When a group of Polish Catholics declared support for a gay rights campaign, their involvement was quickly condemned by the country’s bishops conference. Having raised the issue in the church, however, the group is determined to press on and ensure the atmosphere of understanding engendered by Pope Francis finds a louder echo in Poland.
“The bishops’ reaction is only a first step — what matters is that they’ve now felt it necessary to take up a position on LGBT issues,” explained Dominika Kozlowska, editor of the Catholic monthly Znak (The Sign). “The Catholics who’ve engaged in this campaign will also continue to talk about these issues in publications and discussions. Though the bishops have accused us of infringing Gospel injunctions, they’ve also said things in the process which haven’t been said in the church here before.”
The campaign, “Let’s exchange a sign of peace,” was launched in early September with nationwide billboards depicting clasped hands — one with a rainbow bracelet and the other with a Catholic rosary.
Source: National Catholic Reporter
At the synod, there have been numerous indications of a coming shift in tone and more sensitive pastoral practice in treating lesbian and gay Catholics and their relationships, including recognition of the harm done by the language of “intrinsically disordered”, a married couple’s recommendation that same – sex couples need to be welcomed by their families, and an observation by Cardinal Marx that we need to differentiate between “a faithful homosexual relationship that has held for decades” and endorsing“homosexuality as a whole” (whatever that means).
One cardinal however, is having none of it. Lifesite News and others of that ilk are celebrating Cardinal Burke’s absolute rejection of any tolerance for what he persists in calling an “intrinsically disordered” condition.
Lifesite may rejoice, but numerous other sites have responded by slamming Burke’s response, sometimes in colourful language.
Here are two I most like:
Anyone with ears to hear knows that the “intrinsically disordered” language regarding homosexual relations has failed to achieve anything except make the Church look foolish and mean-spirited. The synod fathers apparently have discussed the need to find better language with which to convey the Church’s teachings in this area. But Cardinal Burke still thinks he is being pastoral when he deploys this language. His latest interview with LifeSite News is appallingly tone deaf, as was his interview with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN last night. …….This man’s inability to speak with even a whiff of human compassion is intrinsically disordered if you ask me.
Some of the voices arguing for a change in tone and greater nuance in pastoral practice are among the most influential and senior in the Church: Cardinal Marx is one of the Pope’s eight cardinal advisors, and just before the synod, Cardinal O’Malley, another of that group, agreed that “something must be done” about the wave of exclusions and dismissals currently plaguing LGBT Catholics in the American church.
Not so Cardinal Burke, who is widely rumoured to be on the way out: Michael Sean Winters, in the piece quoted from above, notes that he is expected to be dispatched to the Knights of Malta. At the superb church history blog,”What Sister Never Knew and Father Never Told You“, we have this fun description:
At the Synod, Cardinal Burke is “pained” by the proceedings. Just as well for him, then, that he mostly likely will over on Aventine with his Knights by the 2015 follow-up meeting where the input of this year’s synod will be discussed and acted upon after a year of reflection. His Eminence can lead the Malta-teers in practice sword charges against imaginary Islamic hordes, unless of course, he gets his rapier tangled up in that 27 feet of scarlet silk he likes to trail behind him.
In welcome news, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has revealed in a newspaper interview that at Pope Francis’ request, there will soon be more women on the International Theological Commission: the numbers will go from two, to “five or six”. To put this into context, out of a full complement of 30, that’s only 20% at best. The reason is simple: with a commission heavily dominated by an all – male clergy, there cannot be more realistic representation of women, until there the representation of priests goes down. We need more lay people, of either gender, and religious women.
Buried inside the report on increasing female representation on the commission, are some observations by Muller which have startling implications, taken to their logical conclusion: that far from excluding women from the priesthood, only women should qualify for ordination.
Müller underlined that the female presence in the Church needed to be recognized within its own specific context, it should not be an imitation of the male model.
That seems innocuous enough, echoing some sentiments of Pope Francis himself. But look at what comes next:
He stressed that the Church needs to be like a mother, not an institution, because an institution cannot love but a mother can.
If women in church should not be in imitation of men, then by symmetry, it must also follow that men in the church should not attempt to imitate women. And yet – the Church must be “like a mother”. If men should not attempt to imitate women, and the only people who truly can be like a mother a the women, then it must surely follow that the people best qualified to take the key roles in the Church, as priests, bishops, cardinals and pope – are the women.
That is obviously not what Müller intended to say – but it’s the logical conclusion from his two propositions.
Comments calling same-sex marriage “morally defective” by retired Scottish Archbishop Mario Conti are the latest in month-long attacks by Catholic prelates responding to British and Scottish government plans to legalize marriage equality.
Writing in The Tablet against the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill during a period where Scottish officials gather public input, Archbishop Conti said:
“…it is unhelpful, unnecessary and indeed profoundly unwise for political action to do quite the opposite, namely to attempt through the law, by equating homosexual unions with heterosexual marriage, to render moral what is in itself morally defective.”
Previously, the English bishops have spoken forcefully against government plans to legalize marriage equality in England and Wales. Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell wrote a harshly-worded letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron in early December questioning Catholics’ ability to trust him and making a comparison that Cameron is equitable to the anti-Christian Roman emperor, Nero.
Other instances since then include:
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham’s warning that not adhering to traditional gender roles as a result of marriage equality laws would have unforeseen consequences for society;
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster declaring, in a letter read during Masses, the government’s move as undemocratic, “shambolic,” and something that would make George Orwell proud;
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury using his Christmas homily to compare the British government’s efforts on marriage equality to Communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes.
Such unwelcomed messages at Christmas time distort the holiday for many, evident in comments by Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, to The Guardian:
“’We do think it’s very sad that an archbishop should sully the day of the birth of Jesus by making what seem to be such uncharitable observations about other people. Some of us are mindful of Luke 2:14, which reminds us that Christmas Day is a day of peace and goodwill to all men. Perhaps Archbishop Nichols should have spent a little more time in bible study.’”
The pending legislation for England and Wales is expected to be voted on this coming spring, with Prime Minister David Cameron recently reiterating his support for full marriage equality while promising sufficient religious liberty safeguards.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
via « Bondings 2.0.