Institutions

Vatican survey: How do we help people with ‘homosexual tendencies’?

(New York) Hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian people, accompanied by friends and families, took to the streets June 25, 1989, for the annual Gay Pride Parade. Similar parades, as well as rallies, street fairs and religious services, were celebrated in more than 80 cities across the country. This year's parade also marked the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York when, for the first time in history, gay and lesbian people banded together in spontaneous demonstrations to oppose violence and discrimination. Large groups of Jewish, Catholic and Protestant people marched behind banners bearing the names of their synagogues and churches to voice their support of the gay liberation movement. Many of the groups, including this one called "HEAL", paused in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral to pray for or shout "shame" at the two-dozen counter-demonstrators, many bearing rosary beads, Bibles and signs quoting scripture, who had gathered there to protest the marchers. Religion News Service file photo by Odette Lupis.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Gearing up for round two of a blockbuster Synod on the Family, the Vatican has asked bishops around the world to survey their flocks on hot-button issues such as divorce, abortion and the place of LGBT Catholics.

But the draft survey released Tuesday (Dec. 9) shows no sign of a softening in the church’s position on any of those issues after dramatic divisions emerged among bishops at the recent synod at the Vatican in October.

The “lineamenta” (which means “outline” in Latin) is based on the final report of the October summit and provides a framework for the follow-up synod, schedule for Oct. 4–25, 2015. Final responses are due back to the Vatican by April 15.

(New York) Hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian people, accompanied by friends and families, took to the streets June 25, 1989, for the annual Gay Pride Parade. Similar parades, as well as rallies, street fairs and religious services, were celebrated in more than 80 cities across the country.  This year's parade also marked the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York when, for the first time in history, gay and lesbian people banded together in spontaneous demonstrations to oppose violence and discrimination.  Large groups of Jewish, Catholic and Protestant people marched behind banners bearing the names of their synagogues and churches to voice their support of the gay liberation movement.  Many of the groups, including this one called "HEAL", paused in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral to pray for or shout "shame" at the two-dozen counter-demonstrators, many bearing rosary beads, Bibles and signs quoting scripture, who had gathered there to protest the marchers.  Religion News Service file photo by Odette Lupis.

Hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian people, accompanied by friends and families, took to the streets in New York on June 25, 1989, for the annual Gay Pride Parade. Many of the groups, including this one called “HEAL”, paused in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to pray for or shout “shame” at the two dozen counterdemonstrators, many bearing rosary beads, Bibles and signs quoting Scripture, who had gathered there to protest the marchers. Religion News Service file photo by Odette Lupis

The document will be translated into several languages and distributed to Vatican departments, bishops’ conferences and Eastern Catholic churches to gain direct feedback on the changing nature of the family and relationships.

The last time the Vatican issued a worldwide survey, some bishops actively sought out the opinions of lay Catholics; others delegated the task to prelates or theologians.

Pope Francis has described the bishops’ headline-grabbing October synod as a “journey,” and in an interview with Argentinian daily La Nacion earlier this week he said “resistance” was a healthy part of the process.

Included in the survey:

LGBT ISSUES

In a move that has already angered a leading gay Catholic group, the document speaks of pastoral care for those with “homosexual tendencies.”

“How can the Christian community direct its pastoral care to families that have people with homosexual tendencies among them?” the survey asks. “Avoiding any unjust discrimination, how can we take care of people in such situations in light of the Gospel?”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, reacted angrily to the working document.

“The language ‘people with homosexual tendencies’ is a reversion to the dated and judgmental tone that so many had hoped was fading into the past given Pope Francis’ apparent comfort in talking with and about LGBT people in a more realistic and respectful way,” she said.

“LGBT people certainly need appropriate pastoral care that starts from a position of acknowledging our moral equality with all other people, and that accepts the reality of our lives and the families we create. But we are not a problem for the church to solve. We are human beings, baptized members of our church, God’s beloved just as are other members of the church.”

After a midpoint report from October’s synod spoke of the “gifts and qualities” of  gay and lesbian Catholics, the bishops’ final document failed to include a watered-down proposal to welcome gays. The final statement said “men and women with homosexual tendencies should be welcomed with respect and delicacy.”

