Saturday, May 31, 2014

Quote of the Day


Things have moved very quickly, taking the Church by surprise. The movement for the recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions has been astonishingly successful. While the Catholic hierarchy rejects all legal acceptance of same-sex couples, its arguments are unsatisfying, especially because they are unaccompanied by a viable alternative proposal. Meanwhile gay and lesbian couples exist, known and appreciated by their friends and families, at least in liberal democracies where ancient homophobic attitudes are in retreat. Catholic bishops in these countries feel obliged to raise their voice, offering a warning that they see as a prophetic, counter-cultural witness. Unfortunately, given the actual play of forces today, this aligns the bishops with countries where homosexuality is a taboo subject. Stressing in rather abstract terms the respect due to homosexual persons, the bishops have been loath to enter into dialogue with LGBT folk or even with theologians favorable to gay rights, on the pretext that to open such dialogue would in itself compromise church teaching.

. . . Moral teaching cannot abstract from the lived situation of those to whom it claims to apply. If one insists exclusively on principles, leaving their application to pastoral wisdom, which in its turn is impoverished by an exaggerated fear of betraying the principles, one risks finding one day that these principles, worked out at a great distance from reality on the ground, have become anemic and sterile. A credible moral reflection would demand attention to the testimonies of those who have lived the different possibilities of gay and lesbian experience, so as to measure soberly the various values in play. This dialogue could be enriched by steeping our reflections in literature, which illuminates from a thousand angles the complexity and variety of human relationships, even if a heavy censorship has made its text difficult to decipher in the case of gay realities. Such exposure threatens theology with the loss of its certitudes about the unalterable essences of love, marriage, and friendship. Humanity remains a territory unknown to itself, for the more it is explored, the more the enigmas multiply. The Bible, if well read, in a liberative key, espouses and deepens this complexity; church discourse, to do the same, needs a new praxis of dialogal openness and self-critique.

Related Off-site Links:
Catholics and Same-Sex Relationships: A Pathway to Doctrinal Change? – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, February 14, 2014).
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look – Bill Hunt (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 8, 2012).
Creating a Liberating Church – Rosemary Radford Ruether (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 15, 2010).
Commonweal, Catholicism, and Same-Sex Marriage (Part 1) – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 31, 2014).

For more of Joseph S. O'Leary at The Wild Reed, see:
Joseph O'Leary Responds to Carson Holloway's Arguments Against Gay Marriage
The Decline of the Neocaths?
The Church and Homosexuality: An Excellent Overview

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:

The Call to Be Dialogical Catholics
From Rome to Minneapolis, Dialogue is What's Needed
Comprehending the "Fullness of Truth"
Our Catholic "Stonewall Moment"
"Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality is Complex and Nuanced"
Relationship: The Crucial Factor in Sexual Morality
Joan Timmerman on the "Wisdom of the Body"
The Dreaded "Same-Sex Attracted" View of Catholicism
Quote of the Day – December 11, 2013
Three Excellent Responses to Cardinal Dolan
Beyond Respectful Tolerance to Celebratory Acceptance
A Conservative Catholic's Contribution to the Journey to Marriage Equality
Quote of the Day – June 15, 2013
Rediscovering What Has Been Written on Our Hearts from the Very Beginning
God Weighs In on the Gay Marriage Debate
Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality

Image: Gonzalo Orquin.

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