Tag Archives: lgbt inclusion in church

A Theology of Gay Inclusion (Pt 4): "Homosexuality is objectively disordered."

In March 2010, Fr Owen O’Sullivan published an article in the theological journal “Furrow” on the inclusion of gays in the Church. The CDF seem to have found this article dangerous, and have ordered him not publish anything further without prior approval. In the modern internet age, this attempted censorship simply does not work: the original article has been published on-line in a series of posts at an Australian Salvation Army blog, “Boundless Salvation”. 

Here is the fourth extract:

‘Homosexuality is objectively disordered.’

Saying that homosexuality is objectively disordered presumes that sexuality can be evaluated outside of the context of persons and their relationships. Context matters. In the context of a loving, committed relationship, sexual acts have a different significance from what they have outside it. To ignore the context is to ignore the person, to ignore the full truth. To ignore the person is the pharisaism that Jesus condemned in the Gospel. Human relationships, like human beings, are so diverse that a one-size-fits-all approach to morality does justice neither to them nor to itself.

In the days before the church changed its teaching from support for to opposition to capital punishment, we heard the metaphysical argument that the dignity of natural law, outraged by the act of murder, required the death penalty as fitting punishment. When someone shifts the ground of moral debate from the inter-personal (e.g. human relationships) to the biological (e.g. objective disorder), it sounds like an admission of defeat. It’s a materialistic argument which elevates the biological to the metaphysical. There’s more to humanity than the biological. Quasi-metaphysical arguments about moral behaviour acquire a (bogus) aura of irrefutability because, like Saint Anselm’s metaphysical proof of God’s existence, they involve a jump from the speculative to the real order. But such a jump is invalid.

In this debate, to say that serious account must be taken of the quality of relationships between people is to leave oneself open to a charge of subjectivism. But its opposite pole, objectivism, is as fallacious; it is distorting and incomplete, as if everyone else had an axe to grind while the objectivist is a privileged person with a detached view from nowhere, above all personal considerations. Objectivism posits a reification of relationships, as if they could be considered ‘in themselves,’ apart from the human beings involved. This ‘dispassionate’ approach has its head in the sand, afraid of what it might see. The best authorities in sexuality are those who lead loving, committed, healthy, integrated sexual lives; the authority of experience trumps the experience of authority any day.

To homosexuals, the pastoral rhetoric about respect is dishonest, because it is not possible to respect a person while hating the actions that express what that person is. A frequent comment by homosexuals is that they believe they have become better human beings by coming out and entering into a committed relationship. If you have to suppress your sexuality, can you develop as a balanced human-being with feelings of self-worth? What is it like to live with your soul split from your body and your mind? Reality wins every time; reality is truth.

A Theory of Gay Inclusion, Pt 3: "It’s not wrong to be gay, but it is wrong to act gay?."

In March 2010, Fr Owen O’Sullivan published an article in the theological journal “Furrow” on the inclusion of gays in the Church. The CDF seem to have found this article dangerous, and have ordered him not publish anything further without prior approval. In the modern internet age, this attempted censorship simply does not work: the original article has been published on-line in a series of posts at an Australian Salvation Army blog, “Boundless Salvation”. 

Here is the third extract:

 ‘It’s not wrong to be gay, but it is wrong to act gay.’

Is a homosexual, by reason of that fact, called by God to lifelong celibacy? The church says yes.

Imagine someone saying to a group of Irish people, ‘There’s nothing in itself wrong with being Irish. I’m not saying there is. But that doesn’t mean you may act on it. So, no more Guinness, going to Croke Park, singing rebel songs into the early hours of the morning, waving tricolours, no more craic. Close the pubs as occasions of sin, and, while you’re at it, would you please do something about your accent: it’s suggestive – of Irishness. I’m not asking you to deny your Irishness, far from it, just not to act on it.’ Would you consider the speaker to be nuanced, respectful and compassionate, or pedantic, patronising and arrogant?

