Joseph Gentilini’s Letter to Bishops

Now, why couldn’ t the Church have adopted this approach in the first place? An agreement following discussions between gay activists and church authorities puts the decision on whether to accept communion firmly in the hands of the individuals concerned, as long as they first confess “serious sin”.

This decision is in clearer accordance with orthodox teaching (overall) than the previous knee jerk refusal. The Church recognises the primacy of conscience, and the obligation to follow conscience over other authority where they are in conflict. (I fully accept the standard proviso that the conscience must be an informed one). Only the individual can identify the conclusions of that conscience. The need to confess serous sin is an important qualification, but it is the responsibility of the individual to conclude, in the light of conscience, whether sin is in fact present. In adopting this approach, the Church is simply applying the best of Catholic teaching on conscience, and doing so in a manner which parallels the established guidelines on contraception.

Pray now that the authorities stick to their guns in the face of the probable howls of outrage from those who would prefer to keep the double standard.

From Dutch News:

Wednesday 03 March 2010

Gay Catholic activists and the church authorities in Den Bosch have reached a compromise deal over communion, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.

The deal means it will be up to gay Catholics themselves to decide whether or not they should accept communion, the Volkskrant says. ‘Serious sins’ should first be confessed, the agreement states.

Officially, the Catholic church regards homosexuality as a sin.

The compromise follows a row over the refusal of a local priest to give communion to the openly homosexual carnival prince – a traditional part of the pre-Lent festivities.

Last weekend
, a service at the St Jan church in Den Bosch was disrupted by activists and the communion celebration cancelled.


(It is worth noting that this landmark decision has come about after first angry protest, then discussion between the two sides. It’s not always easy, or even possible, to talk to the church authorities about matters of orientation, but it is important to keep trying.)

See the earlier report on this:

Dutch Gay Catholics: Excluded From God’s People?

10 Responses to “Joseph Gentilini’s Letter to Bishops”

  1. Dean Bishop Says:

    Dear Dr. Gentilini’s,
    Thanks for the e-mail. You wrote as if you think I am a Bishop. I am a Bishop by birth but that is all. Actually I am a retired Baptist preacher having graduated from Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary. Left the ministry for several years. Nineteen years ago I helped start an evangelical accepting and confirming church. Really the doctrine was Baptist but we did and do welcome all gay people. The name of the church is White Rock Conmunity Church here in Dallas, Texas.
    I have in the last few years been interested in the Catholic Church, something new for me. Have watched EWTN on televion and listened to the Catholic radio station also. Have learned a lot and can appreciate your faith now which I did not at one time. I have even worked with a Catholic Bishop in a prison ministry though he knows nothing about me.
    May our precious Saviour richly bless you.

  2. Mark from PA Says:

    This letter is so touching and sad. I can’t believe how badly Joseph Gentilini was treated. It is frightening that he was in therapy for 6 years to “change.” What does the Church do to people? I am so glad that I don’t remember hearing anything negative about homosexuality or gay people in my years in Catholic school and in Church. I haven’t really heard anything but at least I haven’t heard anything negative. So when I hear Catholics say negative things about gay people it is very foreign to me as this is not the Church I was brought up in. I suppose in a way I was protected but I am thankful for this.
    Peace – Mark

  3. Joseph Gentilini Says:

    Thank you, Dean and Mark, for responding to my letter. Yes, God did allow me to go through a painful purification in life but it made me reach out to God all the more. Today I am free to write the bishops without anger and condemnation (something I did do in the 70s and part of the 80s). This pain was part of my participation in the Passion and Cross of Jesus. I left the church for 1.5 years in 1978-1979 but came back because of the Eucharist. If I leave the Catholic Church I believe I lose my ability to be a witness of God’s grace and life in me to the American Catholic Bishops. Peace!

  4. Mark from PA Says:

    Thank you so much for your witness, Joseph. It is painful for me to read some of what you wrote but when you wrote of your Leo, who has been your partner for 28 years, I feel a sense of peace as you have surely been blessed. I wish that others could understand this. I am so glad that you returned to the Church because of the Eucharist. I am devoted also the the Eucharist. It is important that people not be driven out. Christ came for us all, black, white, male, female, gay, straight. Love and blessings to you.

    • Joseph Gentilini Says:

      Thank you Mark of PA. The Eucharist is the more important act of love in my life and I find Christ there and also in the eucharist I share with Leo in our love together. Christ is in both. Yes, God has blessed my life with Leo. God bless you.
      Joe Gentilini

  5. Mark - Columbus, OH Says:

    I respect Joseph’s ministry to the Bishops of the United States. It isn’t something I can do – I have lost all respect for them. But I have seen the power of personal witness and have no doubt that his letters and stories will have some impact somehow, someway. When more voices join his, the impact grows. The Church is blessed by the fidelity of a man who has remained faithful to his spiritual traditions in spite of so much sinfullness on the part of the Institution. May She be shown the mercy She has failed to show Her GLBT children.

    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Mark, you make two important points, which need to considered carefully and in combination. You point out that this is not something you can do, and it is entirely understandable. Many others also will find it beyond their power or inclination. On the other hand, you also state (quite correctly) that “When more voices join his, the impact grows .” This is why, without trying to force anyone, I strongly encourage all those who are able, to join Joseph in his efforts.- or to find other ways to “Speak the truth in Love” to the wider Church 0 – if not to the bishops, then possible elsewhere.

    • Joseph Gentilini Says:

      Thanks, Mark. I understand your position regarding the bishops. I believe that the Holy Spirit is alive in the Church and will bring about a change in these Bishops, even if it does not occur in my lifetime. I agree with you – may the Spirit show the Church mercy for the sin that the Church continues to commit.

  6. Joseph Gentilini Says:

    Thanks Mark. We all have our gifts and this is one of mine.

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