Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality (Part 8)

The Wild Reed's series highlighting the liberating insights on sexuality that are emerging and “blossoming” beyond the Vatican, continues with the recently released statement by the Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII, an international group of theologians from countries ranging from Spain to Cameroon, Venezula to the U.S.

This statement compellingly calls on the bishops at the Synod of the Family, currently taking place in Rome, to give full equality to women and to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the Church.

Following is the full statement (with thanks to "Rebel Girl" at Iglesia Descalza for the English translation).

Keeping intact a certain model of family, proper to a time and culture, is not part of the Faith of the Church. According to the gospels, Jesus of Nazareth was deeply critical of the family model of his time and culture. Therefore, the Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII deems it necessary to present the following proposals to the Synod of Bishops that is being held in Rome:

1. We believe that the different sexual identities, options, and orientations must be respected as an expression of the diversity of ways of experiencing sexuality among human beings. Consequently, homosexuality and homosexual marriages should be recognized in the Catholic Church on equal terms with heterosexuality and heterosexual marriages. Christian homosexual people should not be excluded from any church task, activity or responsibility, or from participation in the sacraments.

Respect for non-heterosexual people doesn't seem to reconcile with their exclusion from certain church roles, for example being a godparent at a baptism or the priestly and theological ministry. Both exclusions have occured recently – in the Diocese of Cádiz with a transsexual man and in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with a homosexual priest – and they demonstrate clear discrimination because of sexual orientation and belie the often repeated concept in Church teaching documents of acceptance towards non-heterosexual people.

2. We believe that the indiscriminate condemnation by Church teaching of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy should be reviewed. We consider it necessary to repeal Canon 1398 of the Code of Canon Law decreeing excommunication for anyone who procures the abortion, if it occurs, and that it is contrary to the absolution of the sin of abortion decreed by Pope Francis on the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Also the right of women to decide in conscience on this matter should be respected.

3. There are no biblical, theological, historical, pastoral, much less dogmatic reasons, to exclude married men or women from any ecclesial ministries, ordained or unordained. Equality of Christian men and women through baptism must translate into equal conditions for men and women in access to the realm of the sacred, in the development of theological and moral doctrine, as well as in participation in church duties and governing bodies, without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity or social class. Therefore we ask that sexist ideological, cultural and normative barriers be removed and that the full incorporation of women in the above areas, including access to the priesthood and episcopate, be implemented.

4. As regards divorce, there is no dogma of faith that prevents it, nor that prohibits the access of separated or divorced and remarried people to the Eucharist. The current exclusionary discipline in this area, perhaps understandable in the past, has no justification today and, far from drawing people in those circumstances to the Christian community, it marginalizes them, drives them away, and stigmatizes them. In addition, it lacks a gospel basis. We therefore believe that the Synod of Bishops should remove that prohibition, currently in force, and facilitate access to Eucharistic communion by separated or divorced and remarried persons without imposing any corrective requirements. We believers are moral agents with the ability to decide freely in conscience in this area. This decision must be respected.

5. It is necessary to acknowledge the significant advances made by feminism on equality between men and women and in their liberation. In light of these developments, the patriarchal structure of the doctrine and practice on Christian marriage should be revised.

6. The Synod can not be reduced to matters relating to Christian marriage. We believe it a priority for it to do an analysis of the situation of poverty and social exclusion in which millions of families find themselves, to prophetically denounce it, to express its solidarity with the most vulnerable families and contribute to the elimination of the causes of this situation based on the ethical gospel option for poor and marginalized people.