DIVORCE

Pope Francis officiated at the weddings of 20 couples at St. Peter’s Basilica earlier this month. Religion News Service photo by Cathleen Falsani

Pope Francis officiated at the weddings of 20 couples at St. Peter’s Basilica earlier this year. Religion News Service photo by Cathleen Falsani

Given the recent debate about marriage annulments and Francis’ personal concern about costs and delays in the process, the document seeks feedback on how that may be changed. In August, the pope established a commission to look at changing canon law and reforming annulments.

“How do we make procedures more accessible and quicker, and possibly free, for recognizing cases of annulment?” the working document asks.

It also raises questions about the indissolubility of marriage and sacraments for divorced Catholic who remarry outside the church, saying the issue requires “further investigation.”

“What are the prospects for moving? What are the possible steps? What are the suggestions for avoiding undue or unnecessary impediments?”

ABORTION

The bishops’ document emphasizes the church’s commitment to celebrate and protect human life. It says motherhood and fatherhood are vocations. “How can the church fight the scourge of abortion providing an effective culture of life?” the new survey asks.

KRE/MG END McKENNA

 

 

About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.

41 Comments

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  • “Vatican survey: How do we help people with ‘homosexual tendencies’?”

    The question tells us the Vatican neither understands what gays are nor shows a need to care.

    So the answer is already predetermined. Treat them like crap, as less than human beings but pretend to do otherwise for the sake of PR.

  • “Vatican survey: How do we help people with ‘homosexual tendencies’?”….with the same kind of help that people with heterosexual tendencies get.

  • First of all let me say I am gay. I have been for 60 years, and in past I have lived a gay life style, even had a lover. However, I had a conversion, that’s something my fellow gays don’t understand, and decided I truly wanted to go to heaven when I die and so I had to make some decisions. I changed my life, go to mass daily now for some 20 years, and while I do on occasion fall and sleep with a guy I know in my heart its wrong and go to confession. The difference is I don’t stay there. I have embraced the church’s teachings on homosexuality. I do not see my gay life style I lived as morally equal as gay groups would have me and others believe. No, I know it’s not equal. I’ve had more guys than there are days in 10 years so I know what I am talking about. For me it is a question of faith. I had a conversion and before that was given the gift of faith and that changed me. Something again my fellow gays don’t understand or accept. For this I am truly sorry. I made my choice; they will have to make theirs. I could go on, but I just wanted to share this. There are a lot of us gays like me, many, so don’t be fooled that all gays are against the church. LIfe is based on choices.

  • You are not the only gay in te world, you know… I don’t even acept to be defined as a gay person, because is just a small part of what I am. I have brown eyes, brown hair, I like to read, I like classical music, I think a lot, I always was a rebel, I worked to be independent and tryed to think with my own head, I don’t idolize popes or kings, I’m a critical Catholic, I don’t acept everything the Church want to sell me, as I wouldn’t accept the treament given in the old times to the mentally ill or, during centuries, to the slaves, etc. I was always a sort of monogamous kind of person, I spent many years without having relations because for ten years I was too busy taking care of a friend with Aids, and for another three morning him. I am MUCH, MUCH MORE than this simplistic portrait. So, I ask: why to put a label on gays, red headed people, albinos, etc.? Is just because they are a minority? Where is the Jesus message in this labeling and efforts to classify and put people inside boxes? I can tell, for instance, that among the worst people I knew in my all life some where daily mass Catholics. So what? This means that they are all bad, even if only a few behave as true Catholics and keep their minds and hearts open? Shouldn’t we obey, first of all, to what our conscience and discernement tells us to do? I’m getting tired of this soap opera, ant thinking that are the cardinals, bishops and priests that should go to confession and ask God’s pardon for their sins.

  • How can the Catholic Church help gay people?

    Be stopping trying to enact their purely theological concerns into secular law. By cleaning up their own child molesting house before attacking the lives and loves of consenting adults who are harming no one.

    By staying out of our lives, and stopping assuming that people who are not catholics need anything from the church at all except staying out of our lives.

  • There is nothing enlightened in surrendering to win. That’s about as regressive and unenlightened a human can get.

  • I’m not inspired by your blindness. While Peter only saw the letter of the law, Paul had the capacity of discerning the spirit.

  • How does the Catholic Church help people with “homosexual tendencies?”

