Yesterday’s release of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family whose title translates as The Joy of Love, has provoked a tremendous amount of news reports and commentaries that will surely continue as this more than two-hundred page text is digested further.
Today, Bondings 2.0 provides an initial round-up of reactions as they relate to LGBT issues. You can read LGBT-related excerpts from Amoris Laetitia by clicking here. You can read New Ways Ministry’s response by clicking here.
Fr. James Martin, S.J. tweeted that Amoris Laetitia offered a welcome to LGBT people and set issues around sexuality and gender within a global context, saying, in two separate tweets:
“To LGBT friends: Pope says ‘before all else’ you are respected, and inveighs against violence against you–a huge challenge to Africa, e.g.”
“Good to remember that
#AmorisLaetitia is addressed to the whole world. So his comments on LGBT people are challenging to many cultures.”
Martin also highlighted the renewed emphasis on conscience present in the document. You can read Martin’s “10 Takeaways from Amoris Laetitia” in America.
“While the Pope acknowledges the complicated issues facing Catholics on the margins. . .[he] ultimately reinforces existing harmful church teaching that characterizes LGBTQI people as unable to reflect the fullness of God’s plan for humanity. Specifically, the Pope continues to condemn same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex parents, and he refuses to acknowledge the complexities of gender identity.”
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said many had “hoped for much more” and continued in a statement:
“While the Pope acknowledges the Church has been too rigid in other areas, there is no repentance when it comes to LGBT people. We need to see changes in teaching and practice before we can move forward. . .Clearly, Church officials, up to and including Pope Francis, still have little idea of the reality of LGBT people’s faith, lives, and family situations.”
Call to Action said in a statement that, despite the pope’s call for clergy to “see Grace at work in all life’s complicated and complex forms,” the organization was:
“. . .deeply concerned this document results in an institutional and ecclesial status quo that does not make real substantive changes in Catholic structures and practices (e.g., an end to the unjust firings of LGBT Church Workers and discrimination against women, to name only a few examples).”
Terence Weldon of Queering the Church was similarly dissatisfied with the document’s approach to LGBT issues, but saw hopeful elements as it “created the conditions for change”:
“Closer examination however, reveals some cause for optimism, certainly in the longer term. What is not said may be more important than what is explicitly stated. Most notably, there is no reference at all to the offensive term ‘objectively disordered’, or any hint of opposition to same-sex relationships (as long as they do not claim to be “marriage”). Although there is a forthright objection to same-sex marriage, this is not listed among the many problems and dangers that are said to threaten actual families, or even the institution of marriage itself.”
Commenting on Pope Francis’ renewed emphasis on the “internal forum,” Weldon added:
“Drawing on a passage from the great theologian Thomas Aquinas, the conclusion we may reach is that even though those who remarry after divorce, or who live openly in same-sex relationships, may appear to be living in conditions of objective sin, their particular circumstances may negate that conclusion.”
Michael Sean Winters, columnist at the National Catholic Reporter, commented on several aspects including the following point relevant for LGBT Catholics and their families:
“[T]he Holy Father does not believe the pastor, still less the magisterium, should tell people what to do, but that a pastor should accompany people so that they can discern God’s activity and calling in their own lives. The pastor encourages spiritual maturity, not memorization of a hodgepodge of canonical requirements.”
Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., also writing for the National Catholic Reporter, defined success for Amoris Laetitia differently than other commentators. Though he critically engaged the text’s content, he concluded:
“This is a papal document well worth the time to read and reflect on. Parts are dull; parts inspire and delight; parts will give hope; and parts will infuriate. If it brings the conversation about families out of the synodal hall and down to the parish and families themselves, then it will be a success.”
In the days to come, there will surely be many conversations at all levels of the church about how to understand Amoris Laetitia and what it means concretely in Catholics’ lives. Bondings 2.0 will be engaging these conversations and keeping our readers updated.
In the meantime, what are your first reactions to this exhortation? You can leave them in the ‘Comments’ section below.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry