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
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.
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.
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.
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→