Gender Ideology, Transgender Reality: A Deacon Parent’s Perspective

Deacon Ray Dever

Today’s post is written by a guest blogger: Deacon Ray Dever of St. Paul Catholic Church, Tampa, Florida

One morning this past spring, I found myself somewhere I honestly never could have imagined I would be: sitting in a dreary courtroom in Washington DC with my firstborn. We were patiently awaiting her turn before a judge.

It was a long way from the familiar, comfortable surroundings of my home and my Catholic parish in sunny Tampa Florida.  And it was an even longer way from a place I was almost ten years ago, a place of almost total ignorance of LGBTQ issues.  The issue that morning was a legal name change for my 23-year old transgender daughter, a recent graduate of Georgetown University.  The name change was another milestone in her challenging journey towards living as her authentic self.  While this milestone was certainly positive for my daughter, it forced me to reflect once again on the enormous and painful disconnect between the reality of the lives of transgender individuals and the rampant misinformation that often dominates discourse about transgender issues in both the Church and the public square.

In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis expressed concern with “an ideology of gender”, which he imagines to be an ideology that seeks to eliminate sexual differences in society, thereby undermining the basis for the family.  (There have been numerous, thoughtful discussions of the confusion around so-called gender ideology, including here on Bondings 2.0.  You can read some here, here, and here. )  Independent of Amoris Laetitia, individuals in the Church hierarchy have issued blanket condemnations of trans individuals, occasionally citing discredited or marginal information sources as “science” to support their positions.  I have nothing but respect for the good intentions that undoubtedly underlie these statements, but my personal experience is that these statements have fueled misunderstanding and bigotry, and not love,  truth, and life that are the essence of Jesus Christ.

These church discussions of “ideology of gender” do not ring true for anyone with any significant first-hand knowledge of trans individuals.  Such people would be baffled by the suggestion that the trans people they know, or the presence of trans individuals in society, are somehow the result of an ideology of gender.  Long before there were gender studies programs in any universities or the phrase “gender ideology” was ever spoken, transgender people were present, recognized, and even valued in many cultures around the world.

Trans individuals are not people who have been indoctrinated into some ideology that convinces them they can simply choose their own gender. They don’t just decide one morning to start dressing differently.  They are transgender by virtue of some combination of biological and psychological factors that scientists are just beginning to understand.  The only choice that trans individuals have in the matter is the challenging choice to embrace who they are and to live their lives openly as their authentic selves, in the face of rejection, discrimination, bigotry, and even violence that they know they will have to endure.

In the public sphere, recent efforts to curtail legal protections for the transgender community, including all the nonsense around bathroom bills, are further evidence of how pervasive the misunderstanding and confusion about gender identity continues to be.  Given the wide availability of information and testimonials,  there really is no excuse for that kind of thinking.  The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, who together represent over 300,000 doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists,  have each affirmed the reality of transgender individuals, and have issued documents opposing all forms of discrimination against them and providing standards of health care for them.  The United Nations has opposed legal discrimination and violence that trans individuals suffer in many parts of the world.  Companies and organizations we all do business with every day–from Apple to Wal-Mart–recognize trans individuals with equal employment opportunity policies and inclusive health insurance.

Since I wear the two hats of parent of a transgender woman and permanent deacon in the Church, my reaction to gender identity controversies is both personal and pastoral.

From the personal perspective, I share the concerns of all parents for the well-being of their children, including their adult children.  These concerns are amplified when an LGBTQ individual is involved.  Our prayers and hopes for our children are colored by the reality of the discrimination they will likely face for the rest of their lives.  The probability of being a victim of violence or committing suicide is greater for the LGBTQ community than for the general populace, and even greater for the transgender community in particular.  My family is always a bit on edge when we go out together, constantly worried that unfriendly stares and remarks might escalate to a confrontation, and that a confrontation could become violent.  Nobody should have to live that way.  All that transgender individuals want is simply to live their lives as who they are, with the same rights and freedoms that the rest of us enjoy.

My pastoral perspective is informed by the call that all permanent deacons share: to bring the Church into the world and to bring the problems of the world back to the Church.  Well, here’s one such problem:  the community of faith includes transgender people who are marginalized, unjustly condemned, and suffering simply because of who they are, and that marginalization and suffering extends to their family and friends.  Every time that a trans (or gay, lesbian, bisexual) kid is rejected by their family in the name of faith and ends up homeless and struggling to survive, we as a people of faith need to take responsibility.  We can’t just sweep it under the rug and hide behind some vague Church document or isolated scripture passage.

