Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Does Francis Vision of “Love” Include Same-Sex Love?

In a commentary at Commonweal, Paige E. Hochschild uses Amoris Laetitiae in an attempt to interpret what Pope Francis thinks about love and marriage.

What is striking in this analysis for lgbt Catholics, is that almost everything she describes as Francis’ thinking on the value of marriage, is equally applicable to same-sex couples and queer families – and almost nothing in it excludes us. There are passing references to the expectation of children, but these are almost throwaway lines There is furthermore, a note that for Francis, this is not the pre-eminent concern:

Francis warns that marriage is often seen as a “mere spontaneous association…a private affair,” rather than a “firm decision to leave adolescent individualism behind.” As such, marriage is a “social institution…a shared commitment, for the good of society as a whole.” In this regard, Francis is closer to a Thomistic understanding of sexual intimacy as ordered to the common good than to the emphasis on the “unitive-procreative” nature of the conjugal act characteristic of recent theological reflection.

Earlier in the text, Hochschild is even more explicit on what she sees in Pope Francis’ as the essential attributes of love – and these can apply equally to same-sex couples:

Francis’s thinking becomes clearer after reading the first three chapters. Love and marriage, he notes, are not identical, but marriage is the appropriate home for love precisely because the essential character of marriage is indissolubility. More important, the end of marriage is conformity to Christ. These two theological ideas—indissolubility and growth in the likeness to Christ—sum up how Francis thinks about love

Source:  Commonweal Magazine

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.



Continue reading Pope Francis’ Blistering Attack on Catholic Marriage Discourse.

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.

Continue reading Amoris Laetitia – Goodbye to “Objectively Disordered”?

“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?

Humanae Vitae: Cracks in the Wall?

In the complex house of cards that is Vatican sexual doctrine, a key element at the base is that on artificial contraception. Remove that, or even just weaken it, and the entire edifice above teeters and collapses.

house-of-cards

That is because it rests on the dubious claim that every sexual act must be open to procreation. As Peter Steinfels points out in an important article at Commonweal, that “every” is unambiguous, admitting of no exceptions whatever:

And Humanae Vitae condemns any use whatsoever of contraception to prevent pregnancy—even as a “lesser evil … even for the gravest of reasons … even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.” Nor, according to the encyclical, can “a whole married life of otherwise normal relations” justify such a single or temporary use.

Yet both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have admitted some limited exceptions, and both sessions of the Bishops’ Synod assemblies on marriage and family  carefully avoided reaffirming HV’s core insistence – that every sexual act must be open to procreation.

This is the way Church teaching has always evolved over the centuries – one small step, one minor adjustment, at a time – until the substance has changed so substantially that it becomes possible (according to temperament) either that change has come – or that teaching has “always” been thus. Herein lies substantial hope for LGBT Catholics. Once the umbilical cord tying every sexual act to procreation has been broken, it becomes possible to fully recognize the unitive value of sexual love between two people where procreation is simply not possible – and that includes the case where the couple are of the same sex.

So, let’s take a closer look at these cracks in the wall.

First, recall that some years ago, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that in the case of a (male) prostitute who used condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS, this could represent a degree of responsible moral judgement. Hardly a ringing endorsement, but nevertheless, a crack in the wall.

Much more recently, Pope Francis has said that under the threat of the Vika virus, contraception might be justified, reminding us of the approval of contraception for nuns threatened with rape in the Congo. Again, not a ringing endorsement, but in direct conflict with the substance of Humanae Vitae, as Steinfels spells out:

Francis was not talking about an apparently proactive prevention of forced conception from rapes that may or may not occur.  He was not talking about prevention of transmitting a virus, parallel to HIV, from one marital partner to another.  He was talking about the prevention of pregnancy.

Leading up to the first Bishops’ Synod assembly on marriage and family, I was confident that there would be significant attention paid to Humanae Vitae, and the entire question of contraception. The evidence from the global consultation with lay Catholics was overwhelming – worldwide, the formal doctrine is simply not supported by people with real-life experience of marriage and family. I was surprised then, when that discussion simply did not happen. (So was Peter Steinfels, he notes).

For the second assembly, it was a little different – there were a few references to HV, but only in its support, which on a cursory reading I found disappointing. Steinfels sees it differently, noting that what is important is not so much what was said, but also what was not said. In this case, what was not said was any repetition of the irrevocable link between every sexual act and procreation. And what was said, included a new emphasis on the importance of “responsible” parenthood and family planning. To be sure, that was assumed to be by means of “natural” as opposed to “artificial” family planning, but that distinction is itself an artificial one, which in the long run, surely cannot stand the close scrutiny that is becoming inevitable.

Writing about the references to HV in the final document approved by synod fathers for Pope Francis’ consideration, Steinfels notes the crucial feature:

In sum, while some may assume that the “intrinsic bond” between conjugal love and procreation or the “inseparable connection” between the unitive and the procreative or “openness to life” must apply to each and every instance of sexual intercourse rather than a larger pattern of marital behavior, nowhere do the Synod fathers spell out that conclusion.  The bishops were surely aware that this is the nub of the contraception controversy. Yet not only in these paragraphs but in many others, they refused to repeat the linchpin of the official teaching.

 This is remarkable, especially in the context of something else that did get serious attention from Pope Francis, before during and after the synod assemblies: renewed emphasis on the importance of the sensus fidelium, on the “interior forum” in moral judgements, and on the primacy of conscience.

This was highlighted further much more recently, with the formal announcement of a new dicastery on laity and .family life, and a recent Vatican seminar on the assembly, in which bishops recommended much greater involvement of laity in the planning and conduct of future synods.

Step by step, inch by gradual inch, the voice of the people will increasing be heard on contraception – and that voice, the sensus fidelium, clearly does not support the core message of Humanae Vitae. Certainly, Catholics in general are overwhelmingly “pro-life” (including those already alive as well as the unborn), but that does not imply that this is applicable to every sexual act, nor does it negate the importance of personal conscience in decision taking.

Steinfels concludes his piece:

What Francis will say about contraception, if anything, is anyone’s guess.  I hope but doubt that it will be the straightforward treatment needed in my opinion to restore the church’s credibility.  But if he follows the 2015 Synod’s lead, the teaching on contraception is well on its way to quiet modification.

Amen!

cracks in the wall

 

Charamsa Alleges CDF Attempts to Undermine Francis’ Papacy

Continuing with my free translation of gay theologian Monsignor Charamsa’s interview in Religion Digital.

Msgr Krzysztof Charamsa
Msgr Krzysztof Charamsa

Is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith one of the main pieces of resistance in the Curia to the Franciscan spring ?

Undoubtedly . The Congregation is experiencing its darkest period. What matters most is to keep our hidden taboo: homosexuality and sexuality in general. With spring Francisco, the congregation has a new enemy. Along with gays, there Pope Francisco. Along with homophobia a ‘Francisco-phobia “appears. The contempt for the Pope in the Congregation is huge. For the things I’ve heard about the Pope Francisco in the Congregation, it should be denounced for offending the primacy of Peter. In the past, we destroyed careers of theologians who reflected with respect and intelligence on new ways of exercising the primacy. Now the Congregation is against the Pope and his primacy in an irrational way.

Several people who work in the Congregation are simply fundamentalists and their intellectual level is not as high as the presumption of being “saviors of this criminal world.” Inside there is no possibility of discussion. Personally, I have no doubt that the Prefect of the Congregation, in a dignified and honorable way, should resign after my coming out. To save the situation, the Congregation should be closed by the Pope to begin a renewal of its methods of promoting the faith in the Church. Today the Inquisition remains . It is devoid of reason and full of paranoid emotional arguments as openly expressed by Cardinal Sarah.

See also the full series:

 

Pope Francis Promotes “Sensus Fideii”, Listening Church

For LGBT Catholics, possibly the most important news I’ve seen coming out of the Synod assembly on marriage and family, is a speech that Pope Francis gave on Saturday, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops.

Pope Francis

It’s been widely reported that he spoke in favour of “decentralization”, but there’s much more of great importance. Not only is he speaking in favour of decentralization, but also reminds the bishops of the importance of listening, and of the “sensus fideii”, and of collegiality at all levels of the church — from the top, down to parish level. He also describes the structure of the church not as the usual pyramid, with pope and bishops at the top and the rest of us down below – but as an inverted pyramid, with pope (and bishops) at the bottom – because their job is service, not control. I see this as the most important, most exciting news to have come out of the synod thus far. (I’m working towards an English translation, which I’ll publish later at my website, “The Queer Church Repository”, with commentary on the blot, “Queering the Churcch”)




Continue reading Pope Francis Promotes “Sensus Fideii”, Listening Church

Pope Francis, Kim Davis – and the Primacy of Conscience

Strong feelings have been expressed in several quarters about Pope Francis’ meeting with Kim Davis.  I agree wholeheartedly that meeting was distinctly ill – advised, especially (as Francis DeBenardo points out, considering that he did not meet personally with any of the LGBT Catholics and Catholic groups that had hoped to meet with him).

It’s important though, to keep this in perspective.  At America magazine, James Martin SJ, who has a strong record of support for LGBT Catholics, directs us to some  points for reflection:, which I summarise here  (read the full post at America): 

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