This article contains a precise summary of Bishop Robinson’s talk in which he called on the Catholic church to rethink its teaching on sexuality:
” ‘If [ church ] teaching on homosexual acts is ever going to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change,’ retired Auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson told the gathering of nearly 400 Catholics at the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality.
” ‘For centuries the church has taught that every sexual sin is mortal sin,’ said Robinson, an auxiliary bishop of Sydney, Australia.
” ‘The teaching may not be proclaimed as loudly as today as much as before, but it was proclaimed by many popes, it has never been retracted, and it has affected countless people,’ Robinson said.
” ‘There is a serious need for a change in the church’s teaching on heterosexual acts,’ he said, adding, ‘If and when this change occurs, it will inevitable have its effect on teaching on homosexual acts.’
” ‘The teaching fostered a belief in an incredibly angry God,’ explained Robinson, ‘for this God would condemn a person to eternity in hell for a single unrepentant moment of deliberate pleasure arising from sexual desire. I simply do not believe in such a God. Indeed, I positively reject such a God.’
Robinson is the author of the 2007 book, Confronting Power in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus, which addressed the clerical sex-abuse crisis and was controversial among his fellow bishops in Australia who faulted him for a 2008 lecture tour in the United States to speak about the issues his book addressed.
Colbert’s report also contains the perspective of “Chicagoans Karen Allen and her partner, Mary Jo Hoag, attended the gathering, this their second one.
” ‘What brings me here is the chance to be rooted in my faith and with the people of God and to be sent forth to create loving communities,’ said Allen, who leads a gay and lesbian family-and-friends ministry at St. Nicholas parish in Evanston.
“Allen said the parish group grew out the idea she and others got 10 years ago at the Louisville, Ky., New Ways symposium.
“In proposing the idea, she explained, ‘We were welcomed to do so by our pastor at the time, who said, “Where have you been?’ ‘
“The ministry is about education and prayer and not so much advocacy, Allen said, but ‘more about how can we as gay and lesbian Catholics live fully integrated, authentic lives in our tradition.’
” ‘Many have walked away [ from the church ] but returned in mid-life,’ she explained, while readily acknowledging, ‘struggling mightily’ with ‘clericalism and the hierarchy.’ “
” ‘The church is our church,’ said Hoag, explaining why she stays. ‘Many of us are cradle Catholics who grew up with the rituals, sacraments, and the teachings and feel comfortable. We are gifts to the church and shouldn’t go away, as we provide those gifts of love and understanding and outreach.’
“New Ways Ministry, Allen added, provides us ‘a shot in the arm’ to keep up our work in ministry.
The National Catholic Reporter posted a second article on the Symposium, this one focusing on Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s remarks there.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry