Tag Archives: same-sex unions

Queer Saints 3: The Medieval Church

From Rome to the Middle Ages

The early Middle Ages were once known as the “Dark Ages”, a disparaging term, which nevertheless is descriptive of the murky information we have about the saints: some of what is commonly believed about these saints is clearly mythical. Nevertheless, knowledge of the queer associations of saints like Patrick and Brigid of Ireland, George the dragon slayer and “Good King Wenceslas” is simple fun – and literal, historical truth or not, can provide useful material for reflection.

This period is also notable for the widespread use of specific liturgies for blessing same sex unions in Church. Even if these unions are not directly comparable with modern marriage, understanding of this recognition by the church deserves careful consideration, for the guidance it can offer the modern church on dealing with recognition for same sex relationships.

By the time of the High Middle Ages, influenced by increasing urbanisation and greater familiarity with more homoerotic Muslim civilisation, the earlier moderate opposition and grudging toleration of same sex love softened to a more open tolerance, with some remarkable monastic love letters with homoerotic imagery (St AnselmSt Alcuin), a celebration of same sex intimacy in St Aelred of Rielvaulx’s work on Spiritual Friendship, more erotic poetry, and acceptance of open sexual relationships even for prominent bishops (Ralph of Tours, John of OrleansRoger de Pont L’Évêque) and abbots – especially if they had suitable royal collections. Marbod of RiennesBaudri of Bourgeuil, a “Spanish Monk“, and other medieval clerics, like Walafrid Strabo (c. 808-849), Notker Balbulus (c. 840-912), Salamo (c. 860-920) were others from this period who left a legacy of homoerotic literature.

Balancing the male monastics, there were also notable religious women, such as the formidable polymath Hildegard of Bingen and the English mystic, Julian of Norwich.  (If not specifically “lesbian” in any modern sense, both were very clearly of a notably queer sensibility). It was also a time of powerful women in the church, as abbesses who sometimes even had authority over their local bishops. (Hildegonde of Neuss, Saint Walpurga).

Julian of Norwich, as depicted in the church of Ss Andrew and Mary, Langham, Norfolk (Wikipedia)

However, the increase in open sexual relationships among some monastic groups also led to a reaction, with some theologians starting to agitate for much harsher penalties against “sodomites”, especially among the clergy (St Peter Damian, Alan of Lille). Initially, these pleas for a harsher, anti-homosexual regime met with limited support – but bore fruit a couple of centuries later, with disastrous effects which were felt right through to the present day – and especially the twentieth century.

 

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The Homoerotic Catholic Church

Is Aquinas’ Natural Law Gay-friendly?

A book in French (“Amours“) by a noted Dominican theologian, an acknowledged expert on the work of Thomas Aquinas, argues that yes, indeed it is.

The only English reports about “Amours” that I’ve seen, have been hostile responses from the right. However, there’s no doubt that a gay friendly reading of Thomas is not only possible, but quite possibly more appropriate than the usual argument that same-sex relationships are contrary to natural law, and Oliva’s book is not the first to point this out – just the first to do so at length, and with such impeccable credentials.

The problem is that the critics cling to a few paragraphs about “sodomy” in the Summa, embracing Thomas’ conclusions, based on the state of knowledge in the 13th century – and totally ignore his method, which emphasises the importance of reason, and respect for the findings of science. If he were living today, with all the knowledge from natural and social science now available, he would surely have reached very different conclusions.

But even in his own time, according to Boswell some of his writing is indeed gay friendly, Even then, Boswell writes,Aquinas recognized that for some individuals, an attraction to the same sex is natural, and so not after all “against nature”.

“Thus it may happen that something which is against human nature, in regard to reason or to preservation of the body, may become natural to a particular man, owing to some defect of nature in him. The “defect” of nature should not be taken as implying some contravention of natural laws. Aquinas compares this sort of innate homosexuality to hot water. Although it is natural for water to be cold, it may be altogether natural in some circumstances, for it to become hot.Although it may not be natural for humans  in general to be homosexual, it is apparently entirely natural.for some particular individuals.”  (CSTH, p326).

