Gnom.es, an English-language news service from Spain, reported that Diocese of Osma and Soria produced these guidelines to clarify the
“legal and pastoral requirements for both adopted and biological children of either all-male or all-female couples, either married – currently not possible through the church, in Spain – or cohabiting, to ‘clear up any doubts’ among church leaders asked to conduct the ceremonies.”
Spain is one of 12 European nations to legalize same-gender marriage, and in 2005 it was the third nation in the world to do so. The Diocese of Osma and Soria is in the Castilla y León province, in the west of Spain, and it is headed by Bishop Gerardo Melgar Viciosa.
The Vicar General of the diocese, Father Gabriel-Ángel Rodríguez, said that the same “prudence and charity” should be shown to same-gender couples, as is shown to heterosexual couples and single parents. The news story elaborated further on his explanation:
“Father Rodríguez says the past few years have seen an upsurge in the number of baptisms into the Catholic Church in Spain of children who have been born to or adopted by same-sex couples, and that this has posed a new challenge for priests and parish leaders which often leaves them with questions and confusion.”
The guide encourages respect, as well as pastoral sensitivity, for gay and lesbian couples who bring their children to be baptized. The news article observed:
“The guide does not aim to ‘judge the conscience’ of these children’s parents and warns vicars and priests not to do so either, says Father Rodríguez, even where those conducting christening ceremonies consider the parents’ ‘moral conduct’ to be ‘objectively contradictory’ to the teachings of the Church.
“Children baptised into the Catholic Church, whatever their parents’ sexual orientation, must be educated in the Catholic faith, the guide states.
“And those whose parents are gay or lesbian must be treated with ‘the same pastoral tact’ as children of heterosexual parents.”
A resource such as this one will go a long way to helping to welcome families headed by lesbian and gay couples to the Church. I hope that other dioceses, especially in the United States, would adopt such an approach. It is so much better than continuing to ignore or oppose the legal reality of same-sex marriage which is spreading rapidly across the U.S. and the globe.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry