Josef De Kesel, cardinal archbishop of Brussels, is reported to have told local LGBT Catholics that the church should respect gay and lesbian sexual expression.
“Respect” for gay and lesbian people is an established part of Catholic teaching (along with “sensitivity and compassion”). Sadly, this element of teaching has too frequently been neglected, and sits alongside the more widely known prohibition on any form of sexual activity outside of marriage, and open to procreation – which includes all same-sex genital activity. Many gay and lesbian Catholics themselves, as well as many professional moral theologians, see the inherent contradiction in this. However, while an increasing number of prominent bishops and cardinals in recent years have been proclaiming the importance of “respect”, they have been notably reluctant to criticize the prohibition on gay sex,
Until now. According to a report in a Belgian LGBT website, in a closed meeting with a local LGBT group, Cardinal De Kesel, archbishop of Brussels, described a “paradigm shift” under way in the church’s teaching on homosexuality, and said that respect for homosexuals must include respect for their sexual expression.
(He also said that the church should be ready to “celebrate” same-sex unions – as long as such celebrations stop short of anything resembling marriage. He would accept a service of thanksgiving, for instance, but not a same-sex blessing or exchange of rings. )
For the first time, a Belgian archbishop indicates that LGBTs are allowed to experience their sexual orientation. Cardinal De Kesel took a very progressive position according to catholic standards during an informal meeting with the Malines LGBT association HLWM.
On April 24 there was a meeting between De Kesel and the Mechelen LGBT-association HLWM . This showed that the top of the Church is now prepared to accept gay relationships. “The Church must respect homosexuals and lesbians more, also in their experience of sexuality,” HLWM noted. The cardinal was genuinely concerned about the well-being of gays and lesbians and he also mentioned his meeting with a trans * woman.
According to De Kesel, the Church needs time to understand homosexuality. He made the comparison with the period in which psychologically disturbed people ended up in prison because they did not understand the phenomenon of mental disturbance. “Until recently, the Church was very dismissive of homosexuals and lesbians. But that was no different from society as a whole. Certainly in Europe much has changed for the better, but the Church in Africa and Asia in particular and in parts of Eastern Europe is not yet included. But we must also respect those opinions. “
Incidentally, the cardinal indicated that he also changed his position: “Twenty years ago I would have spoken differently about it than is the case now. I would then have followed the official teaching of the Church. I now look at it much more ‘comprehensively’. Where respect is central. “