— Some French bishops want to reformulate the view of the Roman Catholic Church on homosexuality. To that end, they are working on some proposals.
The clergy want more attention to pastoral care for homosexuals in the Church, La Croix writes. Last week Tuesday, members of the Reconnaissance Association, an organisation for parents of homosexual people that pleads for more consideration for them in the Church, met in the Archdiocese of Sens-Auxerre.
According to La Croix, the trends in society to lift the taboo on homosexuality and make better care for gay people available have pushed the Church to reconsider its position on homosexuality.
In addition, some bishops want to reformulate the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, they want to revise the Catholic Catechism, which deals with homosexuality in paragraphs 2357, 2357, 2359 and 2396. Especially the wording of paragraph 2396 that calls acts of homosexuality intrinsically disordered is a thorn in the side of some clergy.
According to Archbishop Hervé Giraud, the process of reconsidering homosexuality in the French Roman Catholic Church has been ongoing since the ad limina visit to Rome in 2021. Since then, several bishops have been working on revising the doctrine. Archbishop Giraud says these proposals “must obviously be examined by the competent dicastery and submitted to the discernment of the Pope.”
At the same time, it is not likely that the trends in the French Church will lead to a change in the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in general. A source in Vatican City tells La Croix that he does not see a fundamental change taking place “because the question of homosexuality actually engages more than itself: the anthropology and sexual morality of the Church.”
Therefore, the main goal of the French clergy is to make the topic more audible. To that end, the National Family and Society Service of the Conference of Bishops of France has ordered three theologians to work on some commonly asked questions on the topic and answer them. In the process, they involved homosexual people and associations that specialise in homosexuality in the Church.
“I spent a great deal of my time in the shadows, hiding. That is not a happy existence for anyone.”
Dr Numair Masud from Cardiff used to practise Islam but left his faith as he felt he could not express his sexuality but instead had to hide it.
But for David Williamson and Matthew Dicken, from Cwmbran their experience couldn’t be more different – they are looking forward to receiving a church blessing when they get married in May.
“Being same sex attracted and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive. They can co-exist,” according to David.
During LGBT+ History Month three gay men share their views on their respective faiths – a relationship that is historically complicated with views varying from person to person in diverse religions across the world.
‘You can be persecuted by law’
Raised in a Muslim family in Pakistan, Dr Masud found it “impossible” to express his sexuality there.
“It was an upbringing of repression and oppression,” said the 32-year-old.
“By virtue of being in love with the same sex, you can be persecuted by law. There was fear because you don’t want the truth to come out because it can harm you.”
In Pakistan homosexuality is illegal and punishable by possible life imprisonment.
Numair moved to the UK to start a degree in zoology in Bristol and then moved to Cardiff to study for his PhD.
Navigating his identity as a gay man he became critical of his relationship with Islam and decided to leave the faith.
When he fell in love with another man, Numair realised he could not and would not return to Pakistan.
In 2017 he claimed and was granted asylum in the UK and now lives in Cardiff working as a research scientist at Cardiff University.
“Perhaps the most important freedom of all that I discovered, was the freedom to be able to help others through learning from my own trials and tribulations, to be able to help others discover their own voice”, he said.
Numair is now an LGBTQ+ activist, helping others who struggle to reconcile their sexuality and religion.
He worries that there is a danger when faith informs potentially harmful views.
“You have a right to believe in what you want, but the moment your belief when acted upon harms me or anyone else or any other community, that is unacceptable”, he said.
He acknowledges his experiences are personal and there are LGBTQ+ Muslims who are able to continue practising their faith.
While some attitudes are changing towards LGBTQ+ people in Muslim communities he personally was unable to do this.
“It feels bittersweet, because I’ve had to give up a lot in my life to be where I am today. Saying goodbye to the people you love is not easy,” he reflects.
“The sweet element, the sense of joy comes from realising that I have the freedom to be myself and find love, to love and be loved without too much judgement here in Wales… I’m so thankful and grateful for that.”
While Numair struggled, for David and Matthew, their religion is at the heart of their relationship.
‘Celebrate our love’
In just under three months, Matthew, 34 and David, 46 will tie the knot in Cardiff’s City Hall.
But what the couple, who are members of the Church in Wales, are most excited for is a blessing at Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff.
It will be the first blessing of its kind at the 12th Century cathedral.
“People have worshipped on this site for over 1,000 years, so there’s something special about that and to be able to celebrate our love there,” headteacher Matthew said.
The couple who live in Cwmbran have been together for two years but met years earlier.