Statement signed by: Xavier Alegre. Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII. Spain • José Arregi. Theologian. Spain • Olga Lucía Álvarez. Asociación Presbíteras Católicas Romanas. Colombia • Juan Barreto. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Fernando Bermúdez, Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Leonardo Boff. Ecotheologian, member of the Earth Charter Commission and writer • Ancizar Cadavid Restrepo. Theologian. Colombia • José María Castillo. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • José Centeno. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII, Spain • Juan Antonio Estrada. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Máximo García. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Antonio Gil de Zúñiga. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Ivone Gebara. Theologian and philosopher. Brazil • Axel Hernández Fajardo. Emeritus Professor at the Escuela Ecuménica de las Ciencias de Religiones. Universidad Nacional. Costa Rica • Rosa María Hernández. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Mary Hunt. Theologian. Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) • Gabriela Juárez Palacio. Theologian. Co-founder of Teólogas e Investigadoras • Rosa Leiva. Federación Latinoamericana de Presbíteros Casados. Ecuador • Juan Masiá. Theologian. Japan • Federico Mayor Zaragoza. President of the Fundación Cultura de Paz and the Comisión Internacional contra la Pena de Muerte. Spain • Cyprien Melibi. Theologian. Cameroon • Arnoldo Mora Rodríguez. Co-founder of the Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones (DEI). Costa Rica • Mario Mullo. Federación Latinoamericana de Sacerdotes Casados. Ecuador • Carmiña Navia. Theologian. Colombia • Marisa Noriega. Theologian. Co-founder of the Asociación Mexicana de Reflexión Teológica Feminista. Mexico • Gladys Parentelli. Auditor at Vatican II. Venezuela • Federico Pastor. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Victorino Pérez Prieto. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Suyapa Pérez Scapini. Theologian. El Salvador • Margarita Maria Pintos. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Javier Omar Ruiz Arroyave. Activist. Masculinidades Liberadoras. Colombia • José Sánchez Suárez. Theologian. Comunidad Teológica de Mexico Santiago • Sánchez Torrado. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Fernando Silva. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos de Juan XXIII. Spain • Aida Soto Bernal. Asociación Presbíteras Católicas Romanas. Colombia • Juan José Tamayo. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Elsa Tamez. Theologian and biblical scholar. Mexico • Andrea Toca. Theologian. Co-founder of the Asociación Mexicana de Reflexión Teológica Feminista. Mexico • Fernando Torres Millán. Theologian. Coordinator of Kairós Educativo. Colombia • Olga Vasquez. Theologian. El Salvador • Evaristo Villar. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain • Juan Yzuel. Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII. Spain.

Above: Cardinals and bishops at the end of a morning session of the Synod on the Family – Vatican City, October 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

For Francis DeBernardo's excellent coverage from Rome on the Synod on the Family, see:
On Synod’s First Day, Differing Opinions on What Can Be Expected – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 6, 2015).
Synod Day Two’s Question: Who Is Inside and Who Is Outside the Church? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 7, 2015).
In Advance of the Synod, Global Network of Rainbow Catholics Launches in Rome – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 8, 2015).
Archbishop Discusses African Bishops’ Silence on Criminalization of LGBT People – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 9, 2015).
Will Language Be the Only Thing That the Synod Updates? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 10, 2015).
A Synod Discussion Asks the Question: What Is Mercy? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 11, 2015).
Synod Fathers on Gay Issues Couldn’t Be Any Further Apart Than They Already Are – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 12, 2015).
Trying to Interpret the Language of the Synod – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 13, 2015).
Allowing Local Strategies Sounds Like a Good Idea – Except If You’re in Newark – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 14, 2015).
Should the Church Be a Mother or Father to Families? What’s the Difference? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 15, 2015).
Challenges of Reporting from the Synod: Homophobic Statements, Leaked Documents, the Rumor Mill, and How to Keep Up With It All – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 16, 2015).

Recommended Off-site Links and Updates:
Having the Wrong Discussions . . .Questions from a Ewe (October 13, 2015).
Synod System Stacks Deck Against Women – Mary E. Hunt (National Catholic Reporter, October 6, 2015).
The Synod, LGBT Catholics, and Women: Meh – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, October 13, 2015).
Cardinals’ Secret Letter to Francis Warns of Plot to Rig Reforms – David Gibson (Religion News Service, October 12, 2015).
Christians Have Hurt a Lot of LGBT People. It's Time To Embrace Them Instead – Sr. Simone Campbell (The Huffington Post, October 10, 2015).
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look – Bill hunt (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 8, 2012).
We’ve Got to Accentuate the Positive, Synod Bishops Say – John L. Allen Jr. (Crux, October 9, 2015).
At the Synod, the Moment of Truth – Rocco Palmo (Whispers in the Loggia, October 9, 2015).
German Group at Synod United: Church Doctrine Has Developed Over Time – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, October 15, 2015).

Blossom images: Michael J. Bayly (Port Macquarie, March 2015).

1 comment:

Michael J. Bayly said...

I appreciate Joseph O'Leary's recent Facebook comments on the current Synod on the Family:

"What's emerging at the Roman Synod? – something quite deflationary: bishops have not been thinking seriously about the issues at all (discouraged by the two previous popes) – they are just bureaucrats – and they have nothing to say. Their final report will just be the same sawdust as last year. Nor will the pope be able to make up for that by an inspired document of his own, for he has no special insight or enlightenment on women, marriage, etc. Does this mean that the Spirit has deserted the hierarchy? Or perhaps it is Providence that allows the hierarchs to give a public demonstration of their mediocrity and ineptitude, so that they and everyone will come to realize that you cannot have any real progress on such issues if you exclude (a) theologians (b) lay experts (c) real-life couples and parents. (Those invited as observers seem to come from weird cult-like formations like the New Catechumenate.)