Just last week it was Cardinal Schonborn saying to an Irish conference in preparation for the World Meeting of Families, that all families need protecting – including queer families. Also last week, another senior cardinal effectively acknowledged in a newspaper interview, that gay marriage is not a major issue for the Catholic Church.
It is always worth paying close attention to press interviews with Msgr Krysztof Charamsa, the Catholic theologian at the CDF who came out as both gay and partnered, on the eve of the 2015 Synod on /marriage and family. There have been several of these, initially on the occasion of his coming out, and later with the launch of his book, in the original Italian and the later translations. Sadly, as far as I am aware, none of these have yet appeared in English.
I therefore provide below, my own free translation (based on a modified Google translation), of his most recent (German) interview with Berliner Zeitung. In this post, I present the interview in full, without comment. My responses will follow, in a series of follow-up posts.
Ex-Monsignore Krzysztof Charamsa “Gott liebt mich, weil ich meinen Mann liebe”
(Translation: “God loves me, because I love my husband”)
We meet in the breakfast room of a small hotel at Hamburg main station. Krzysztof Charamsa, 44, has presented his book here. He wears a light, waisted jacket, with a blue handkerchief, if I remember correctly. A white shirt. Blue jeans. He looks very elegant. The most striking however is orange glasses. Krzysztof Charamsa laughs and loves to cry. I had not imagined the Grand Inquisitor of the Catholic Church so. Not even one of his staff. Krzysztof Charamsa is a Pole, but speaks German. Very rarely does he search for a word.
What is Spinning?
This is my sport: cycling in the gym. At the bottom I am struggling, everything is going through my head. I can think clearly.
One does not step forward. This is your favourite sport?
It is like liberation. You kick wildly into the pedals. They sweat. You are exhausted. But you do not have to worry about anything. Your head is free. It hits the spot.
That’s why you wrote a book about the “immutability of God”.
My dissertation. At that time I did not know Spinning. I was looking for security, for a solid foundation. It seemed to me to offer me a God who is self-sufficient. This was a God who does not lean toward his creature. No God of friendship, no God in the world, in history. A very sad image of God, I find today. I’ve been thinking about why we’re going to suffer during my studies. Where we have a gracious God. That was my determining question. I have no answer. But today I think it was my homosexuality, my suffering for it, which made suffering such a big subject. I did not know anything about the pleasures of love, nor of gay love.
When masturbating did you have homosexual fantasies?
That was not nice?
I was anxious. I spent my puberty in communist Poland, in the Catholic Church. Both hyper-homophobic facilities! With whom could I have spoken? How? I had no words for it. I had feelings of guilt. I would have had them, even if I had been heterosexual. But my gay fantasies increased my insecurity.
You were ten, eleven years in Hamburg. You must have seen homosexuals at least at the Hauptbahnhof.
I did not see them. Because I could not see them. In the world I lived in, there were no homosexuals. People just did not talk about them. They did not exist. As one says in Chechnya today: homosexuals can not be suppressed, because they do not exist. This is the way the Catholic Church behaved.
How many homosexuals are there in the Catholic Church?
Nobody can tell you. There are no surveys. I can only g. Based guess. Based on my experience. I was in priestly seminaries, I taught. I have always lived among priests. I was not a monk who lived in a single monastery. I believe that, cautiously estimated, fifty percent of the Catholic clergy is homosexual.
The total population is assumed to be 10%.
The priesthood is a fantastic space to conceal homosexuality when it is not socially accepted. For this reason the priestly life attracts many homosexuals. It does not matter that you are not interested in women. One is always in male company.
A homophobic organization of homosexuals
This is the dilemma of the Church. Hence much of the suffering and despair of the priests. Homosexuals are persecuted and at the same time homosexuality is celebrated. Aesthetic. Pope Benedict XVI has greatly aggravated the hatred of homosexuals. At the same time, however, under his pontificate, it was as gay as never before in the modern age: the red shoes, the peaks, tassels, and fringes that were on display everywhere. “Soon we will all have to wear lace underwear,” one of the papal ceremonial masters complained. See for yourself on Youtube how Ratzinger and other dignitaries of the Vatican look at the naked torsos of the brother Pellegrini! That same Ratzinger writes that homosexuals can not love. They have, he says, only this morbid desire.
Perhaps the Ratzinger’s own – deep-rooted – life experience … He is doomed to non-love.
That I do not know. But I do know that is precisely the situation in which many thousands of priests find themselves. The situation I was in, it took very long before I realized: it is not homosexuality that is sinful, but the church. Many, many homosexual priests are very good priests.
You were a member of the Congregation for the Congregation for twelve years. You persecuted the devil on behalf of the church. Then, on October 3, 2015, you publicly declared to the world : I, Krzysztof Charamsa, Catholic priest and member of the Congregation of the Faith, am gay, and this is my partner, Eduard Planas, whom I love. You changed from Saul to Paul.
I inherited the place, which became free, when Georg Gänswein became Ratzinger’s private secretary. I inherited his computer, his office, his chair. Paul followed the truth. When he persecuted the Christians, he believed that he had to do so for the sake of the truth. Then he recognized his error and became a Christian. I thought God was against my homosexuality, so I fought it. Then I discovered that God had nothing against my homosexuality. He had given something against which my love was strugling. I was an official of a truth office, a Stasi. I was perfect in this office. I put together, for every question, the views that the Church had represented over the centuries. The new knowledge of science did not matter. The church was in possession of the truth. This treasure was to be lifted. I did not do that as a cynic. I did it because I believed in it.
