LGBTQ Catholics’ Cry for Justice “Must Not Be Ignored,” Says Lead Researcher
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
I feel the Synodical Process is our opportunity to advance new sexual moral theologies which take into account the medical and psychological developments of the 20th. Century. This needs to be done in dialogue with many groups who have integrated these understandings into their approach to sexuality. I really think we need to communicate across the National Synods if Vatican II is to come of age.
Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler address this issue very well in their book: the sexual person TOWARD A RENEWED CATHOLIC ANTHROPOLOGY.
The Church has never taught that each and every act of sexual intercourse must end in procreation. There must be an openness to the possibility of procreation. Big difference! There is absolutely no way that two people of the same gender can ever procreate. Admittedly, not every heterosexual couple is able to procreate. But they are able to engage in an act of sexual unity that biologically is geared toward procreation. Same-sex union is never biologically geared toward procreation.
Dcn I’m confused so where do you stand? You cited both obvious sides then returned to saying somd heterosexual couples can’t procreate. However you did’t follow with, the logical . Why can’t the church see a loving, God affirming and faithful homosexual couple find love and comfort in a sexual union?
Notice the Vatican-held principles of “natural and divine law”: the procreative and unitive aspects of sexual intercourse may never be separated, and that every sex act must be open to the transmission of human life. And then notice the remarkably contradictory Canon 1084
§3: “Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage”.
In other words the Vatican will provide a full nuptial Mass for a sterile heterosexual couple even if, for instance, the woman has had a hysterectomy to remove cancer. It will even marry a post-menopausal woman. If these people are allowed to enjoy full sex lives even though procreation is impossible, then why can’t a gay couple? The Vatican through Canon 1084 §3 has essentially acknowledged that the unitive dimension of human sexuality CAN be separated from the procreative, and is sufficiently lawful in itself.
The Church must be consistent … if gay people are inclined to intrinsically evil acts precisely because their sexual relationships are closed to procreation, then why aren’t these sterile heterosexual couples also defined to be inclined to intrinsically evil acts, and called to lives of compulsory celibacy? For you to describe a sexual act that is biologically incapable of procreation (e.g. the woman is post-menopausal or is missing ovaries or a uterus) as being “geared toward procreation” is quite simply mendacious, dishonest, and untruthful. If the sexual act is non-procreative, call it by its name. The Vatican is compassionate towards sterile heterosexual couples … as it should be! They are encouraged to be generative and fruitful through adoption, or through their social contribution to the community, etc. There are many more ways of being procreative than biological reproduction. Now if only the Vatican would be equally compassionate towards homosexual couples … as it should be! Pope Francis seems to understand this.
Having searched the New Testament high and low, I haven’t found a single passage relating marriage to reproduction. What about the Church Fathers? Orthodox theologian Paul Evdokimov writes that St Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, argued that marriage was instituted for two reasons, “to lead a man to be contented with one wife and to give him children, but it is the first which is the principal reason.” Marriage does not absolutely include procreation, “the proof of which is the number of marriages which do not have children.” St Basil, another Doctor of the Church, says that children are added to marriage as “a possible not an indispensable consequence of marriage.” In this view, the primary purpose of marriage is not procreation or the control of lust. Rather, it is about sanctification, and participation in the divine life. In the words of the theologian Eugene Rogers, marriage “is a discipline whereby we give ourselves to another for the sake of growing in holiness — for, more precisely, the sake of God.” The reciprocal love of the spouses is ultimately about their completion in Christ. Now we have the relatively recent anthropological discovery that some men and women are born gay, and are not heterosexuals behaving in an unnatural way, as previously thought. In the light of this knowledge, are we able to deny our gay brothers and sisters in Christ the opportunity of entering into covenantal unions, relationships of reciprocal love, marriages? Sacred scripture is quite clear: “it is not good for man to live alone.” Surely, whenever God creates a gay Adam, he creates for him a suitable helpmate in a gay Steve; an Adamina for a gay Eve. Denying gays the right to marry seems to be denying them a fundamental discipline ordered towards sanctification and a fuller participation in the divine life itself (as argued by Eugene Rogers in his magnificent essay https://www.religion-online.org/article/an-argument-for-gay-marriage/ ).
Authentic dialogue and fearless scientific and theological enquiry are critical to any honest resolution of this most pressing pastoral question.
The Church “can’t . . . see a loving, God affirming and faithful homosexual couple find[ing] love and comfort in a sexual union” because a sexual union outside of marriage is always
a seriously/mortally sinful situation. It takes the marital act out of marital union. This is true
also so a heterosexual couple who are not married. In this regard, it is a level playing field. And, regardless of whether a couple is capable of procreation, the marital sex act must remain within a publicly committed covenantel bond of marriage. The Church, based on Natural Law, defines marriage as being between two human beings of complementary gender — male and female.