Matthew and David’s individual journeys with sexuality have been different and complicated at times.
“Growing up, I always knew I was same-sex attracted but that was something to keep hidden or not talk about,” said David, who now works as executive assistant to the Bishop of Llandaff.
“It took me until my 30s to accept that for myself, and then a journey to actually see I’m still a person of faith, and my relationship with God is fundamentally intrinsic to who I am,” he added.
“I’d love to be able to say that everyone’s accepting but that’s not my full experience,” said Matt.
“People have quoted little bits of scripture from out of context and that has happened to us.
“We’re not going to pretend it’s easy, but our understanding is based on the fundamental thing of love,” he said.
“Being same sex attracted and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive. They can co-exist,” David added.
The couple said there are “ways to conduct debate carefully”, and despite difficult conversations or upsetting remarks, they believe things are progressing.
“I think the Church in Wales are really trying to be inclusive, and that’s so important. Communities of faith are on their own journey as well,” Matt said.
“It’s difficult to try and forge a way forward and accepting and blessing something that’s different from what has been, for however many centuries.”
‘Celebrate love in all its variety’
In September 2021, the Church in Wales’ governing body voted in favour of offering blessings to gay marriages or civil partnerships. In theological terms, a blessing is God’s approval.
The first same-sex blessing was in November that year.
The blessing is currently being used experimentally for five years, but individual clergy can decide whether to bless partnerships.
Earlier this month, the Church of England backed proposals to allow same-sex blessings there, as is already granted in Wales, but the topic proved divisive.
An amendment to force a vote on changing the Church’s teaching and allowing gay couples to marry in Church was rejected during the eight-hour debate in the Church of England’s national assembly.
In Wales the law prohibits same-sex marriages by the Church in Wales.
In 2021, the Archbishop of Wales, The Most Rev Andrew John said same-sex weddings could be held in churches in Wales in five years and should “welcome people, where they are, who they are”.
Matthew agrees changing the rules on same-sex marriage in churches in Wales could mean inclusion for more people.
“It needs to move forward I believe to be more accepting and to celebrate love in all its variety. I think there is a sense of urgency, because you lose people, not only to a church building or congregation, you lose people to faith,” he said.
For now though, both Matthew and David cannot wait for their special day.
“To celebrate our love for each other and our love for God and wanting to seek God’s blessing on our relationship and to be able to do that publicly in a place of worship is just more than we ever thought would be possible.”
A video expressing support for same-sex parents and other non-traditional families by Bishop David O’Connell (69), who was shot dead in a Los Angeles suburb last Saturday, was cut from the World Meeting of Families promotional material.
In March 2018, six months before the World Meeting of Families took place in Dublin, it emerged words of his were cut from a video prepared to promote that event.
These words included: “Pope Francis, he gets it. He gets it that our society has changed so much in the last couple of generations. We have all sorts of configurations of families now, whether it’s just the traditional family of mum and dad together, or it’s now mum on her own or dad on his own, or a gay couple raising children, or people in second marriages. No matter what the configuration of the family is, the call is still to adults to think about how to provide the best, most loving, faithful environment for children possible.”
At the time a spokeswoman for the World Meeting of Families said: “The wrong version of the video for Parish Session 1 was inadvertently uploaded for a short time but the correct version is now in place.”
From Glanmire in Cork, Bishop O’Connell served in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles after his ordination in 1979 at Dublin’s All Hallows College. After many years ministry in some of the more disadvantaged parishes of south Los Angeles, he was named an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese in 2015.
The original Bishop O’Connell video attracted the attention of the US-based fundamentalist Catholic Church Militant website which said it “promotes the sin of homosexuality” in an article headed `Sodomy Supporters Hijack World Meeting of Families’.
Bishop O’Connell did not attend the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018, although he and a group of 45 people from the Los Angeles Archdiocese had been on pilgrimage in Ireland days before the event began in Dublin on August 25th that year.
Interviewed at the time, he did not comment on the censoring of his video, but did say Pope Francis faced “an impossible task” on his visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families because of the shadow cast by clerical child sex abuse scandals.
Reflecting on the visit to Ireland of Pope John Paul II in 1979, Bishop O’Connell said “we thought this would be a revival of the Catholic Church in Ireland, which even at that time we needed.
“Even though the faith and practice were very strong, among many of my peers, my generation was already turning away from the Catholic faith even in the 1970s. We were hoping for a revival, and we thought that there would be.”
