At Bondings 2.0, Frank DeBenardo writes that there’s reason for both hope and disappointment for LGBT Catholics in the Family Synod “Lineamenta”. That’s a fair appraisal. The disappointment is clear in a public statement from the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics – a loose coalition of Catholic groups from around the world, who will be gathering in Rome for a short conference at the start of the bishops’ synod. I plan to be among them. (The GNRC includes Quest and the Westminster Gay and Lesbian Pastoral Council from the UK, and Dignity and New Ways Ministry from the USA, as well as groups from Europe and Latin America).
My own initial response is likewise that it contains both bad news and good news. The bad news, is that it has so little to say about us. The good news is – also that it has so little to say about us. It’s obvious to me that the drafters of the document have no idea how to deal with the issue, and would far prefer that the matter simply go away quietly. It won’t.
Cardinal Marx is on record as saying that the issue of our unions will be “central” to the synod. That may be overstating the case, but there are many other bishops who will be determined to have some full discussion towards at the very least, greater welcoming. With three weeks of deliberations to come, there will most certainly be extensive discussion, either openly or behind the scenes. The document shows a clear undertone of greater mercy and compassion than hitherto, towards divorced and remarried couples, cohabiting couples, and those using contraception, with an explicitly stated recognition of the difficulties faced by people in real life, and the importance of individual conscience. In synod discussions, the contrast between this more compassionate approach to opposite couples and ourselves will be laid bare.The defenders of the status quo will be forced to find some justification for the double standard – some will conclude that there is none.
Even if the final synod conclusions so how no advance towards greater understanding and sensitivity, that still will not end the matter. The final say (on the synod) will be in the hands of Pope Francis himself. Even his verdict will not end the matter. We all know how public support for LGBT causes is continuing to grow, worldwide – even in Africa, and by people from all Christian denominations. Lay Catholics are ahead of the bishops on this. This matter will not go away any time soon, no matter how fervently the Vatican bureaucrats might pray that it would.
More, to follow.
- Outreach to Gay Catholics Not on Agenda for Vatican Meeting (Reuters)
- Massimo Faggioli on Shifting Tectonic Plates of Global Catholicism: Europe and Latin America at Forefront of New Openness, North America, Africa, and English-Speaking Catholics Determined to Resist (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Quest Chair Meets Close Papal Advisor, Cardinal Gracias! (questgaycatholic.org.uk)
- As Synod on Family Nears, Calls for “Rectifying” Treatment of Gays by Catholic Institutions, Calls for “Listening”: Rectified How? Listening When and Where? (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- A Kairos Moment for British Gay Catholics? (questgaycatholic.org.uk)