— Pope Francis has established himself as one of the most boundary-pushing popes the church has ever had. Here are his stances on same-sex marriage, trans people, LGBTQ+ parents, and more.
Every few months, many LGBTQ+ folks find themselves asking the same question: what is even the deal with the pope?
Since becoming the 266th leader of the Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis — née Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — has established himself as one of the most boundary-pushing popes in modern history. That led a group of five cardinals to issue a list of concerns, or dubia, in October 2023 challenging some of his most radical positions on LGBTQ+ rights and other issues.
Still, in the Catholic church, “radical” is subjective. Francis has certainly taken many positions that soften Catholic doctrine when it comes to LGBTQ+ people and issues. That isn’t a hard thing to do, given that his predecessor Pope Benedict believes gay marriage will bring about the apocalypse and some leading bishops even lobbied against an LGBTQ+ suicide hotline. But Francis has also contradicted himself and split some very specific hairs regarding LGBTQ+ rights. And on a few issues, like the concept of transgender people, his principles are strictly orthodox.
With so many different statements released over the past decade, it can be hard to figure out what Pope Francis actually believes, especially about queer and trans people and how we live our lives and fit into the Church. Below, we’ve rounded up the highlights from Francis’ papacy so far to make sense of how Catholicism might slowly be changing, and in what ways it’s still the same old $30 billion tax haven we’re used to.
What is Pope Francis’s stance on gay people?
Francis has generally taken the open-ended position that God loves gays and wants them welcomed in the church. In 2013, the Pope famously said that “if someone is gay and is searching for the Lord […] who am I to judge?” The statement was widely lauded at the time simply for being the first time a pope had ever said the word “gay,” rather than “homosexual,” in public remarks. (Since then, Francis has frequently spoken of “homosexuals” in various comments.) In 2015, Francis affirmed the ministry of Bishop Jacques Gaillot, who was removed from his ministry in 1995 after he blessed gay couples. In 2018 Francis said that gay Catholics are made and loved by God, and in a surprise meeting at the Vatican in 2020, told families of LGBTQ+ youth that “God loves your children as they are.”
But while he has regularly affirmed queer love in the abstract, the pope has been less positive about what all those homosexuals might end up doing with one another. While “being homosexual is not a “crime,” as Francis exhorted in January 2023, he went on to say that “it’s a sin […] first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.” This seemed to contradict another statement Francis made in 2019, when he said the “tendencies” to be gay “are not a sin.”
In particular, Francis has said that queer relations between clergy members are a “serious concern” and “worry” him. “The question of homosexuality is a very serious one,” Francis said in a 2018 book interview, and there was “no room” for anyone in the ministry to enter a queer relationship (though heterosexual ones were still okay).
“In our societies, it even seems homosexuality is fashionable. And this mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the Church,” he fretted, recommending “persons with this rooted tendency not be accepted into ministry or consecrated life.”
Does Pope Francis support same-sex marriage?
Well, yes, but actually no. Francis is a vocal supporter of legal “civil unions,” but that’s as far from Church orthodoxy as he is willing to stray. This position dates back to his pre-papal days as Cardinal Bergoglio, when he was a leading proponent for a 2010 same-sex “civil union” bill in Argentina. As soon as that bill fell through, however, Bergoglio wrote a letter to the Carmelite Nuns of Buenos Aires to sound the alarm about another bill legalizing same-sex “marriage,” which was ultimately successful. The law would represent “the outright rejection of the law of God,” the pope-to-be wrote at the time, by “a ‘movement’ of the father of lies,” — i.e., Satan — “that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
After Kim Davis infamously refused to grant same-sex marriage licenses to gay couples as a Kentucky county clerk in 2015, claiming she acted “under God’s authority,” Pope Francis met with Davis that September during his visit to Washington, D.C. A Vatican statement asserted Francis only interacted with Davis as part of an audience with “several dozen persons,” and that their meeting “should not be considered a form of support of her position.” But Davis and her lawyers at the conservative Liberty Counsel have told a different story, saying Francis said he would pray for Davis, “thanked her for her courage and told her to ‘stay strong.’”
