Catholic gay rights activist John Gehring writes in a New York Times column that things are going his way in the Roman Catholic Church:
Pope Francis has opened space for a deeper, more authentic conversation about how the church can keep one foot planted in Catholic tradition without being afraid to step into the lived experiences of others. When Pope Francis gave the most famous papal sound bite in history five years ago — “Who am I to judge?” — even his colloquial use of the word “gay” caused a stir in traditional Catholic circles. While the pope has strongly defended church teaching on marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, he prioritizes listening and personal encounter over finger-wagging denunciations. He’s met with transgender people, and when he spoke privately last month with a Chilean clergy sexual abuse survivor, the pope told him that God made him gay and loved him.
There are other signs of progress. The prominent Jesuit priest and author Rev. James Martin, who has been banned from speaking at some Catholic institutions in the United States simply for encouraging the church to build bridges with L.G.B.T. people, was recently invited to give a keynote address at the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families in Dublin later this summer. At the last gathering in Philadelphia three years ago, the only discussion about L.G.B.T. issues came from celibate gay Catholics who spoke about chastity.
The pope’s emphasis on encounter and engagement is trickling down to influence other church leaders. Cardinal Joe Tobin of Newark welcomed a pilgrimage of L.G.B.T. Catholics to the city’s cathedral last spring. In this month’s issue of U.S. Catholic magazine, a deacon in the diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., wrote movingly about his transgender daughter, and challenged the church’s notion of “gender ideology,” a term that has been used to discredit the push for transgender rights.
Despite this progress, the Catholic Church must do far more…
Of course. Gehring goes on to praise a leading German bishop’s call for “a thoughtful discussion on whether Catholic clergymen might offer a type of blessing for Catholics in same-sex relationships.” Right. Hey, all they want is dialogue. Who can be against “thoughtful discussions,” eh?
This is a very old strategy, but the reason it keeps coming up is because … it works. It’s now underway in the Orthodox Church in the US, as Father Lawrence Farley observes. Excerpt:
The essential dishonesty of the contemporary dialogues can be seen in their choice of dialogue partners. The deconstructionists are happy to dialogue with the LGBQT community, and with feminists keen to denounce patriarchy and to ordain women. I am not aware of any enthusiasm for dialogue with, say, White Supremacists. That is because our liberal friends agree with the agendas of the gay and feminist communities and (quite properly) abhor that of the White Supremacists. I suggest that this consistent choice of dialogue partners reveals that the true goal of the liberal Orthodox proffering dialogue is not real give and take, but simple capitulation on the part of the conservatives. And ask yourself: has our decades-long dialogue with the liberal Protestant WCC resulted in a substantial shift of the member churches towards Orthodoxy or slowed their accelerating drift into greater theological liberalism? Has the dialogue with the feminists resulted in the reduction of any of their cherished anti-patriarchal convictions or in a greater appreciation of the Church’s traditional praxis? Not a bit, which proves the wisdom of JFK aphorism quoted above. Those inviting us to dialogue are not interested in “discerning God’s hand in contemporary life”, but simply in changing our minds. That is quite acceptable; I am happy to enter into civil debate with anyone. But honesty should compel us to make our true intentions and goals known.
Catholicism is much farther down this road, as John Gehring observes (though he thinks it’s a great thing). The conservative Catholic magazine Crisis has a highly polemical but essentially accurate take on the upcoming October youth synod, which will attempt to make policy for the global Catholic Church. It’s astonishing how top liberals in the hierarchy have steered this thing to move the Church towards embracing gay rights. This reads like something out of the late conspiracy theorist Father Malachi Martin’s novel Windswept House, but … it’s true. Excerpt:
Meanwhile, Fr. James Martin, S.J., is boasting that “LGBT”—a political term that Cardinal Baldisseri falsely attributes to the young people’s text—is now “harder” to criticize. Fr. Martin’s pro-“LGBT” book has been glowingly endorsed by Cardinal Farrell—a key leader behind the synod and the World Meeting of Families—and Fr. Martin recently headlined a conference organizing young people to lobby the synod, sponsored by an LGBT group that received extensive funding to push the homosexual agenda at the family synod.
