Thursday, November 16, 2006

The many meanings of "welcoming"

I'm still puzzling over the characterizations of the new document on those "inclined" to members of the same-sex as "welcoming," one voiced by both the media and the bishops themselves. Consider this from The Age: "Bishop Arthur Serratelli, of New Jersey, the chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops' committee on doctrine, stressed that the tone of the statement was intended to be 'positive, pastoral and welcoming,' even as it compared same-sex attractions to the temptations of 'envy, malice or greed.' "

So far, I haven't heard any gay Catholics identify this doc as welcoming, and I certainly don't think it is. So, as a service to the bishops, I'm going to attempt to outline a document that is actually welcoming yet still doesn't contain a change in teaching on this matter:

1. To our dear sisters and brothers in Christ who are gay or lesbian:

2. The Body of Christ has always had members with a same-gender sexual orientation and has no doubt been enriched by their presence among the baptized. Today as well, the church is enriched by the gifts of its gay and lesbian members who generously offer themselves in service to the gospel. Like all the baptized, lesbian and gay women and men are full members of the church, called by God into the Body of Christ.

3. Unfortunately, the relationship between the church's leadership and its gay and lesbian sons and daughters has not always been positive. Over the past decades, many lesbian and gay Catholics have felt persecuted and rejected by the language popes and bishops have used to describe same-sex sexual orientation and same-sex relationships, as well as efforts on the part of some church leaders to oppose civil laws favoring gay and lesbian people.

4. We regret the pain this has caused our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, and realize that many have left the practice of their faith because of these statements and actions.

5. At the same time, scripture and tradition have historically judged same-sex sexual activity as inconsistent with the Christian life, a consistent judgment not easily dismissed. There has also, however, been a vigorous debate among clergy, theologians, and the people of God concerning this matter; some have suggested that the scriptural prohibitions and the church's teaching may reflect the prejudices of the past and need to be informed by the modern social sciences.

6. Though at this time we do not see error in the church's teaching on this matter, we invite gay and lesbian Catholics to participate in this ongoing conversation by fully participating in the life of the church in ways befitting the duties and privileges of their baptism and by engaging their pastors and bishops in continuing dialogue, that together we may continue on the path of salvation and the fullness of gospel truth.

7. Our tradition offers sage advice for this sometimes difficult journey: In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity. May charity guide us in this endeavor.

And it only took me 15 minutes. And, yes, it leaves open the possibility of change, but as anyone who has studied church history knows, doctrinal development--even the correction of error--is a part of our Catholic story.


At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If God intended gay sex he would have given us different shaped body parts (sorry to so blunt, but if you have to buy strange devices or find creative ways to make the parts fit, that has to tell you something...)

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a pathetic and hateful comment on such a well-written and thoughtful posting. I am not gay but I can see that being gay is not about sex it is about love.

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not being hateful, I'm being honest. If you see two men or two women kissing, it just doesn't look right. It is disordered. That being said...are there some people who have a natural inclination towards homosexuality?yes. And a sensitive, pastoral, approach, that calls them to holiness is necessary. We all have crosses in life. The media claims that homosexuality is not chosen, but if you talk to many homosexuals themselves many will tell you that they did choose it.
For example, my best friend from high school is now in a lesbian relationship, but had many boyfriends in high school. She says she still is attracted to men, but just happened to have fallen in love with a women. I've heard other homosexual make similiar comments, so there is an element of free will exercised on the part of many.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger CtotheL said...

I'm not sure the "doesn't look right" argument is sufficient for denying gay and lesbian people recognition for their relationships and a morality that makes possible sexual expression.

But I would agree there's free will involved, though not when it comes to orientation. The free will piece comes when a gay or lesbian person decides to accept and affirm their sexual orientation and seek to live it out in a healthy, life-giving way. The dispute is whether that possibility can be part of a Christian life. Many gay and lesbian people say it is, and I agree, as do many theologians and many Christians inside and outside the Roman Catholic church.

Gay and lesbian people are willing to bear their crosses, but I think they would disagree with you when it comes to which crosses God calls them to bear.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would you say to people like my friend, then, who for the most part freely choose to enter into a relationship with a woman, because she was sexually abused by her father? Would you encourage her to stay in the lifestyle, or seek healing?

Honestly, I think there a lot of people who can go either way. Given that homosexuality is more accepted now than before there are some people who choose it just to be different, and many women choose it because the men in their lives abused them and they feel safer with women. Like I said, I do believe there are some people who have a biological inclination, and for them it is a heavy cross, but we can not say that all people who engage in homosexual relations are naturally "gay."

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess you could say that some people are gay because of abuse. I do believe that people who are abused in any way seem to feel that they deserved. It is hard to believe that someone who says
they love you would also hurt you. Look at children who's parents beat the crap out of them and they go right back towards them. Some people make the same mistake on every relationship.

At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and for the record, everything fits just fine, thank you.

At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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