The following statement in response to Pope Francis’ apology to gay Catholics has been approved by our chair, Ruby Almeida:
Quest welcomes Pope Francis’ clear words of apology to lesbian and gay Catholics. We share the view of some LGBT people who point out that this could and should have gone further, but there is time for that, later. For now, what matters is that this is a major turning point in the Catholic Church’s response to lesbian and gay people. (Regrettably, the apology offered nothing to transgender Catholics). Other bishops have previously issued their own apologies, for example the German speaking small group at the 2015 Family Synod in Rome, and the two English bishops who attended, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Peter Doyle. Who hope and expect that this clear example from the head of the Church, will encourage many more to follow their example.
Words of apology however, are not enough. Pope Francis has acknowledged the harm that has been done by the Church in the past. As Fr James Martin SJ has observed in a facebook post, this harm is real and deep, and for many LGBT Catholics, it is not just a matter of the past, but continues, even today. Hurt and wounds require healing. A closing resolution of the 2015 Family Synod resolved that special pastoral attention needs to be given to families with lesbian or gay people. Such families certainly include those headed by lesbian and gay people themselves.
The Family Synod and Pope Francis’ “The Joy of Love” also emphasise the importance in pastoral care to people in complex situation, of accompanying and of listening to them.
With these principles in mind, Quest urges the bishops of the British church to take them seriously, and to look for ways to expand and improve its present standards of pastoral care to LGBT people. In our turn, we would like to offer our assistance to the bishops and other church structures (Catholic schools and university chaplaincies, for example), to make the Church more like the “field hospital for the wounded” that our pontiff has previously described.
- A Papal Apology: How Should Quest Respond (Opinion)
- Pope Francis’ Apology to Gay People
- A Catholic Obligation to Apologise to LGBT People
- Lest We Forget: Remember the Ashes of Our Martyrs
- St. Joan of Arc, Trans Martyr
- How a Woman Became a Dominican Priest, and Teacher of Moral Theology
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I was born in 1942, raised Catholic and sent to parochial school. One of my earliest experiences of Catholic love was seeing one of my classmates, the undernourished and unwashed son of a widow, used as a punishment. If Sister didn’t like one’s behavior, she made the miscreant sit next to John. It made a lasting impression. When I was 14, I refused to participate in the hypocrisy and nastiness I saw in just about every activity of “the church”. I realized that folks who insist that they know what or who made the universe and what that “maker” wants is lying.. None of us knows what happens when we die. But we’ll all die and, either know or, as I think much more likely, cease to know anything at all. On the other hand, treaingt everyone as well as I’d want to be treated and being as kind and generous as possible to the earth and its inhabitants is a pretty good way to live
Here’s the link to the translated from Italian to English text of his interview which touched on many things. If you want to skip to the apology (it’s all worth a read to get to know him a bit better, to move beyond the sound bite, out of context, Francis we’re usually asked to sign up to). Remember it’s a translation and the nuances can be lost. As someone else (James Martin perhaps) noted the word condition in the translated text means situation or “way of being” in Italian, not the medical undertone I’ve grown to hate and to react to. The link is. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-pope-francis-inflight-press-conference-from-armenia-45222/.
On a down note some of the direct reference to the church’s seeking forgiveness appears (translation caution issued here) to use the feminine pronoun for church. A misrepresentation of the patriarchal nature of the rejection of some of its vulnerable members.
That said, I think this is a step forward and we should welcome Francis in his approach to this corner of the dinner table of Christ that we are already at. A full repentance will recognise that we are already there waiting for the rest of the church to catch up: with us and with Christ.
This presentation of church as “feminine” is important. As we all know, in practice it’s not: it’s heavily patriarchal, and male-dominated. But grammatical gender aside, it likes to present itself as feminine, as “mother church”, and as the “bride of Christ”. This is in part because the theology of marriage includes the idea that human marriage mirrors the spiritual marriage of Christ and his church. It’s convenient then to argue that as the Church is the “bride” of Christ (definitely male), then human marriage must also be between a groom and a bride.
But this is circular reasoning – the Church must be feminine, because its a bride, and a groom must marry a bride, because the church is feminine. If we remove the assumption that the Church is feminine, then the theology is strongly in favour of gay marriage: if marriage mirrors that between Christ and his church, and the church is masculine (demonstrably true) – then Christ’s marriage bond with his church is a same-sex marriage bond!
I get what you’re saying. But I think that’s a distraction from my point. My point is in that the rest of the article the church is referred to in a gender neutral way. in relation to the churches need to make an apology suddenly the text becomes gender-specific. There is a tendency in those who adopt a patriarchal method of interaction with their world to avoid taking responsibility and often to transfer the responsibility to other. In a statement as significant as this to adopt female gender specific language at the point in which apology is suggested is I feel unhelpful and part of the problem. I am not suggesting here at Francis is being patriarchal
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Well done Ruby. When the results of the strategy weekend are published I hope Quest will be able to more tightly focus its praxis in response to your statement in the light of Francis’ comments.