For years now, some Catholic bishops’ obsession with opposing same – sex marriage has led to a vicious crackdown on Church employees who marry same – sex spouses, allegedly because they are in conflict with “Church teaching”. In the USA, there is little evidence of any progress being made, but in Germany, there’s been an important reversal. The German church used to have a firm policy in place which prevented people in same – sex relationships from being offered any Church employment. In Germany there is no legal provision for gay marriage, so this applied to any same – sex relationship, and in effect, was more stringent than most US practice: gay people in Church employment needed to stay carefully in the closet.
No more: in May, the German bishops formally, and overwhelmingly, approved the overturning of the regulation, which went into effect on August 1st, just weeks ago. Already, one lesbian who had been previously fired from her job, has been reinstated.
At Bondings 2.0, Frank DeBenardo writes that there’s reason for both hope and disappointment for LGBT Catholics in the Family Synod “Lineamenta”. That’s a fair appraisal. The disappointment is clear in a public statement from the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics – a loose coalition of Catholic groups from around the world, who will be gathering in Rome for a short conference at the start of the bishops’ synod. I plan to be among them. (The GNRC includes Quest and the Westminster Gay and Lesbian Pastoral Council from the UK, and Dignity and New Ways Ministry from the USA, as well as groups from Europe and Latin America).
My own initial response is likewise that it contains both bad news and good news. The bad news, is that it has so little to say about us. The good news is – also that it has so little to say about us. It’s obvious to me that the drafters of the document have no idea how to deal with the issue, and would far prefer that the matter simply go away quietly. It won’t.