In Aquinas’ view, moreover, everything which is in 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 us ordained by divine providence to fill some purpose”.  (CSTH, 327).

There seems to be much more interest these days in more sympathetic serious theology of same-sex relationships. It’s been suggested that one of the reasons the topic was largely ignored at the family synod assembly, was a recognition that the whole subject needs greater study, with due attention to the science, and to hearing the stories of gay people ourselves. I’m convinced that as this study proceeds, this gay friendly Thomism will indeed become “the wave of the future”

 (I’ll be looking for more reports of this, from less hostile sources)

Recommended Books

Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People In Western Europe From The Beginning Of The Christian Era To The Fourteenth Century: Gay … of the Christian Era to the 14th Century
Moore, Gareth: A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality
Oliva, Adriano: Amours : L’église, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels (French Edition)

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A Catholic Obligation for an LGBT Apology

A notable and extremely welcome feature of last year’s family synod was the apology offered by the entire German speaking bishops’ small group to the gay and lesbian community, for the harm done to them by the church. That call was later repeated by Bishop Doyle of Northampton, on his return to the UK.

Now, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, who is chairman of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference and also one of Pope Francis’ group of cardinal advisors, has repeated his belief in the church’s duty of apology.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx: told a conference held in Trinity College that until “very recently”, the church and society at large had been “very negative about gay people . . . It was the whole society. It was a scandal and terrible.” Photograph: Stefano Rellandini - Source Irish Times
Cardinal Reinhard Marx: told a conference held in Trinity College that until “very recently”, the church and society at large had been “very negative about gay people . . . It was the whole society. It was a scandal and terrible.” Photograph: Stefano Rellandini – Source Irish Times

We’re going to hear more about apologies and calls for apologies to lesbian and gay Catholics for past wrongs to lesbian and gay people. That’s good news.

The need for an apology should be obvious from just the most cursory reading of LGBT history and the Catholic church, from the active persecution and burning of (alleged) “sodomites” under the Inquition, to the virulently homophobic language used by some Catholics in opposition to marriage equality, and even to civil unions. It is very much to be welcomed that Cardinal Marx has acknowledged at least some of this harm:

Until “very recently”, the church, but also society at large, had been “very negative about gay people . . . it was the whole society. It was a scandal and terrible,” he told The Irish Times after speaking at a conference held in Trinity College.

What would be better, if we could also hear apologies the continuing harms done to LGBT people by the Church in many parts of the world in its language and in its pastoral practice – not least in Ireland, over gay marriage, and in Italy, over civil unions.

Cardinal Marx would not be drawn when asked by The Irish Times for his view on Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Parolin’s description of the marriage equality referendum result in Ireland last year as “a defeat for humanity”.

Cardinal Marx said, “I don’t comment on others because that is not good.” As an outsider in the Irish context he was “hesitant” about making a judgment, he said.

It would also be good to hear this call for an apology, include the continuing wrongs to transgender people, with the recent Catholic paranoia over “gender ideology”,  and for the continuing harms done to LGBT people by the Church by some elements of its core doctrine and language.

He (Cardinal Marx) said he had “shocked” people at the October 2014 extraordinary synod of bishops in Rome when he asked how it was possible to dismiss as worthless a same-sex relationship of years duration where both men had been faithful.

May I remind Cardinal Marx that the Catholic Church’s formal doctrine on homosexuality does not just “dismiss as worthless” committed, faithful same-sex relationships of many years, but declares them to be gravely sinful, if they include any physical expression of that love in sexual acts – which are described by the Church as “intrinsically disordered”?  Or that the primary document on pastoral care of homosexual persons dismisses all sexual activity between gay people as mere “self-gratification”, but in marked contrast consistently refers to sexual intercourse between opposite-couples as “mutual self-giving”? The truth is, that heterosexual people can be just as guilty in their sexual lives of the pursuit of simple self-gratification, and same-sex couples in enduring, faithful partnerships equally capable of “mutual self-giving”.

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“Amours”: A Supportive Reading of Aquinas

This book by an eminent theologian and expert on Aquinas caught my attention last year. Aquinas’ presentation of natural law theory is widely used as one of the cornerstones of traditional Catholic opposition to homosexuality, but in this book, Oliva finds a supportive reading. He notes that while Aquinas is clearly against same-sex genital acts in general, he does accept that for some people, an attraction to others of the same sex is entirely natural. Being a natural part of who they are, concludes Oliva, it is also natural, and acceptable, that they should express this in sexual love. This is not the first time the point has been made: John Boswell drew attention to it in his own discussion of Aquinas in “Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality”, and Gareth Moore also touched on it in “A Question of Truth”. However, this is the first extended presentation, and the first by such a distinguished specialist on Thomas.
Oliva Amours





Continue reading “Amours”: A Supportive Reading of Aquinas

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.

Carlo_Crivelli_007

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.

Adriano_Oliva_810_500_55_s_c1
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.

Recommended Books

Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People In Western Europe From The Beginning Of The Christian Era To The Fourteenth Century: Gay … of the Christian Era to the 14th Century
Moore, Gareth: A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality
Oliva, Adriano: Amours : L’église, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels (French Edition)

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German Synod Father Supports Same – Sex Blessings

One intriguing feature of the Synod on Marriage and Family next month, is that at least two bishops have gone on record as stating that they support the principle of church blessings for same – sex couples. Bishop Bonny of Belgium is one. Bishop Bode of Germany is another.

In an interview with the German Catholic News Agency KNA, Bishop Bode of Osterbruck discussed his expectations from the synod, in general terms, for those who are divorced and remarried – and for homosexuals, and especially those in stable same – sex relationships.
What I find particularly interesting about this interview, is that he does more than simply express support for the principle of church blessings for gay couples, he points to a way in which this might actually become feasible.
First, he points to the well- established but often ignored feature of Catholic teaching, that there should be no discrimination against homosexuals. Like many others, he repeats an insistence that gay unions cannot be treated as marriage, which can only be between a man and a woman, and open to procreation. That is differentiation, not discrimination.  However, he notes that there are other Catholics in sexual relationships that do not conform to Church teaching, such as those who are cohabiting without marriage. To treat same – sex couples differently to those, in pastoral practice he says, is discrimination, and therefore unacceptable. So, in responding to same – sex couples, pastors should look to the good in their relationships, not merely at what is out of step with teaching – just as they do with other Catholics in irregular situations.
Next, he notes that while any form of recognition comparable to marriage is impossible for the Catholic Church, it is possible to offer some form of prayer and informal blessing, where the pastor is able to judge the quality of the relationship to be suitable. Note the qualification though – these should be “private” blessings, which presumably means in a household setting, not actually in Church.
Third, he notes that although the strength of the Catholic Church is its universality, a community cutting across cultural boundaries, nevertheless we need to take account of geographic differences in social and political contexts. (Interestingly, some African bishops have made exactly the same point, from a different perspective).  That being so, he speculates that it is possible, for pastors in some areas to be granted a degree of autonomy in these decisions, so that where same – sex couples are socially commonplace and legally provided for, perhaps in these countries (including his own Germany), such blessings could be authorized – but not elsewhere.
Now recall that when Germany’s largest lay organization called for the introduction of church blessings for gay and lesbian couples, the response by Cardinal Marx was that their request could not be accepted “unreservedly” – implying a possible acceptance, with reservations. Perhaps Bishop Bode’s qualifications, are just such reservations. I also speculated along exactly these lines myself, when Cardinal Marx’s response became public.
I have published the full interview, covering divorce and general expectations, at The Queer Church Repository, in the original German, and in an English translation from the Duolingo community.
Below, I reproduce the relevant sections with specific reference to homosexuals, and their relationships:
d460f-gay-marriage
KNA: A big issue will be the dealings with homosexuals and a religious recognition of their stable partnerships.   Is there any indication of a solution for that?  