Being homosexual and trying to be faithful to church teaching – is it a cruel joke? Would God tie a starving person in a chair, put a plate of food in front of them, and say, ‘Your self-denial… will constitute for you a source of self-giving which will save you’? (See CDF Letter, n.12.)

The church requires abstinence of the homosexual. To abstain from the physical expression of sexuality means, for the homosexual, abstinence from the truth, from reality, from identity, from recognition, perhaps also from family, and surely from love. Sexuality is not an optional extra to our humanity; it’s an integral part of it. An alcoholic is invited to abstain from alcohol – yes. But alcohol is not an integral part of anyone’s humanity; it’s an optional extra.

Official teaching invites a homosexual to a strange limbo-like existence where being and doing are required to be separated. It says there’s nothing in itself wrong with being a homosexual – as long as you don’t act like one. There’s nothing in itself wrong with being a bird, as long as you don’t fly. How can that be an honest or a healthy way of living?

The distinction between being homosexual and doing homosexual acts is phoney. It’s like saying, ‘Your sexuality is part of you; but you must not be part of your sexuality.’ Have we forgotten that the Incarnation brings matter and spirit, body and soul into one in the human-divine body of Jesus? The Incarnation is God’s answer to dualism.

Being and doing are not as separable in life as they might seem in a lecture hall. But, even in a lecture hall, Saint Thomas Aquinas said, ‘Agere sequitur esse in actu.’ (Summa contra Gentiles, 3.53, 69.) If my Latin is not too rusty that means, ‘Doing follows being in action.’

Homosexuals who try to be faithful to church teaching are in danger of distorting themselves, like left-handed people forcing themselves to use only their right hands; they are in danger of developing a Jekyll-and-Hyde mentality, suppressing what is true about themselves. The statement of the CDF that, ‘Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral’ applies here. (Letter, n.15)

The pastoral rhetoric about respecting homosexuals is meaningless at best when the associated moral rhetoric undercuts a homosexual’s personhood. It means that homosexuals are neither in nor out, neither persons nor non-persons, but tolerated somewhere on the border.

A Theology of Gay Inclusion, Pt 2: ‘Why don’t they just keep quiet about it?’

In March 2010, Fr Owen O’Sullivan published an article in the theological journal “Furrow” on the inclusion of gays in the Church. The CDF seem to have found this article dangerous, and have ordered him not publish anything further without prior approval. In the modern internet age, this attempted censorship simply does not work: the original article has been published on-line in a series of posts at an Australian Salvation Army blog, “Boundless Salvation”. 

Here is the second extract:

‘Why don’t they just keep quiet about it?’Homosexuality is not a problem; the denial of it is, especially if one denies it to oneself. Good human relationships (or good health) can never be founded on the basis of suppression or denial of the truth. The ‘problem’ of homosexuality may be resolved in one word – truth, or, if you prefer, reality. If you live a lie, you’re lost. Wholeness is linked to soul and body; cutting one off from the other is divisive. It is a sad thought to know that you’ve hated your body, been unable to face the truth about yourself.

If homosexuals feel valued only when they live a life that is less than whole, a half-life, they may well feel that such a life is worthless, and suicide may follow. A survey in Northern Ireland of gay men aged between 16 and 25 showed a level of attempted suicide five times that of their straight counterparts. The US Department of Health and Human Services states that rates of attempted and actual suicide among homosexuals are 50% higher than among heterosexuals, and that 30% of all teen suicides are among homosexuals.

There are lofty souls who respond to this by saying that, in formulating doctrine, they do not allow themselves to be influenced by considerations of psychological or sociological data. That sounds like saying, ‘We don’t need to take account of reality,’ or, ‘Don’t bother us with facts; we know what God thinks!’

As members of Alcoholics Anonymous say, ‘We are as sick as our secrets.’ In this case, the secrecy is the sickness. It’s the denial, the secrecy and the lies that are damaging, not the fact, the reality. Jesus said, ‘The truth shall make you free.’ (John 8.32)

 

A Theology of Gay Inclusion, Pt 1: ‘Homosexuality is Unnatural (?).’

