This, at least, is how I read the doctrine of Protestants as well as of Catholics. The rule and measure of duty is not utility, nor expedience, nor the happiness of the greatest number, nor State convenience, nor fitness, order, and the pulchrum. Conscience is not a long-sighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and, even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.
Thus, Blessed John Henry Newman in his famous “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.” The quote captures his brilliance as an essayist, the phrase “a long-sighted selfishness” a masterpiece of communication and construction. But, it does something else: While Newman is keen to differentiate conscience from any kind of subjective whim, the quotes captures the liveliness of conscience and the unmistakable fact that conscience speaks, as it were, inside of our lives. Not in any abstract categorization can it be affirmed or denied.
Source: National Catholic Reporter
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
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, 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,
I believe that there is still a long way to go before we actually make the bold steps that are long overdue with regard to critical issues such as the role of women in church, homosexual unions, reproductive rights, all of which are broached and addressed in the document.
However, LGBT Catholics in particular will welcome his admission that bold steps are long overdue with regard to homosexual unions.
Even more welcome is his expectation that African bishops will in fact take on board Francis’ words on respect and freedom from discrimination, and act to welcome LGBT Catholics in the life of the African Church. We can but hope and pray that he is right. As an African myself, I’m delighted that this is being said from within Africa, by a knowledgeable African Catholic leader. (I’m less convinced than he is though, that the African bishops will in fact take the message of inclusion on board).
African theologian responds to ‘Amoris Laetitia’
Furthermore, on a continent where at least 38 countries criminalize homosexuality, the pope’s trenchant call for respect for human dignity, avoidance of unjust discrimination, aggression, and violence, and respectful pastoral guidance [paragraph 250], should galvanize the church in Africa to embrace wholeheartedly African families and their LGBT members who have been stigmatized, marginalized, and excluded from the life of the church. Church leaders need to dissociate themselves from governments and politicians who persecute gay people, and show example of respect for their dignity. In Africa, we say the church is “family of God,” implying that it welcomes all without discrimination. The preeminent mark of this church and the world church is hospitality. Clearly, Francis is calling the church in Africa to practice what it preaches by becoming a church that welcomes all into the family without discrimination.
Source: National Catholic Reporter
- “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Step in Process that Is Far From Over, Say Commentators (Bondings 2.0)
- Some Hope But Not Much Joy for LGBT Catholics in Pope’s ‘Joy of Love’ Document (Bondings 2.0)
- Amoris Laetitia: Reaction from the Catholic Community (The Tablet)
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.
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”.
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”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.