The lead researcher behind a comprehensive report on magisterial teaching, gender, and sexuality, continues to speak out and challenge traditional Catholic teaching around same-gender relationships.
Luca Badini Confalonieri is the executive director at the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, an independent think tank in the United Kingdom that produces interdisciplinary research focused on gender and sexual ethics. Their latest study, entitled “Christian Objections to Same-Sex Relationships: An Academic Assessment,” is a collaboration of Christian experts from around the world, including New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, and board member and Bondings 2.0 contributor Cristina Traina.
Bondings 2.0 reported in detail on the peer-reviewed study when it was released in May, but Confalonieri recently penned a follow-up essay in The Irish Times, detailing some of the report’s central findings.
Confalonieri frames the problem of the church’s sexual ethics by challenging the hierarchy’s emphasis on procreation as the “essential, indispensable finality of each and every act of sexual intercourse.” By focusing on biological complementarity, the magisterium categorizes same-gender sexual acts as disordered and unnatural since they cannot produce children.
Confalonieri breaks down the problem with these claims:
“The fundamental problem, of course, is that the factual premise is grossly and demonstrably wrong: the relationship between insemination on the one hand and fertilisation, implantation and ultimately procreation on the other is statistical and relative, dependent as it is on the fulfilment of numerous conditions.”
That is, every insemination clearly does not equal conception and since most heterosexual acts cannot or do not result in children, “in that respect, they are identical to non-heterosexual sexual acts.”
Furthermore, Confalonieri examines the traditional Scriptural arguments against LGBTQ relationships, arguing that oft-cited verses in Leviticus and Romans refer only to very specific sexual acts, such as adultery and incest, and not consensual LGBTQ relationships in general.
“Indeed,” he points out, “the very fact that the prohibition addressed a specific type of activity suggests same-sex relationships outside the forbidden category were viewed as permissible.”
Confalonieri concludes by expressing the report authors’ desire to push the envelope on magisterial stances on sexuality and LGBTQ relationships. These teachings are largely divorced from the real-life experience of Catholics around the world despite its enormous implications for sexual ethics, including artificial contraception and LGBTQ relationships:
“For what needs changing is not church teaching in general, but specifically papal teaching: a teaching drafted in isolation from the church at large, ignoring both the advice of relevant experts and the experiences of Catholics worldwide.”
His hope, along with the other authors of the study, is to provide a starting point for consultation with Pope Francis so that “the cry for justice from gay Catholics worldwide must not be ignored” and a more inclusive sexual ethic can prevail in the church.
—Angela Howard McParland, New Ways Ministry, July 13, 2021