The pope has continued to ride this line for years, calling same-sex marriage “a contradiction” in some 2019 comments that LGBTQ+ figures roundly condemned. Francis doubled down in 2021, saying that since “marriage” is a God-delivered sacrament, the Church did not have the power to alter its definition. Civil unions can “help the situation” in a legal sense, he explained, but “marriage is marriage.”
As of now, Pope Francis still holds that “civil unions” are the only way to reconcile the religious and legal definitions of marriage. In his response to five conservative cardinals’ complaints in 2023, Francis expressed support for clergy (like Gaillot) who bless same-sex unions, but only if those blessings “do not convey a mistaken concept of marriage.” That privilege is still reserved for “a man and a woman” — specifically, the ones who are “naturally open to procreation.” Super.
What does Pope Francis think about transgender people?
Unsurprisingly, what the pope says about trans people doesn’t always match up with how he treats them. Francis is most infamously known among trans communities for comparing trans people to nuclear weaponry, comments that gave us the best flagging shirts of all time. “[G]ender theory […] does not recognize the order of creation,” Francis said in a 2014 interview, and thus “man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator” whose design “is written in nature.” Francis reiterated that concept in 2016, writing that trans youth “need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created” rather than physically transition.
In 2019, the Vatican distributed a memo entitled “Male and Female He Created Them,” a document which declared both trans and intersex identities “only a ‘provocative’ display against so-called ‘traditional frameworks’” that “seek to annihilate the concept of ‘nature.’” If you’re nonbinary, no you’re not: that idea is “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants,” wrote Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi in the memo, published by the Vatican Press. In early 2023, Francis went even further: “gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations” in the world, he said, because “it blurs differences and the value of men and women.” Later in the year, he did make an allowance that trans people could receive baptism, but only if doing so would not cause a “scandal.”
But despite apparently seeing them as unnatural threats to divine creation, Francis has at least provided some amount of material support to trans people in need, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Francis donated an undisclosed amount of money to a group of unhoused trans sex workers sheltering in an Italian church. Since then, he has gone on to meet with the same group at least five separate times, eating pasta with them and over 1,000 others at a lunch in November recognizing the Church’s World Day of the Poor.
For those trans people, the Pope is a major force for good, at least more so than he’s been viewed elsewhere in the world. “We transgenders in Italy feel a bit more human because the fact that Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church is a beautiful thing,” Carla Segovia told Reuters after the lunch. “Because we need some love.”
Does Pope Francis support LGBTQ+ parents and adoption rights?
On this, the Pope has taken a much clearer stance: not on your life. If a “marriage” is no longer between a man and a woman, then-Cardinal Bergoglio wrote in his 2010 letter to the Carmelite Nuns, adopted children will be irrevocably harmed from growing up with gay parents. “At stake are the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against in advance,” he lamented, “depriving them of the human maturation that God wanted to be given with a father and a mother.” (It should be noted that children raised by LGBTQ+ parents develop the same way their peers do, and may even have some advantages.)
Since becoming pope, Francis has not officially changed his stance. In 2013, a bishop reported that the pope was “shocked” by a civil union bill in Malta that would have allowed LGBTQ+ couples to adopt. The year after, Francis reiterated that children have “a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother” and warned against being tempted towards “the poisonous environment of the temporary.” As comparatively boundary-pushing as some of his other views might be, we wouldn’t expect Francis to change on this one anytime soon.
Does the Pope at least like my pets?
Bad news! Owning pets is also a metaphysical threat to the fabric of reality, even for straights. “Many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats,” Francis said in 2022, calling the trend a “denial of fatherhood or motherhood” that “diminishes us” and “takes away our humanity.” We can only imagine what the guy thinks of Sapphics who own more than one litterbox.
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— The Vatican has told German bishops that women priests and Church teaching on homosexual acts are not up for discussion in talks scheduled for next year.
By Luke Coppen
Rome set out its red lines in an Oct. 23 note to Beate Gilles, the general secretary of the German bishops’ conference. A conference spokesman confirmed that the bishops had received the message — reportedly sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin — during a meeting of their permanent council at the start of this week.
The three-page Vatican document, published Nov. 24 by the weekly Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost, addressed discussions between German bishops and curial officials that are expected to take place in January, April, and June 2024.
The talks — which will focus on resolutions issued by Germany’s contentious “synodal way” — are due to involve the Vatican’s dicasteries for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Promotion of Christian Unity, Bishops, Divine Worship, and Legislative Texts.
