Tag Archives: Amoris Laetitia

African Theologian Expects LGBT Welcome, Inclusion to Follow from “Amoris Laetitia”

Many commentators on Amoris Laetitia have expressed disappointment that Pope Francis’ reminder of respect and freedom from discrimination for lesbian and gay people, was not accompanied by an explicit condemnation of the LGBT persecution found across much of Africa, or of the endorsement of criminal sanctions by some Catholic bishops.

However, at least one key African Catholic sees it differently, saying that the Pope’s words “should galvanize the Church in Africa to embrace wholeheartedly African families and their LGBT members“.

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ, is a Nigerian Jesuit currently serving in Kenya as the Provincial of the Eastern Africa Province of the Society of Jesus, a position he has held since 2009. An author, editor, and lecturer at Hekima College Jesuit School of Theology in Nairobi, Kenya, Father Orobator specializes in ethics and theology in the church and religion in African society.

Writing at National Catholic Reporter on his early response to Amoris Laetitia, he admits that he had expected more, says that the exhortation is not “groundbreaking”, and adds,




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Pope Francis’ Blistering Attack on Catholic Marriage Discourse.

In the pursuit over marriage equality around the world, LGBT Catholics have been accustomed to a range of standard arguments used by many bishops and other Catholic opponents of same-sex marriage.  As our own advocates have regularly countered, many of the claims presented in support of these arguments are either unsubstantiated or just plain misrepresent reality. Others simply miss the point.

We now have a powerful ally in support of our counters to these “Catholic” defences of supposedly traditional marriage: Pope Francis.



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Amoris Laetitia : A Closer Look

In the introduction to “Amoris Laetitia”, Pope Francis warns against reading it too quickly. Indeed, there are dangers in rushing to a quick assessment – but unfortunately, it was inevitable that the first responses to be published, would be based on relatively quick judgements. There simply was not time for close reading and full reflection, between the first press look becoming available on-line at 6 on Thursday evening, and noon on Friday, when the text was officially published. I suspect that some of those early responses have suffered, from an insufficiently close reading.

For myself, I have found that the more I think about the text, the more I look closely at the words, and the more I read and reflect on how others have responded – the more optimistic I become that for all the superficial disappointments that others have pointed out, hidden beneath the surface are many reasons for lesbian and gay Catholics to celebrate. (I’m a little less sure though, about trans or intersex folk, so restrict myself here to “LGBQ” not LGBTQI).

In their considered response, which I know was the outcome of lengthy deliberation by a large team of people, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics observe that Amoris Laetitia raises more questions than answers. Some of these questions are of critical importance, and it may be possible with close reading, to deduce Francis’ own answers to them, even if they are not directly spelled out.  If may guesses are sound, then they represent good news for LGBQ Catholics – and if I am wrong, they still offer good material for us to use in countering our critics, and important questions we can (and should) be putting to our bishops and pastors, as we nudge them on the path to full lgbt inclusion in the Catholic Church.




Among those questions are:

Amoris Laetitia is eloquent in praise of the family and the joy of love (including physical love):  but just where and how are LGBT Catholics to experience that joy and love?
My suspicion, prompted in part by an astute observation by Stephen Lovatt in a Facebook post, is that Francis has signalled his support for same-sex civil unions, as distinct from actual marriage. The principle of gradualism is suggested, as a means to lead people in “irregular” situations, to more complete compliance with God’s will for them – which is assumed to be permanent, faithful marriage open to procreation. But for gay people, heterosexual marriage is not appropriate. Further. AL is critical of those who out of selfishness, avoid marriage. Could it not be that the same principle of gradualism could be drawing single gay people,to a life of commitment and self-giving in a same-sex marriage, and raising adopted children?
If we are to take seriously the reaffirmation of existing doctrine that conformity with conscience is of greater importance than outward signs of conformity with doctrinal rules, can we therefore expect those bishops who have been attempting to use those rigid rules as a test of acceptability for Church employees, and parish ministry? Can we see an end to the spate of employment terminations, and even see those already dismissed rehired, with compensation paid for wrongful dismissal?
Similarly, if we are to take seriously the reaffirmation of existing doctrine on respect for the dignity of all, including LGBT people, and the firm opposition to unjust discrimination and violence, can we now expect African bishops to be told to reverse their support for criminalization, and to speak up strongly against persecution of sexual and gender minorities?
And the most important question of all: Instead of sitting back, waiting for “the Church” to implement all the positive elements in the Exhortation, what are we going to do ourselves, as LGBT people and as full and equal members of the Church, to move the process along?
Just asking.




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Rainbow Catholics Call for LGBT “Listening Process”

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”.

key 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.  Continue reading Rainbow Catholics Call for LGBT “Listening Process”

“The Joy of Love”: Also for Lesbian and Gay Catholics?

At first reading, many lesbian and gay Catholics could be disappointed with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love). There’s little enough about us to start with, and what there is, seems to do no more than restate the familiar but badly neglected platitudes about “respect”, and the need to avoid violence and persecution. Right up front in its opening pages, the document restates the mantra of the family as consisting of one man and one women, and children – and the purpose of marriage as intertwined with procreation. Later, there is yet again, a firm restatement of opposition to gay marriage. Above all, there is absolutely no hint of any change in the hurtful established Catholic doctrines on sexuality.

A handout picture released by the Vatican press office show Pope Francis (C) chairing an extraordinary synod of nearly 200 senior clerics in the Synod Aula at the Vatican on October 6, 2014. Pope Francis issued a strong signal of support for reform of the Catholic Church's approach to marriage, cohabitation and divorce as bishops gathered for a landmark review of teaching on the family. Thorny theological questions such as whether divorced and remarried believers should be able to receive communion will dominate two weeks of closed-door discussions set to pit conservative clerics against reformists. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images

Closer examination however, reveals some cause for optimism, certainly in the longer term.




Continue reading “The Joy of Love”: Also for Lesbian and Gay Catholics?

Amoris Laetitia – Goodbye to “Objectively Disordered”?

During the two sessions of the family synod, there were many reports of an emerging consensus among the bishops of a need to move away from the hurtful language of the past, concerning lesbian and gay people, and matters of same-sex orientation. By the time of the 2015 synod assembly, even the archconservative Charles Chaput came to acknowledge that the term “objectively disordered” had, in his words, “outlived its usefulness”.  (For others of course, such words never had any usefulness, but were downright offensive and intensely hurtful).  I’m pleased to report that while the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) has little enough to say specifically about lesbian and gay people, there is no reference at all to “objectively disordered”.  I think we can take it that this disordered language has now been banished, for ever.

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“The Joy of Love”: World-wide Press Conferences?

In an unusual move, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has asked bishops around the world to host their own press conferences for the release of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of the Family). He has asked that where possible, these should be held on the same day as the Rome presentation, Friday April 8th, and should feature an expert on family ministry, a theologian, or a (married?) couple who are capable of getting through to a wide audience.

ciric-260632_0_730_485 (1)
On St Valentine’s Day, Pope Francis and Cardinal Paglia greet an engaged couple.

The news was reported yesterday by the French Catholic newspaper La Croix.  Here follows my free English translation, of the key paragraphs:

The Pontifical Council for the Family has asked all bishops to prepare a press conference for the day of publication of the Apostolic Exhortation in response to the Synod on the family.

Continue reading “The Joy of Love”: World-wide Press Conferences?