Tag Archives: Catholic teaching

Resource: “A Catholic Conversation About Homosexuality”

With his Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, Pope Francis has placed great emphasis on the importance of pastoral accompaniment, discernment, and the interior forum for church responses to LGBT Catholics. The document also speaks of the importance of accompaniment and pastoral care for the families which include those LGBT people. But what does this mean, in practice?

The response to Fr James Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge” has shown that there is widespread hunger for this accompaniment – but also reveals the extent of public ignorance. Martin’s book focuses on just one simple part of church teaching, on the need for “respect, compassion and sensitivity”, but quite deliberately does not dig more deeply. There is a dire need for material which does indeed take a broader canvas, suitable for use in parish groups.

Fortunate Families, the USA group for the parents and families of LGBT Catholics,  has just such a great “resources” page, structured primarily for the Catholic families and friends of LGBT people, but also immensely valuable for anyone who simply wants to know more about the facts, without the polemics.

One of these valuable resources is an 8 part series,  “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality“, which is described as a “Catholic conversation” on the subject, for

• Parents of gay and lesbian children: parents still in the closet, alone with their secret; parents out of the secret; struggling with their questions, their fears, their faith.
• Parents of young children: moms and dads seeking information and insight for their own parenting role as teacher and counselor.
• Family members who may be struggling to deal with the hurtful stereotypes that exist within both society and their Church.
• Gay and lesbian people who may be searching for some sign of understanding from their Church.
• Anyone who is curious about homosexuality and  wanting to learn more.

________________________________________

Permission is granted for you to download and print this copyrighted series for your personal use, for parish study groups, for adult education programs, for ministry support, for future reference.

Structured as an adult education program to be placed on a parish website over a period of eight successive weeks, it could equally well be adapted for use in a discussion group meeting weekly (or monthly) – or for personal study, over eight sessions, at any frequency you choose.

Grouped into 3 major parts, the weekly instalments, with their main focus areas, are:

Part 1: Common Questions about Homosexuality

Week 1: Common Questions about Homosexuality

  • Segment 1: The Basic Stuff
  • Segment 2: Scientific Perspectives

Week 2: Common Questions about Homosexuality (Cont.)

  • Segment 3: Social Perspectives
  • Segment 4: Family Perspectives

Part 2: Putting a Human Face on Homosexuality: Gays, Lesbians and Parents Share Their Stories

Week 3: Putting a Human Face on Homosexuality

  • Parents Talk of Their Experience

Week 4: Putting a Human Face on Homosexuality

  • Gay and Lesbian Persons Talk of Their Experience

Part 3: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Official Teaching and Other Catholic Voices

Week 5: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: What the Church Teaches

  • On Homosexual Orientation
  • On Human Dignity
  • On Discrimination and Social Justice
  • On Homosexual Acts
  • Chronology of significant documents on homosexuality issued by the Vatican and U.S. Bishops’ Conference.

Week 6: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Other Catholic Voices

  • So What Are We To Do?
  • The Role of Conscience

Week 7: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Other Catholic Voices

  • Shared Thoughts on Vatican Documents

Week 8: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Other Catholic Voices:

  • The Question of “Finality”
  • “A Biblical Understanding”
  • Can Teaching Change?
  • One Last Question

These pages were put together some years ago, well before Pope Francis’ papacy, but they remain valuable. Read them at Fortunate Families, download them, discuss and distribute them.

 

What is the “Formation of Conscience?”

Papal theologian: “Conscience is the act of practical reason”

Gay and lesbian Catholics who disagree with Church teaching on sexuality know that the  best defence against our critics is the primacy of conscience, which is well established in Catholic doctrine. It’s also a theme which had renewed attention during the recent Synod of Bishops’ assembly on marriage and family, where the “inviolability of conscience” and the closely related “interior forum” received much attention.

Against this, orthotoxic rule book Catholics often retort that conscience is not simply giving way to personal feelings, but must be properly “formed”, implying that a well-formed conscience must be in accordance with the Catechism. The truth, however, is that accordance with conscience is neither a simple matter of licence, nor one of blind adherence to external rules.

So what is it? How are we to find a sound balance between these two extremes? Pope Francis’ personal theologian, Father Wojciech Giertych, put some important guidelines in a recent interview with Lifesite News.


Continue reading What is the “Formation of Conscience?”

Masturbation: Advice to a Catholic Teenager.

I was touched by a letter from a young man, struggling with the issue of masturbation and Catholic teaching. The letter gives no indication of his sexual orientation, and there is no reason to think that he is gay (or that he is not). His concerns however, are applicable to all Catholics, especially when young and vulnerable.

With his permission, I publish below his full letter, leaving out his name and geographic location, followed by my full reply. Continue reading Masturbation: Advice to a Catholic Teenager.