Fr. Martin—who dreams of the day when the Catechism’s language on homosexuality will change, priests will be able to “come out” and same-sex couples will be able to kissat Mass—has been handpicked by the Vatican to headline the World Meeting of Families along with several top revolutionaries, cardinals who’ve already said conscience determines whether one can receive the Holy Eucharist while engaging in homosexual activity, and who’ve already flaunted brazen homosexual-themed events within the sacred spaces of the Church.
We’re clearly in a well-plotted endgame now. According to the men behind Pope Francis’s election—ominously scandal-ridden figures like Cardinal Danneels, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick—the timeline was estimated at just four or five years to “make the Church over again.”
I’m not sure what “well-plotted endgame” might mean. According to Catholic canon law, a synod does not have policy-making power, though it does seem clear that Team Francis is moving the Catholic Church towards a much more progressive understanding on sexuality, despite what the Magisterium officially says.
If you’ve been reading the e-mails I’ve been getting from Catholic priests since writing about the McCarrick scandal — check this out from over the weekend — nearly all of them talk about the reality of networks of sexually active gays honeycombing clerical ranks, and exercising real influence. The Archdiocese of Miami may be an extreme case, but it is by no means singular. I received an e-mail today that I haven’t (yet) received permission to post, from a religious brother who says that these networks are destabilizing, especially if any of the men within them don’t try to keep their vows of celibacy.
The religious who wrote today said that there is tremendous pressure within the institutional church not to talk about it at all. He writes, “We bend over backward to make things look like everything fits together nicely or we sweep it under the rug, where it festers, but at least it’s not visible.”
I see that Princeton’s Robert George is taking on Gehring and Father Martin, who tweeted Gehring’s column approvingly. Here’s how his Twitter thread begins:
1/ Mr. Gehring is being truthful when he says that “the Catholic Church holds a view of human sexuality at odds with the shifting cultural winds.” But he goes wrong in suggesting that the Church can and perhaps will change its fundamental teaching on marriage and sexual morality https://t.co/P6dw7erxzN
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) July 5, 2018
It’s a good thread, because in it, Prof. George has caught Father Martin in a contradiction. Father Martin has maintained that he has never challenged what the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality. This has long been a risible claim, but the pretense is impossible to maintain any longer. What Father Martin has been doing, with the support of powerful men in the hierarchy, including the Pope, is a great example of how to change the teaching while nominally leaving the text undisturbed. It’s good that Prof. George has caught Father Martin out, but guess who’s going to be giving a keynote address at the World Meeting of Families, attended by the Pope? Not Robby George.
Father Martin and his team have the wind at their backs, both within the culture of the Church, and in the culture more generally. I certainly hope Prof. George is right in asserting that the Catholic Church cannot and will not change its fundamental teaching on marriage and sexual morality. But remember, Pope Francis has simply ignored the dubia challenges formally filed against Amoris Laetitia, and there is no sign that he’s going to answer them (in fact, two of the four dubia cardinals have died awaiting a response).
UPDATE: Reader Jacob Lee writes:
The Orthodox are going this way: This is from a priests account of a session held this past week at the GOA conference in Boston “One of the sessions was entitled:
LGTBQ: Thoughts and Considerations
Fr Jerry and Helene Hall, parents of a gay son, share a personal perspective of their spiritual journey with their family. They present a pastoral approach that involves listening and openness to the many families and individuals who are part of all of our communities.
This was a wild train wreck…wherein we learned that the Church needs to get over itself and begin communing active…and married…homosexuals. We need, we were told, to understand that Holy Scripture is contextualized, and on this point is hardly relevant today. It is all about love, love, love, which is defined as promoting men anally sodomizing one another.
Present at this blasphemathon was Metropolitan Gerasimos (for nearly the whole session), and the Metropolitan of Chicago, Nathanael, who made an appearance, only to speak in favor of this wickedness. Gerasimos remained silent throughout, even as a priest from his Metropolis spoke in favor of what was being presented.”
UPDATE.2: Another reader adds:
Posting Jacob Lee’s comment without evidence is downright libelous. It’s my understanding that Fr. Jerry and Hellene Hall talked about how congregations should show love and support to people with same-sex attractions who strive to live Christian lives. Fr. Jerry also often talks about how to follow Romans 12:18 when relatives or even children radically disagree with the Orthodox faith.
I invite more information, especially from people who were present.