Clergy and pastoral ministers are continue to issue statements of support for and promises of solidarity with the LGBTQ community in the wake of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s ban on blessing same-gender couples. Today’s post features some of those reactions from outside the United States.
Many parishes in Austria flew rainbow flags in protest last month, often led by members of the Pfarrer Initiative, which issued a call for disobedience of the Vatican ban. However, some of the flags had been burned or stolen, reported France 24.
In Vienna, the rector of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Fr. Toni Faber, commented:
“‘If I had the job of causing the most damage possible to the Church with two pages of text, I would write exactly the sort of letter that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has written,’ he told the Profil news magazine.
“The CDF’s statement ‘totally misfired’ in the aim of ‘upholding the sacrament of marriage’, Faber said, adding that none of the heterosexual couples he marries ‘feel diminished by the fact that I give blessings to same-sex couples’.”
Rede Nacional de Grupos Católicos LGBT, a network of groups in Brazil, issued a statement that said, in part (via Google Translate):
“We are indignant, but we are not surprised. . .We see there that face of the Church that appropriates the power to interpret the Word of God not to propagate Life and make it flow in abundance, but to close doors and refuse to go to its People. By losing sight of the Gospel’s message of unconditional service, love and acceptance, the law becomes a dead letter. This is the face of part of the Church, which falls, once again, into the empty legalism so often denounced by Christ.”
Pastoral de la Diversidad Sexual (PADIS+) posted a statement on Facebook, writing, in part:
“Why does the hierarchy insist on its refusal [to update its theology] despite scientific advances and various studies in relation to sexual diversity? It is striking that there is still talk of a plan of God that leaves out homosexuality. . .
“Fortunately, although this hierarchy does not want it, the recognition of the reality of sexual diversity is spreading in society and in many ecclesial spaces. . .Do not be disappointed, do not feel dejected or belittled. The response that does not recognize the blessings of homosexual couples is a desperate sign of those who want to make that church prevail incapable of dialogue with other realities.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the leading U.K. Catholic prelate, sent a letter to the LGBT+ Catholics Westminster group for Palm Sunday, which expressed his hope for visiting the community after the pandemic. Nichols’ liaison for LGBTQ ministry, Monsignor Keith Barltrop, commented specifically on the ban saying that it was unhelpful. The Tablet reported his further comments:
“Asking instead how the Church can accompany couples on their journey would, instead, ‘make due allowance both for human frailty and for the grace of God, would have opened up all sorts of possibilities, including no doubt various kinds of prayers and blessings, and would have encouraged LGBT people to seek God’s help through a Church which is herself on a journey of discovery.'”
Priests and pastoral workers at a number of U.K. parishes issued their own statements, including at St. Nicholas of Tolentino Church in Bristol. Representatives of the parish wrote, in part:
“The CDF have caused not only pain and sorrow, but also much justifiable anger – the kind of anger Jesus expressed in the Temple when the true face of God was hidden behind ritual, law and abuse of religious power. We share that anger but like Jesus seek ways to channel it into prophetic and sacrificial love, with on-going support of our beloved and loving LBGTQ+ community.”
Leaders at St. Agnes and St. Aidan Parish in Liverpool, Farm Street Jesuit Parish, and the Diocese of Clifton’s LGBTQ+ Ministry also expressed their support for LGBTQ people. To read full statements from this groups, click here.
The LGBTQ group David & Jonathan issued a statement, saying the theological arguments in the Vatican’s responsum are “well worn out.” The statement continued (via Google Translate):
“We can only see today the damage of this discourse, entangled in its certainties, and which referred desires, feelings and married lives to the side of shame, silence, violence, as long as ‘they cannot correspond to a heterosexual and procreative norm.’ . . .What one might have hoped for is a little humility on the part of those who claim to bow to God’s purpose.”
Fr. Giulio Mignani told attendees at Mass on Palm Sunday that if he could not bless people in same-gender relationships, he would not bless palms either, reported ANSA. Mignani, who has been vocal in his support of marriage equality in the past, said the Vatican ban now was “absurd.”
However, in a statement released the day after Palm Sunday, the Diocese of Le Spezia said it was “reprehensible to omit or perform a liturgical gesture by linking it to a personal protest,” noting that this is true especially if the protest is directed at the Vatican.
Several priests in Malta have criticized the ban, and the head of the Malta Gay Rights Movement said the priests’ solidarity “gives us hope.” According to Times of Malta:Fr. Josef Briffa wrote on social media:
“Perhaps, one day, the LGBTQ+ community will slowly start to feel welcome. I’m afraid it’s not today. . .Remember that your best act of protest on days like this, is not to leave, but to stay inside the Church. Stay, and be a prophetic voice.”
In a letter to the editor for Times of Malta, Fr. René Camilleri wrote, in part:
“The language of the document is one that hurts. It is a childish way of playing with words, as if giving us a catechism class, ignoring that what is really at stake are not points of doctrine but whether God’s blessing can be reserved for some and denied to others on the basis of sexual orientation. . .
“Blessing people is not a matter of doctrine, and it’s high time we stop playing God and arrogantly deciding who can, and who can not, be blessed. In the meantime we continue to bless houses, new premises, monuments and animals, but same-sex couples, God forbid!”
Rainbow Catholics Philippines issued a statement in response to the Vatican ban expressing “profound sadness and outrage.” The statement read further:
“How can you say that you accept a person with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and yet say that their relationships are forbidden?”
To add your name to the thousands of Catholics and other supporters who have signed a pledge to bless same-gender couples, click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 9, 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.