Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation is called “Amoris Laetitia” – The Joy of Love. Written in response to the 2014/15 Bishops Synods’ Assemblies, it’s not really about love specifically, but about the wider issue of marriage and family, their joys, difficulties and challenges they face – which had been the theme of the assemblies. This is why, to the surprise and disappointment of many LGBT Catholics, there was little attention, in either the assemblies or in Amoris, to the subject of homosexuality – except with reference to families having LGBT people within them.
Lifesite News once again have their knickers in a knot over how the mainstream church is promoting an alleged “homosexual agenda”.
The six-part program titled “Amoris: Let’s talk Family! Let’s be Family!” contains explicit promotion of homosexual relationships as a form of family, saying that such relationships provide “mutual support” for active homosexuals.
This would be great news if it were true – but in fact, the picture described is greatly exaggeration, depending on a single picture of two women embracing, and a line that refers to “other forms” of union, which Lifesite chooses to interpret as applicable specifically and exclusively to same-sex couples. In fact of course, Amoris Laetitia (on which the entire World Meeting program will be based) recognises a great number of relationships outside of lifelong heterosexual marriage. Same-sex couples are just one of these.
Nevertheless, even if Lifesite fears are exaggerated, there is indeed good news for gay and lesbian couples, and queer families of all shades, in the study material and in the general planning for the World Meeting of Families. Just as the line to which Lifesite objects does not necessarily apply only to same-sex couples – it most certainly could apply to us, alongside many others. In the same way, some of the other images in the material could apply to us – or perhaps not. This one for instance, is quite clearly of two men. Are they a “couple”? That is not spelled out.
The bishop of Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy, has made explicit what has previously been implied – that gay couples must be made welcome at next year’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin.
….speaking after his diocese launched its preparation programme for WMF2018, an international event which promotes traditional Catholic teaching on marriage, Dr Leahy said the event in August 2018 in Dublin would be a missed opportunity if the Church did not embrace family in all its variety.”We are living in changing times and family too is changing,” he said.”We’ve had the referendum in favour of same-sex marriage and a lot of people voted in that referendum and all are equally welcome to join in this celebration of family.”Everyone must be made feel welcome next year. We all want to build a good family network of support in Ireland at all levels.”
“Yes, the pope IS Catholic”.
In August 2018, Ireland will host the next World Meeting of Families. On indicator of how the tone for than assembly will differ sharply from the previous one in Philadelphia, is the prominent role played by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, in preparatory workshops and conferences. At one conference last month, he was careful to point out that the WMF should pay attention to ALL families, not just the conventional ones described in Vatican doctrine.
Last week, he was in Limerick, speaking to the Irish Institute for Pastoral studies. Introducing his talk, he was careful to reassure his audience that, considering the doubts expressed in some quarters that, “Yes it is Catholic – and the pope is Catholic”. After Schonborn had presented the document, at the pope’s request, to the media, Francis asked him, “Is it orthodox?”.. The reply was an unequivocal “Yes, it is orthodox. It is fully orthodox.” He continued,
Does Pope Francis question the indissolubility of marriage?
The answer is no.
Does he teach the classical teaching on marriage and family?
The answer is yes.
So, the issue is not one of changing doctrine, but of reaffirming a neglected strand on teaching, on the importance of prudence and discernment in pastoral application of the teaching.
In Dublin next year, there is an intriguing opportunity opening up for LGBT Catholics. Are our advocacy groups paying attention?
For the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, USA based LGBT groups and their allies attempted to secure formal accreditation. Philadelphia however, is the seat of archconservative Archbishop Chaput, and they were deliberately excluded. In spite of this, the coalition established an informal, non-accredited presence, and did some great work making the case for acceptance and inclusion church, of queer families.
For Dublin 2018, circumstances have changed, dramatically. Continue reading A World Meeting of (Queer) Families?
New Ways Ministry reports that Sr Jeannine Gramick, their founder and a pioneer in Catholic LGBT ministry, will be among the guests at the White House to meet Pope Francis.
I met St Gramick some years ago with the Soho Masses community, then at St Anne’s, after a screening of the documentary on her work, “In Good Conscience”. I’ve followed her progress attentively every since, and look forward to meeting up with her again at the founding conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in Rome, at the start of the family synod in October.
The text following is from New Ways:
Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Catholic nun who pioneered ministry, advocacy, and outreach to the LGBT community over 40 years ago in Philadelphia, will be back in her hometown this week for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love. A native of Philadelphia, and a tremendous fan of Pope Francis, she is excited to see how far the Catholic Church has progressed since she began her discussions with LGBT people back in 1971.
She will be attending the World Meeting of Families for most of next week, but will be taking a short side-trip to Washington, DC to greet Pope Francis at President Obama’s White House reception, and to take part in a Mass led by the pope at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Continue reading Sr Jeannine Gramick, LGBT Ministry Pioneer, to Meet Pope Francis.
Bondings 2.0 reported yesterday on a number of LGBT Catholics, and Catholic family members of LGBT people, who will be attending the September World Meeting of Families. Included in the report was a link to an Equally Blessed blogsite, at which these people share their stories. One of their number, Debbie, writes “I ordered an official World Meeting of Families sweatshirt, and then colored the the logo in rainbow. It looks great.”
These stories, and all our stories, are immensely valuable, in the continuing development of both moral and pastoral theology as it affects LGBT Catholics.
One sign of just how important these stories are, is graphically illustrated in the texts of the papers delivered to the recent Rome study day of leading bishops and theologians from Germany, France and Switzerland, in preparation for the 2015 Synod on Marriage and Family in the Contemporary World*. Continue reading Narrative Theology: The Value of LGBT Lives