LGBTQ Catholics worldwide continue to resist the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-gender couples. Today’s post features some of those reactions, including from activists in two African countries.
“Paul, a 23-year-old Nigerian who asked to use a pseudonym for fear of reprisal, told NCR he has been living in fear since he came out as gay in 2018. He said the March 15 decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith complicates issues for him and his friends, who struggle for acceptance in ‘a society that derides and attacks us.’
“‘We believe this will put us in a difficult situation,’ said Paul. ‘The church should accept us the way we are and not make our lives miserable. This [statement] has dashed our hopes that one day we will come forward to receive a priest’s blessing at the altar as couples.'”
NCR reported on comments by Ricus Dullaert, a gay Catholic in South Africa who founded an LGBTQ ministry at a Johannesburg church. Dullaert called the ban “a step back” and said “it surprises me,” especially given Pope Francis’ more welcoming style. The report continued:
“Dullaert and his Nigerian spouse, Sylvester, held a 2014 ceremony at the Chapel of Our Lady in Amsterdam to celebrate their union. Among the featured moments was a blessing by a Catholic priest.
“‘Saying that gay people should live a celibate life is a beautiful statement but doesn’t work because they are humans and if people love each other and live together, you can’t say that they should not have sex,’ said the activist.
“Dullaert said he is concerned the Vatican’s decree may prevent LGBT Catholics in South Africa from coming forward, or may lead to criticism of parish groups like his that organize workshops on issues such as homophobia or discrimination.
“‘We have a number of vocal people who see it as a scandal that we have an LGBTQI group and they try to push the clergy and the parish council to say this is against the teaching of God and should be stopped,’ said Dullaert.”
In a separate article, NCR featured reactions from a number of LGBTQ Catholic perspectives. These include comments from Fr. Jim McDermott, a gay Jesuit, who acknowledged that statements like the Vatican’s ban have a wider impact than just the question of blessings:
“‘When an official religious or spiritual organization, an organization that wants to be the voice and the hands of God, says things like this, it has serious, ongoing implications for people’s lives beyond their ability to get married.'”
McDermott, who called the ban “painful and confusing,” spoke positively about attending same-gender weddings, saying, “The people that I know that are queer and married are incredibly inspiring people who have helped me on my journey as a priest and as a gay man.”
Yunuen Trujillo, a queer Catholic involved with LGBTQ ministry, told NCR, “To know that an inanimate object could be perceived as having more value than a committed loving relationship between two adults. … It just sounds really wrong to me.”
Santiago Botero and his husband, Sebastián Pascuas, of Colombia are Catholic and had a priest bless their unions during their 2020 wedding, which also included a celebration of the Eucharist. Of this latest ban, Botero commented:
“‘It’s sad because now we can see that the church hasn’t given itself a chance to get to know these people, these couples. . .To see that they are forming homes, that they are striving, that they also fall but they get up and keep trying to persevere in their faith. … The church hasn’t taken the opportunity to go to their homes and bear witness to their love.'”
Elsewhere, Greg Bourke, whose legal case helped make marriage equality in the U.S. a reality, wrote in the Lexington Herald-Leader that as a gay Catholic he often feels “like I’m on an amusement park roller coaster, not know[ing] when the next drop or jarring sharp turn is going to arrive.”
More than 3,000 Catholics have signed New Ways Ministry’s statement affirming they will bless same-gender couples in protest of the Vatican’s ban on such blessings. You can add your name here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, March 31, 2021
For all the previous posts concerning the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-gender couples, click here.
For a listing of Catholic leaders who have spoken positively about same-gender relationships and unions, click here.
For information about a Catholic blessing for a same-gender couple, click here.
For more information on how to be welcoming to married same-gender couples, click here.