On Saturday, Simon Cazal, a Paraguayan LGBT activist was included in a gathering of representatives of civil society invited by the bishops to attend a meeting with Pope Francis.
The substantive importance of this meeting is slight. Cazal was just one specifically gay person out of 1600, with absolutely no discussion of LGBT issues. The symbolism however, is hugely important. This is just one example among many from recent years, of bishops in many countries showing greater openness to recognizing our existence, and in some cases listening to us about our experience and perceptions. Some of these meetings have been publicly reported, others have not – but not many years ago, such meetings were simply unheard of.
The Catechism promises “respect, compassion and sensitivity” for LGBT people – a promise seldom observed in practice, especially the “sensitivity”. Respect and compassion can be simply asserted, but sensitivity must be worked at, and demonstrated. The lack of sensitivity is on clear display in every apology, where someone says, “I did not intend to offend”. The only way to avoid giving unintentional offence, is to do develop an understanding of how the words will be heard – and that requires listening to the people affected, to really learn about their concerns and perspectives.
There’s an enormously long way still to go, but every journey begins with the first steps. The journey to full inclusion in the Catholic Church has at least begun,
For too long, many Catholics have refused to meet with LGBT Catholic organizations, for fear of the loud protests that inevitably ensue from the orthotoxic Catholic right. Now, that will have to change: it is reported that Pope Francis himself will be meeting next month with a married, gay Catholic activist in Paraguay.
If Francis can do it, other bishops will have no more excuses. It’s surely time for LGBT Catholic organizations in all areas,who have so far been rebuffed in their requests for meetings with their bishops, to renew their efforts to meet in dialogue with their bishops.
Pope Francis is slated to hold his first public meeting with a married gay activist during a visit to Paraguay in July.
The activist is Simón Cazal, executive director of the Paraguayan LGBT rights group SOMOSGAY, who married another SOMOSGAY activist, Sergio López, in neighboring Argentina in 2012. Though the pope has reportedly held pastoral meetings with some LGBT people, this meeting marks the first time he will publicly meet with an LGBT political activist.
Cazal received an invitation on June 4 from the committee of the Paraguayan bishops’ conference to participate in a roundtable with the pope and civil society leaders. The invitation — provided to BuzzFeed News by SOMOSGAY — said it was extended in recognition of the “high impact of your organization on Paraguayan society.” The meeting will be held on July 11 in the capital, Asunción.
via BuzzFeed News.
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