Continue reading German Synod Father Supports Same – Sex Blessings

Catholic Moral Theologian, on How Existing Teaching Could Support Same – Sex Couples.

What is particularly interesting about Professor Alain Thomasett’s recent paper on narrative theology, in that he shows how existing teaching could accommodate support for same – sex couples, without any change in core sexual doctrines. It is also important that he made his argument to an important gathering of German, French and Swiss bishops, as part of a study day to prepare for the forthcoming Rome synod on marriage and family.

Thomasett

Calling for a change in sexual doctrine, or for respect for same – sex couples, are no longer particularly new in the Catholic Church, at least not in Europe. It’s been claimed that probably a majority of moral theologians now agree that fundamental change in needed, and in recent years, many of them have gone on the record with formal calls for just such a change. Also, there are now many senior bishops and cardinals who have said publicly that the Church should be able to recognize the value of civil unions.

The problem is that the synod has not been called to consider any change in teaching, which would be fiercely resisted by a solid block of more conservative bishops. The key to seeing the significance of Thomasett’s argument, is that he is not calling for any change in teaching, but simply the application of all the teaching in appropriate context, and not a reflex reaction to abstract sexual acts.

He notes, for example, that while homicide is clearly regarded as unacceptable in formal Catholic doctrine, the context makes all the difference: killing in self – defence is not the same as premeditated murder. He also draws attention to the overriding importance of personal conscience, and of attention to the sensus fidelium (or “sense of the faithful”). And so, while doctrine continues to assert the teaching in Humanae Vitae that artificial contraception is not acceptable, in practice, pastoral tolerance for contraception by particular couples is widely accepted. In the same way, an extension in pastoral practice to recognition and acceptance of particular same – sex couples, including civil unions or possibly even church blessings, is not all that far – fetched.

There is certainly no prospect of any change in Church teaching at the October synod. However, the bishops of Germany, France and Switzerland in attendance will be well – briefed on how the interpretation and application of existing teaching could well be accommodated. We can expect that these ideas will also be well received by many of their colleagues, especially those from elsewhere in Europe – and also by Pope Francis himself, who will ultimately sign the final assessment of the synod’s conclusions.

After the synod, we should expect that some bishops at least, again especially in some European countries, will return to their dioceses with an enhanced understanding of how acceptance of same – sex couples in pastoral practice, is not after all, necessarily in conflict with Church teaching.

From the start of his papacy, Pope Francis has frequently noted that Catholic teaching not only can change, but must constantly evolve. This idea of the need for evolution in teaching has been widely taken up also by others, and was a common thread running through all the papers presented to the Rome study day. Francis has also expressed a desire for many decisions in Church governance to be taken lower down the hierarchical chain, for example by national bishops, without referring everything to the Curia. Such decisions at national level would certainly include the application of pastoral practice.

Could this include blessing same – sex unions? Possibly, yes. When Germany’s association of lay Catholics recently called several changes in the Church, including the blessing of these unions, the response of Cardinal Marx was that these could not be accepted “unreservedly”.  The implication is that they could be acceptable, with some reservations. He did not specify quite what these reservations would be.

Already, there are individual priests in many countries who are willing, under the radar, to conduct blessing ceremonies for particular same – sex couples, especially where these and the quality of their relationships are personally known to them. It is likely that after the synod, an improved tone in pastoral practice would encourage more to do so – and encourage some bishops to turn a blind eye to the practice. As the number of same – sex couples in legally recognized unions continues to increase, and as the Protestant churches increasing accept both gay clergy and gay marriage, in church, we should expect that in practice, Catholic blessings of same – sex couples will likewise increase – both in number, and in visibility, just as the use of contraception, and cohabitation before marriage, are now widely accepted in practice.