The note’s publication follows the release of a Nov. 10 letter in which Pope Francis said he shared concerns that elements in the German Church are taking steps “to steer it increasingly away from the universal Church’s common path.”
The pope was referring to the decisions of the synodal way, an initiative that brought together the country’s bishops and select lay people at five “synodal assemblies” between 2020 and 2023.
Participants endorsed texts calling for women deacons, a re-examination of priestly celibacy, lay preaching at Masses, same-sex blessings, and a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality.
The note from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State said that not all of the issues raised by the German initiative could “be placed on the same level.”
“Some of them have aspects that cannot be put up for discussion, but also aspects that can be subjected to joint in-depth discussion,” it explained, according to an English translation published by the website Rorate Caeli.
The note said that two topics where “there is no possibility of arriving at a different assessment” were the teachings that priestly ordination is reserved to men and the Church’s negative judgment on homosexual acts.
The document provided an extensive explanation of the Church’s teaching on priestly ordination, beginning with Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, which declared that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
The note also cited statements by Pope Francis reiterating the teaching and 2021 norms on delicts reserved to the Vatican’s doctrine office, which set out punishments for “attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman.”
The document said that “although today this issue must be considered closed throughout the Church,” Pope Francis had encouraged Church leaders “to find other ways to favor greater participation of women” in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium.
In September 2022, synodal way participants — including bishops — passed a resolution that said: “The doctrine of Ordinatio sacerdotalis is not accepted and understood by the people of God in large parts. Therefore, the question must be addressed to the highest authority in the Church (Pope and Council) whether the teaching of Ordinatio sacerdotalis should be reviewed.”
The Vatican note described homosexual acts as “another issue on which a local Church has no possibility of taking a different view.”
“For even if one recognizes that from a subjective point of view there may be various factors that call us not to judge people, this in no way changes the evaluation of the objective morality of these acts,” the note said.
It cited a 2001 notification by the Vatican doctrine office, which said that in Catholic doctrine, “there is a precise and well-founded evaluation of the objective morality of sexual relations between persons of the same sex” and “the degree of subjective moral culpability in individual cases is not the issue here.”
Synodal way participants endorsed a resolution in September 2022 calling on the pope to engage in “a re-evaluation of homosexuality in the Magisterium.” It said that sexual acts between people of the same sex should not be considered “a sin that separates a person from God” or “be judged as bad in itself.”
The resolution also called for the revision of passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church addressing homosexuality, including paragraph 2357, which says that “under no circumstances” can homosexual acts be approved.
This is not the first time that the Vatican has stressed the Church’s teaching on women priests in its interactions with the German bishops.
The topic was raised at a Nov. 18, 2022, meeting between the bishops and three senior Vatican cardinals during the bishops’ ad limina visit to Rome.
Quoting from Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the Vatican’s then doctrinal prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria said: “The decisive point in this regard is not that women in the Catholic Church cannot access priestly ordination; the point is that one must accept the truth that ‘the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.’”
The call for a re-evaluation of Church teaching on homosexuality was also mentioned at the meeting, by the then bishops’ dicastery prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet. He included it in a list of items that he described as “the agenda of a limited group of theologians from a few decades ago” that had “suddenly became the majority proposal of the German episcopate.”
During the ad limina visit, Vatican officials and German bishops agreed to continue their dialogue over the synodal way’s resolutions.
In January this year, Ladaria, Ouellet, and Parolin informed the German bishops that they had no authority to enact a resolution calling for a permanent “synodal council” of lay people and bishops with governing powers over the Church in Germany.
Representatives of the German bishops met with the heads of Vatican dicasteries in July, shortly after the synodal way formally ended.
In October, German delegates at the synod on synodality met with curial officials, along with bishops’ conference general secretary Beate Gilles.
A committee of lay people and bishops designed to implement the synodal way’s decisions held its inaugural meeting Nov. 10-11. The “synodal committee” will pave the way for the creation of the synodal council in 2026, despite the Vatican’s veto.
Archbishop Nikola Eterović, the apostolic nuncio to Germany, had a private audience Pope Francis Nov. 13. It is not known what they discussed.
Thomas Söding, the vice-president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), which co-sponsored the synodal way with Germany’s bishops, questioned the designation of issues as non-negotiable.
“It’s not about negotiating. It’s about the question of whether you face up to the problems that exist in the Catholic Church,” he said Nov. 24.
He suggested that women priests should be discussed, “and we will then see the result.”
Regarding homosexuality, he noted that the synthesis report endorsed by the synod on synodality’s delegates in October said that sometimes the “anthropological categories” developed within the Church “are not able to grasp the complexity of the elements emerging from experience or knowledge in the sciences and require greater precision and further study.”
The Vatican’s note also referred to the synod on synodality, which will continue in Rome in October 2024.
“In view of the course of the German synodal journey so far, it must first be borne in mind that a universal synodal journey is currently taking place, convened by the Holy Father,” it said.
“It is therefore necessary to respect this path of the universal Church and to avoid the impression that parallel initiatives are underway that are indifferent to the endeavor to ‘journey together.’”
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By BERT HOOVER
This gathering took place as part of the Catholic Church’s “World Day of the Poor.”
The pope and these transgender women have developed a close relationship, which originated during the COVID-19 pandemic when the pontiff assisted them when they were unable to work.
Now, they have monthly VIP visits with the pope and receive support in the form of medicine, money, and other essentials.
The luncheon was a broader event, with around 1,200 impoverished or homeless individuals also attending inside the papal audience hall to enjoy a full meal and dessert.
This invitation to transgender women aligns with a recent Vatican document that generated controversy.
Released earlier in the month, the document affirms that individuals dealing with gender identity disorders are permitted to be baptized or serve as godparents under specific conditions.
While responding to a query from Brazilian Bishop Giuseppe Negri of Santo Amaro, the guidance from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by Pope Francis, maintains that the baptism or involvement as godparents must not cause “scandal” or “disorientation.”
This nuanced stipulation has been praised by LGBTQ+ advocates.
Pope Francis: ‘Who Am I to Judge?’
Prominent LGBTQ+ organizations are applauding Pope Francis for his message of inclusivity, recognizing that gay and transgender individuals have historically felt marginalized within a church that officially characterizes homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered.”
Francis has been on a trajectory toward greater acceptance, starting with his notable “Who am I to judge” remark in 2013 about a purportedly gay priest, AP reports.
In January, he reinforced this stance by asserting that “being homosexual is not a crime.”
The pope has consistently evolved his position, emphasizing that everyone, unequivocally, is a child of God, loved by God, and welcomed in the church – a sentiment expressed with the resounding declaration, “todos, todos, todos” (everyone, everyone, everyone).
However, this judgment-free perspective isn’t universally shared within the Catholic Church.
A recent synod, a gathering of bishops and laypeople at the Vatican, stopped short of explicitly advocating for the welcoming of LGBTQ+ Catholics.
Pope Francis’ approach has faced strong opposition from conservative Catholics, including cardinals.
Despite internal divisions, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like GLAAD and DignityUSA see Pope Francis’ inclusive tone as a powerful message.
They believe it could encourage political and cultural leaders to cease the persecution, exclusion, and discrimination against transgender individuals.
Lunch with Pope Francis
Latin America migrants and sex workers had the opportunity to share a meal with Pope Francis featuring cannelloni pasta filled with spinach and ricotta, followed by meatballs in tomato-basil sauce and tiramisu for dessert, THEM noted.
“We transgenders in Italy feel a bit more human because the fact that Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church is a beautiful thing,” Carla Segovia, a 46-year-old sex worker from Argentina, said, expressing gratitude.
Claudia Vittoria Salas, a trans tailor and house cleaner from Argentina, had a personal connection to the recent declaration by the Catholic Church regarding trans godparents.
She shared that she had previously worked as a sex worker to support her nieces and nephews, to whom she served as a godparent. She found herself seated next to Pope Francis during the lunch.
“Before, the church was closed to us. They didn’t see us as normal people; they saw us as the devil. Then Pope Francis arrived, and the doors of the church opened for us,” Andrea Paola Torres Lopez, a trans woman from Colombia, said, reflecting on the changing perception of the church.
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The vice president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega, justified the draping of LGBT flags on the coffins of a gay activist and his partner during their funeral held in the Aguascalientes cathedral, despite the scandal that this has caused among the faithful.
