LGBTQ Catholics stung by the Vatican’s opposition to same-sex unions

(AP) – The Vatican’s declaration that same-sex unions are a sin that the Roman Catholic Church cannot bless came as no surprise to LGBTQ Catholics in the United States – yet it struck them deeply.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said her organization’s membership includes same-sex couples who have been together for decades and who hold onto their love for one another despite family bias and rejection.

“The fact that our church cannot see the grace in it at the highest level and cannot give blessings to these couples is just tragic,” she said.

She responded to a formal statement by the Vatican’s Office of Orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on Monday, saying that Roman Catholic clergymen may not bless such unions because God “cannot bless sin”. It was approved by Pope Francis.

“If sin is explicitly included in that statement, we’re back to zero,” said Ross Murray, who oversees religious issues for LGBTQ rights group GLAAD.

He expressed his dismay that “the ability for us to live our lives fully and freely is still seen as an affront to the Church, or worse, an affront to God, who made us and who knows and loves us. “

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the New Ways Ministry, which is campaigning for greater acceptance of LGBTQ in the church, said if the priests who have already blessed same-sex unions stop now, lay Catholics could take their place.

“When priests and ministers of pastoral care no longer feel that they can perform such a blessing, the lay Catholic will step in and perform their own rituals,” said DeBernardo. “The toothpaste is out of the tube and cannot be put back in.”

Rev. Bryan Massingale, an openly gay Catholic priest and professor of theology and social ethics at Fordham University, said priests who want to advocate for the gay and lesbian community will continue to do so, except that it will be even more under the table … than before. “

For Catholics in same-sex relationships, the new Vatican message will be harmful.
“Everyone is born with this innate desire to love,” he said. “For those orientated towards members of the same sex … to have it described as inherently or inherently sinful without any qualification is overwhelming.”

The Rev. James Martin, another priest advocating greater LGBTQ inclusion in the Catholic Church, said in a post on Twitter that he received dozens of messages Monday from LGBTQ people saying they were had been discouraged by the statement by the Vatican. He urged her not to despair.

“Besides, what’s the alternative?” he asked. “To live in fear of the future that God has in store for us? … To doubt that Jesus is on the side of those who feel marginalized in any way?”

Vatican doctrine states that gays and lesbians should be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “inherently disordered” and that same-sex unions are sinful.

Natalia Imperatori-Lee, professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, said these teachings together were problematic.

“It puzzles the mind that the hierarchy can confirm that LGBTQ + people are made in the image of God but that their unions are a sin,” she said via email. “With the exception of their hearts, are they made in God’s image? Except for their abilities and inclinations towards love? “

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the US-based NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby, said she was relieved that the Vatican’s statement was not tougher.

She interpreted it as saying, “You can bless the individuals (in a same-sex association), you just can’t bless the contract.”

“So it is possible that you have a ritual where individuals are blessed to be their dedicated selves.”

However, the Vatican’s declaration was welcomed by some church conservatives, such as Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League.

“Homosexual unions or marriages are not recognized by the Catholic Church. It’s not negotiable. End of story, ”he said.

“Pope Francis has been under significant pressure from gay activists inside and outside the Church to give the green light to gay marriage,” added Donohue, describing Monday’s statement as “the most determined rejection of this effort ever written.” .

Francis has advocated legal protection for same-sex couples, but that is civil, not church.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean lawyer for gay victims of sexual abuse, reported in 2018 that the Pope had told him when he met Francis: “God made you this way and He loves you.”

On Monday, Cruz said the Vatican officials who made the new statement “are completely in a world of their own, far from people, trying to defend the untenable.”

He called for a change in the leadership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying this undermined Francis’ efforts to create a more inclusive church.

“If the Church and the CDF don’t move forward with the world … Catholics will keep fleeing.” he said.

In Francis’ homeland of Argentina, LGBTQ activist Esteban Paulon said earlier statements by the Pope that convey empathy and understanding for gays and lesbians were mere gestures that lacked any official weight.

“They weren’t institutional pronouncements,” said Paulon, executive director of the LGBT + Public Policy Institute. “Saying that homosexual practices are a sin takes us back 200 years and encourages hate speech, which is unfortunately on the rise in Latin America and Europe.”

Chile’s largest LGBTQ rights group, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, condemned the decree as “homophobic and anti-Christian action” by the Catholic hierarchy.

Spokesman Oscar Rementería contrasted the Vatican’s harsh rhetoric against same-sex marriage with the many documented cases of Catholic leaders covering up clerical sexual abuse of children.
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Associate Press Writer Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile; Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Nicole Winfield in Rome and Mariam Fam in Cairo contributed to this report.
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The Associated Press’s coverage of religion is supported by the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation US. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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