The Trouble With “Catholic Teaching” on LGBT Issues

I am often accused by orthotoxic Catholics of being a “heretic”, because I supposedly challenge and publicly dissent from “Church teaching”. I dispute this: there are most certainly certain, isolated elements of the teaching that I dispute – but this dispute arises from a deeply Catholic starting point, and placed firmly within Catholic tradition.

The difficulty with what my accusers describe as “Catholic teaching” as it affects lesbian and gay people, is that what is popularly presented and widely known, is extremely selective, and viewed solely in the context of genital acts. The full teaching however, is more complex. It is well known that it is dangerous to quote isolated biblical verses out of context, and the same principle applies to single paragraphs of the Catholic Catechism.

For example, I have written previously about some of the inherent contradictions within teaching specifically about homosexuality, (On transgender issues, there is useful information at The Catholic Transgender, especially how the position of the Church is sometimes misrepresented). But even without grappling with the complexities of inherent contradictions and misrepresentations, there is much helpful material in the Magisterium that deserves to be better known.

To help Quest members understand some of the more helpful elements in the formal Catholic teaching that affects our lives, we have for some time wanted to put together a compilation of “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)” about that teaching. At Bondings 2.0, Frank DeBenardo has a report on just such a list of FAQ’s that appeared for a time on the website of the Archdiocese of Louisiana, before mysteriously disappearing, when the archdiocese concluded that it was somehow “unauthorized”. The oddity is that the bulk of the material comprises extracts from standard documents of the Catholic Church, or accurate summaries of the material, put together in what DeBenardo describes as a “masterly” and pastorally sensitive manner.

It is unfortunate that Louisiana has now removed such a valuable resource. However, New Ways Ministry have reproduced the content at their own site – and we at Quest can take advantage. The material deleted from the Louisiana website now forms the foundation of our own page of FAQ’s, which in time will be updated with more up to date material – especially with the guidance from Pope Francis, and the results of the 2015 Family Synod in Rome.

( A version of this post has been cross-posted at the website of Quest, the British association for Lesbian and Gay Catholic).

//funds.gofundme.com/Widgetflex.swf

“Laudato Si” – The Encyclical is Released

From the opening paragraphs:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.




Saint Francis of Assisi

10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.

11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.[19] His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.[21] Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

Marriage teaching ‘disconnected’, say Dublin Catholics

I think we already knew this – but it’s good to have it acknowledged by a respected Archbishop.

Catholic teaching on contraception, cohabitation, same sex relationships, the divorced and remarried is “disconnected from real life experience of families – and not by just younger people”, said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin last night.

In general, church teaching in those areas was found to be “poorly understood . . . poorly accepted” by Catholics in Dublin, he said at a meeting in Holy Cross College, Clonliffe. He was commenting on findings of a consultation in the diocese.

Similar consultations took place all over Ireland at the urging of Pope Francis, in advance of the Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome next October.

Archbishop Martin is the only Irish bishop to disclose findings in his diocese.

viaThe Irish Times, Fri, Feb 28, 2014.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Catholic Magisterial Teaching on Transgenderism

We tend to speak freely about LGBT issues, but in practice, most of the time, we’re really thinking LG(bt), with both bi- and trans afterthoughts – if we think about them at all. I would imagine that most of us like to think about ourselves as trans allies, but it’s difficult for us actively to promote issues we don’t really understand. Ideally, we need to allow trans activists to speak for themselves.

At “A Catholic Transgender” (Blogging about being transsexual at the intersection of Calvary and Rome)there’s a useful, systematic assessment of what the magisterium says about transgender (i.e., nothing), together with well argued rebuttals of the usual claims that the Church cannot approve or recognize gender transition.

Here’s the opening: Continue reading Catholic Magisterial Teaching on Transgenderism

Discrimination and the Catholic Church: Nigeria

It’s not often that I agree with a Catholic Herald opinion piece on anything to do with LGBT issues and the Church, but here is one by Ed West, Deputy Editor, where I do. Catholic teaching is absolutely clear that discrimination, malice and violence against gay people is totally unacceptable, and should be strongly resisted. The obvious conclusion, as the writer points out, is that Catholics should be loudly protesting the anti – gay legislation in Nigeria. (What he doesn’t say, which i would add, is that we should also be loudly protesting against any discrimination, malice or verbal violence within or by the church and its institutions – as for, example, at Eastside Catholic High School, and other institutions that have unjustly fired excellent teachers, musicians and other staff).

Shouldn’t Catholics be protesting loudly against anti-gay persecution?

Nigeria’s new laws contravene Catholic teaching – and we should say so

Nigeria has become the latest country to impose extremely harsh measures on people in same-sex relationships. This is part of a trend towards a world morality gap and follows developments in Russia, Uganda and India.

