondamentale de la société ».

“But we can not compare it (with marriage, Ed), however, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity continues, ensuring that “the family formed of a man and a woman and open to procreation is the fundamental unit of society.”




Interrogé sur l’expression « inclination objectivement désordonnée » pour qualifier la seule tendance homosexuelle, utilisée par la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi en 1986, le cardinal confie qu’il faut « faire attention à ne pas utiliser des expressions qui peuvent paraître blessantes, sans pour autant dissimuler la vérité ». « Nous devons dépasser la discrimination qui a une longue tradition dans notre culture », ajoute le théologien allemand connu pour son ouverture en faveur d’un meilleur accueil des personnes homosexuelles ou encore des couples divorcés remariés dans l’Église.

When asked about the term “objectively disordered inclination” used by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1986 to describe the homosexual tendency,the  Cardinal says we must “be careful not to use expressions that may seem offensive, without concealing the truth”. “We must overcome the discrimination that has a long tradition in our culture,” added the German theologian,  known for his openness to a better reception in the Church for homosexuals or divorced and remarried couples.

Now, the Italian source:

Cardinale Kasper: “è il momento di discutere”

Cardinal Kasper: “It is time to discuss”

 Più aperta invece, sembra la posizione del Cardinale Kasper, il quale ha affermato al Corriere della Sera che “uno Stato democratico deve rispettare la volontà popolare, mi pare chiaro, se la maggioranza del popolo vuole queste unioni civili è un dovere dello Stato riconoscere tali diritti”, sottolineando però che “una legislazione simile, pur distinguendo fra il matrimonio e le unioni omosessuali, arriva a riconoscere a tali unioni più o meno gli stessi diritti delle famiglie formate da uomo e donna” – e “per la Chiesa diventa ancora più difficile spiegare la differenza”. Nella Chiesa “si è taciuto troppo su questi temi. Adesso è il momento di discuterne”. L’occasione potrà essere il Sinodo di ottobre. Kasper ha poi precisato: “io non posso immaginare un cambiamento fondamentale nella posizione della Chiesa. È chiara la Genesi, è chiaro il Vangelo. Ma le formule tradizionali con le quali abbiamo cercato di spiegare, evidentemente, non raggiungono più la mente e il cuore della gente. Ora non si tratta di fare le barricate. Dobbiamo piuttosto trovare un nuovo linguaggio che arrivi «soprattutto ai giovani”.

However, the position of Cardinal Kasper seems to be more open. He said to the Corriere della Sera that “a democratic state must respect the will of the people, it seems clear, though the majority of the people want these civil unions is a duty of the state to recognize these rights, “stressing that” similar legislation, while distinguishing between marriage and homosexual unions, comes to recognize in such unions more or less the same rights as families formed by man and woman”- and “for the Church becomes even more difficult to explain the difference.” In the Church “has been silent on these issues too. Now is the time to discuss it.” The occasion will be the Synod of October. Kasper then stated: “I can not imagine a fundamental change in the position of the Church. It is clear in Genesis, it is clear in the Gospel. But the traditional formulas with which we tried to explain, clearly, no longer reach the minds and hearts of the people. Now this is not to the barricades. Rather, we must find a new language that comes through “especially to young people.”

Gay Marriage Shows the SUCCESS of Catholic Education!

I was moderately pleased by Archbishop Martin’s observation that the comfortable win for marriage equality showed that the Church needs a “reality check”, but concerned by what he seemed to think this would involve.

It does not appear that he was facing the obvious conclusion that Vatican teaching itself does not mesh too well with reality, but simply that “reality” indicates that the Church has not communicated its message effectively. There seems to be a problem, he was saying, with a failure of Catholic education in this overwhelmingly Catholic country. My reaction was rather different. Based on my own experience of Catholic education in a country rife with injustice, I saw the Irish result as a triumph for Catholic education. The heart of Catholic belief goes way beyond rigid rules about sex, and much more about the fundamental importance of family values – however those families happen to be constituted. It is less about slavish adherence to authoritarian rules, whether made by state or church, than about adherence to the Gospels. It is not about protecting privilege, but about protecting the weak and marginalized.

I was delighted to come across this commentary by Morrisey, who is clearly thinking along similar lines:

Ireland is for gay marriage because it is Catholic

Because the Irish have been brought up by the Catholic Church to view marriage as a sacrament is the reason they can shift sideways to see a same-sex relationship in the same God-blessed way. Because marriage is a beautiful commitment of love, taught to them by the Church, is why the Irish can make the connection to two people of the same sex loving each other with a similar commitment. It is the love commitment they value, and have come to see in their friends and family members who are gay and lesbian as well. Love conquers. The Irish are lovers. It doesn’t matter who the partners are — “I promise to love you all the days of my life, so help me God.”