In March 2010, Fr Owen O’Sullivan published an article in the theological journal “Furrow” on the inclusion of gays in the Church. The CDF seem to have found this article dangerous, and have ordered him not publish anything further without prior approval. In the modern internet age, this attempted censorship simply does not work: the original article has been published on-line in a series of posts at an Australian Salvation Army blog, “Boundless Salvation”. 

Here is the first extract:

 ‘Homosexuality is unnatural.’

‘Nature’ is a loose peg on which to hang a theology of human relationships. The word has multiple meanings: the Concise Oxford Dictionary lists nine for nature and fourteen for natural. In Victorian times, Europeans spoke of Africans as ‘children of nature’, meaning they were brutal, primitive, and savage, in need of the wise, firm and civilizing hand of the colonial master; this was to justify European exploitation of Africa. For centuries, slavery was regarded as natural; it had a long and virtually universal tradition behind it, as had the subjection of women to men. It was natural, too, for gentlemen of quality to rule the lower orders. The word has been pressed into the service of several racial, political, social and cultural agenda. Today, people like food to be natural, meaning free from artificial chemicals. But mildew, ants, aphids, cockroaches and rats are natural, and will happily occupy food. Is it natural to have them on it?

Some argue that the natural purpose of sexuality is procreation, and that, since homosexual relationships are not procreative of life, they are therefore unnatural. The argument draws on teleology (ends) or finality as seen from one viewpoint, and seems to imply that since procreation is the principal purpose, then it’s the only legitimate purpose of a sexual relationship. Where does that leave non-procreative heterosexual love, or sexuality simply as play? Does it not also mean that the non-use of genital sexuality, as in celibacy, is likewise unnatural?

Is anatomical structure the determinant of what is normative in human behaviour? If the natural purpose of nipples is to give milk, why do men have them? The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) states, ‘The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation.’ (Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1 October 1986; CTS, London, n.16.) A teleological argument from biological nature is no less reductionist. Homosexuals find it natural to engage the body as it is in sexual relationships, and consider it suited for the purpose.

Throughout history, and across the globe, as art, history and literature testify, same-sex attraction and acts have been a consistent feature of human life. In that sense, they cannot be called unnatural or abnormal. Same-sex attraction is simply a facet of the human condition.

As is often the case, our use of language is not helpful. The word ‘straight’ implies that someone who does not fit that category is crooked, deformed, or queer. It’s a by-product of a culture of contempt and repression towards homosexuals on a par with calling black people niggers, and it helps perpetuate prejudice. In this article, I use the word homosexual to describe same-sex attraction, whether between women (lesbians) or men (gays). And homosexuality is not just about what goes on between the sheets, or in clubs or the ‘gay scene.’ The latter is often as far removed from a committed, loving relationship as the activities of a brothel are from a committed, loving marriage. Homosexuality is about the way human beings relate to each other in their totality.

Does homosexuality exist objectively – clear, cut-and-dried – like Plato’s forms, regardless of relationships? According to the president of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, between eighty and ninety percent of Northern Ireland’s wider gay community are married with families. In Latin America, the “active” (top) male partner in sex between men is not regarded as gay, only the “passive” (bottom) partner. Gays estimate that between one-third and two-thirds of men who frequent gay clubs or bars live in a heterosexual relationship. And it is not uncommon to find lesbians who have had a child. There is some of the straight in every gay, and some of the gay in every straight. (If all the gay people in society came out, it would banish homophobia overnight.) Some of what is included in the ideas of homo- and hetero- are cultural constructs, such as our ideas of beauty, for instance. It might be nearer the truth to think of homosexuality more in terms of what one does, or how one relates, than of what one is.

The hope some people have is that a homosexual gene will be found; it would let them off the peg on which they’ve hung themselves. Homosexuality could then be considered natural. (How do you persuade people who think they have to be right in order to be credible that their credibility would be enhanced by an admission that they could be wrong?)

Is there a ‘homosexual gene’? I don’t think anyone knows. I hope not; it might lead to homosexuals being treated ‘compassionately’ as freaks. But surely the question is irrelevant. Whether a homosexual orientation is genetic or environmental, inborn or acquired, from nature or nurture, it’s there, and that’s what counts. Most homosexuals experience it as a given, no more a choice than the colour of their eyes.

A more important question is, ‘What sort of human being is this?’ ‘What sort of relationships does s/he engage in?’ And the great challenge is for people to be true to themselves.

Shakespeare wrote: –

‘This, above all,
to thine own self be true,
and it must follow,
as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.’
(Shakespeare,
Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3, lines 78-80.)

Is homosexuality unnatural? Yes, it is – if you’re heterosexual.

‘Let us take off the sunglasses: the Church is full of homosexuals’ (Reblog)

Writing in La Tacera (Spanish), the Jesuit priest Father Pedro Labrín says that it is hight time that the Catholic Church faced simple reality: the church is “full of homosexuals”, giving an example of inclusion and acceptance from his work with the Christian Live Community (CLC)

 

 

In October last year, in the same month the Synod of the Bishops made known a document where is was said that homosexuals have “gifts and qualities” to offer and they should be accepted (without compromising the catholic doctrine on the family), the Chilean priest Pedro Labrín travelled to Rome together with members of the Sexual Diversity Pastoral Community (PADIS+).

‘We are catholic and gay’ read some of the signs they displayed on Saint Peter’s Square. Minutes later, Fr. Labrín showed Pope Francis a photo of the pastoral community he accompanies since 2010 when a group of homosexuals approached him, asking to be part of the CLC, the association of catholic lay believers linked to the Jesuits. ‘I admire them for their endurance, above all for not having left [the Church] as many did ‘.

How was the integration of the homosexuals into the community?

It never ceases to amaze me to watch the conversion of the members of the CLC, especially those of the adult section. Some have been members for over 40 years and you could think there might be an adverse attitude and the truth is that we have had no resistance in the CLC.

And from the outside?

That is harder. Sexuality conceals fears and anxieties. Some people react based on prejudice, based on the stigma of horror, based on [conceptions like] the ‘poor thing’ or the feeling that this pot cannot be uncovered because it might pervert the educational models and the family. These are irrationalities that we have inherited culturally.

 Did it break prejudice inside the CLC?

It did. It broke and continues breaking it. A wise choice by PADIS+ is having uninstalled the triple x imagery we have of homosexuality and make us understand them as human beings that are absolutely normal. Thus, the irrational fear loses its foundations and trust grows. I am convinced that the inclusion of sexual diversity in the Church causes people to be more mature, more aware of themselves, happier and less complicated, ie, better human beings.
The priest tells us that last year they held for the first time the Dinner of Inclusion. ‘It was the first time in history that the CLC building was decorated for a formal dinner and there were homosexual and heterosexual families sitting together and sharing. It was an image of the Kingdom of Heaven not to be forgotten.’

What have been the benefits for heterosexuals when including homosexuals?

Many realised the responsibility we all have for upholding a historic injustice of thousands of years and for committing to a change. It is impressive how the people I know have become agents of change in the most various realities since knowing them – from changing the vocabulary within the family to interrupting a parents’ meeting because they see a discriminatory attitude. The effect is mobilising.

How would you like the Church to include homosexuals?

I would like that Padis+ was not necessary and that it was not necessary either settling responsibilities within the Church according to the sexual orientation. That it was not an issue.

But, how is real inclusion achieved if the Church has its own boundaries as per the catholic doctrine on matters like marriage or family?

I want to talk about the limits. Let us take of our sunglasses: the Church is full of homosexuals. They are in the Church because they are in the country and in the world. Us making them invisible do not make them disappear. The definition of the Christian is not pursuant to the law but to a person that is Jesus Christ. Our rule is Jesus.

Will there be homosexual marriage in the Church?

That path is a longer one due to other theological dimensions to be solved, but recognition of the sexual diversity, yes, there must be. Recognising the enormous social, human and spiritual capital and giving them the space they deserve.

Original text: Sacerdote Pedro Labrín:”Saquémonos los lentes oscuros: la Iglesia está llena de homosexuales”

English translation by Gionata

 

National Catholic Reporter: "One gay Catholic's journey"

Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco’s Castro, the best known lgbt – friendly Catholic parish, is the currently the focus of a series of articles at National Catholic Reporter.   Because of it’s fame, the congregation attracts a steady stream of visitors from around the world.  One post from the series, in which a visitor from Colorado shares his story, shows how there are in fact many other parishes across the US (and elsewhere) in which lgbt Catholics can find a welcome – but in most, that welcome exists only as long as we remain closeted.

MHR_Robert_Pickering

Born in a small town in western Nebraska, his parents split when he was 2-years-old, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother. He attended Catholic schools, growing up in a traditional Catholic home. He had a solid Catholic foundation. “I always had people who believed in me,” Pickering told me. “My family showed me God’s love.”

He recalls having been “a geeky shy kid” growing up, often protected by teachers. That made him feel special.

In junior high he began to feel like there was something about him “like no one else in the entire world.” It was then he discerned that he was attracted to boys. It confused him and he often prayed to God to help him understand. “I prayed all the time. I asked God ‘why?’ And I cried.” One day something amazing happened to him, he recalls. “I felt God’s hand on my shoulder. From then I felt everything would be OK.”

– read the full report at National Catholic Reporter.

In Grassroots Vote, US Church Approves Gay Marriage!

In their General Assembly 2014, the Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA) approved a resolution to amend the church’s description of marriage from “between a man and a woman” to “between two persons” .  However, to come into full effect, the resolution required ratification by a majority of the country’s regional presbyteries. That ratification has now been achieved. Alex Patchin McNeill,Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians notes in a press release that this is the first time ever that marriage equality has been approved by a faith tradition in a nationwide, grassroots popular vote.

gay union, in church

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On Film, Gay Catholics Ask Pope Francis, "Accept Us" (VIDEO)

From Gay Star News:

Gay Catholics call on Pope Francis to accept them in moving film

A heartwarming film released today (10 March) aims to achieve full acceptance of LGBTI persons in the Catholic Church.

It has already reached thousands of people and aims to be seen by Pope Francis and the Vatican clergy.

The 15 minute documentary includes touching personal accounts from Catholic LGBTI people and their family’s acceptance of them.

Watch the video:

 

Michael Tomae, creator of the film, was inspired after volunteering at Covenant House, a youth hostel where many of the residents had been disowned by their Christian families because of their sexuality or gender identity.

via Gay Star News.

PCUSA Just 7 Votes From Approving Gay Marriage, in Church.

At their General Assembly in 2014, the Presbyterian Church of the USA voted to change the church’s “definition” of marriage in it’s own Constitution, to make it gender neutral. That decision required approval by a majority of local presbyteries. After the Presbytery of East Tennessee became just the latest to approve the resolution,   just 7 more votes in favour are required, for full ratification of the proposal.

 Gay marriage

Presbytery of East TN approves same-sex marriage amendment

(WBIR) The Presbytery of East Tennessee (PET) voted Saturday afternoon in favor of an amendment that would change the national church’s definition of marriage to “between two persons, traditionally a man and a woman.”

Currently, the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church defines marriage as “between a man and a woman.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or PC(USA) is asking representatives from each of its more than 170 presbyteries to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Elected representatives from each East Tennessee congregation met in Chattanooga and narrowly approved the proposal, 61 yes, 56 no.

– more at  WBIR

Continue reading PCUSA Just 7 Votes From Approving Gay Marriage, in Church.

"Papabile" Cardinal Tagle: Church Has Wounded Gay People

One of the most senior cardinals, a likely contender for the papal office at the next conclave, has acknowledged that the language used by the Church has seriously wounded and damaged gay people (and also the divorced and single people).

Cardinal Luis Philipe Tagle, Archbishop of Manila

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