Digging through my archives at Queering the Church, I’m delighted to have found a post I thought had been irretrievably lost, relating to a most useful resource at Fortunate Families. I thought it was important when I first came across it years ago: it’s even more important now, with the more pastoral tone coming from Pope Francis and our own bishops, and with Quest’s current emphasis on dialogue with the institutional church (and other bodies). No doubt, the material as written could do with some updating, but even as it stands, I suggest it is well worth recommending and promoting, to parishes or any other groups that would seriously like to improve current pastoral practice. I post below the introduction to the series I wrote at Queering the Church, complete with links to the relevant pages at Fortunate Families (where there is clear permission to download, print and use the material, without restriction by copyright).
With his Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, Pope Francis has placed great emphasis on the importance of pastoral accompaniment, discernment, and the interior forum for church responses to LGBT Catholics. The document also speaks of the importance of accompaniment and pastoral care for the families which include those LGBT people. But what does this mean, in practice?
The response to Fr James Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge” has shown that there is widespread hunger for this accompaniment – but also reveals the extent of public ignorance. Martin’s book focuses on just one simple part of church teaching, on the need for “respect, compassion and sensitivity”, but quite deliberately does not dig more deeply. There is a dire need for material which does indeed take a broader canvas, suitable for use in parish groups.
Fortunate Families, the USA group for the parents and families of LGBT Catholics, has just such a great “resources” page, structured primarily for the Catholic families and friends of LGBT people, but also immensely valuable for anyone who simply wants to know more about the facts, without the polemics.
One of these valuable resources is an 8 part series, “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality“, which is described as a “Catholic conversation” on the subject, for
• Parents of gay and lesbian children: parents still in the closet, alone with their secret; parents out of the secret; struggling with their questions, their fears, their faith.
• Parents of young children: moms and dads seeking information and insight for their own parenting role as teacher and counselor.
• Family members who may be struggling to deal with the hurtful stereotypes that exist within both society and their Church.
• Gay and lesbian people who may be searching for some sign of understanding from their Church.
• Anyone who is curious about homosexuality and wanting to learn more.
Permission is granted for you to download and print this copyrighted series for your personal use, for parish study groups, for adult education programs, for ministry support, for future reference.
Structured as an adult education program to be placed on a parish website over a period of eight successive weeks, it could equally well be adapted for use in a discussion group meeting weekly (or monthly) – or for personal study, over eight sessions, at any frequency you choose.
Grouped into 3 major parts, the weekly instalments, with their main focus areas, are:
Part 1: Common Questions about Homosexuality
- Segment 1: The Basic Stuff
- Segment 2: Scientific Perspectives
- Segment 3: Social Perspectives
- Segment 4: Family Perspectives
Part 2: Putting a Human Face on Homosexuality: Gays, Lesbians and Parents Share Their Stories
- Parents Talk of Their Experience
- Gay and Lesbian Persons Talk of Their Experience
Part 3: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Official Teaching and Other Catholic Voices
Week 5: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: What the Church Teaches
- On Homosexual Orientation
- On Human Dignity
- On Discrimination and Social Justice
- On Homosexual Acts
- Chronology of significant documents on homosexuality issued by the Vatican and U.S. Bishops’ Conference.
Week 6: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Other Catholic Voices
- So What Are We To Do?
- The Role of Conscience
Week 7: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Other Catholic Voices
- Shared Thoughts on Vatican Documents
Week 8: Moral and Pastoral Considerations: Other Catholic Voices:
- The Question of “Finality”
- “A Biblical Understanding”
- Can Teaching Change?
- One Last Question
These pages were put together some years ago, well before Pope Francis’ papacy, but they remain valuable. Read them at Fortunate Families, download them, discuss and distribute them.
- Politics, Sin, and the Soho Masses (questlgbti.uk)
- The Soho Mass effect (news.queerchurch.com)
- Can Your Son Be Gay and Catholic? (queeringthechurch.com)
- Gay and Christian: Continuing Struggle to Find Home in Unwelcoming Churches (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Catholic Columnist Urges Church to Rethink Homosexuality Teaching(news.queerchurch.com)
- Colm Toibin on Benedict and Georg (gaymystic.blogspot.com)