Paraguay’s top bishop has said all families, including LGBTQ ones, should be welcomed in the church and accompanied to live virtuously.
Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela of Asunción made his remarks during a homily for the Feast of the Holy Family. While maintaining that a heterosexual couple with children is the ideal family, Valenzuela nonetheless acknowledged that realities today mean the church cannot discriminate against non-traditional families. ABC Color reported (via Google Translate):
“‘The Church accompanies divorced and remarried families, families in conflict with hatred and rejection, of single mothers, widows, with much mercy, showing that the human person can be reconstituted, can do good, can love God, can do good works for the benefit of others and can love again,’ he said.
“He added that the Church is also working in difficult situations, but that the institution will always be on the side of the human person. ‘Today we find that there are gay couples who form their families; we cannot ignore that reality. We are accompanying these people to be able to give them mercy and understanding. It is true that it is a morally irregular situation, but we do not gain anything by denigrating or accusing. What we must propose is that they live adequately, that they be reintegrated, that they pray, that they be supportive, that they be sensitive to the poor and the needy,’ he said.”
Valenzuela’s homily was reported positively as a sign of welcome, but the Archdiocese of Asunción issued a statement of clarification saying it had been “misinterpreted.” The statement read, in part:
“What was expressed in the homily was that we must ‘accompany homosexual couples,’ in an appropriate way. We specify how to give this accompaniment in other parts of the homily. We follow the teaching of the church expressed in the catechism in this and all issues related to the family. We humbly and fraternally ask the press to fulfill its role with truthfulness and responsibility.”
The statement seems unnecessary. Valenzuela said nothing in his homily that contradicted church teachings; indeed, he clearly upheld the church’s limited definition of family. He did not endorse church blessings for same-gender couples or seek to implement gender-neutral church records, as some of his episcopal peers have done globally. His message was simply one of welcome and accompaniment out of a much-needed recognition that families today come in many varied forms. Given how few bishops offer such words, it is indeed newsworthy and a positive sign. The archdiocesan statement, which responds to a non-issue, is far outweighed by the archbishop’s call for all families to be accompanied, including LGBTQ ones.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 8, 2020