Tag Archives: gay Catholics

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.

Related Posts:

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”

Waiting for Francis – Divorced and Remarried, Same-Sex Couples

As we wait for Pope Francis’ formal response to the bishops’ synod “Assembly on Marriage and Family”, it’s worth looking back and taking stock.

Many lgbt Catholics voiced disappointment with the assembly proceedings and report, because they had so little to say about same-sex relationships. Others saw this relative silence as a positive sign, concluding from it that the bishops realize that the whole issue of homosexuality requires deeper study. However, there is at least one reason why the report, when it comes, will be worth close attention from gay Catholics: Francis’ conclusions on divorce will have resonance for us, too. Continue reading Waiting for Francis – Divorced and Remarried, Same-Sex Couples

The Fruits of the Synod: Initial Thoughts

Bondings 2.0 has published today extracts from some reflections on synod 2015 by several bishops, following reactions published last week by commentators and LGBT organizations.

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass to mark the end of the Synod of bishops, in St.Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis celebrates a Mass to mark the end of the Synod of bishops, in St.Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

I’ve yet to respond in full with my own thoughts, but here a few points that I think are especially important: Continue reading The Fruits of the Synod: Initial Thoughts

English Bishop’s Apology to LGBT Catholics.

In a joint press conference on the Family Synod with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton issued an apology to the LGBT community, that this important issue had not been properly addressed. (Previously, during the synod itself, Bishop Doyle had criticised the synod for the same point).

He (Bishop Doyle) also apologised that the Synod had not had time to deal with the issue of homosexuality. “I’m very sorry for the LGBT good people who were looking to the synod for something. It was really hard for people of same sex attraction. It wasn’t blocked. There was just so much to deal with.”


It’s also worth noting that his words of apology included “LGBT good people“, echoing a recurring theme from a number of bishops.

“Rainbow Catholics” Welcome New Era for LGBT Pastoral Care

An international group of LGBT Catholics, their families and their allies, sees reason for hope in the final report from the Bishops’ Synod Assembly on Marriage and Family. Acknowledging that there are some disappointments in the text, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics nevertheless expects that the proceedings of this assembly will lead to a fresh, more sensitive approach to pastoral care.


Continue reading “Rainbow Catholics” Welcome New Era for LGBT Pastoral Care

Inspiring First Day for LGBT Catholic Global Conference

It’s been a superb, inspirational day in Rome, at the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.

We began early with morning prayer (before breakfast), structured around some biblical texts on the importance of listening, followed by two reflections, and prayers of petition.

GNRC opening day

Following up on last night’s brief introductions, today our delegates introduced themselves, their countries and the groups they represent, speaking particularly to three topics:

  • What are the challenges you are facing?
  • What has been your greatest success?
  • What support / help do you need?

After these group presentations, we were invited to reflect on, and digest what we had heard. Continue reading Inspiring First Day for LGBT Catholic Global Conference

A Challenge to “Courage”: Take the Catechism Seriously.

At the world meeting of families in Philadelphia, major organizations representing LGBT Catholics and their parents have not only been refused accreditation at the main event, they’ve also been barred by the local archbishop from using a friendly Catholic parish church as a venue for their own fringe event. (Not to worry: they have found a suitable alternative, and the resultant publicity has ensured that their event is now far better known than it would otherwise have been).

I leave it to my American readers to reflect on the ironies of this exclusion in the city of “brotherly love”, and the famed liberty bell – is that a crack I see in it?

Philadelphia's "Liberty Bell"
Philadelphia’s “Liberty Bell”

The organisers insist that it is simply not true that lgbt Catholics are not represented. They are there – provided that they live “in accordance with Church teaching. This is how “Faithful America” reports it, in email correspondence:

Pope Francis is visiting Philadelphia next month for the World Meeting of Families, and the local conservative archbishop is hijacking the event to promote his own right-wing agenda — by inviting advocates for anti-gay conversion therapy to give speeches, lead workshops, and sell their books and other materials.

Here’s the problem: Continue reading A Challenge to “Courage”: Take the Catechism Seriously.

Living the truth in love: The problem with “Courage” and “Lived Experience”

World News Report has a fascinating interview with Fr Check, representing “Courage” ministry, which works with gay and lesbian Catholics attempting to live “within the teaching of the Church”.

There are numerous problems with this intention, not least of which, is that for gay and lesbian Catholics,  living “within all the teaching of the Church” is simply impossible , it is so riddled with internal contradictions and ambiguities. Like it or not, gay and lesbians in the Church are in fact forced to become “cafeteria Catholics”. Courage sees the situation simplistically, focussing entirely on genital sex, completely ignoring

a) that sexual rules are a relatively minor part of Church teaching;

b) the core doctrine of the primacy of conscience;

c) the important principle of the sensus fidelii – which implies that just possibly,Vatican teaching on sex might be plain wrong.

More interesting in the Word News Report, is the claim by the Courage spokesman that “lived experience” supports their view. In that, he is quite simply, dead wrong.

Father Check: The first piece of advice I would give would be to listen to the voice of those people for whom this is a lived reality and who have placed their trust in Christ and in the Church. Their perspective is the one that, in my mind, has not yet been heard. It forwas not heard by the extraordinary synod, to my knowledge.

via  Catholic World Report 


The problem with this analysis, is that the author’s understanding of “lived experience”, is severely limited by his contact only with those who subscribe to the severely disordered teaching on the subject. The simple reality of “lived experience” of real – life gay and lesbian Catholics, as abundantly demonstrated by both empirical research and anecdotal evidence, is the exact reverse. Formal church doctrine and attempts to live in conformity with it, leads to alienation from the Church, psychological trauma, and is in direct conflict with a core tenet in Genesis 2: “It is not good for man to live alone. I will make him a companion”. (Not a “wife”, note, but “a companion”). My own “lived experience” was that attempting to live within the precepts of the Catechism led to a disastrous, completely inappropriate marriage – and both my wife and I simply left the Church. It was not until I was ready to live entirely honestly and with integrity as an openly gay man, that my male partner, ironically, led me back into the Church.

The Church also teaches that it is important to pay attention to the findings of science, which show clearly, in both natural and social science, that a same – sex orientation is both entirely natural, and non – pathological. Even adherence to Aquinas’ Natural Law, based on evidence and reason, should lead to the same conclusion.