The caskets were covered with the flags during the funeral Mass of the “nonbinary” judge and activist Ociel Baena and his romantic partner, which was held on the morning of Nov. 14.
Both bodies were found with indications of violence inside Baena’s house on Nov. 13. The attorney general’s office of Aguascalientes state reported in a statement posted on Facebook that day that “everything indicates that it could be a personal matter” since “a sharp instrument” was found in the hands of one of the deceased.
Several comments on the post questioned the quick conclusions of the investigators and claimed it was a hate crime, alluding to Ulises Nava, a gay rights activist who was gunned down in July as he was leaving an event organized by Baena.
As can be seen in the photos and videos circulating on social media, at the funeral Mass of Baena and his partner, people from his circle placed the LGBT flags on the coffins.
In a press conference held Nov. 16, Rodríguez, who is also the archbishop of Yucatán, pointed out that Baena and his partner are “children of God and our brothers” and so “we could not, in any way, not receive them in the church. Especially when the family wanted them to be taken there [the Aguascalientes cathedral].”
When asked by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, about the placement of the flags, the archbishop commented that “if they place those flags, which meant so much to them, well, we respect that.”
“There is no problem,” continued the vice president of the bishops’ conference, because “there was no intention to offend anyone.”
“They are also welcome to all the services that the Church can offer,” he concluded.
Who was Ociel Baena?
Born in Saltillo in 1984, Baena graduated in law from the Autonomous University of Coahuila and held a doctorate in law from the Autonomous University of Durango. He originally held the position of secretary general of Accords of the Electoral Court of the State of Aguascalientes, but in October 2022, after the departure of Claudia Eloísa Díaz de León González, he assumed the interim position of judge, which he was to hold until the federal senate would appoint his replacement.
Baena, who identified as a “nonbinary” person, asked to be called “magistrade” as part of his LGBT activism. “Magistrade” is a made-up word in Spanish because it is correctly spelled magistrado (male judge) or magistrada (female judge). In May he was the first to receive a “nonbinary” passport, a category created by the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Involved in various controversies, on Oct. 31 he upset Catholics by posting a photograph of himself on social media dressed as the Virgin Mary.
Can LGBT flags be displayed at a funeral Mass?
In a Nov. 15 interview with ACI Prensa, Father Francisco Torres Ruiz, an expert in liturgy of the Diocese of Plasencia in Spain, explained that “it’s not permissible to put any type of symbology at funeral Masses, especially when that symbology represents ideologies contrary to Christian anthropology, that is, when they are against the faith.”
“What is admitted is, when a head of state or a soldier is buried, who have their own protocol, putting the national flag, the flag of the country, on the coffin. But never a flag that detracts from the sacred place that is a church.”
“Nor can any other symbol or photo of the deceased be placed during the funeral celebration,” he explained, “because in the church the only images, the only photos or icons, are always those of the saints or the diocesan bishop or of the pope, but never that of the deceased who is being buried.”
What could the priest have done?
For Torres, if the placing of the flags had occurred before the start of the Mass, the priest would have had the opportunity to “indicate to the family or the funeral planners that that symbology is strictly prohibited.”
“If ‘treasonously’ they place it during the ceremony, it’s a very forced situation for the priest, because he’s not going to stop a celebration to remove that flag,” he said.
“Although it may perfectly be the case that the priest, during the homily or at any time, makes some observation or orders the family or the organization to remove that symbol. But it is certainly a very forced situation for the priest who has to preside over the celebration,” he noted.
Why is the funeral Mass important for Catholics?
Torres explained that the funeral Mass “is not just another ceremony, but rather it is the last expression of the spiritual motherhood of Holy Mother Church for her children who have passed from this world to the next.”
“Christian funerals are always an action to aid the person who is buried, that is, to implore the eternal rest of the soul of the person” who “may have some type of unforgiven sin or unrepaired guilt.”
“Then we think that he is in purgatory and what the Church does by offering this Mass is to ask for the purification of that person, for the forgiveness of his sins,” so that he can “enter the kingdom of heaven.”
