A coalition-in-formation of organizations which promote equality in Catholic LGBT issues has responded to this week’s Vatican release of the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the October 2015 synod on marriage and family.
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) issued a press statement, on the same day as the Vatican unveiled the Instrumentum, which provided an alternative Catholic perspective on lesbian and gay family issues, as well as the important topic of criminalizaiton of lesbian and gay people in nations around the globe.
The GNRC statement was critical of the Vatican’s suggested discussion of lesbian and gay issues at the synod, saying:
“Although ‘suitable attention to the pastoral accompaniment of families in which live persons with homosexual tendencies, and families of these same persons’ is recommended, Paragraphs 130-132 of the Working Document hardly reflect the rich discussions which have taken place, internationally and at all levels in the Church, on the welcome, respect, and value which should be afforded to lesbian and gay people in the Catholic community.
“The inclusion of the unfounded statement that international organisations are pressurising poorer countries to introduce same-sex marriage as a condition of receiving financial aid Para. 132) is scandalously dishonest. Far better for the Church to show its commitment to social justice through the condemnation of global criminalisation of LGBT people, including torture and the death penalty.”
The GNRC also proposed several concrete steps that the synod can take to provide more appropriate pastoral care for lesbian and gay people and families. One step was that the synod should call for:
“a structured discernment process be introduced, to involve homosexual people, including those living in long-term, stable relationships as well as those who are single or celibate, their children and parents, experienced pastoral ministers, and theologians, as well as relevant dicasteries of the Holy See. Such a process, reflecting upon examples of positive pastoral experience and ongoing theological, anthropological and scientific study, should be conducted at both global and local levels of the Church for a period of three to five years.”
The coalition also suggested that the synod use language which calls for further study and examination of the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity:
“The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge at all levels of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 2357-2358, 2395). It has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid constitutes a precious support in the life of same-sex partners. Arising from the experience of positive pastoral ministry, this Synod encourages the whole Church to renew its theological reflections on human sexuality and gender identity, working towards the right integration of ortho-praxis and ortho-doxy.”
The statement also suggested that the synod speak out strongly against the criminalization of lesbian and gay people:
“At a global level, people with variant sexual orientation are unjustly criminalised, tortured, subjected to death penalties, and those offering pastoral and practical care in such circumstances are also often penalised. This Synod of Bishops unequivocally condemns such injustices perpetrated on people and firmly opposes such patterns of criminalisation. It urges governments and civil society to respect the human rights of each person regardless of their sexual orientation.”
They also addressed the specific topic of baptism for children of lesbian and gay couples:
“When people living in same-sex unions request a child’s baptism, the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children. Furthermore, the Church responds to the needs of children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.”
Underlying all the GNRC’s concerns was a rationale for such actions based on Catholic documents and principles:
“Some families include homosexual members who, with their parents, families and children, have a right to informed pastoral care (The Code of Canon Law: Canons 208-231). As such, they ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of discrimination in their regard should be avoided. The language used by the Church in describing its pastoral ministry in this area of human concern should reflect its principles of the precious dignity of the person and its commitment to social justice so that the gifts and qualities of homosexual people may be welcomed, valued, and respected (Paragraphs 10 & 16, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, CDF, 1986). “
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics descibes itself as
“an international network of organizations of/with LGBT Catholics which met for the first time during the Family Synod 2014 in Rome and has since worked together to initiate a global network of LGBTQI Catholics, their parents and families.”
The founding groups include: European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, Associació Cristiana de Gais i Lesbianes de Catalunya (ACGIL) (Catalonia), Comitato promotore dell’associazione Cammini di Speranza – associazione nazionale cristiani lgbt (Italy), Dette Resources Foundation (Zambia), DignityUSA (USA), Drachma (Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Group) (Malta), Ichthys christian@s lgtbh de Sevilla (Spain), LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council (UK), New Ways Ministry (USA), Nuova Proposta (Italy), Ökumenische Arbeitsgruppe Homosexuelle und Kirche (Germany), Wiara i Tęcza (Poland). [Many of these organizational links provided by Queering the Church.]
This global network will be officially launched in Rome on October 1-4, the opening weekend of the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family. The founding assembly will be entitled “LGBT Voices to the Synod,” and it will include a public conference “Ways of Love – Snapshots of Catholic Encounter with LGBT People and their Families,”presenting examples of positive LGBT pastoral activities from all over the world. New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick, will be a speaker at this event.
The GNRC’s alternative for the synod was included in news stories around the globe this past week. You can find links to some of those in the list under my signature.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Reuters.com: “Outreach to gay couples not on agenda for Vatican meeting”
New York Times: “Vatican Lays Groundwork for Discussions on Family”
Queering the Church: “Family Synod Working Document Disappoints Global Rainbow Catholics”
Mamba Online: “LGBT Catholics disappointed by new church document on family”
[List of articles courtesy of Martin Pendergast]