    Well, first off, change the language. Perhaps there are some LGBTQ people who only have something you call a “tendency” but there are a lot more who are LGBTQ. They are not “disordered” they just don’t demonstrate the same orientation as the majority of people. They are as God made them, a natural part of creation and the world. “What? Did the hand, then, of the potter shake?”

    In the second place don’t focus on just a sexual orientation but look at the whole person. There are wonderful, good, kind, intelligent, loving, hard working, faithful people out there who also happen to be LGBTQ. Some of those good, kind, intelligent, etc people are also not LGBTQ but are also not saints or angels, either. You don’t judge them by one aspect of who they are – don’t judge LGBTQ people by one aspect of who they are. Don’t focus distain on LGBTQ people and those in a second marriage as if they are somehow more sinful, more evil than everyone else. We are all sinful.

    Third, if you want to improve “pastoral care to families that have people with homosexual tendencies among them” then demonstrate loving acceptance of the person within the Church family. That means do not fire them from jobs in school or decline to include them in Church activities that other lay people can participate in. None of them are saints – not even the non-LGBTQ Catholics. For far too long the Burkian attitude of excluding gay children from the family has been the example that was accepted. It is not acceptable any longer and it will not stop a LGBTQ person from being LGBTQ. So demonstrate to families a new attitude, one that is based on love of family members for each other.

    Hows that for a start?

  • “It is not acceptable any longer and it will not stop a LGBTQ person from being LGBTQ.” How about the good number of people now married with kids of their own who once identified themselves as LGBTQ. It seems this LGBTQ thing is all about experimentation and exploration.

  • A final answer to Frank: is a sin to refuse to hear and understand your brothers/sisters in Christ because you assume you are superior or know better, is a sin to try to exclude them for the community of the faithful because you only can see sin in them (not at all what Jesus told us), is a sin to try to silence or exclude the other (the opposite of what Jesus did), is a sin to read the Bible in a superficial way, without the proper knowledge and wisdom (wars and conflicts are kiling people everywhere because of this kind of sin, which is even killing gays, in the US or Africa), is a sin not to point the powerful their mistakes (people did exactly this in the past, and are doing it today,and because of it became martyrs), and I could go on and on. PLEASE, think first and only write after thinking a bit: you can be hurting people during a specially bad day or when they already feel to much pain; your easy mantra can be just the last drop.

  • I would assume that the answer is obvious: KNOW THINE ENEMY.

    but if it’s not obvious to you, here ya go. I’ve had a life-long interest in mythology and religion. I’ve had a life long interest in capital-T truth. I’ve had a life-long interest, therefore, in people who claim to have the TRUTH.

    As a gay man, as a (former) sociologist, and as a (former) Jew, Ive also had an interest in how religion impacts society and minority groups.

    Putting it all together, I’ve had a life-long interest in how and why people who claim to speak for God have come by their intimate knowledge of who and what God is and wants.

    And how they use their claims to harm other people, justifying every bit of it as the Word O’ God. One of the many conclusions I’ve arrived at as a scholar, a Jew, and a gay man, and a caring part of humanity with no desire to harm anyone:

    GOD is what some people use to justify what cannot be justified by any other means,

  • And what about the good number of people who lived heterosexual lives for decades and yet knew their whole lives that it was not who they we’re. They came out later in life.

    And what about the good number of people, like myself and nearly everyone I knw, who knew they were gay from a very young age, and have never, EVER been anything else.

  • Homosexual behavior was, is and will always be sinful. No getting around that eternal truth. You bring up a number of other issues which I would be happy to discuss.

  • This one is directed to the editors:

    I don’t understand why you classified as being of low quality The New Ways Ministries comment. Is respectful and with good arguments. Is it not enough?

  • Hmm, let’s see, anyone else think Frank is putting words unjustified in Timal’s mouth?

    I do! I do! I do!

  • When taking polls or talking about homosexuality, the whole truth must be stated. Homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity and are intrinsically disordered.

  • And God created those acts and everything else in the universe, so God must be extremely depraved.

    Nice God you’ve made yourself there. Bend over and take what he has to offer you. Bonus points if you drop to your knees afterward and spin. Open wide!

  • Frank you did a judgement and were caught redhanded. You are obviously the one who needs to grow up. And grow more than one of something else too!

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