He continued: “But then of course, there was scandal and the trust broke, and now we’ve had stories coming out for a whole generation. It’s given everybody who didn’t want to go to church anymore a reason to say, ‘I’m over with all that. It’s all hypocrisy, there’s too much child abuse, abuse of people’.”
For Pope Francis “to be able to deal with all these issues in 32 hours? Obviously, he can’t,” he said.
Fluent in Spanish, prior to becoming an auxiliary bishop he attracted much positive attention for his work with African Americans and Hispanic communities in addressing immigration, unemployment, and south Los Angeles’s history of gang violence.
At a At a press conference following his announcement as auxiliary bishop he said: “I can walk around the streets of South LA and have done so for many years, where there’s violence and shootings, and I don’t feel the slightest bit of anxiety. But I come in here today and I’m shaking in my boots.”
He was also a liberal in Catholic Church terms as far back as 2002 when in a Los Angles Times profile he said “women should be ordained and clergy should be able to marry.” On the issue of clerical abuse and its cover-up he said that “if there had been some parents in there running things, none of this would have ever happened”.
At the time of the 1992 Los Angeles riots in which over 60 people died following the brutal beating of Rodney King by police, then Fr O’Connell was in Washington DC giving evidence about violence in urban America to a committee of Congress. He returned to Los Angles to find widespread destruction in his parish. He and other local faith leaders held meetings with sheriffs and members of the LAPD in people’s homes to build trust. Violent deaths began to decrease.
In recent years he had been chairman of the Church’s Southern Californian Immigration Task Force which helped coordinate a response to the influx of migrants from Central America. He was also chair of chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
— The Archdiocese of Denver allegedly refused the four women wearing rainbow masks during Communion at All Souls Catholic Church. Recently, they clarified the issue through their spokesperson, Kelly Clark.
Kelly Clark, a spokesman for the Denver Archdiocese, told The Denver Post that nobody from All Souls was available to discuss the subject. She also stated that the Archdiocese will not give a statement in response to the claim, yet, she did mention in an email that “the most sacred thing we do as Catholics is celebrated Mass.”
According to Clark, the Mass is a time to worship God and not a time to seemingly make a statement or enter Mass to generate a response. It is appropriate for a priest to give a blessing instead of Communion if it appears that the person isn’t ready to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ. If people believe that they were denied Communion in error, they strongly recommend they discuss the matter with the pastor of their parish, she added.
Story of the Four Women During Communion in Archdiocese of Denver
A report from Into stated that on Saturday, Feb. 11, the four close friends Sally Odenheimer, 71, Susan Doty, 81, Jill Moore, 64, and Cindy Grubenhoff, 48, went to the Mass held at All Souls Catholic Parish in Englewood. The priest gave a puzzled expression after taking one glimpse at the congregation’s rainbow face masks while they were lining up to take the Eucharist.
As mentioned, the four close friends wanted to show their support for local teacher Maggie Barton, who had been dismissed due to her sexual orientation, by wearing face masks. Barton was employed at All Souls Catholic School as a technology teacher until the Archdiocese of Denver got a photo of her kissing her partner. On Jan. 26, a day after Pope Francis condemned punitive actions for homosexuality, she was terminated from her position.
According to Advocate, even though none of them often goes to All Souls, Sally Odenheimer saw an opportunity to show her support for the educator. She organized a group of her friends to wear LGBTQ-affirming clothing and attend Mass at the church, where Barton was dismissed from her position. The women were taken aback when the priest refused to give them Communion. However, they did not make a fuss about it and simply continued with the Mass.
>As per Christianity Daily, the Archdiocese of Denver has a different stance on the issue. They claim that Barton’s dismissal resulted from her failure to abide by the commitments outlined in her contract with the school. The contract says that all Catholic school teachers are expected to live a Catholic lifestyle and refrain from engaging in behavior opposite to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Barton did not adhere to the commitments outlined in her contract with the school. Despite the provided explanation by the church, Barton continues to be firm in her opinion that she was fired due to discrimination in the LGBT community.
“To criminalise people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice,” said Francis.
“I am not talking about groups, but people. You can say ‘they make groups, etc’, but they are people. Lobbies are another thing, but they are people.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was also on the papal flight, said that he would “quote the Holy Father” at the Church of England’s general synod this week during debates on the blessing of same-sex marriages.
In the US, following the interview, the priest Fr Jim Martin SJ, who leads an apostolate to the LGBT community, published a note from Francis clarifying those comments.
“When I said [homosexuality] is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin,” the Pope wrote.
“Of course, one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault. As you can see, I was repeating something in general. I should have said ‘It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage.’
“This is to speak of ‘the matter’ of sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin.”