….why not also in any Catholic parish? Or play the organ? or teach in schools?
In most parishes in the West of course, they can (as I do in my own parish) – but there are far too many instances where they are penalized if they are honest enough about themselves and their relationships, to commit to their spouses in marriage.
An Openly Gay Man Read In Spanish at the Pope’s New York Mass
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Californian Bishop Francis Quinn has called for extensive reform of the Catholic Church on issues around human sexuality, communion for the divorced and remarried, and an end to compulsory celibacy for Catholic priests.
Pope Francis prefers the simple title “bishop of Rome.” So I ask my brother bishop: Should we not convene a third Vatican Council just as ethical and paradigm-shifting as Vatican Council II of the 1960s?
In Berlin earlier today, a new archbishop was installed, Heiner Koch, who as bishop of Cologne had a track record of pastoral sensitivity to LGBT concerns: he was in the news some years ago, for instance, for dropping in unexpectedly in a local LGBT community centre, to talk to the community and listen to their concerns.
If you’re a European feeling overwhelmed by the current refugee crisis, Pope Francis has news for you: this is just “the tip of an iceberg”. It will not end until we’ve addressed the underlying cause – and this is not just the disastrous wars in the Middle East that we have helped to create. There are also fundamental socio – economic causes, in the vast global inequalities of opportunity and wealth.
“These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Because underneath that is the cause; and the cause is a bad and unjust socioeconomic system, in everything, in the world – speaking of the environmental problem –, in the socioeconomic society, in politics, the person always has to be in the centre,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father said the world must work to help people not feel the need to emigrate.
“Where the causes are hunger, we have to create work, investments. Where the cause is war, search for peace, work for peace,” he said. “Nowadays the world is at war against itself, that is, the world is at war, as I say, in instalments, bit by bit, but it is also at war against the land, because it is destroying the land, our common house, the environment.”
It’s now widely agreed that “genuine” refugees fleeing war or persecution need and deserve help, and many people are now opening their hearts to offer it. It’s also widely agreed than not all the current migrants are in this category. Many others are economic migrants, seeking a better life. Europeans are far less sympathetic to these.
To resolve the refugee crisis, it is said, we must work to resolve the conflicts and bring peace to the Middle East. That’s a tall order, but even if it is achieved, that will not alone solve the problem The challenge of dealing with economic migration will remain – and economic inequalities, together the devastation being wrought by climate change, are part of the reasons underlying the civil conflicts in the first place, along with a huge clash of values.
In Britain, one common response to the British Muslims leaving to fight for ISIS in Syria or Iraq, or being “radicalised” here in the UK, is to say that we need to promote more effectively “British values”. But what are these? The British themselves assume that these are the things now endorsed across Europe and North America – democracy, justice, freedom, tolerance and equality. To some others, especially to those who feel themselves to be outsiders in the wider society, I fear that “British values” in practice are things like greed and excessive consumption, drunkenness, sexual licence, and lack of compassion for the needy. When I was preparing to leave South Africa to come to the UK, I was warned by my spiritual director that I was coming to a post – Christian society. No wonder that some Muslims, whose core religious values are so much in keeping with those of those of the Gospels, feel that the society they live in, is hostile to those values.
As I have observed this current wave of migration across the Mediterranean and through Turkey, along with European attempts to limit it, I’ve had a strong sense that I’ve seen it all, before, back in South Africa. For many years, previous South African governments tried to deal with the economic migrants moving from impoverished rural areas to the wealthier cities, by simply prohibiting it, in a system they called “influx control” – and the rest of the world called “apartheid”. We all know how that ended. Now, economic migration within the country continues, as it has always done – but instead of trying to do the impossible by limiting it, the response is to plan for it, and provide for the new arrivals in the cities.
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna is a senior cardinal in the Catholic Church, who was often named before the last conclave as a possible “papabile”, one who could become the next pope. He is also an eminent theologian, a former pupil of Cardinal Ratzinger, who was a regular member of a select group who gathered with Pope Benedict annually for a theological summer school.
For LGBT Catholics, he is particularly notable as the first senior bishop to have noted, a few years ago, that it is high time that the Catholic church stopped obsessing about “genital acts” of gay and lesbian people, and considered instead the quality of their relationships. At the same time, he also noted the contradiction in Church practice, between exclusion from marriage those who had previously married and divorced but wished to remarry, and the reality that in the modern world, so many couples have no interest in marriage in the first place.
