Me yesterday, in my commentary on Pope Francis’s decision to change the Catechism on the death penalty:
Some readers yesterday: Everything is always about gays with you isn’t it? It’s always the slippery slope!
Today, this from Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, one of the leading pro-LGBT lobbies in the Catholic Church:
It’s important for Catholic advocates for LGBT equality to take note of this change because for decades Catholic opponents of LGBT equality argued that it is impossible to change church teaching. They often pointed to the fact that condemnations of same-sex relationships were inscribed in the Catechism, and so were not open for discussion or change. Yet, the teaching on the death penalty is in the Catechism, too, and, in fact, to make this change in teaching, it was the text of the Catechism that Francis changed.
In the Letter to the Bishops, Cardinal Ladaria [prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] explained that the revision of n. 2267 of the CCC [Catechism of the Catholic Church] “expresses an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium” and said “these teachings, in fact, can be explained in the light of the primary responsibility of the public authority to protect the common good in a social context in which the penal sanctions were understood differently, and had developed in an environment in which it was more difficult to guarantee that the criminal could not repeat his crime”.
So, the change is not a contradiction, even though it is the opposite of what came before it? Hmmmm.
What does this death penalty news mean for Catholic advocates for LGBT equality? A few things.
First, we now have a clear, explicit contemporary example of church teaching changing, and also a look into how it can be done: with a papal change to the Catechism.
Second, we can see that the process that brought about this change has been decades of theological debate and discussion, and not just a papal whim. That means the theological and even ecclesial discussions and debates right now about LGBT people have great potential to shape future changes in church teaching in regard to those topics.
Read the whole thing. There’s more.
If you think DeBernardo is wrong, explain it. I wish he were wrong. I don’t think he is. I hope some of you can convince me otherwise. Here’s why I just don’t believe conservative theologians anymore when they say that obviously Pope Francis can’t change this or that in Church doctrine because that would be a contradiction blah blah blah.
Four cardinals put profound theological questions to the Pope — the “dubia” — asking him for clarification of his encyclical Amoris Laetitia. They’re very serious questions, and there is nothing at all wrong with them asking for theological clarification from the pontiff. But Francis has totally ignored them. Two of the four cardinals who posed the dubia have died waiting for an answer. Does anybody think Francis is going to answer these questions? There hasn’t exactly been a clamor from the world’s bishops insisting that the Holy Father respond.
If Francis, or one of his papal successors, wants to “develop doctrine” to affirm homosexuality, then it’s going to happen. The conservative dogs will bark, but the papal caravan will move on. The fix is in. Father James Martin, the pro-LGBT Jesuit and Francis adviser, is way out ahead of most conservative Catholics.
You might remember my quoting the monk in The Benedict Option saying that orthodox Christians who live an ordinary, go-along-to-get-along life will not have what it takes to get through the coming darkness with their faith intact? This is the kind of thing I believe he was talking about. No Catholics and indeed no Christians of any kind who do not know their faith, and who have not built within themselves and their communities authentic spiritual and moral disciplines will make it through liquid modernity without their Christian orthodoxy dissolved.