In its discussion of gender ideology, Amoris Laetitia warns against falling into the sin of trying to replace the Creator.  I definitely agree.  But I think this warning begs the question:  are we guilty of that sin when we look at a transgender person and we have the hubris to deny what God has made?  I pray that the Church will be open to learning and embracing the truth about transgender individuals, who have the same inherent value and dignity as all human beings.  Perhaps we all need to have a little more humility and a little more faith in what God has created here on earth.

–Deacon Ray Dever, September 18, 2017

Related posts:

To review all Bondings 2.0 posts on gender ideology, click here.

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Fr. James Martin Responds to Vile Attacks with Integrity and Solidarity

Fr. James Martin, SJ, has received a variety of different responses to his recent book on LGBT issues in the Catholic church (Building A Bridge). One recent exchange on social media revealed just how harsh and childish some critics can be, and how well Martin is choosing to respond.

James Martin cropped
Fr. James Martin, SJ

Austin Ruse, who writes for the alt-right website Breitbart and is president of a right-wing organization (which used to be identified as Catholic but has since become secular) that opposes LGBT equality, attacked Martin on Twitter recently. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Ruse used harsh anti-gay slurs, and said the priest was leading lesbian and gay people to hell.

Ruse’s comments were a response to another Twitter controversy during which the conservative website CatholicVote.org had tweeted, “And then this Dominican showed up and started beating @JamesMartinSJ like a rented mule. The crowd went wild.”

But against such vile language and even the implicit threat of violence, Fr. Martin has responded with integrity and solidarity. He explained his decision to respond on Facebook:

“I almost never engage with hateful social media comments. But this time was different. For me, it represented, in the first place, the crossing of a line by a prominent Catholic website (the encouragement of violence even in a joking way is beyond the pale); and in the second, a teachable moment brought about by a slur (‘pansy’), about homophobia in our church, even in high echelons.”

In another Facebook post, Martin acknowledged that LGBT people face “hatred and contempt” every day and he hoped that through the support of community he would try to”make them feel like beloved children of God.”

Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter defended Martin as a “gifted spiritual writer” and “gentle soul,” while calling Ruse a white nationalist “fire-eater.” He stated:

“To most American Catholics, Martin is one of the sons in whom we take the most pride, a churchman who helps others grow in their relationship with the church and with its head, Jesus, a priest who makes ancient traditions accessible to modern readers. And, to those of us who have known him as a colleague, the private Fr. Martin shines with the same wit and holiness and pastoral solicitude as the readers encounter in his writing. He is a treasure and his works will be read long after the fire-eaters have been forgotten.”

MartinInclusion.jpgWinters’ defense of Martin is especially important since the columnist disagreed with parts of the priest’s book.  Winters said Building a Bridge was “not my favorite book” on homosexuality, and like other reviewers quibbled with Martin’s decision to forgo any discussion of sexual ethics. Winters also said he thinks there are theological hurdles to the LGBT discussion and “some of those hurdles may prove insurmountable.”

 

A wide spectrum of reviewers have critiqued Building a Bridge, from Jamie Manson of the National Catholic Reporter to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. But despite these critiques, Martin’s book is having an impact on the church. He has used it to breathe new life into the conversation on LGBT issues in the church, and has likely opened the eyes (and possibly hearts) of Catholics who might be less affirming of LGBT people. If nothing else, he is using his high profile platform to help eradicate in the church the kind of hate speech used by Ruse and those faithful like him. For his efforts, Winters is right: Martin will surely be remembered long after his vile critics are forgotten.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 14, 2017

Australian Priest To Vote “Yes” for Marriage Equality

A high-profile priest in Australia has come out in favor of marriage equality amid a heated national debate over the issue, and his comments have been well received by Catholics.

Fr. Frank Brennan, SJ, endorsed marriage equality in the lead up to Australia’s non-binding plebiscite that will be conducted by mail this fall. Speaking at a lecture delivered in memory of famed Labor politician Lionel Bowen, himself a Catholic, Brennan told attendees:

“Though a committed Catholic, I could vote ‘yes’ in a survey on same sex marriage while hoping and demanding that the parliament do the hard work on religious freedoms when considering amendments to the Marriage Act. I am one of those Australians who will be pleased when same-sex marriages are recognised by Australian law but with adequate protection for religious freedoms.”

Brennan, who heads Catholic Social Services Australia and is a law professor, offered three observations to critics of his position. First, he noted that civil marriage is a contract that is already inconsistent with Catholic sacramental marriage because it is not permanent and does not need to be open to children.

Second, he said:

“With civil marriage being expanded to include same sex couples as contract partners in countries like UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand, there will be an increasing number of couples civilly married in those countries living in Australia. It will be more and more difficult to deny recognition of those civil marriages here in Australia when the couples are ageing and needing spousal rights and recognition in hospital etc.”

Third, children raised by same-gender couples deserve “a society where there is a public commitment to respect and affirmation of their family arrangements.” Brennan concluded his remarks on marriage equality with these words:

“Those of us who are Catholic have multiple affiliations. We are members of the Catholic Church affirming the sacramentality of marriage as defined by our Church and we are citizens of a pluralistic democratic society under the rule of law affirming the legitimacy of committed relationships which are solemnised at law in the hope of contributing to the well-being of the couple and of their children.”

Brennan has been outspoken on LGBT issues, including his 2015 foresight that any vote on marriage equality like the current plebiscite would be “very nasty” and would “unleash torrents of hate on the gay and lesbian community.” This year, negative campaigning has appeared which denigrates LGBT people. In Melbourne, hate speech quoting the research of a Catholic priest appeared on a poster. The possibility of church worker firings has been raised by at least one bishop [Editor’s note: The church worker firings story was initially reported as a direct threat, but was later clarified to be more general].

Brennan also supported civil unions for same-gender couples as early as 2011, and later argued for the separation of civil and sacramental marriage.

In contrast to Brennan’s well-received endorsement of marriage equality, students and alumni at a Catholic school in Melbourne reacted negatively when the local pastor encouraged parents to vote against equality. Fr. Joseph Abatu made his opposition to marriage equality public in the newsletter for St. Peter’s College Cranbourne. Critics reacted strongly on social media against Abatu’s intervention in the school community, reported TenPlay:

“[Alum Nate Bicey said,] In the class of 2004. . .there is at least 7 that have come out LGBTQI. It’s really disappointing to see you dishonour not just past students but today’s and tomorrow’s. . .I just hope for your sake no one in this school becomes a statistic of youth taking there [sic] life for not feeling equal and the school announcing that they are not.”

While the school includes sexuality in its non-discrimination statement, alum Val Bucky Barbosa said there was much bullying when they attended and “the school chose to do nothing.”

Polling shows Australian Catholics’ opinions are very much in line with Fr. Brennan’s “yes” vote, and few Catholics support LGBT-negative church officials like Abatu. Indeed, Queering the Church reported that two-thirds of Catholics were supportive of marriage equality. As usual, such support is because of Catholics’ faith, not in spite of it. Fr. Brennan’s comments during the lecture helpfully enrich the public reasons for why Catholics are so supportive when drawing from our faith tradition’s riches.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 6, 2017

 

Pope Francis Allows For Civil Unions for Lesbian and Gay Couples

A new book, Pope Francis has spoken out on a variety of topics from his personal development to many issues facing church and state.   Not surprisingly, LGBT topics were mentioned, and not surprisingly, the pope’s statements are a mixed bag.

The book, entitled Politics and Society, is a series of 12 conversations between the pope and Dominique Wolton, a French sociologist.   Crux carried a string of excerpts from the book on his visits to a psychoanalyst, the role of the laity, colonial exploitation, and, of course, same-gender marriage and gender identity.   On the last topic, the excerpt reads:

Pope Francis

“Marriage between people of the same sex? ‘Marriage’ is a historical word. Always in humanity, and not only within the Church, it’s between a man and a woman… we cannot change that. This is the nature of things. This is how they are. Let’s call them ‘civil unions.’ Lets not play with the truth. It’s true that behind it there is a gender ideology. In books also, children are learning that they can choose their own sex. Why is sex, being a woman or a man, a choice and not a fact of nature? This favors this mistake. But let’s say things as they are: Marriage is between a man and a woman. This is the precise term. Lets call unions between the same sex ‘civil unions’.”

