Swiss Bishop’s Apology (?) for Gay ‘Cure’ Remark

It cannot be repeated often enough: same – sex affectional orientation is entirely natural, is not some kind of “disease”, and cannot be “cured”.

It’s good news that a Swiss bishop who claimed the opposite last week, has clearly seen enough of a backlash against his remarks, that he’s now issued an apology – but it’s not at all clear to me that he’s made things any better.

As reported by Gay Star News, this is the “apology”:


Photo by Diocese of Sion

Bishop of Sion Jean-Marie Lovely says he now regrets saying homosexuals can be ‘cured’ of their sexual orientation through prayer, adding that he only meant people with a partial homosexual inclination.

A Catholic bishop in a French speaking part of Switzerland says he regrets how comments he made about homosexuality have been ‘misunderstood’ after he said that sexual orientation could be ‘cured’ through prayer.

However in an interview with Le Matin newspaper published this week the bishop said that his comments had been misunderstood and he regretted that.

‘I never wanted to hurt or stigmatize anyone,’ Bishop Lovely said.

‘I don’t consider homosexuality to be an illness. But I do know people whose homosexual tendencies were fleeting, without claiming this is the case for everyone.

via Gay Star News.

So far, so good – up to a point, if one rather generously assumes that what he is referring to as people with “fleeting homosexual tendencies” are straight people, tempted by homosexual adventures. (There is a school of thought which suggests that these are the people apparently condemned by Paul in Romans 1, and not those who are naturally gay).

But to my mind, this makes things much worse – unless the original French has been seriously lost in translation. (I’m attempting to track down an original source).

I used the term “cure” for a person who was homosexual and who talks in these terms about his personal experience.’



Here’s the original French for the questionable sentence (translated by Gay Star as above. The Google translation is almost identical).

J’ai emprunté le terme de «guérison» à une personne qui était homosexuelle et qui parle en ces termes de son expérience personnelle.

In the full text of his clarification, Bishop Lovey insists that he never intended to hurt or offend anyone, points out quite correctly that in the original interview he clearly stated that homosexualiy is NOT a disease, and that the broader context of the interview had been to encourage a welcome for “homosexuals” in the Church. Yet even in his attempted apology, he once again used the word “cure”, which he said he had used specifically with reference to “a person who was homosexual and who talks in these terms about his personal experience”.

So if a “cure” is not appropriate for homosexuals in general, because it is not a disease, then when exactly does it become appropriate? It seems that his distinction applies to one who “talks in these terms about his personal experience”, which I suspect is a reference to those who are honest enough to identify openly as gay. We should also note that while it is certainly true that in his original interview, he denied that homosexuality is a disease – but he coupled this with a scarcely less offensive rider. Replying to the question, “For you, so it is a disease?” his answer was

No, it is a weakness of nature.

This second statement he did not retract, nor has he retracted his earlier claim that “psychological cures exist” (in French “Des guérisons psychologiques existent. L’homosexualité peut être guérie.”)


Germany’s Largest Lay Group’s Call for Same – Sex Blessings

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.

Stefan Vesper, General Secretary of ZdK
Stefan Vesper, General Secretary of ZdK

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.

For a report on Cardinal Marx’s response, see The Tablet News, (25th May), or for the full German text of the position paper, see the ZdK website

​France’s Protestant Church Approves Blessings for Gay Couples

Two years after France legalized gay marriage, church blessings for same – sex couples have been approved by the main Protestant Church (formed after a 2012-2013 merger of the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church).

The headline in the RT report quoted below is a little misleading. The church has not voted to “bless” or conduct gay marriages, but will permit pastors to conduct blessing services for same – sex couples. The scale of the support for this decision is notable – 94 votes for, just 6 against.

​France’s Main Protestant Church Gives Blessing to Gay Marriages

France’s largest Protestant Church, the fourth-largest religious group in the country, has voted for its pastors to give their blessing to homosexual couples. The move comes two years after Paris legalized same-sex marriages.

“The synod has decided to take a step forward in accompanying people and these couples by opening the possibility of celebrating liturgical blessings if they want,” said Laurent Schlumberger, president of the Church.

The decision was supported by 94 delegates out of 100. Only three voted against blessing homosexual couples. However, the vicars who oppose the practice won’t be forced to perform it.

— RT News.

Vatican Role for Fr Timothy Radcliffe, Friend of LGBT Catholics.

Pope Francis has appointed Fr Timothy Radcliffe as a “consultor” to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Michael O’Loughlin at Crux describes Fr Radcliffe as “An internationally known preacher and writer known for pushing the boundaries of Catholic orthodoxy”, English lgbt Catholics will know him more simply as an engaging speaker, who for a long time has been a prominent supporter of both the Soho Masses, where he was a regular celebrant, and Quest, for whom he has been a keynote speaker at their annual conference. He has also written perceptively and sympathetically on issues around sexual orientation, notably in a useful book about HIV / AIDS

One measure of his importance to progressive causes in the Church was the furious reaction from conservative quarters, when he was a scheduled speaker at the International Conference of Divine Mercy, Ireland’s largest Catholic gathering. Continue reading Vatican Role for Fr Timothy Radcliffe, Friend of LGBT Catholics.

Colombian Bishop: No Biblical Condemnation of Homosexuality

Like Ireland, Colombia is a heavily Catholic country now considering the introduction of legal provision for same – sex marriage. (It has had civil unions for some years already). As in Ireland, Catholic bishops are opposed to the measure – but also as in Ireland, the tone and rhetoric of this opposition is markedly more sensitive and acceptable than that seen previously in Scotland, say, or in some states of the USA.

In calling for respectful debate, Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba of Fontibon has made some remarkable admissions (remarkable, that is, for Catholic bishops. For those of us who pay attention to the facts, they seem quite obvious). Continue reading Colombian Bishop: No Biblical Condemnation of Homosexuality

Church of Scotland Votes to Allow Gay Ministers in Civil Partnerships

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to allow congregations to ordain gay ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships – BBC News.

Delegates voted 309 in favour and 183 against.

The vote followed a church-wide debate and consultations with all 45 presbyteries, which voted 31 to 14 in favour of change.

A further vote will be held this week on whether or not to extend ordination to ministers in same sex marriages.

Supporters said it was time for the church to be inclusive and recognise the “mixed economy” of modern Scotland.

Opponents warned that the move was contrary to God’s law, would prove divisive and lead to resignations.

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said that the current stance meant that the Church had adopted a position which “maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to ‘opt out’ if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same sex civil partnership.”

-more at  BBC News.

Continue reading Church of Scotland Votes to Allow Gay Ministers in Civil Partnerships

Contraception and the Synod.

A  surprise feature of the family synod last October, was the prominent place given to language about LGBT people in the Church.  That was welcome – and is likely to feature even more prominently in the main synod, this year.

Equally surprising, but less welcome, was the absence of any discussion about contraception. This is important. The insistence that every sexual act must be open to procreation underpins so much of the rest of Vatican sexual doctrine, and most specifically, the steadfast opposition to same – sex loving relationships.  Remove the cornerstone of opposition to contraception, it becomes far more difficult for the institutional Church to justify its opposition to our relationships.

I was expecting the question of contraception to be central to the discussions in Rome last October, but that was not to be. Instead, this central issue was met by – deafening silence.  Yet we know, that the vast majority of Catholics the world over, simply reject Vatican teaching on this core issue. A cross – cultural survey before the last synod, found that only two of the fifteen countries surveyed, agreed with the Vatican position, and that by only narrow majorities, In contrast, in many countries surveyed, opposition was overwhelming.

The acceptance by the synod of the institutional view can be attributed to two main causes: in the first instance, because the limited number of lay married couples invited to the synod, were there because of their active support for this view. Contrary thoughts were simply excluded.

The second cause can be summed up in a word, encapsulated in this assessment from Commonweal:     Hypocrisy!

Perhaps the most important moment of last October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family occured at its very beginning—when Pope Francis insisted that “speaking honestly” was the bishops’ basic responsibility: No topics or viewpoints should be out of bounds. “It is necessary to say all that, in the Lord, one feels the need to say: without polite deference, without hesitation.”

I doubt that everyone present was able to live up to that plea. For not a few bishops, self-censorship has become second nature, especially when speaking publicly with other bishops, and infinitely so when in the earshot of the pope.

Fortunately, that was not true in many cases, or the synod would not have made headlines with the several highly controversial topics served up and batted back and forth: reception of Communion by the divorced-and-remarried, cohabitation, even same-sex relationships. But could engrained inhibition have accounted for the glaring gap in the synod’s work? I refer to the apparent lack of attention to the question of contraception. Why did the synod appear to treat so perfunctorily the issue that was, and is, the starting point for the unraveling of Catholic confidence in the church’s sexual ethics and even its credibility about marriage? To which, of course, one could add further questions about this baffling silence: Does it even matter? And if it does matter, are there grounds for hoping that the bishops who will be gathering in Rome next fall to complete the synod’s work can do better?

A lot rests on the answers to these questions. A synod that grabs headlines about remarried or cohabiting or same-sex Catholic couples but says nothing fresh about the spectacularly obvious rift between official teaching and actual behavior in Catholic married life is an invitation to cynicism. It could prove to be a crucial test of Pope Francis’s papacy.

full anaysis at Commonweal Magazine.

Is Cardinal Nichols “Queering the Church”?

This is fun. Mark Lambert, referring to the transfer of the old Soho Masses congregation from Warwick Street to Farm Street, writes:

However, it became very obvious, very quickly, that Cardinal Nichols had no intention of stopping the Masses, he simply moved the venue. What about dealing with the Pastoral issue? Surely he did that? Well, the Masses are followed by a “social” organised by LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council. Their lack of fidelity to Christ and His Church is written all over their Facebook Page here. These are people who self-identify as LGBT, who think the Church is wrong in what it teaches, and who want to change the Church to suit their own sexual predilection.

The Catholic Herald cover the story of the Mass here. Of course, the Cardinal’s spokesman is very careful to articulate that the Mass was not specifically “for gay Catholics”, but for all Farm Street parishioners.

Regardless, the most revealing comments are made by the people the Mass was aimed at. Terence Weldon runs the blog Queering the Church, the title of which disturbs me greatly in itself and speaks to its agenda.

via Cardinal Nichols is Queering the Church.

If the title of my blog is “revealing”, then so are the comments made by Mark Lambert Continue reading Is Cardinal Nichols “Queering the Church”?

Political Opportunism and the UK Gay Vote

It’s amazing what a  ministerial appointment can do for one’s “principles” . Caroline Dinenage MP, voted against gay marriage in the UK parliament – but now that she’s been appointed equalities minister, it turns out that no, she does back gay marriage after all (translation: she wants our votes). Is it mere coincidence that the previous Tory “equalities” minister experienced exactly the same transformation immediately after her own appointment?

Will British LGBT voters be convinced? Continue reading Political Opportunism and the UK Gay Vote