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:
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.”
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, has “rebuked” the country’s largest lay group, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), for its call for a change in Church teaching.
It will be no surprise that the call has been criticized by the German bishops. In addition to greater acceptance of divorced and remarried Catholics, the position paper calls for Church blessings for same – sex couples. What is notable, is that the call was made in the first place, that Cardinal Marx’s rebuke includes the conciliatory statement that ““necessary theological debate” and dialogue on both subjects would be helpful”, and that Marx praised the ZdK’s position paper for its many “theological and socially significant statements on the family”.
When the Family Synod was first announced and ever since, the Vatican and others have insisted that the intention was to debate and refine pastoral practice – not to change or even discuss doctrine. It’s becoming clearer than ever though, that there is a growing awareness that the need for doctrinal change will have to be seriously addresses, whether at the synod, or later. Cardinal Marx’s acknowledgement that theological dialogue with lay people is an impressive example of that.
In welcome news from Europe, Le Figaro has reported on a Rome meeting of cardinals, bishops and lay theologians to discuss improved methods of pastoral ministry for homosexuals and those who have divorced and remarried. The meeting was called by the three presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, France and Switzerland – including Germany’s Cardinal Marx, who is in Pope Francis’ inner circle of 9 cardinal advisors.
That the Catholic Church needs a “reality check” on its entire sexual theology would seem an obvious platitude to most people in the real world – but when the admission comes from a senior archbishop, it’s worth taking note.
Dublin’s archbishop was responding to the comprehensive win for same – marriage by Irish voters, and especially by those of his own archdiocese. Martin has previously said that we should respect and value same – sex couples, and that although he would personally be voting against, he declined to tell others how to vote.
Let us pray that the Irish bishops at the family synod in October will take these excellent sentiments with them, for presentation to their colleagues.
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said if the referendum was an affirmation of the views of young people, the church had a “huge task in front of it”.
Large crowds gathered in Dublin as the results of the referendum were announced
“I think really the church needs to do a reality check,” he told RTE.
It’ll be a while before we have results from the Irish gay marriage referendum (the final result is expected sometime mid- afternoon, Saturday). Meanwhile, we have some terrific and heartwarming reports from the ground, especially from the #hometovotecrowd, who’ve been returning from foreign parts, far and wide, just to cast their votes.
Naomi O’Leary tweeted
“This is the scene on the 9:10 London to Holyhead train as Irish abroad return #hometovote#marref “
Church of England to consider transgender naming ceremony
Vicar of Lancaster Priory proposes motion for General Synod to consider ceremony to mark a person’s gender transition
The Church of England is to debate plans to introduce a ceremony akin to a baptism to mark the new identities of Christians who undergo gender transition.
The Rev Chris Newlands, the vicar of Lancaster Priory, has proposed a motion to the General Synod to debate the issue, after he was approached by a young transgender person seeking to be “re-baptised” in his new identity.
The motion, which was passed by Blackburn Diocese last month, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether it should introduce a new service to mark the milestone in the life of a trans person. A spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed that the motion had been received, but said it would not be debated imminently.
Newlands urged the church to take the lead on welcoming a group that suffered high levels of discrimination.
He said he knew a number of trans people though his work with LGBT organisations. “It’s an absolute trauma to go through this, with the surgery, as people get a lot of transphobic bullying. The church needs to take a lead and be much more proactive to make sure they are given a warm welcome.”
In a welcome refusal to dictate to Irish Catholics how to vote on tomorrow’s gay marriage referendum, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has in effect left this as a conscience vote for gay Catholics.
Archbishop Martin’s stance is in marked contrast to his many episcopal colleagues, in the USA, in Scotland and England, in France and many other countries, who have attempted unsuccessfully, to persuade Catholics that opposition to marriage equality is a requirement of their faith. His stance is also in firm accordance with the stance of Pope Francis, who has said that bishops should spend less time dictating to Catholics, and more in pastoral care. Continue reading A “Conscience Vote” for Catholics in Irish Referendum!→