Bishops More Welcoming To LGBT, But Not to Women

The surprisingly conciliatory tone regarding gay Catholics in the working document for the family synod released yesterday is being described by some as an “earthquake” and “revolutionary.” But it’s not so much the content that’s groundbreaking—it’s the fact that the church is admitting that yes, on hot-button issues it can evolve, something it has denied for the past 35 years.

Let’s face it, in admitting that “[h]omosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community” and that same-sex unions offer “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” that “constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners,” the leaders of the Catholic Church have more or less caught up to where the culture was in about 1997, when Ellen DeGeneres became the first openly gay character in a TV show and the news of her coming out was big enough to warrant the cover of Time magazine. The following year, “Will & Grace” debuted and mainstream America began its rapid evolution in its acceptance of both homosexuality and eventually same-sex marriage.

And this truly is a case where change at the top comes long after the grassroots. Many congregations have welcomed LGBT Catholics for years. Gay Catholics also teach openly at many Catholic schools; it’s only when they marry that their sexual orientation becomes a problem. And Catholics have been at the forefront of acceptance of same-sex partnerships since the early 2000s; by 2010, 62% of Catholics considered gay and lesbian relations “morally acceptable.”

The new language is nonetheless a welcome change for LGBT Catholics, who obviously weren’t thrilled at being referred to as “intrinsically disordered,” though that does remain the official doctrine of the church. “That positive language is more affirming and will give many people hope. It is much more respectful, and offers a sense of welcome that LGBT people have been seeking for decades,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA.

It’s also somewhat miraculous that there was enough agreement amongst the bishops on the more welcoming language, despite the presence of obvious holdouts like Cardinal Raymond Burke. In response to the story of a long-married Catholic couple who had reportedly moved the bishops with their story about friends who welcomed their gay son and his partner home for Christmas, Burke told LifeSiteNews that children shouldn’t be exposed to “profoundly disordered” relationships:

We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn’t expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.

By contrast to the church’s more progressive tone on LGBT issues, and its candid acknowledgement that cohabitation and civil unions are here to stay and shouldn’t necessarily disqualify Catholics from participation in church life, it remains firmly stuck in the past on contraception.

The document reaffirms the importance of the teaching of Humanae Vitae that “[b]eing open to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love.” And while it acknowledges the importance of “a realistic language that is able to start from listening to people,” it quickly falls back on the old formulation that Catholics just need “appropriate teaching regarding natural methods” to jump on the natural family planning bandwagon.

Despite Pope Francis’ admonishment to the bishops to speak openly at the synod, the outcome regarding contraception was a foregone conclusion. Many of the couples invited to address the bishops were advocates of natural family planning—just like in 1964, during the Papal Birth Control Commission. The difference is, in 1964, the Catholic couples were light years ahead of the bishops in their attitudes about contraception. Altough they had been selected because they were members of conservative family organizations, they told the bishops that natural family planning didn’t work and put extraordinary strain on marriages.

This time, however, the couples told the bishops exactly what they wanted to hear: that natural family planning was a wonderful thing and that Catholics didn’t really understand the beauty of how obsessively charting a woman’s monthly cycle could bring couples closer together.

This isn’t surprising. As Thomas Reese noted in the National Catholic Reporter, most of the lay auditors to the synod were married Catholic couples who were “employees of the Catholic church or heads of Catholic organizations, including natural family planning organizations” and weren’t “representative of Catholics at large.” The wife in the couple who testified to the bishops about the beauty of NFP is on the U.S. Bishops’ Natural Family Planning Advisory Board.

Where were the couples who talked about the extraordinary juggling act that families face today trying to manage even two children while working and maintaining a home and what an additional unplanned pregnancy might mean to them? Where was the woman talking about the delicate dance of fertility management for someone whose window for having a family falls sometime between when the last grad school loan is paid off and the first gray hairs appear?

Even as they take tentative steps to welcome gay Catholics, the bishops retain the old formulation that women who want to plan their families with a high degree of certainty are doing something fundamentally illicit. When it comes to women and sex, they hear only what they want to hear.

 

7 Comments

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Catholics should take heart in noting after the rest of the world changes on an issue, the Catholic church will change as well.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Cardinal Burke: “We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn’t expose our children
    to that relationship, to the direct experience of it.”

    Yes, maybe if we were talking about something else entirely, you know, like, something bad, we would hide that thing from our children.

  • tojby_2000@yahoo.com' apotropoxy says:

    Women were crucial to the growth of the early church and played active roles in ceremonies that were later defined as Eucharistic consecrations. Unfortunately, during the Orthodoxy’s purge of Gnostic elements in the faith, they also stripped women of their equality. To allow women back into the sacristy would mean revisiting those first purges.
    Don’t hold your breath.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “The wife in the couple who testified to the bishops about the beauty of
    NFP is on the U.S. Bishops’ Natural Family Planning Advisory Board.” – Patricia Miller

    I am surprised they let a woman talk at all…oh wait, they didn’t, it was a shill.

  • stevekarper@yahoo.com' Steve Karper says:

    How many generation later and how many will suffer meanwhile

    Example from the past – during the holy inqsuisiotn and dark ages books on the human body were burned so prayer got credit for the immune system and btw even today we have no fix for any virus except to give weakened or dead viruses to people to energize the immune system

    Today small number of xtremist fundifaith healers – extremist non cath christians only pray over their sick kids. see link but then we taxpayer have to foot the bill to put the parents in the pokey

    http://www.childrenshealthcare.org/PDF%20Files/Pediatricsarticle.pdf

  • luv2garden5@gmail.com' mgardener says:

    Where do they think the next generation of Catholics will come from?
    The women whose physical and spiritual needs are ignored today will certainly not be guiding their children to the catholic church.
    I don’t think these men have a clue as to how women’s lives are changing. They will not listen because we don’t demand they do.

  • info@londonschoolofislamics.org.uk' IftikharA says:

    Gay “marriage” itself is dirtier water. It’s not what our physical anatomy was intended for, and this conclusion is the same whether you believe we were created by God or accidentally evolved. We should not normalize homosexuality any more than we should normalize obesity or alcoholism. Though they are not equal or the same, none are healthy lifestyles. No person has ANY right not given to him or her by the Creator. God made the family from the union
    of 1 man and 1 woman. No human can change God’s will. You may choose not to believe in The One True God, but no one will be exempt from the consequences of disobedience. His laws are for the good of all mankind. We were never meant to be demi gods ruling our lives by our own selfish desires. If it is same sex, it is not marriage. It is that simple. Whatever it is it is not marriage. As the saying would have been before schizophrenia ruled the land, “By definition marriage must include one man and one woman.” That is what makes marriage
    marriage. The word was invented for the coupling of a man and a woman. It was
    not invented for any other kinds of couplings. Can it be made clearer?

    The Bible never actually refutes polygamy. The Bible says that it’s wrong for a man to put aside his wife for another. In polygamy, the man is not laying aside his wife, he’s welcoming another to join. That’s why righteous people in the Bible had multiple wives without being criticized by God or others.

    As a true Muslim and believer in condemning this… our religion is flexible enough but no space for such rubbish… there is a detailed chapters in our religion book THE NOBLE QUR’AN in which you will find the story of ” People of LOT” who were involve in the same sin “The Homosexuality”, they all were destroyed b’coz of homosexuality…. Anatomy of anus is not fit for sexual act…. biology. Anus is endodermal in origin so its wound never heals. So, it
    becomes quite unnatural to get into anus. People find it disgusting to insert and move about the male executive organ into the anus, which serves to discharge the faeces.

    Homosexuality is an insult to women. Men and women get sexual and emotional satisfaction from each other. Without them the human race is not going to survive. This is the main reason why Islam is against homosexuality. It is nothing to do with equality. Muslim community,Imams and Muslim schools must teach that homosexuality is a sin and against the teaching of Islam.

    Why are we constantly hearing about an issue that effects less than 2% of the world’s population?!!! What about issues that effect everyone such as wealth inequality and dangerous banking? Obviously there’s nothing more important to society today than gay rights. Gay marriage is a subject being spoken about in America and France as well as here.( maybe in other countries as well) Now, This is not an important thing at the moment with everything else that is happening. I don’t see what difference it makes if you call it marriage or a civil partnership. It doesn’t mean that the relationship is going to last any longer or be a happier one.Why in this age should rights be bestowed because of birth? Where is the equality in this? Although, why “other grounds”, why not just “sexuality”? It’s not a swear word.Equal rights to marry a Catholic? Didn’t think so.

    Homosexuality doesn’t just go against the Bible, Quran, and whatever the Jewish book is called, It goes against Mother Nature as well. Here are some quotes from the Koran regarding Homosexuals Homosexual acts are condemned as unnatural. (Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you?) 7:80-81 Male homosexual activities are condemned as unnatural. 26:165-6 Male homosexuals commit abominations and act senselessly. 27:54-55 Male homosexuals acts are condemned as unnatural. 29:28-29

    I can let most things go but the Gay lobby has gone too far with this nonsense… It is time to
    start fighting back, Our core values are being corrupted, How far before it’s too far, You answer that for yourselves.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

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