This was the purpose from one minute to the next.
I had nothing but a suitcase and my husband. That was a liberation. And peace. The first time: peace. A new security. I am a believing man, so I know: That was a gift from God.
You always have to get everything from the top!
Yes, yes. Of course I also have to develop energy and strength. But they also come from God. Life needs a foundation. If you have that, you can let go. This was the experience of Paul. This was also my experience. But it took me a long time to realize that the ecclesiastical texts against homosexuality speak about me. In the Catechism, for example, it says of homosexual relations: “They violate the natural law, for the transmission of life is excluded in sexual act. They do not arise from a true affective and sexual supplementary need. They are in no way to be approved.” Today I know that the catechism preaches homophobia and not the love of God. That’s why I introduced my partner at my coming out. This was a theological statement. I wanted to make it clear: I’m not looking for sex. I’m looking for love. Sex I can have anywhere. For me, it’s about love. Homosexual love.
Is the doctrine that the Father has the Son nailed to the cross in order to save mankind, not unloving?
The suffering, the self-sacrificing God – that is the mystery of religion.
This God, who always kills whole tribes of nations, would not you weep for the dead of Sodom and Gomorrah?
It is impossible to understand how God can allow this. But I believe it is his respect for human freedom. His respect for our freedom. It is the limit of the action of God.
But the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah did not perish because they were fighting each other. God eradicated them.
In the Old Testament there is this image of God. Jesus corrects this. The relationship between God, suffering and freedom is the greatest question of religion. That is their secret. I took the liberty to first acknowledge my homosexuality before God. He accepted me. When I did it before the church, she rejected me.
Sodom and Gomorrah?
When you read the text in the Old Testament, it was not about homosexuality – the later tradition shifted the emphasis to the sexual – but about xenophobia and the refusal of hospitality. Lot receives the strangers, in truth God’s angels, with friendship and is attacked by his fellow citizens. It is – in this the story is quite topical – about the correct handling of refugees and migrants. The Sodom of today is my home country Poland. No one is willing to accept refugees. There is no place for a Syrian family in all Poland. Poland is Catholic, but no one opens strangers to his house. This is just one example of the terrible confusion in the Catholic Church.
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”
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
Bondings 2.0 has published today extracts from some reflections on synod 2015 by several bishops, following reactions published last week by commentators and LGBT organizations.
I’ve yet to respond in full with my own thoughts, but here a few points that I think are especially important: Continue reading The Fruits of the Synod: Initial Thoughts
In a joint press conference on the Family Synod with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton issued an apology to the LGBT community, that this important issue had not been properly addressed. (Previously, during the synod itself, Bishop Doyle had criticised the synod for the same point).
He (Bishop Doyle) also apologised that the Synod had not had time to deal with the issue of homosexuality. “I’m very sorry for the LGBT good people who were looking to the synod for something. It was really hard for people of same sex attraction. It wasn’t blocked. There was just so much to deal with.”
It’s also worth noting that his words of apology included “LGBT good people“, echoing a recurring theme from a number of bishops.
An international group of LGBT Catholics, their families and their allies, sees reason for hope in the final report from the Bishops’ Synod Assembly on Marriage and Family. Acknowledging that there are some disappointments in the text, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics nevertheless expects that the proceedings of this assembly will lead to a fresh, more sensitive approach to pastoral care.
It’s been a superb, inspirational day in Rome, at the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.
We began early with morning prayer (before breakfast), structured around some biblical texts on the importance of listening, followed by two reflections, and prayers of petition.
Following up on last night’s brief introductions, today our delegates introduced themselves, their countries and the groups they represent, speaking particularly to three topics:
- What are the challenges you are facing?
- What has been your greatest success?
- What support / help do you need?
After these group presentations, we were invited to reflect on, and digest what we had heard. Continue reading Inspiring First Day for LGBT Catholic Global Conference
At the world meeting of families in Philadelphia, major organizations representing LGBT Catholics and their parents have not only been refused accreditation at the main event, they’ve also been barred by the local archbishop from using a friendly Catholic parish church as a venue for their own fringe event. (Not to worry: they have found a suitable alternative, and the resultant publicity has ensured that their event is now far better known than it would otherwise have been).
I leave it to my American readers to reflect on the ironies of this exclusion in the city of “brotherly love”, and the famed liberty bell – is that a crack I see in it?
The organisers insist that it is simply not true that lgbt Catholics are not represented. They are there – provided that they live “in accordance with Church teaching. This is how “Faithful America” reports it, in email correspondence:
Pope Francis is visiting Philadelphia next month for the World Meeting of Families, and the local conservative archbishop is hijacking the event to promote his own right-wing agenda — by inviting advocates for anti-gay conversion therapy to give speeches, lead workshops, and sell their books and other materials.
Here’s the problem: Continue reading A Challenge to “Courage”: Take the Catechism Seriously.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols was welcomed by a packed Farm Street Jesuit Church on Sunday, 10 May 2015, when he presided at the scheduled 18.15 Mass which welcomes LGBT Catholics, their parents and families. This was the first time that an Archbishop of Westminster had presided at such a Mass which was concelebrated by Monsignor Keith Barltrop, the Cardinal’s Liaison with the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, Farm Street’s Parish Priest, Fr. Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ, and Fr. John O’Leary, Cardinal Nichols’ Secretary.
Specially-composed music, including Live every day in my love, based on the day’s Gospel reading, and a new version of Psalm 97 were sung by the Beacon Music Group which accompanies Farm Street’s 2nd Sunday evening Masses. Members of the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council were among the readers at the Mass.