Should bishops abstain from preaching about sexuality and gender?

According to John Gehring, in a commentary for the National Catholic Reporter in the US (26 June 2019), if Catholic bishops “hope to reclaim their moral credibility after revelations about covering up clergy sexual abuse”, they should take a year’s break from speaking and preaching about sexuality and gender issues.

Recent examples of where silence might have been the wisest option involve a bishop in Rhode Island who tweeted that Catholics shouldn’t attend gay pride events because they are “especially harmful for children”. Also, in Ireland, a controversial homily preached by a Capuchin Friar, Fr Tom Forde, likened gay people, those who get abortions, and those who use contraception to “zombies”, that is, people who are “physically alive but spiritually dead, morally rotten or at least infected.” The Capuchin order, reacting to Fr Forde’s homily, stated that it deeply regrets his unfortunate comments “which gay people would have found hurtful.” There are many other instances of clergy, from the US and beyond, who should have kept silence or at least weighed their words more carefully – and prayerfully – before speaking.

In his article Gehring comments, “There is an unmistakable hubris displayed when some in the church are determined to make sexuality the lynch-pin of Catholic identity at a time when bishops have failed to convince their flock that they are prepared to police predators in their own parishes.”

In the US there are regular firings of LGBT+ employees from Catholic institutions, including schools. The article claims that more than 70 LGBT+ church employees and Catholic school teachers have been fired or lost their jobs in employment disputes in recent years. Gehring makes the point that “heterosexual Catholics who don’t follow church teaching that prohibits birth control or living together before marriage . . . are not disciplined the same way by Catholic institutions. The scrutiny targeting gay employees alone is discriminatory and disproportionate.”

The full article can be found here:


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