Tag Archives: Same-sex relationship

Aquinas: Homosexuality “Naturally Against Nature”

At the heart of the disordered Catholic teaching on homosexuality, is the claim that the inclination is disordered, because it is “against nature”, and idea that has its roots in Saint Thomas Aquinas’ teaching on natural law.  This understanding of the orientation is contrary to modern findings from science, and also in conflict with much of the current trends in theological and exegetical research.

In Amours : L’Eglise, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels” , the Dominican theologian Adriano Oliva shows that the traditional understanding of Thomas’ thinking may be part of that distorted tradition against which Joseph Ratzinger once warned we should be for ever on our guard.

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In the very first paragraph of the book’s section on homosexuality, Oliva sets out the core of his case:

Christian communities and the faithful manifest today diverse understandings of homosexuality, which can move away – sometimes quite radically – from the current teaching of the Magisterium. St Thomas did not develop a theory of homosexuality and, like all his contemporaries, when he discusses the various forms of lust, it includes the sin of sodomy. However, we find in his work, in a reflection not primarily of a moral order but of metaphysics, a brilliant intuition, of naturally “against nature”, that can explain the origin of homosexuality.

From the general principles of his doctrine, we will develop this intuition of Thomas to its logical conclusion, to develop new perspectives of understanding of homosexuality and integration of people and homosexual couples within the Christian community. We want to offer new answers to the questions posed today by the pastoral care of homosexual persons.  The present study, which may appear anachronistic in style, is intended to show that a welcome change from the Magisterium concerning homosexuality and the exercise of sexuality by homosexual couples not only corresponds to current anthropological, theological and exegetical research, but also to the development of an especially Thomistic theological tradition.

 By “naturally against nature”, is meant that while for humanity in general, it is against nature to have sexual relations with the same sex, Saint Thomas recognizes that for some individuals, an inclination (which we would call an orientation) to the same sex is entirely natural.  Oliva is not the first to spot what he calls this “brilliant intuition” in Thomistic teaching: Boswell pointed it out years ago, in Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (pp 326 and 327, in my edition). However, he goes much further than Boswell, in reconciling this natural same-sex orientation with Aquinas’ unequivocal rejection of “sodomy”, and thinks through the implications.

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Adriano Oliva OP

Oliva shows how Aquinas distinguishes between impulses which are purely of the body, and those of the soul. The sins of sodomy (which in his thinking include much more than just same-sex intercourse), are rejected because they are purely physical, and spring from mere lust. However for people with a natural same-sex orientation, same-sex relationships are come from the soul, not from the body. As such, they are inherently good. The really important distinction in sexual ethics then, is not that between same-sex and opposite-sex activities, but between those of lust, simple physical self-gratification, and those of mutual self-giving in love.

From these observations of Aquinas, Oliva goes on to spell out the theological implications for the modern world, with our vastly expanded understanding of the nature of human sexuality, and taking account of theological developments  since the Middle Ages in which Aquinas was working. His conclusion is that for homosexual people, the Church should approve of loving same-sex  relationships (including their sexual expression), and while not equating them with heterosexual marriage, these relationships are sacramental, and should be offered Church blessings.

“Sacramental” Same-Sex Unions?

In recent years, it’s been notable how Christian responses to committed same-sex relationships have evolved, from universal hostility half a century ago, to a diversity of responses that range from  full-blooded acceptance of same-sex marriage, in church, and openly gay church leaders, to a more cautious “hate the sin, love the sinner”.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/12/18/most-u-s-christian-groups-grow-more-accepting-of-homosexuality/

Even in the Catholic church, there have been signs of some acceptance that committed same-sex unions may be sacramental, and deserving of formal blessings by the church, just as they were once done many centuries ago. This has been seriously proposed by many individual priests and theologians, and has even been formally discussed by the German bishops. (It’s entirely possible that with Pope Francis’ new emphasis on a more decentralized church, that such blessings in Germany will now continue, with at least tacit approval from the bishops, as long as they are “private”).

A recent book by Adriano Oliva OP, a distinguished theologian and specialist on Aquinas, a specialist in the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas, has provided sound theological support for the principle. In  Amours : L’Eglise, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels”  he argues that contrary to the popular presentations, the great Thomas’ celebrated theory of Natural Law in fact supports committed relationships between same-sex couples with a natural orientation to the same sex.

The main thrust of his argument is that based on Aquinas’ teaching, we should accept that:

  • for some people, homosexual orientation is entirely natural
  • that for such people, loving same-sex relationships are good, and in accordance with divine plan
  • that their relationships should include sexual expression
  • that although being non-procreative, their unions can not be equated with marriage, they have intrinsic sacramental value of their own
  • and so, they deserve church blessings.

Among other delights, he quotes Aquinas using both Adam and Eve and the Holy Family to show that marriage is not all about procreation – and then uses Humanae Vitae, of all things, to make the same point himself.

Watch this space. Even with my limited French, with the help of the Google ebook edition and  Google translate, I’m finding a huge amount to treasure. As I work my way through it, I’ll have much more to share from this valuable new insight.

When a Priest DEMANDS that a Couple Divorce!

Cardinal Damasceno Assis of Aparecida has claimed that the church has always supported stable same – sex relationships. At the level of teaching, there may be some degree of truth in that. At the level of practice, its a different matter entirely. Here’s yet another tragic example of how some priests and bishops continue to persecute same – sex couples. How can the church be a “field hospital for the wounded” when it continues to inflict the wounds, itself? How can a priest encourage, and even demand, that a married couple divorce?

Priest removes gay couple from volunteer posts in Lewistown Catholic church

On Aug. 6, four days after the Rev. Samuel Spiering arrived as the new administrator of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, he met with parishioner Paul Huff to ask him if he and his partner, Tom Wojtowick, had gotten married.

After Huff confirmed the fact, the priest asked to meet with the two men the next day. At that second meeting, Spiering dismissed the pair from their volunteer posts in the church and told them they could no longer receive Communion, a sacrament at the core of a believer’s faith.

Wojtowick and Huff were stunned and stung by the action. It sprang from the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and its belief that homosexual behavior is a sin.

Bishop Michael Warfel

After a conference call between the couple, the priest, and the bishop, there appeared to be some agreement on a compromise – but the priest insisted that the couple divorce!

Wojtowick and Huff talked with Spiering and Warfel and other diocesan officials in a conference call on Aug. 25. Out of that, Wojtowick said, came an agreement that Wojtowick and Spiering would write a restoration statement, that in part, would support the concept of marriage between a man and a woman, which Wojtowick and Huff were willing to do.

“It was not our intent to challenge that (concept), but to have the rights of civic protections in our old age,” Wojtowick wrote.

When Spiering and Wojtowick met to write the statement, Wojtowick said the priest told him they would also have to set up a timeline for the two men to separate and divorce, which Wojtowick said he and Huff did not agree to.

 

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Christian Responses to Gay Couples – Catholic and Other.

In two recent posts, Bondings 2.0 has reported on yet another two highly influential cardinals, Sean O’Malley of Boston and Claudio Hummes, retired archbishop of Sao Paolo, have demonstrated substantial sensitivity to LGBT concerns. These encouraging small steps to increasing openness by senior Catholic prelates are put into sharp context however, when compared with the giant strides made by some Protestant denominations.

O’Malley, who is one of Pope Francis’ group of eight cardinal advisers, was a panelist for a discussion about Pope Francis for the launch of the on-line magazine, “Crux”. (For a full report on the cardinals observations on a wide range of topics, see Michael O’Loughlin’s report at the Crux website). Bob Shine of New Ways provides more detailon those of particular interest to LGBT Catholics. Shine had submitted a question in advance, pertaining to the rash of dismissals of lesbian and gay Catholics from church employment, to which the cardinal responded indirectly, but sensitively, about the need to follow Francis’ example of “mercy and compassion”. Shine reports that later, in private conversation. O’Malley went further:

In a one-to-one conversation following a public speaking engagement, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley said that the firing of church workers because of LGBT issues is a situation that “needs to be rectified,” becoming the first prelate to speak against this trend.

In an earlier post at Bondings. Frank DeBenardo reported on Cardinal Claudio Hummes.

In a recent interview with the newspaper Zero Hora, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, the retired archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil, gave the following answer to the reporter who asked “If Jesus were alive today, would He be in favour of gay marriage?”:

“I do not know. I make no assumptions about it. The Church as a whole should answer that. We must take care not to be raising questions as individuals, because it ends up creating more trouble to get a conclusion that is valid. I think we have to get together, listen to the people, those who are involved in the issue. It is the Church that must indicate the paths, and there must be way for everyone.”

Hummes is a close friend and confidant of the Pope, who suggested the name “Francis”, and stood beside him on the balcony of St Peter’s when he accepted the papacy. O’Malley is one of Francis’ group of eight cardinal advisors. Earlier this year, Cardinal Gracias, another of that influential group of eight gave a warm and sensitive hearing to the chair of Quest, Ruby Almeida, when she visited India. There is now a steadily expanding list of bishops and cardinals who have shown some degree of increasing openness to LGBT relationships, and it now seems that those closest to the Pope are those showing the greatest flexibility. This is still a change in rhetoric, not substance, but DeBenardo notes that beneath the surface, “something is brewing”.

As I’ve noted before, I think these statements are like “test balloons,” and the fact that now so many cardinals and bishops are making them seems to indicate that something is brewing.  I’m not sure it will be a big change, but I think it will be a step in the right direction

These are indeed encouraging signs: One cardinal “close to the pope”, and two of the eight cardinal advisors (O’Malley and Gracias) at least sympathetic to LGBT concerns – and yet. In a private, email discussion, Bill Lindsey of Bilgrimage makes a pertinent point:

“I think we have to get together, listen to the people, those who are involved in the issue. “How? Where? When? I ask myself as I read the article.

How, where, and when will church officials listen to “the people . . . who are involved in the issue”?

Contrast with Protestant denominations

Bill is absolutely right to ask “How? Where? When?” As the family synod approaches, with marriage and sex to be discussed/decided by celibate bishops and only a handful of handpicked married lay people as “auditors” to endorse their conclusions, and gay relationships barely on the agenda except i.r.o. pastoral care for our children, it’s instructive to contrast with some other denominations.
Several, in Europe and in North America, are already permitting local congregations and pastors to celebrate our relationships with either church weddings, or blessings of same – sex unions. In the UK, the United Reformed Church came within a whisker of approving a similar proposal  but failed only because church rules require absolute consensus, so that even with overwhelming support, it was blocked by just a handful of dissidents in the full assembly. In the Methodist church, which has not yet approved any change in its regulations to approve either church recognition of same – sex unions or gay clergy, several ministers have publicly declared their willingness to conduct gay weddings, in spite of these regulations. Nor is it only the traditionally progressive denominations that are changing – Baptists conducted the first British same – sex church wedding.

More interesting than the decisions taken, is the processes that have been followed. In all these denominations, the decisions have been preceded by intensive study, with task groups preparing full study materials, circulated in advance of the deliberative assemblies for study and discussion at local level, and exhaustive debate at assemblies or synods which have been attended by the full range of church membership – people in leadership positions, local ministers, and ordinary churchgoers alike.

The Anglican Church in the UK is a case in point. Following the Pilling report on human sexuality (in effect, a report on the appropriate response to gay sexuality), the bishops have been engaged in intensive discussions on the search for mutual understanding between differing perspectives, aided and guided by a team of facilitators. Later, this will be followed by similar regional gatherings, with clusters of dioceses coming together to debate the same issues. The guidelines specify that the composition of these discussion groups should closely match the range of views in the region, and that for these specify that for every diocese, participating delegate groups should include “more than one” LGBT person.

From a CoE media release:

10. The choice of diocesan participants will rest with the diocesan bishop. They will select participants so that, apart from the bishops, the group will be composed of equal numbers of clergy and laity and equal numbers of women and men. Diocesan bishops will normally attend conversations in regions other than their own. The aim will be for a quarter of the group to be under 40 years old. LGBTI people should be represented by more than one person in each diocesan group. The range and balance of views in the group should, as far as is possible, reflect the range and balance within the diocese itself.  

With several dioceses represented at each regional forum, this is more than mere tokenism. The contrast with the RC Family synod is stark.

 

High Court orders Israel to recognize gay adoption of child born through surrogacy

 At the same time court rejects gay adoption in case where neither man proved biological connection to child.
Man with baby born to surrogate mother. Photo: REUTERS
  The High Court of Justice on Tuesday night, by a split 5-2 vote, ordered the state to recognize the gay adoption of a child born through surrogacy, including registering both the biological father and his partner as fathers of the child. Simultaneously, the High Court rejected 7-0 the request of another gay couple for recognition of their right to gay adoption. Related: Health Ministry advocates allowing gay couples to use surrogate mothers Both gay couples based their claim on a birth certificate and declaration from the US that they are the child’s parents. The difference between the two cases is that the court granted the request from the gay couple after it underwent genetic testing to prove the biological connection to at least one of the men, while the couple whose request was denied did not do genetic testing.
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Research Evidence: Same – Sex Partners Happier than Straight Ones.

Research shows that gay relationships are “happier and more positive” than straight ones.

The popular perception that gay relationships don’t last is not surprising, but it’s a myth. We all know that same – sex relationships face difficulties not encountered by our opposite – sex counterparts, arising from some measure of public disapproval, hostility or active discrimination or even violence, and from the greater difficulties in arranging the emotional and legal support of family and community in marriage ceremonies and contracts. So the misperception that our relationships are fragile, and the companion allegation often heard from our opponents that gay men are doomed to unhappiness, is not surprising – but is contradicted by the evidence.

The latest study to show this result comes from the UK Open University, widely reported this week in the British press. This research, based on a survey of 5000 people, including in-depth follow – up interviews with 50 of the participants, examined much more than just the sexuality of the couples, which explains the headline of the report in the Independent:

The key to a happy relationship? Be gay. Or childless. Or make tea

Joe and  Will

Gay couples are likely to be happier and more positive about their relationships than heterosexuals, according to a major study by the Open University published today

However, they are less likely to be openly affectionate towards each other – holding hands in public, for instance – because they still fear attracting disapproval.

The study of 5,000 people – 50 of whom were later followed up with in-depth interviews – aimed at finding out how modern couples keep their relationships on track through life’s difficulties.

It found that simple things – like making a cup of tea in the morning and taking it up to them in bed – were the most treasured by couples as examples of intimacy rather than more dramatic gestures such as declaring “I love you”.

It was on the relative happiness of people within different types of relationships that the survey threw up the most interesting insights into modern day life, however.

“LGBQ participants (lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer) are more generally positive about and happier with the quality of their relationship and the relationship which they have with their partner” the research concludes.

“Heterosexual parents are the group least likely to be there for each other, to make ‘couple time’, to pursue shared interests, to say ‘I love you’ and to talk openly to one another.”

Independent

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Aquinas, In SUPPORT of Same–Sex Relationships.

Some of the key questions in the Catholic consultation on marriage and the family concern the Aquinas’ concept of natural law, but noted in the introduction to a post by theologian Alban McCoy at the Tablet  ”Many lay Catholics taking part in the Vatican’s survey will have struggled with the questions concerning natural law and sex and relationships”.  McCoy writes:

….. natural law is one of the oldest and, until relatively recently, most influential ideas in moral and political thought. However much disagreement there might be about specifics, we seem unable to dispense with the notion that some things are natural or appropriate to human life.

Tablet blogs

It is the assumption that the only those sexual relationships which are open to procreation that are “natural or appropriate to human life”, that is the basis for the traditional Catholic condemnation of same – sex relationships, and so of gay marriage. But that’s a shallow, simplistic view of Natural Law, and its implications for LGBT Christians.

Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washingto...

The problem here though, is that “natural law” is widely misrepresented and distorted in standard Church teaching. The usual presentation of the concept is unambiguous: that by natural law, the “purpose of sex” is primarily about procreation, and so any sexual acts not open to procreation are not “natural”, and so not morally acceptable. This obviously includes all same – sex genital intercourse, and marriage, in terms of natural law, is necessarily and exclusively between a man and a woman.

This conclusion is explicit in Aquinas’ own words, and so (it would seem) beyond contradiction.

However, those words are not the only ones he wrote on the subject of what we call homosexuality. John Boswell notes that he discusses the subject in three different places. One of these flatly contradicts the CDF assertion in Homosexualitatis Problema (the infamous Hallowe’en letter), that a homosexual orientation is gravely disordered.

After discussing some problems with Aquinas’ arguments arising from his shifting, self-contradictory understanding of “nature”, Boswell continues:

This difficulty pales, however, beside the startling revelation following the second definition that homosexuality may in fact be quite “natural” to a given individual, in either sense of the word.

“Thus it may happen that something which is against human nature, in regard either to reason or to the preservation of the body, may become natural to a particular man, owing to some defect of nature in him”.

The “defect” of nature mentioned here should not be taken as implying some contravention of “natural laws”. Aquinas compares this sort of “innate” homosexuality to hot water: although water is not “naturally” hot, it may be altogether “natural” for water under certain circumstances to become hot. Although it may not be “natural” for humans in general to be homosexual, it  is apparently quite “natural” for certain individuals.

(Boswell points out that Aquinas’ use of “defective” does not imply morally reprehensible, as he uses the same word with reference to women, as produced by “defective” circumstances”, and both homosexuality and femaleness are in fact natural to the individual in question).

Then, he continues:

In Aquinas’s view, moreover, everything which is un any way “natural” has a purpose, and the purpose is good: “Natural inclinations occur in things because of God, who moves all things…. Whatever is the end of anything natural cannot be bad in itself, since everything which exists naturally is ordained by divine providence to fill some purpose…….. The Summa does not speculate on what the “end” of homosexuality might be, but this is hardly surprising in light of the prejudices of the day.

Aquinas’ account of natural law takes the raw material of morality to be the human nature with which we have been endowed by God: and the point of moral reflection is to discern ways in which this nature might ­flourish. For Aquinas, flourishing and true happiness are the same thing; so the first question of ethics asks about what makes human beings genuinely and lastingly happy.

McCoy does not go into the implications of “human flourishing” for same – sex relationships specifically, but a moment’s thought, and reflection on the evidence from science and from real- life experience, should make those clear. For those “endowed by God” with a natural orientation to the same sex, then conventional marriage to someone of the opposite sex is unlikely to make them “genuinely and lastingly happy”. (This point is accepted by orthodox Vatican teaching, which does not recommend marriage for gay men or lesbians). But there is abundant evidence, from countless same – sex couples, that this human flourishing is indeed possible in loving, committed relationships with persons of the same sex.

 

Brazilian judicial council: Notaries must recognize same-sex marriage

The Brazilian National Council of Justice, which oversees the nation’s judiciary, passed a resolution Tuesday that denies notaries the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

In Brazil, notaries officiate marriages and civil unions.
Recently, 12 Brazilian states began allowing same-sex couples to marry or convert their civil unions into marriages. However, since the Supreme Court does not carry legislative powers, it was up to each notary to officiate at their discretion, and many refused, citing the lack of law.
Joaquim Barbosa, president of the Council of Justice, said in the decision that notaries cannot continue to refuse to “perform a civil wedding or the conversion of a stable civil union into a marriage between persons of the same sex.”
Barbosa, who also presides over the Supreme Court, says the resolution merely follows the transformation of society.
“Our society goes through many changes, and the National Council of Justice cannot be indifferent to them,” he said.
Civil unions between same-sex couples have been recognized in Brazil since 2011, after the Supreme Court ruled that the same rights and rules that apply to “stable unions” of heterosexual couples would apply to same-sex couples, including the right to joint declaration of income tax, pension, inheritance and property sharing. People in same-sex unions are also allowed to extend health benefits to their partners, following the same rules applied to heterosexual couples.
Brazilian lawmakers have debated same-sex marriage, but in most cases, the bills introduced have not progressed through Congress.
Brazilian neighbors Uruguay and Argentina are the only other two countries in Latin America that have laws allowing same-sex couples to marry.

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Kansas supreme court rules in favor of gay adoption

After deliberating over a claim submitted by two women over parenting rights, the supreme court of Kansas passed a landmark ruling in favor of gay adoption
25 FEBRUARY 2013 | BY DAN LITTAUER
After deliberating over submitted by two women over parenting rights, the supreme court of Kansas passed a landmark ruling in favor of gay adoption

Kansas state supreme court made a landmark ruling that same-sex couples are to be allowed to adopt.
In addition it ruled that when a same-sex couple has a child together, both parents can be fully recognized as parents under Kansas state law.
The court explained that Kansas parentage laws apply equally to women and non-biological parents, and that courts must consider the reality of who a child’s parents are in order to protect the interests of children.
With this ruling, Kansas joins a number of other US states in ruling that when two people bring a child into the world and then raise that child as co-parents, the law should treat both of them as the child’s parents, regardless of gender or biology.
The ruling was delivered on Friday (22 February) over a case of two women, Marci Frazier and Kelly Goudschaal, who had been raising children together, but then faced a custody dispute after they separated.
The court ruled that the coparenting contract the couple had signed is valid and should be recognized, as their children are better off having two parents than just one:
‘To summarize, the coparenting agreement before us cannot be construed as a prohibited sale of the children because the biological mother retains her parental duties and responsibilities.
‘The agreement is not injurious to the public because it provides the children with the resources of two persons, rather than leaving them as the fatherless children of an artificially inseminated mother. No societal interest has been harmed; no mischief has been done.
‘Like the contract in Shirk, the coparenting agreement here contains “no element of immorality or illegality and did not violate public policy,” but rather “the contract was for the advantage and welfare of the child[ren]’.
LGBT rights organizations welcomed the ruling across the state.
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Calabrian Catholic bishop says gay couples ‘should have rights’

Italian bishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini from Locri-Gerace recognizes that gay couples ‘should claim some rights, but they can not ask for marriage’

cattedrale_Gerace

18 DECEMBER 2012 | BY DANIELE GUIDO GESSA

Photo by DaffyDuke

An Italian Catholic bishop said that ‘same-sex couples should have their civil rights recognized.’

Bishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, who is in charge of the Locri-Gerace area in Calabria, recognized same-sex couples’ rights in a letter sent to the churches of his area.

Such a recognition by the Catholic hierarchy is uncommon, but bishop Morosini added: ‘However, same-sex couples are not families. We can not give them the right to a regular marriage.

‘We believe in God and we have to respect the Christian values and rules. I suggest you defend these ideas strongly.’

The Italian Church is analyzing the possibility of a new Italian government wanting to give same-sex couples some rights. The next general elections will be held in spring.

Morosini added: ‘A marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but every couple should have civil rights.’

His stance has been welcomed by Italian LGBT associations, even though the Italian gay movement has condemned his call for ‘traditional’ marriage.Calabria is one of the less gay-friendly regions in Italy. Only a few LGBT associations operate in this area.

via Gay Star News.

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