“Amoris Laetitia” Is a Step in Process that Is Far From Over, Say Commentators


Martin Pendergast

Yesterday, Bondings 2.0 featured reactions to Pope Francis’ new exhortation on family, Amoris Laetitia. Below are more reactions related to Catholic LGBT issues. You can read New Ways Ministry’s response by clicking here.

You can read LGBT-related excerpts from Amoris Laetitia by clicking here.

Martin Pendergast, a UK advocate for LGBT Catholics, said many people realized LGBT issues would not be central, reported The Tablet. But even in the “light treatment” this document affords such issues, there are positive developments:

“First of all, no condemnations, no quoting of language of ‘intrinsic disorder’, a nuance around the use of language like same-sex attraction, which some of us find offensive, an actual recognition of homosexual orientation, which is very significant in a document of this status.

“One of the key debates in the Church has been: is there such a thing as a different sexual orientation and paragraph 250 refers to people who manifest homosexual orientation. So it’s actually acknowledging that homosexual orientation exists: that’s very important.”

Pendergast said the text lacks the coherence of Evangelii Gaudium or Laudato Si, instead showing “evidence of interventions from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith” in the conservative messages that were included. He concluded:

“The question that many of us will have is: how are you going to apply those very important principles about conscience, internal forum, not judging people, not throwing stones at people?”


Jonathan Capehart

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post said the pope’s treatment of homosexuality “hues pretty closely” to paragraphs in the 2014 Synod’s midterm report that were celebrated for their positive approach but inspired quite a backlash. Capehart wrote:

“Sadly missing is this sentence: ‘Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority’. . .

“By talking about the humanity of gay and lesbian Catholics, Pope Francis is openly recognizing them as children of God. After centuries of demonization, that’s a revolutionary act that can’t be undone.”

Mary Hunt

Mary Hunt

Mary Hunt, theologian and co-director of WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual), criticized the text as “a study in ambiguity that gives new evidence for the use of the term “jesuitical.” She continued:

“Alas, the hetero monogamous ideal remains in place while lip service is paid to the remote possibility of other options. Clearly the input of lay people at the two Synods amounted to little or nothing. All in all, this is a missed opportunity for Pope Francis to demonstrate that there is anything new under the Vatican sun.”

Ryan Sattler

Ryan Sattler

Ryan Sattler of the LEAD Ministry (an LGBT outreach) at St. Matthew Catholic Church, and a board member of New Ways Ministry, told the Baltimore Sun

“As much as we love Pope Francis — he has changed the tone of conversation on so many issues — when you have real, deep substance and doctrine in the church that continues to hurt and marginalize people, changing the tone doesn’t do the job.”

Ken Briggs, writing at the National Catholic Reporter, said the effectiveness of Amoris Laetitia was hindered because its authorship precluded the voices of lay Catholics, including LGBT people, from sharing their wisdom and challenges:

“Despite the many eloquent and enlightening portions of the pope’s message, it still emanates from a place which practices no family life that resembles that of the laity, and loses much credibility accordingly. . .the analysis and prescription contents of the document operate entirely within the sometimes shadowy framework of defined doctrine. allowing for no valid concept of family life outside the narrow definitions of Catholic moral teaching. It precludes the possibility that other models might reflect the Creator’s purposes in yet other ways.”

David Gibson

David Gibson

Beyond the document itself, David Gibson of Religion News Service set Amoris Laetitia within the ongoing process under Pope Francis from which the text emerged:

“But the larger reality conveyed by the document — and one that could unsettle Catholic traditionalists more than anything — is that the pope clearly wants the debates over church teachings and pastoral practices to continue and, perhaps, to continue to evolve. . .

“In other words, don’t look to Rome for the solution to every challenge, and don’t stop looking for ways to welcome anyone and everyone who feels alienated from the faith because their personal lives do not conform to the Catholic ideal. . .

“If that journey is part of the pilgrimage of faith, it is far from over. In fact, it may never be over.”

The journey to justice and equality for LGBT people in the Catholic Church is certainly not over. The reactions to and understandings of Amoris Laetitia and how it will impact the church are not over yet, either. Bondings 2.0 will, as always, keep our readers updated about the new document and its reception.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Terence Weldon
    Terence Weldon says:

    I would agree that “this process is far from over”. Pope Francis warns in his introduction that Amoris Laetitia should not be read too quickly. inevitably, initial comment has been rushed – there’s simply not been time for slower, more careful reading, let alone full reflection. The more I think about the content, the more I am convinced that even though the doctrinal rules have not changed, this is a real game-changer – because the rules themselves have been substantially downgraded in importance. and because of some tantalizing hints buried in the text, that may indicate Francis has indicated support for same-sex unions (but not marriage). And if he has not in fact indicated his own support for these, his words can be used to argue in favour. For Americans, his strong words against judging others in terms of rules instead of against personal conscience, throws up a serious challenge for those bishops who have been attempting to force LGBT employees and parish ministers, to live according to external rules, without regard to their personal circumstances and in contravention of their own consciences.

    • Larry
      Larry says:

      I am tired of “tantalizing hints buried in the text” as a crumb thrown [maybe] to the LGBT community while real violence goes on day after day perpetuated by the CATHOLIC clergy against gay folk and Pope Francis becomes ever more complicit in it. Will you bigger thinkers please wake up out of your dream. At this pace, even the next LGBT generation will be dead before the Church has its next Galileo moment.

  2. Larry
    Larry says:

    WOW! The RC Church has finally acknowledged that there are different sexual orientations. What strides – – Welcome to the 19th century.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] can read previous Amoris Laetitia reaction posts here, here,  and here. You can read New Ways Ministry’s response to the document by […]

  2. […] the groundwork for change has perhaps been laid. A report on LGBT reaction at Bondings notes that this is the beginning of a process, not the end. As the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics stated in their response, “If the door (to […]

  3. […] can read previous reaction posts here and here. You can read New Ways Ministry’s response by […]

  4. […] “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Step in Process that Is Far From Over, Say Commentators (Bondings 2.0) […]

  5. […] “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Step in Process that Is Far From Over, ay Commentators (Bondings 2.0) […]

  6. […] “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Step in Process that Is Far From Over, ay Commentators (Bondings 2.0) […]

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