QUOTE TO NOTE: Catholicism Must Rethink All of Sexuality and Gender Ideas to Make Progress on LGBTQ Issues

In The National Catholic Reporter, Mark Levand, a sexuality researcher and educator, penned a report and commentary on a recent Fordham University conference on clergy sexual abuse. Central to Levand’s analysis of the crisis is the Catholic Church’s deficient approach to sexuality in general, beyond celibacy, clergy, and abuse issues.  Though he does not mention LGBTQ people specifically, his ideas clearly apply to this community. Three paragraphs from his essay highlight the problem.

“I propose we consider not just ‘sexual abuse’ but ‘abuse of sexuality.’ By that I am referring to how we as an institution of Catholics foster an atmosphere of ambiguity, indifference, secrecy, ignorance and harm around sexuality, not just around bodies and genitals. I am referring to the use and misuse of teachings about sexuality that encourage maladaptive sexual development, the perpetuation of Catholic messages that can be harmful to others, and the perpetuated ignorance of sexuality that harms entire groups of people.

Mark Levand

“Clergy sexual abuse is only one aspect that comes from this Catholic abuse of sexuality and must be discussed and addressed on scales both big and small. But malformation around sexuality is bound to continue without addressing multiple systemic realities in the Catholic faith. To foster sexually healthy Catholic adults that together foster a sexually healthy community, here are four broad components of Catholic sexual culture we should address.

“Catholic erotophobia, or the fear of talking about sexuality, has held Catholic institutions back from effectively addressing the many ways sexuality exists in our society. It is no wonder a group of people who likely did not have adequate sexuality education in their schools struggles with how to address matters of sexuality in their institutions. Catholic leaders have likely not had adequate sexual and relationship education in ways that help them make sense of sexual coercion, talk about sexual health, or even understand healthy and abusive relationship patterns. Instituting comprehensive sexuality education can help protect children from sexual abuse.”

Levand’s essay reminds us that changes in church doctine on LGBTQ issues need to be connected to the larger issues of reforming the way that the Catholic Church thinks about the whole of sexuality and gender.   Indeed, no changes will happen in the area of LGBTQ teachings unless the church rethinks the wider issues.  Theologians have been pointing in this direction for decades.  As regular readers of Bondings 2. 0 will know, at least the church in Germany is waking up to their ideas.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, June 4, 2022

6 replies
  1. James L Gerardi
    James L Gerardi says:

    Finally! Finally someone is digging to the root of the Church’s problem, which is a problem for everyone in the Church. The Catholic theology of sex and sexuality — based on beliefs surrounding Old Testament myths like Adam and Eve, medieval perceptions of Satanic influence, and counter-scientific notions like ‘complementarity’ — must be re-examined and thoroughly revised in light of what we have learned about human reality in the last 800 years. Let’s hope the Synod marks the beginning of that arduous and necessary task.

  2. Eddie
    Eddie says:

    Yes when it comes to all matters both gender and sex. The Catholic Church needs ‘to blow it all up’ and go back to Jesus and start all over again. From woman in leadership to the meaning of personal love. It’s male ‘and’ female not ‘or’ we are created.

  3. Allen Boedekerq
    Allen Boedekerq says:

    The purpose of myths has always been to teach core truths. The story of Adam and Eve is no exception, except that its author is God Himself. Do be careful that you do not miss the tree/truth for the forest/story. The last 800 years is couched in almost 4000 years of human salvation history and natural law. Truth does not change. Let’s hope that our understanding of it becomes clearer.


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