Speak the Truth in Love: Write Your Bishop.

The Lord Jesus promised, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (Jn. 8:32). Scripture bids us speak the truth in love (cf. Eph. 4:15). The God who is at once truth and love calls the Church to minister to every man, woman and child with the pastoral solicitude of our compassionate Lord.

-CDF, “Homosexualitatis Problema”

“Speak the truth in love”, advice which the institutional church singularly fails to follow itself. (See “Excluded From God’s People”, for a description of this failure). The advice, however, remains sound. Vatican teaching on sexuality has the remarkable characteristic of being distantly removed from any grounding in the facts of real human lives. This is especially so for gay, lesbian and trans lives, but is hardly surprising, given the ivory tower manner in which Catholic theology is developed and preserved. Yet it should not be so. The Church claims to be a listening church, and pays at least lip service to the place of reason, science, and the continuing revelation by the Holy Spirit, speaking to us through experience, in developing Church teaching. But this of little value unless there are voices speaking from that real experience to which the Church may listen.

 

The Road to Emmaus

The gay Catholic theologian Michael B Kelly has argued convincingly that for many, possibly most, lesbian or gay Catholics it may be necessary to leave the church, literally, or figuratively, for a time. Thereafter, he says, we need to return and speak to the church in prophetic witness to the truth of our lives. We must, he says, take the road to Emmaus, away from the established rulers, but after meeting the risen Christ take the road back again. (One of the ways he is doing this himself by conducting research on gay men’s erotic experience as a path to spirituality, and writing about what this experience can teach the wider church about spirituality.) Read the rest of this entry »

Dutch Gay Catholics: “Welcome”, After All.

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?

Dutch Gay Catholics: Excluded from God’s People?

When I wrote about this incident in the Netherlands earlier in the week, it was just a quick and unconsidered relaying of some not very informative news reports. An important comment by Phillip Clarke showed me that there was a much more serious side to this than I had initially recognised. A report today from Ekklesia gives a better report on last Sundays proceedings, and also shows that the situation on the ground is escalating. The BBC has reported that hundreds of protesters disrupted Mass today.

To recap briefly:

Last week’s events

In the city of Den Bosch, in the Catholic south of the country, an openly gay man was elected Carnival Prince- an office which usually results in the Carnival Prince leading the Communion service for the Mass which follows. The local priest stated in advance that he would not serve communion to an openly gay man. A number of gay supporters let it be known that they would be attending the Mass in sympathy and protest, whereupon the priest cancelled the entire Mass.


Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Film: “Saints & Sinners”

With thanks to reader  Ross, who says of  it :

I cried most of the way through this film the first time I watched it – but then I cry through a lot of movies. Seriously, it is a touching movie and well worth watching.

From Amazon:

“After living together for seven years in a seemingly accepting community in New York City, Edward DeBonis and Vincent Maniscalco decide to get married. But unlike many other gay couples who formalize their relationship in a domestic union, Vincent and Edward, both devout Catholics, will settle for nothing short of the “Holy Sacrament of Marriage.” The couple’s request to The New York Times to announce their wedding in the weekly “Styles” section throws the newspaper into disarray. Publishing the first Catholic gay wedding announcement presents the editors with numerous controversial questions: Is a gay priest a real priest? Can a gay union be called a wedding? Can a gay couple be considered Catholic? As America stands on the verge of legal acceptance of gay and lesbian unions, Saints and Sinners explores the social, political and religious aspects of same-sex marriage and examines its effect on American society.”

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Listening Parents: “Fortunate Families” Need Help

We as lesbians, gay men and trans people know from our own experience the difficulties, confusions and pain that may accompany the process of facing and dealing with our identities. This is further compounded by the difficulties of dealing with the Church and its hostility.  But we are not the only ones who find the process difficult – so do our parents and families.

Once they have come around to an understanding of us, parents can be our staunchest allies. In the various debates around gay marriage, there have been many valuable and articulate voices raised by parents who have insisted that they want to see their gay sons and daughters able to access the same rights and respect, from Church and from state, that their straight children receive. The challenge to us is, how do we help them to reach that place of acceptance and understanding in the first place?

Fortunate Families is one organisation specifically addressing the needs of Catholic parents of gay or lesbian children.  Their current newsletter has a report on a listening service that strikes me as worth promoting: Read the rest of this entry »

The Church in Four Dimensions: Part 2.*

Gay Catholics & “The Church in Four Dimensions” (Part I)

A comment to my recent post at the Open Tabernacle ,“Excluded from God’s People: the Problem with Homosexualitatis Problema” puts the question, “Why not just join the Anglican Communion?”, a frequent question whenever I write about the flaws in the official Vatican line on “homosexuality”. (This is odd, as I have never yet seen the same question put to people who question the teaching on contraception, for instance.)

My short answer was:

Why, indeed? I may disagree (strongly) with the Vatican on certain issues, but the Catholic Church is far more than just a handful of power obsessed clerics in Rome, and far more than the bizarre teachings on sexuality. I will be writing more on this shortly.

My longer answer goes along the lines clearly expressed by the Australian Catholic theologian Michael B Kelly, in an address he gave in the Melbourne City Hall, at the invitation of the Cultural Affairs Office of the city of Melbourne in January 2004. This is contained in his excellent book, “Seduced by Grace: Contemporary spirituality, Gay experience and Christian faith”, which I was reading just yesterday, and which I summarize below.

 

Read the rest of this entry »