Catholic theologians are speaking out about why they support New Ways Ministry’s pledge to bless same-gender couples which was signed by more than 3,000 Catholics–from all sectors of the church–since it was launched in response to the Vatican’s March 15, 2021 ban on such blessings.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, a number of high-profile scholars were among the more than 100 theologians who signed the pledge, “including Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, who holds a doctorate in canon law; along with Fr. Bryan Massingale, a professor of ethics and theology at Fordham University; and Todd Salzman, a professor of ethics and theology at Creighton University and author of several books on sexual ethics.”
NCR reported on the thoughts of Massingale, a theologian at Fordham University, as well as an openly gay priest:
“More than 900 of the people who signed the pledge did so anonymously. Massingale said this points to a culture of fear the church has created that prevents people from defending LGBTQ rights.
“‘Many who work in the church feel they cannot be honest about their convictions without jeopardizing their livelihoods,’ he said.
“Massingale said it’s insulting to suggest that God cannot bless a couple who have been together for decades. Priests can bless a same-sex couple’s house, but not the love that makes that house a home; they can baptize a same-sex couple’s child, but not bless the love that raised the child, he said.
“‘A God that can bless a house, a plane, a boat, but cannot bless love is a God we cannot believe in,’ Massingale said. ‘This is not a question of sexual morality. … It’s a question of what God we believe in.'”
Cristina Traina, a theologian at Fordham University and member of New Ways Ministry’s Advisory Board, commented:
“‘There’s a groundswell of support for same-sex couples within Catholicism that we’re seeing. . . What we’re seeing is not just the whim of the weak, but a deep-seated and broader response that is indicative of the Holy Spirit moving.'”
(To read a commentary in Bondings 2.0 from Traina on the question of blessings, click here.)
Melissa Pagán, a theologian at Mount St. Mary’s University, Los Angeles, who is queer and in a same-gender partnership, said she was “disappointed and disgusted” by the ban, adding to NCR that grassroots church life in parishes is different:
“The broader view understands that human dignity is reflected in each and every individual, that same-sex couples are moved in and though the Spirit to be with one another and that [their] love is not able to be dismissed as outside the realm of being deserving of blessing.'”
NCR reported on other reactions:
“‘The [Vatican] statement is incredibly hurtful and alienating to LGBTQ Catholics, friends, family and those who stand in solidarity,’ Salzman told NCR. ‘I wanted to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ Catholics against ecclesial actions and statements that continue to hurt and promote unjust discrimination against members of the LGBT community.’ . . .
“Natalia Imperatori-Lee, professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, said signing the statement was a ‘no-brainer’ for her. She said the Vatican statement was ‘bad teaching.’
“‘I’m hopeful that one day the church will come around to where the people of God already are,’ Imperatori-Lee said.”
“Brad Hinze, a professor of theology at Fordham University, said he saw how hurtful the Vatican statement was to so many LGBTQ people in his life. He said witnessing how some Catholic congregations actively welcome them has shown him what the church could be if it listened to and learned from LGBTQ people.
“‘It’s a sign of their own experience of God’s grace and God’s love in the midst of that community,’ Hinze said. ‘Wow, what a wonderful thing!'”
Other U.S. theologians who signed include Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College, Sr. Margaret Farley of Yale Divinity, Michael G. Lawler of Creighton University, Maria Pilar Aquino of University of San Diego, Susan A. Ross of Loyola University Chicago, and Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University. New Ways Ministry Advisory Board member Brian Flanagan of Marymount University aand Bondings 2.0 contributor Lisa Fullam of Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University also signed. To view the full list of theologians and other signatories, click here.
Elsewhere in the world, theologians have criticized the Vatican’s ban. In Germany, more than 200 scholars signed a statement saying the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s responsum document lacks “theological depth, hermeneutical sensibility, and discursive rigor.” In Austria, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, a noted theologian and editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, suggested same-gender couples not be denied blessings, in defiance of the Vatican’s ban.
To add your name to the thousands of Catholics and other supporters who have already signed the pledge, click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 6, 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.