New Symposium Features Young LGBTQ+ Theologians’ Insights on Political Theology

A new online symposium wrestles with the question: “How would Roman Catholic political theology and ethics change if it took seriously the experiences and thought of queer Catholics?”

The symposium premiered on the Political Theology Network’s website, and was convened by Adam Beyt, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Saint Norbert College, Wisconsin. The symposium’s five essays come from a new generation of queer Catholic theologians. Introducing the essays, Beyt observes that while the LGBTQ+ community makes strides toward progress globally, queer Catholics remain marginalized. Such Catholics are caught in the church’s tension between its social justice tradition and its sexual/gender ethics tradition. Adam Beyt describes this liminality: 

“On one hand, ecclesial authorities proclaim to support and defend the inherent human dignity of queer Catholics. On the other, the relational configurations many pursue, the gender identities many inhabit, or their manners of gendered expression are castigated as deviant from a Catholic account of humanity, sometimes by means of natural law.” 

Rather than arguing whether LGBTQ+ Catholics ought to be included in the church, the symposium simply assumes that LGBTQ+ Catholics are already included and actively considered. The authors reject “the current world as it is and, indeed, parts of the Catholic tradition as it has been depicted by many within the Church” and gaze towards the future of the Church. Beyt says the various authors maintain that “queer desires, embodied experiences, reflect the beauty, glory, and grace of God through social transformation.”

Emphasizing the rich future that queer theory and experiences can contribute to a Roman Catholic approach to political and social life, the authors provide insight into classic themes of the church’s social teachings, like human dignity and the common good. Yet, as Adam Beyt describes, the authors favor “new approaches to the radical love and social transformation that aligns with the Reign of God—the hoped-for new human community announced by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.” 

Given the scope of this symposium to help move the church forward into a better future, the authors reflect a diverse background that could shape the theological work to come. Beyt write:

“The contributions come from a multi-racial assortment of openly queer and Catholic authors. To further emphasize the idea of the ‘future,’ all contributors are in graduate school or early in their careers. All of the authors entered academia several decades into the popularization of queer theology and queer methodological approaches to the study of religion. The topics in this symposium cover areas including eschatology, coloniality, virtue ethics, embodiment, identity politics, the cult of the saints, liberation theology, and natural law. The essays demonstrate the profound political and theological contributions of the many queer voices present within the Church.”

The authors include several theologians who have written previously for Bondings 2.0, and you can read their contributions by clicking an author’s name. You can read their piece for Political Theology by clicking the article title. These theologians include:

The symposium also includes contributions from Beyt himself on “Butler, Norms, and Mystical-Political Hope,” and Flora x. Tang, a doctoral student at the University of Notre Dame, on “What Queer Theory Taught Me About the Saints.”

You can read all of the essays at Political Theology by clicking here.

Bobby Nichols (he/him), New Ways Ministry, November 19, 2022

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