For the most part, this section is not surprising.  On many occasions, Pope Francis has stated his opposition to marriage for lesbian and gay people.   And he is also on the record for being negative towards new understandings of gender identity, though positive about welcoming transgender people.

What’s new here, however, is his endorsement of civil unions for same-sex couples. Although many church leaders have suggested supporting such an arrangement in recent years, Pope Francis has never, as pontiff, stated his endorsement of civil unions so flatly.   (He did support civil unions as a compromise to his opposition towards marriage equality when he was an archbishop in Argentina.  As pontiff, he did make an ambiguous statement about civil unions, which inspired  more questions than certainty about his position.)  This new statement of support from him  is a giant step forward. What is significant here is that he is agreeing to the importance of some sort legal recognition of civil unions for lesbian and gay couples. I don’t think he will be campaigning for such legislation, but it sure sounds like he is comfortable with them and that he won’t be blocking them.

Most troublesome, though, is his continuation of promoting the idea that children are being taught to choose their sex or gender.  He has said such before, but in all the material I have read on transgender issues and education about gender, I have never seen any evidence that children are being taught such a notion.  In fact, it goes against what most transgender people say of their experience which they describe as a discovery of a discrepancy between their internally experienced gender and their external physical bodies.  “Discovery” is a very long way from “choice.”

Moreover,  I don’t know of any educational programs that discuss gender with children before it is educationally and psychologically appropriate to do so.

So, once again, Pope Francis both progresses and regresses on LGBT issues.

To read all of Crux’s excerpts, click here.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, September 2, 2014

 

Hate Speech in Australia Marriage Debate a Moment for Catholic Reflection

The Rainbow Catholics InterAgency for Ministry (RCIA), a coalition of LGBTI affirming Catholic groups and pastoral organizers, this past week released a statement of concern about harsh messages that have begun appearing in the lead up to the nation’s non-binding plebiscite on marriage equality this fall.

rcia-logo-official-v1On last Thursday, Bondings 2.0 reported on a neo-Nazi poster bearing hate speech that appeared in Melbourne. The poster cited a Catholic priest’s discredited research that claims children with same-gender parents suffer disproportionately higher rates of abuse and addiction than those raised by heterosexual parents.

We also reported on Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart’s threat that he would fire church workers who entered civil same-gender marriages should that become a legal option. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has since clarified those remarks, though not before a major Catholic healthcare provider released a statement affirming its LGBT employees.

Though Australians overwhelmingly support marriage equality, the plebiscite has instigated an increasingly harmful debate. That is why RCIA released both a peaceful guide for forming one’s conscience on the issue, and appealed for civility and respect especially from church leaders. Its statement said, in part:

“We are acutely aware that suggestions that LGBTI people are in some way campaigning against the rights of other Australians is both deeply hurtful and victimizes the already marginalised. Because of this, some LGBTI Catholics feel disheartened. They are disappointed and confused that some of their spiritual leaders seem not to realise the pain they cause by their language.

“Many have expressed shock and distress over the disturbing collaboration by some church leaders with the Coalition for Marriage whose position implies LGBTI people are to blame for demanding their civil rights. For many this has been very difficult and has caused harm. As is always the case, harm experienced by LGBTI people is also reflected in their families, friends, colleagues and allies.”

The voting guide asked Catholics to form their consciences by thinking about church teachings on inclusion and non-discrimination. It also rejected claims that marriage equality would threaten the church’s teaching on sacramental marriage or impair religious freedom. The guide included these points as well:

“v)  To reflect on what social justice means in the context of the appalling history of violence and abuse against LGBTI persons both in the church and in civic society. . .

“vii)  Consider the human rights of LGBTI people to have equal access to society’s civil institutions including civil marriage.

“viii)  To consider as Catholic Christians how you can protect and support LGBTI persons and their loved ones from discrimination, prejudice, harm and abuse.”

At least one bishop has endorsed the idea that Catholics should vote and follow their conscience. Bishop Michael McKenna of Bathurst said, as quoted in the Daily Liberal:

“Catholics will be informed by their beliefs in marriage according to their faith and that will lead some to vote no but others might say that this is what I believe as a Catholic but for various reasons vote yes. . .I think there are different opinions about changing the law on marriage among all people.”

Two weeks agoBondings 2.0 reported on the central role which Catholic voices are playing in Australia’s ongoing debate over marriage equality. In a moment when right-wing extremism is resurgent in the world, these damaging incidents in Australia are a moment to pause for reflection, and focus on appeals to conscience.

Church officials like Archbishop Hart, along with other prominent Catholics like former prime minister Tony Abbott, a marriage equality opponent, should ask what their impact is on LGBT people’s lives when they promote harmful misinformation and discredited science. They should consider the message of Bishop McKenna that respects the agency of Catholics who properly form and live by their conscience.

All Catholics should consider whether the Church’s mission is to stymie equal human rights for all people or to firmly resist hate in every place and in every moment where it surfaces. Do we really want to be a church where bishops threaten devoted LGBT church workers while remaining silent about hate speech targeting LGBT people?

As we reflect on these questions, and as Australian Catholics form their consciences on marriage equality, the Rainbow Catholics InterAgency for Ministry gives us these words to pray for Australia and every place where extremists are a threat to LGBT people:

“We pray that the weeks leading up to the survey will be a time when respect and listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit will reign over rhetoric and ideology that can damage the human spirit in each person.”

Amen.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 28, 2017

CATHOLIC LGBT HISTORY: DignityUSA Issues Guidelines for Holy Unions

“This Month in Catholic LGBT History” is Bondings 2.0’s  feature to educate readers of the rich history—positive and negative—that has taken place over the last four decades regarding Catholic LGBT equality issues.  We hope it will show people how far our Church has come, ways that it has regressed, and how far we still have to go.

Once a  month, Bondings 2.0 staff will produce a post on Catholic LGBT news events from the past 38 years.  We will comb through editions of Bondings 2.0’s predecessor: Bondings,  New Ways Ministry’s newsletter in paper format.   We began publishing Bondings in 1978. Unfortunately, because these newsletters are only archived in hard copies, we cannot link back to the primary sources in most cases. 

DignityUSA Issues Guidelines for Holy Unions

It has been two years since marriage equality became the law of the land in the U.S., but it has been twenty years since an LGBT Catholic organization here in the U.S. issued their own guidelines for same-sex marriage, way ahead of the general population.

In August 1997,  The Washington Blade, the LGBT weekly newspaper of the District of Columbia metropolitan area, wrote an article about DignityUSA releasing a new set of guidelines for lesbian and gay couples preparing for a marriage ritual referred to as a Holy Union (which at the time would not have been a legally binding ceremony).  The news article explains:

“At its national convention last week, Dignity released its guidelines for the holy union of same-sex couples.  The guidelines, which also include a registry of couples that have joined in a ho9ly union, stemmed from a two-year research effort.”

Peggy Hayes, who was then a DignityUSA board member and currently the organization’s Operations Manager, explained a bit of the rationale for issuing the guidelines:

“We’d love the Catholic Church to bless our unions, but we’re not going to wait for them.  We believe that Gay and Lesbian couples can express their love for each other. . . Many of the chapters were looking for guidelines and the task force put together some sample services, ince all the chapters do the services differently.”

According to DignityUSA’s current website, the guidelines, known as “The Couples Ministry Resource Guide,” was produced by the organization’s Couple’s Ministry Task Force, comprised of one couple from each of the organization’s seven regions. One of the task force’s first activities was to conduct a survey about “the needs and desires of the local chapters with regard to Holy Unions.”

In addition to establishing rules for eligibility of a couple for a Holy Union ceremony, resources for preparing the ceremony, and ways to support couples both before and after their commitment, the document also established an official registry of couples.  The document describes the need such a record:

“In its effort to support and validate committed relationships, DignityUSA has established a National Registry of Holy Unions. This registry is part of Dignity’s commitment to recognizing and honoring couples who have made a decision to have a Holy Union that satisfies the Holy Union Guidelines set forth in this resource guide. It is also documentation that we, as lesbian, gay, bisexual and, transgender people, do have and desire long-term monogamous relationships that are consonant with Christ’s teaching and Christian values, and are loving, life-giving, and life affirming.”

The guidelines were released at DignityUSA’s national convention in Boston in July 1997, which was entitled “We are called. . .Prophets to the World.”   In the Blade article, Marianne Duddy-Burke, who was then the outgoing President and is currently the Executive Director commented:

“The conference was very energizing and empowering.  We want to answer the question, “What is the unique role of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics to the world?’ “

In religious contexts, we usually think of a prophet as someone who calls a community to live up to their ideals of justice.   In more common parlance, a prophet is sometimes thought of as someone who can predict the future.  In the case of DignityUSA’s guidelines on Holy Unions, the organization was a prophet in both senses of the word:  they reminded the Catholic community of its responsibility to act justly towards lesbian and gay couples, and they envisioned a world in which same-gender couples would one day be recognized by the world.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, August 27, 2017

Australian Archbishop Walks Back Church Worker Remarks

It seems the center of Catholic LGBT news right now is Australia, where a non-binding plebiscite over marriage equality has ignited an intense debate in which Catholics are heavily involved.

archbishop-tim-costelloe
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe

Earlier this week, Bondings 2.0 reported that Melbourne’s Archbishop Denis Hart had threatened to fire church workers who entered same-gender civil marriages, should marriage equality be legalized in the future. Now, a fellow archbishop has clarified the archbishop’s comments.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission, claimed Archbishop Hart’s comments had been misreported. Costelloe said individual bishops would decide how to handle such cases should marriage equality become legal. He continued, according to The Christian Post:

“Normally such issues would be addressed, in the first instance, in discussions between the staff member concerned and the local leadership of the school. The aim would be to discover a way forward for the school and the staff member that preserves the Catholic ethos of the school.”

Other Catholic leaders have weighed in on the issues surrounding Australian marriage equality.

The St. Vincent Health Association responded to Archbishop Hart’s comments with its own statement. The Association, sponsored by Sisters of Charity of Australia, appealed to those people it served through its healthcare ministries:

“We want to acknowledge this may be a difficult time for many of our staff, their families and friends. We want to be absolutely clear: all our LGBTQI employees have the full support of St Vincent’s Health Australia. We value you. We recognise you and are grateful for your contribution and care. This will never change.

“St Vincent’s has a long tradition of embracing diversity in our workforce. We will continue to support all our staff in whatever marriage choices they make in the future. All of our staff, whatever their life experiences and backgrounds, have a significant part to play in helping us serve the people who come to us for care. Our staff from the LGBTQI community are no exception.”

Elsewhere, the Edmund Rice Centre published a guide to aid Catholics in their participation in the plebiscite. The Centre is a ministry of the Christian Brothers, who also sponsor many schools in Australia. The guide  begins:

“The survey [a.k.a. plebiscite] asks only one question: ‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’ It is not about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, gender identity, ‘Safe Schools’ or political correctness.

“For the Edmund Rice Centre, an organisation inspired by Catholic Social Teaching and the Charism of Blessed Edmund Rice, the issue of marriage equality is about human rights and anti-discrimination. Rights for all people, including those who identify as LGBTQI, are guaranteed in various United Nations human rights conventions.”

The guide continued by debunking myths about marriage equality, and concluded succinctly:

“Marriage equality is not a threat to freedom of religion or freedom of speech. It is simply a question of whether same-sex couples can enjoy the same rights as opposite sex couples. Love is love. It is as simple as that.”

Finally, historian and writer Paul Collins authored an open letter to Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher who has opposed marriage equality. Collins, who serves on the advisory board for Australian Catholics for Equality, wrote:

“Like many Australian Catholics, I am disturbed by your identification of your personal views on marriage equality with those of the Catholic Church. No one questions your right to hold such views, but many are concerned when you identify them—or allow others, such as journalists—to identify them with the teaching of the Church.”

Collins proceeded to detail how church teaching on marriage has developed over time. He said the archbishop’s thoughts on marriage “are really drawn from an early-twentieth century, bourgeois notion of marriage which found a slightly more modern, post-World War II expression, in the nuclear family.” Collins concluded the letter:

“The saddest thing is that you have linked Catholicism with some of the most reactionary and unattractive political forces in the entire country. You may agree with such people, but please don’t identify our church with them. . .My request is that you take these issues into consideration before you go on the record again claiming that your views represent those of Australian Catholicism. They don’t.”

To reading Bondings 2.0’s full coverage of how Catholics have been involved in ongoing Australia’s marriage equality debate, click here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 26, 2017