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The first Catholic bishop in Germany has called on his priests and pastoral staff to hold blessing ceremonies for same-sex and remarried couples. The West German Diocese of Speyer announced on Friday that these were “blessing celebrations for people who love each other.” Against… pic.twitter.com/Ct40oJFlfc
— KNA (@KNA_Newsroom) November 3, 2023
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”
Early in his papacy, Pope Francis told journalists: ” “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Citing those words, while expressing hope for future Synod on Synodality developments, a German bishop has officially asked his clergy to start performing rites blessing Catholics in same-sex relationships. He also included couples with secular divorces, as opposed to church annulments, who are then married outside the church.
“Both with regard to believers whose marriages have broken down and who have remarried, and especially with regard to same-sex oriented people, it is urgently time – especially against the background of a long history of deep hurt – for a different perspective,” wrote Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of the Diocese of Speyer (.pdf here), in a translation from the German posted by the Catholic Conclave weblog.< The goal, he added, is "a pastoral attitude … as many of you have been practicing for a long time. That's why I campaigned for a reassessment of homosexuality in church teaching in the Synodal Path and also voted for the possibility of blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. I stand by that." The bishop stressed that new rites will not be "celebrating a sacrament, but rather about a blessing." This change in diocesan policy means that "no one who carries out such blessings has to fear sanctions." Performing these blessings will require "empathy and discretion," wrote Wiesemann. "It may be that the domestic setting (possibly also with the blessing of the shared apartment) is more suitable. … A blessing ceremony can also take place in the church," noted the bishop. "The celebration must differ in words and symbols from a church wedding and, as an act of blessing, should expressly reinforce the love, commitment and mutual responsibility that exists in the couple's relationship." At the end of recent Vatican meetings, Synod on Synodality participants released a 40-page report that didn't mention changes on hot-button topics such as married priests, the ordination of women as deacons and a range of LGBTQ+ issues. However, Bishop George Bätzing, president of the German bishops, noted signs of possible shifts in future synod sessions — even on "gender identity or sexual orientation" disputes that "raise new questions."
The head of Germany’s bishops, Bishop Georg Bätzing, said Sunday that the Synod on Synodality’s final text “is a big step for the universal Church” and that the wish of the synod to revise Catholic sexual ethics is an “enormous step forward.” He contended that an overwhelming… pic.twitter.com/kvCSJcOZUt
— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) October 29, 2023
The global synod statement added: “Sometimes existing anthropological categories are not sufficient to grasp the complexity of what emerges from experience or from science, and therefore this calls for further investigation. We must take the necessary time for this reflection and devote the best of our energies to it, and not fall into simplistic judgments that hurt people or damage the body of the Church.”
Before this synod meeting, Pope Francis urged “pastoral charity” when considering same-sex blessings, adding that the “defense of objective truth” in ancient doctrines is not enough. “For this reason, pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing … that do not transmit a mistaken conception of marriage,” he wrote.
Now, Pope Francis has issued an apostolic letter – “Ad theologiam promovendam (to promote theology)” – seeking a “paradigm shift” to a “fundamentally contextual theology” that doesn’t settle for “abstractly re-proposing formulas and schemes from the past.”
This post-synod letter proclaimed: “Theology can only develop in a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different knowledge, between different Christian confessions and different religions, openly engaging with everyone, believers and nonbelievers.”
OCT 21 #Synod briefing: German Bishop Overbeck says: “We put Jesus Christ at the center of faith in a common quest without clinging to habits & traditionalisms which, if critically examined, have no priority in the hierarchy of truth, & this in the end is important to say.”👇1/4 pic.twitter.com/7HptSttJAU
— Diane Montagna (@dianemontagna) October 21, 2023
Bishops in Germany and other rapidly shrinking European churches have, in recent years, openly pushed for the modernization of Catholic doctrines on sexuality. Last year, bishops in Belgium approved a text allowing rites blessing same-sex couples. And 93% of participants in German sessions preparing for the Vatican synod backed a document (.pdf here) approving “blessing celebrations for people who love each other.”
During a synod press conference, Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen – a diocese with 321 parishes in 2002, but only 40 parishes in 2022 – said that if church “theology, the magisterium, or tradition” continues to ignore the “signs of the times,” modern Germans will stop listening, including young Catholics.
Asked to clarify, Overbeck added: “We put Jesus Christ at the center of faith in a common quest without clinging to habits and traditionalisms which, if critically examined, have no priority in the hierarchy of truth.”
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