At the time, he was a lone voice, and many conservatives in the Church excpected an immediate slapdown. That did not happen. Instead, a series of other bishops began to take up similar themes, which have since become mainstream, now dominating news coverage of the family synods, that of 2014, and of 2015, next month.
In a notable interview with the Italian Jesuit publication, Civita Cattolica, he shared some important insights into the synod process, on marriage and family, on pastoral approaches to those in “irregular” relationships, and on gay and lesbian relationships specifically. At Bondings 2.0, Francis DeBenardo has discussed these LGBT specific passages, but the entire article is worth reading for its relevance to our concerns, even where these are not directly referenced.
I am preparing a series of posts on this interview and its implications for LGBT Catholics, in my own rather free translation. (The original is available only in Italian. When completed, I will post the entire interview in my English translation at The Queer Church Repository). The excerpt below, giving the Civita introduction, gives some of the flavour of the entire, 12 page, piece.
During the extraordinary Synod on the family, which took place 5 to 19 October 2014, I was impressed with, among others, by the intervention of Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna. We had a discussion, after his speech in the classroom, during a dinner with a mutual friend. Then he told me about his experiences as a child of a family that has experienced the divorce. His lucidity was not a merely intellectual reflection, but was the result of experience. Strolling under the colonnade of St. Peter, he told me about the absence of grandparents and uncles from Synod speeches. The family, he said, is not only wife, husband and children, but is a wide network of contacts, including some friends and not only relatives. Any divorce affects a large network of relationships, not only on a couple’s life. But it is also true that the network can withstand the impact of the split and support the most vulnerable, the children, for example.
We did not end the conversation. We continued for two subsequent meetings, after a few months, at the headquarters of Civiltà Cattolica. Once with his friend and fellow Dominican Fr Jean Miguel Garrigues, who I also interviewed for our magazine (1). And the interview finally, continued in Vienna at the Kardinal KönigHaus.The following interview is the result of these meetings, which eventually took the form of a dialogue unit. I asked the Cardinal for a reflection closely tied to his experience as a pastor. And this pastoral inspiration that gives body and breath to his words.During the extraordinary Synod on the family, which took place 5 to 19 October 2014, I was impressed with, among others, by the intervention of Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna. We had a discussion, after his speech in the classroom, during a dinner with a mutual friend. Then he told me about his experiences as a child of a family that has experienced the divorce. His lucidity was not a merely intellectual reflection, but was the result of experience. Strolling under the colonnade of St. Peter, he told me about the absence of grandparents and uncles from Synod speeches. The family, he said, is not only wife, husband and children, but is a wide network of contacts, including some friends and not only relatives. Any divorce affects a large network of relationships, not only on a couple’s life. But it is also true that the network can withstand the impact of the split and support the most vulnerable, the children, for example.
European bishops’ preparations for the 2015 Family Synod have largely focussed on challenges of pastoral care arising from two issues of sexual morality, remarriage after divorce and homosexuality. African see things rather differently.
A gathering of African bishops and theologians complained that too much of the 2014 synod was taken up with concerns of Western countries, while the most pressing concerns of Africans were ignored – and no, gay marriage is not one of those. Here’s a partial list, given in a National Catholic Reporterstory on the meeting:
Among the issues, too many to list in full:
Identity struggles for Africans who feel separated from their traditional cultures after Christian conversion;
Gender-based violence in households, overwhelmingly against women;
Missing presence of fathers in family life;
Large-scale, crippling poverty;
Lack of “principled, ethical leadership” in both governmental and church spheres.
Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich called for the church to improve its welcome of non-traditional families in his homily last Sunday, offering a beautiful reflection as the church prepares for October’s Synod of Bishops to discuss marriage and family issues.
Preaching on Ephesians 5, a troubling text given its exhortation that “wives be submissive to your husbands,” Cupich said the text is actually quite subversive because it exhorts that husbands to be subordinate to their wives as well. This mutual submission between spouses is a teaching the early Church “would have found quite astonishing, if not revolutionary.” The archbishop explained:
“Christ was doing something utterly new in the human family, changing how people understand their relationships with each other as family. With the upcoming synod, it is clear that the Holy Father is calling the Church to examine our categories of expression about what we believe and be open to new…