Fr. James Martin, LGBT Groups, Others React to Pope Francis’ “The Joy of Love”

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 5.29.58 PM.pngYesterday’s release of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family whose title translates as The Joy of Love, has provoked a tremendous amount of news reports and commentaries that will surely continue as this more than two-hundred page text is digested further.

Today, Bondings 2.0 provides an initial round-up of reactions as they relate to LGBT issues. You can read LGBT-related excerpts from Amoris Laetitia by clicking here.  You can read New Ways Ministry’s response by clicking here.

Fr. James Martin, S.J. tweeted that Amoris Laetitia offered a welcome to LGBT people and set issues around sexuality and gender within a global context, saying, in two separate tweets:

“To LGBT friends: Pope says ‘before all else’ you are respected, and inveighs against violence against you–a huge challenge to Africa, e.g.”

“Good to remember that #AmorisLaetitia is addressed to the whole world. So his comments on LGBT people are challenging to many cultures.”

Martin also highlighted the renewed emphasis on conscience present in the document. You can read Martin’s “10 Takeaways from Amoris Laetitia” in America.

Equally Blessed LogoEqually Blessed, a coalition of Call to Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry, expressed disappointment in its statement:

“While the Pope acknowledges the complicated issues facing Catholics on the margins. . .[he] ultimately reinforces existing harmful church teaching that characterizes LGBTQI people as unable to reflect the fullness of God’s plan for humanity. Specifically, the Pope continues to condemn same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex parents, and he refuses to acknowledge the complexities of gender identity.”

duddyburke

Marianne Duddy-Burke

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said many had “hoped for much more” and continued in a statement:

“While the Pope acknowledges the Church has been too rigid in other areas, there is no repentance when it comes to LGBT people. We need to see changes in teaching and practice before we can move forward. . .Clearly, Church officials, up to and including Pope Francis, still have little idea of the reality of LGBT people’s faith, lives, and family situations.”

Call to Action said in a statement that, despite the pope’s call for clergy to “see Grace at work in all life’s complicated and complex forms,” the organization was:

“. . .deeply concerned this document results in an institutional and ecclesial status quo that does not make real substantive changes in Catholic structures and practices (e.g., an end to the unjust firings of LGBT Church Workers and discrimination against women, to name only a few examples).”

Terence Weldon

Terence Weldon

Terence Weldon of Queering the Church was similarly dissatisfied with the document’s approach to LGBT issues, but saw hopeful elements as it “created the conditions for change”:

“Closer examination however, reveals some cause for optimism, certainly in the longer term. What is not said may be more important than what is explicitly stated. Most notably, there is no reference at all to the offensive term ‘objectively disordered’, or any hint of opposition to same-sex relationships (as long as they do not claim to be “marriage”).  Although there is a forthright objection to same-sex marriage, this is not listed among the many problems and dangers that are said to threaten actual families, or even the institution of marriage itself.”

Commenting on Pope Francis’ renewed emphasis on the “internal forum,” Weldon added:

“Drawing on a passage from the great theologian Thomas Aquinas, the conclusion we may reach is that even though those who remarry after divorce, or who live openly in same-sex relationships, may appear to be living in conditions of objective sin, their particular circumstances may negate that conclusion.”

Michael Sean Winters

Michael Sean Winters

Michael Sean Winters, columnist at the National Catholic Reporter, commented on several aspects including the following point relevant for LGBT Catholics and their families:

“[T]he Holy Father does not believe the pastor, still less the magisterium, should tell people what to do, but that a pastor should accompany people so that they can discern God’s activity and calling in their own lives. The pastor encourages spiritual maturity, not memorization of a hodgepodge of canonical requirements.”

Father Thomas Reese, SJ

Father Thomas Reese, SJ

Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., also writing for the National Catholic Reporter, defined success for Amoris Laetitia differently than other commentators. Though he critically engaged the text’s content, he concluded:

“This is a papal document well worth the time to read and reflect on. Parts are dull; parts inspire and delight; parts will give hope; and parts will infuriate. If it brings the conversation about families out of the synodal hall and down to the parish and families themselves, then it will be a success.”

In the days to come, there will surely be many conversations at all levels of the church about how to understand Amoris Laetitia and what it means concretely in Catholics’ lives. Bondings 2.0 will be engaging these conversations and keeping our readers updated.

In the meantime, what are your first reactions to this exhortation? You can leave them in the ‘Comments’ section below.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

14 Responses to Fr. James Martin, LGBT Groups, Others React to Pope Francis’ “The Joy of Love”

  1. I think the really important thing is not that we might be dissatisfied with a report that does not go far enough – but what are we going to do about it? Taking together, Amoris Laetitia and the synod assemblies that led to it, are remarkable for how little they say about LGBT issues. Why is that? I tend to agree with James Alison, who wrote after the last assembly along the lines that the reason is simply that the bishops recognise they simply do not know enough, and need the subject needs more study.