Recommended Books

Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People In Western Europe From The Beginning Of The Christian Era To The Fourteenth Century: Gay … of the Christian Era to the 14th Century
Moore, Gareth: A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality
Oliva, Adriano: Amours : L’église, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels (French Edition)

Related Posts

Kasper: Same – sex Unions “Central” to the 2015 Family Synod.

For lesbian and gay Catholics, there is dynamite in Cardinal Walter Kasper’s expectations for the October Synod. Recall, that he has form in this. Addressing the 2014 consistory of cardinals, his reflections on more sympathetic pastoral response to divorced and remarried Catholic gave advance notice that would be a major them of the initial, extraordinary synod. So it proved. Now, he has given notice of a different them that could be a major focus of this years synod: same -sex couples and recognition of their unions. (Lifesite News agrees with my interpretation, greeting the news with horror. What distresses Lifesite usually pleases me).

Gay marriage

Continue reading Kasper: Same – sex Unions “Central” to the 2015 Family Synod.

Cardinal Kasper: We Must Respect Positive Elements in Same – Sex Unions, Reject Hurtful Language

Cardinal Parolin’s stupid and insensitive claim that the Irish referendum result is a “defeat for humaniy” has been widely reported in the English press. There’s been less coverage to rather more encouraging responses by others in the Vatican. Italian and French media have also reported on more encouraging responses by Cardinals Bagnasco and especially by Cardinal Kasper, who will have an influential role in October’s family synod. In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera he acknowledges that the Church must recognize the democratic decisions of voters, says that “now is the time to discuss” these things, and that the Church must find a “new language” in doing so, avoiding the hurtful language and discrimination that have been common in the past. These sentiments will be especially important for bishops in Italy in the months leading up to the synod, as the country faces its own prospect of civil unions.

The Irish result has galvanized Italian politicians, who have promised a civil unions bill “soon”. The political debate is likely to be played out precisely during, or immediately before, the October family synod. There will certainly not be any approval given to gay marriage, and even support for civil unions is unlikely, but we know that the possibility of some – form of recognition or valuing of same – sex couples has at least been discussed, for example by the gathering in Rome of bishops and theologians from Germany, Switzerland and France, called by the presidents of the respective bishops’ conferences. Coupled with the new emphasis on respectful dialogue, and the Kasper’s admission that democratic decisions must be respected, it seems probable that after the synod, responses to same – sex couples and their relationships will be substantially changed, in practice if not (yet) in actual teaching.

Unfortunately, the Corriere interview is behind a paywall.  However, at the French LGBT Christian facebook page LGBT et catholicisme, un lieu d’échange et de dialogue, there is an image of the front page.

I’ve been also been able to locate reports on it from the French La Croix, and also from a secondary Italian source (for which I’ve stupidly not noted the link), which with the help of Google, I’ve been able to translate.

First, the report from La Croix, in the original French, interspersed with my English translation. Thereafter, the Italian text and its translation:

Le cardinal Kasper affirme que des éléments de bien peuvent exister dans une union homosexuelle

Cardinal Kasper says that positive elements may exist in a homosexual union

Le président émérite du Conseil pontifical pour la promotion de l’unité des chrétiens s’exprimait mercredi 27 mai dans une interview au quotidien italien Corriere della Sera.

The President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was speaking Wednesday, May 27 in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

 

Pour le cardinal Kasper, la miséricorde est la clé de l’existence chrétienne

For Cardinal Kasper, mercy is the key to Christian existence

 

« S’il existe une union stable (dans un couple homosexuel, NDLR), des éléments de bien existent sans aucun doute et il faut les reconnaître », affirme le cardinal Walter Kasper dans le quotidien italien Corriere della Sera mercredi 27 mai.