The Catholic Church’s position on such laws are clear: they are are unjust. And it sometimes seems that the Catholic Church is standing atop two boats heading in opposite directions, with radical, illiberal anti-discrimination laws in the West and ultra-conservative morality laws in the developing world. Barbarism in one direction; decadence in the other.

Yet even educated people in Britain are hardly aware of the Church’s opposition to such laws (few noticed when the Church spoke out in India last month). They lump in the Catholic view on sexuality with that of the rabidly intolerant governments of Nigeria and Uganda. And Catholics don’t seem to be making much effort to dissuade them.

As one Catholic, Niall Gooch, wrote on Twitter: “Christians should be more vocal about laws & governments that encourage anti-gay hostility.” He has a point. Instead, it’s left overwhelmingly to secular, often anti-religious, campaigners.

Gooch points to Articles 2357 and 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which say that gay people “must be accepted w/ respect, compassion, & sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Catholics should see this as a matter of social justice. As Gooch has argued, as much as Catholics oppose discrimination laws that affect adoption agencies and B&Bs, and various other radical secularist measures, what’s happening in Nigeria is surely far, far worse than schools using the charity Stonewall’s material.

-read the full post at CatholicHerald.co.uk

(but be warned that reading the comments could seriously harm your blood pressure).

//
//

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bishop urges change in all church teaching on sexual relationships

Sooner or later, it had to happen. Ordinary Catholics living in the real world have known it for decades, moral theologians know it, priests in Austria, Germany, Belgium and Ireland have been demanding it, and an unknown number of bishops recognize it privately. Now, at least on bishop is saying it publicly: the officially authorized doctrine on human sexuality, in all its aspects, is fundamentally and intrinsically disordered, and has to change.

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson will not be the last bishop to make this call – expect many more to follow. It will take time, but this will become the mainstream view. The only questions in my mind, are how long will it take, and how will they manage the admission.

At the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson called Friday for “a new study of everything to do with sexuality” — a kind of study that he predicted “would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual.”

“If [church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change,” he said.

Robinson, a priest since 1960 and auxiliary bishop of Sydney from 1984 until his retirement for health reasons in 2004, told the Baltimore symposium, sponsored by New Ways Ministry, that “because sex is so vital a way of expressing love, sex is always serious.”

That view, espoused by the church, stands in contrast to the general perception of modern society, which “appears to be saying more and more that sex is not in itself serious,” he said.

For the church to deal with sex seriously, however, does not in itself mean that the church must continue to accept uncritically its traditional understandings of sexual morality, he said.

National Catholic Reporter.

There are of course, several rebuttals to my confident prediction above. Many will be made, including some by my readers here/

Bishop Robinson is retired, and so no longer in the mainstream. His opinions, the sceptics will say, no longer count.

Yes, and that’s precisely the point. Because he is retired, he has more freedom to speak his mind, without fear of losing his job and home. We can be pretty certain that what he is saying publicly, many others are thinking or saying privately.

New Ways is not officially recognised

He was speaking at the New Ways Ministry conference in Baltimore, and New Ways has been routinely criticized by the oligarchs as not a “Catholic” organization – by which they mean, not one formally approved and sanctioned by themselves. Again, that’s precisely the point. Free from having to watch their words for fear of offending the oligarchs, the people of New Ways, and those who speak to them, are able to speak openly and honestly.

He is only one among thousands of bishops.

Yes, but see again the response above: what one is saying publicly, many others are thinking or saying privately. Besides, he is not the only one – just the first (that I know of) to address his call to all elements of sexual teaching. Others have said the same thing about specific parts of teaching. On homosexuality, Cardinal Schonborn said nearly two years ago that it is time to shift the emphasis from genital acts, to the quality of our relationships. In the many months since, he has still not been rebutted for the statement, and instead, a number of other bishops followed, saying much the same thing. In Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols acknowledged that there is value in legal protections in civil unions or partnerships.

On contraception, it is well known not only that the majority of Catholics reject the teaching, but also that in many cases they do so with the support and sometimes encouragement of their priests, confessors or spiritual directors – many of whom are privately backed by their bishops.

It is not possible to separate the separate strands of sexual teaching into independent elements. Underpinning them all, is a demonstrably unsound claim that every sexual act must be open to procreation. Remove that assumption from one element, and you remove it from all. The whole house of cards collapses at a stroke.

There’s much, much more to say on this, and more evidence to produce to justify my conclusion. I will return to it later.

For now, I will simply repeat, that this statement by Bishop Robinson is not the end of the story. More bishops will follow, this discussion will be moving inexorably into more public debate.

Related Posts