    Alongside the silence on our specific issues, there’s a great deal of good meat in there that we can turn to our advantage – like the emphasis on conscience, and on discernment and accompaniment. Also, the document raises some important questions, which we need to raise again and again.

    eg:

    * AL is eloquent in praise of the family and the joy of love (including physical love): but just where and how are LGBT Catholics to experience that joy and love?

    * The principle of gradualism is suggested, as a means to lead people in “irregular” situations, to more complete compliance with God’s will for them – which is assumed to be permanent, faithful marriage open to procreation. But for gay people, heterosexual marriage is not appropriate. Further. AL is critical of those who out of selfishness, avoid marriage. Could it not be that the same principle of gradualism could be drawing single gay people,to a life of commitment and self-giving in a same-sex marriage, and raising adopted children?

    In other words, by its own internal logic, AL can be used to support both same-sex marriage and adoption for gay and lesbian couples.

    • winterhavenlarry says:

      You mention “gradualism.” I am not familiar with many of these terms. That sounds a bit like “relativism,” which we always hear Church leaders condemning. Can someone explain these for me? Thanks.

      • “Gradualism” is the theological idea that no one should be expected to change something bad or wrong in their lives in a flash. Instead, since people only change gradually, pastoral ministers should be patient and respect the process of change rather than expect total improvement overnight.

  2. Brian Kneeland says:

    the only people it gave hope to are those who divorced and remarried!

  3. […] 2.0 featured reactions to Pope Francis’ new exhortation on family, Amoris Laetitia. Below are more reactions […]

  4. Nicholas Coppola says:

    Can I go back to active Ministry?
    If not then NOTHINGS CHANGED!

  5. The Holy Father should not opine about the nature of love or the joy of love as long as he teaches that ““there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

    • Sue St Louis says:

      I have read all of this, and listened to tv reports that it made it seem hopeful on LGBT issues. I see none of this. Pope Francis, make one simple proclamation that says…hey priests, at a person’s funeral, don’t seek out who you think might be gay, and tell them they can not recieve communion at the funeral mass.
      Three days after I held my partner’s mother, and prayed with her, as she passed into the next world, my dear partner, (we are not married, or even living together, was told (30 minutes before the mass) that we were not to recieve communion! The most hurtful thing that have ever happened to us. In protest, none of the immediate family members received communion. I wish now that we had gone public with this. It was just a few weeks before the Pope’s visit to our country. Take one step, Pope Francis, say this horror shall not happen in a Chrislike instution! I am sad, depleted, and not longer feel a part of the church.

  6. Sue St Louis says:

    I have read all of this, and listened to tv reports that it made it seem hopeful on LGBT issues. I see none of this. Pope Francis, make one simple proclamation that says…hey priests, at a person’s funeral, don’t seek out who you think might be gay, and tell them they can not recieve communion at the funeral mass.
    Three days after I held my partner’s mother, and prayed with her, as she passed into the next world, my dear partner, (we are not married, or even living together, was told (30 minutes before the mass) that we were not to recieve communion! The most hurtful thing that have ever happened to us. In protest, none of the immediate family members received communion. I wish now that we had gone public with this. It was just a few weeks before the Pope’s visit to our country. Take one step, Pope Francis, say this horror shall not happen in a Chrislike instution! I am sad, depleted, and not longer feel a part of the church.

  7. J S McCord says:

    I am a Trans Man and am greatly disheartened by the passage on gender identity. I am sure (as sure as anyone can be) that God created me to be Trans. I was aware of my issues from at least 3 years old. I was forced to live as female and I did my best. However, the only time I was comfortable was when I was alone and could be my true self. I finally was able to transition in my 40’s. My life prior to learning my options and freeing myself was miserable, empty and amounted to living a lie to appease others and try to just get by. It seems that this force into a gender role based on birth anatomy is what is being called for. This does not offer understanding or love and will subject children to the misery and unhappiness I lived with.

  8. Charles Bolser says:

    It is time to assume that adults are indeed adult members of our faith community and they should be treated as adults responsible for their own decisions. They do not need Fathers permission. As a community rooted in the Good News that came to Set Us Free, we are responsible for participate in the ongoing creation by loving God, our neighbor, and all of creation. Love calls us out of ourselves for the grand and wounderous other; to give of ourselves and let go of grasping to accumulate because of fear and jealousy.

  9. […] can read previous reaction posts here and here. You can read New Ways Ministry’s response by […]

  10. […] can read previous Amoris Laetitia reaction posts here, here,  and here. You can read New Ways Ministry’s response to the document by […]

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