“If there is a stable union (in a homosexual couple, Ed), positive elements undoubtedly exist and must be recognized” says Cardinal Walter Kasper in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera Wednesday, May 27

« Mais nous ne pouvons pas comparer cela (avec le mariage, NDLR), poursuit cependant le président émérite du Conseil pontifical pour la promotion de l’unité des chrétiens en assurant que « la famille formée d’un homme et d’une femme et ouverte à la procréation est la cellule fondamentale de la société ».

“But we can not compare it (with marriage, Ed), however, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity continues, ensuring that “the family formed of a man and a woman and open to procreation is the fundamental unit of society.”

« ATTENTION À NE PAS UTILISER DES EXPRESSIONS QUI PEUVENT PARAÎTRE BLESSANTES »

 

“BE CAREFUL NOT TO USE EXPRESSIONS WHICH MAY APPEAR HURTFUL”

Interrogé sur l’expression « inclination objectivement désordonnée » pour qualifier la seule tendance homosexuelle, utilisée par la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi en 1986, le cardinal confie qu’il faut « faire attention à ne pas utiliser des expressions qui peuvent paraître blessantes, sans pour autant dissimuler la vérité ». « Nous devons dépasser la discrimination qui a une longue tradition dans notre culture », ajoute le théologien allemand connu pour son ouverture en faveur d’un meilleur accueil des personnes homosexuelles ou encore des couples divorcés remariés dans l’Église.

When asked about the term “objectively disordered inclination” used by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1986 to describe the homosexual tendency,the  Cardinal says we must “be careful not to use expressions that may seem offensive, without concealing the truth”. “We must overcome the discrimination that has a long tradition in our culture,” added the German theologian,  known for his openness to a better reception in the Church for homosexuals or divorced and remarried couples.

Now, the Italian source:

Cardinale Kasper: “è il momento di discutere”

Cardinal Kasper: “It is time to discuss”

 Più aperta invece, sembra la posizione del Cardinale Kasper, il quale ha affermato al Corriere della Sera che “uno Stato democratico deve rispettare la volontà popolare, mi pare chiaro, se la maggioranza del popolo vuole queste unioni civili è un dovere dello Stato riconoscere tali diritti”, sottolineando però che “una legislazione simile, pur distinguendo fra il matrimonio e le unioni omosessuali, arriva a riconoscere a tali unioni più o meno gli stessi diritti delle famiglie formate da uomo e donna” – e “per la Chiesa diventa ancora più difficile spiegare la differenza”. Nella Chiesa “si è taciuto troppo su questi temi. Adesso è il momento di discuterne”. L’occasione potrà essere il Sinodo di ottobre. Kasper ha poi precisato: “io non posso immaginare un cambiamento fondamentale nella posizione della Chiesa. È chiara la Genesi, è chiaro il Vangelo. Ma le formule tradizionali con le quali abbiamo cercato di spiegare, evidentemente, non raggiungono più la mente e il cuore della gente. Ora non si tratta di fare le barricate. Dobbiamo piuttosto trovare un nuovo linguaggio che arrivi «soprattutto ai giovani”.

However, the position of Cardinal Kasper seems to be more open. He said to the Corriere della Sera that “a democratic state must respect the will of the people, it seems clear, though the majority of the people want these civil unions is a duty of the state to recognize these rights, “stressing that” similar legislation, while distinguishing between marriage and homosexual unions, comes to recognize in such unions more or less the same rights as families formed by man and woman”- and “for the Church becomes even more difficult to explain the difference.” In the Church “has been silent on these issues too. Now is the time to discuss it.” The occasion will be the Synod of October. Kasper then stated: “I can not imagine a fundamental change in the position of the Church. It is clear in Genesis, it is clear in the Gospel. But the traditional formulas with which we tried to explain, clearly, no longer reach the minds and hearts of the people. Now this is not to the barricades. Rather, we must find a new language that comes through “especially to young people.”