A very insightful and thought provoking reflection. 🙂 We, as LGBT individuals, are part of the Church too just as much as any other member of Christ’s Mystical Body. Although at some times it is helpful to characterize certain trends and movements within the Church in terms of their physical contingents, we must never lose sight of the fact that we all incorporate Christ’s Body, the Church. No matter how divisive it may seem at times the Church will always be Catholic, “universal”, all-encompassing to all men and women of goodwill. No ideological campaigns attempting to diulte the message of Christ to fit their rigid theological agendas can obscure this fact.
On a second note, I thought I might share a piece of good news that I received this weekend that kind of indirectly ties in to your above post.
I’ve mentioned before how I think it is important now more than ever to engage the leaders of the Church and relate to them our personal experiences and gay and lesbian members of the Church, showing them that we are no more different than our heterosexual counterparts. I did this very thing to Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, currently the prefect of the Pontifical Council for Culture. I had read many stories about him being a progressive thinking individual who TRULY cultivates a genuine harmony between the virtues of Faith and Reason (he was an amateur archaeologist for 15 years in the Holy Land and is an ardent supporter of Darwin’s theory of evolution). As head of the Pontifical Council for Culture he will most likely be named to the College of Cardinals in the future, making him a papabile. He, more than anyone else among the current leadership of the Church exhibits to me a compassionate, emphathetic hopefulness that might steer the Church in a new direction of pastoral sensibility rather than ideological condemnation. So, I thought that there was nothing to lose in writing him a letter detailing my experiences to him as a gay, devoted Catholic who is worried about the direction the Church is taking regarding so many important issues.
Anyway, with all of that being said, this weekend, I was surprised to find an envelope in my mailbox bearing the stamp “Pontificium Consilium de Cultura” I opened it to behold the following response:
I have read with great care and attention your insightful and passionate reflection. The issues you raise are quite complex both in theological and moral terms and also for cultural reasons, and I am thankful to you for the trust you have shown me and the hope you place in me. Even though some of the themes you raise are not matters that fall within my immediate field of comptence and expertise, I shall endeavor to consider them in depth.
In the meantime, in your thirst for holiness (cf. Lumen Gentium ch.5, n39-43) may I suggest you open up a dialogue with an American theologian or priest, for articulated, constant and direct dialogue is a key factor in addresing these issues.
With a greeting full of sympathy and esteem, I remain
Phillip congratulations on writing, and on the reply. I recall your musing in a comment here on your intention. It is wonderful that you have had such a courteous and sympathetic reply.
My only concern is that the response urges you to begin dialogue with a “theologian or priest”, with its implication that only the clergy are the source of wisdom. But Perhaps I’m being unkind – theologians these days are not necessarily priests (although I don’t suppose he is thinking here of John McNeill, or Bill Lindsey), and “dialogue”does imply that the person you are talking to should also be listening.
But he is otherwise completely correct. We all need to engage in the debate, from a position as full and equal members of the Church, not as apologetic outsiders. I have more from James Alison on this same theme, coming up later today or tomorrow.
Rev. James Lewis Stoll, who died on December 8th 1994, was a Unitarian Universalist minister who became the first ordained minister of any religion in the United States or Canada to come out as gay. He did so at the annual Continental Conference of Student Religious Liberals on September 5, 1969 in La Foret, Colorado. Later, he led the effort that convinced […]
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At Religion Dispatches Magazine, Louis A. Ruprecht makes an important point: One of the more striking things about all of the ink that has been spilled over California’s now- infamous Proposition 8, and its long legal aftermath, is the almost reflexive assumption on all sides that marriage, somehow, is a norm, a desirable norm. And so the argument swiftly be […]
The five co-defendants sit close enough to shake hands in the Philadelphia courtroom, but they never once acknowledge one another. Father James Brennan, a 47-year-old priest accused of raping a 14-year-old boy, looks sad and stooped in a navy sweater, unshaven and sniffling. Edward Avery, a defrocked priest in his sixties, wears an unsettlingly pleasant expr […]
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The Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has admitted that "a cabal" protecting clerical sex abusers may be operating at the highest levels in the Catholic Church. Dr Martin said: "There may be a cabal in Cloyne. They may have friends in other parts of the Irish Church. They may have friends in Irish society. There may be friends in the Vat […]