Thursday 17 October 2019

Editorial: 'Church must listen to the fears of LGBTQ catholics'

'The real-life experiences of LGBT people seem entirely absent from this document'. Stock picture
'The real-life experiences of LGBT people seem entirely absent from this document'. Stock picture
Editorial

Editorial

Rules and doctrines have their place, but make for a blunt instrument when accommodating the complex patterns of humanity and most especially the tender intricacies of identity.

Ideally, we would recognise and respect the essential individuality of all, and protect and cherish equality.

Too often we are insensitive or indifferent to the vulnerability of minorities and the diversities which ultimately enrich us.

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Perhaps this is why the rejection by the Vatican of the idea people can choose or change their genders, while predictable, will also be crushing for many.

Its insistence on the sexual "complementarity" of men and women to make babies may also jar.

They are nonetheless the traditional views of a church which has stood firm against the tides of change.

It has refused to adapt to the many challenges of ever-evolving science and social mores. It is of course the right of the Catholic Church to make and hold such positions.

Its latest document, published during LGBT Pride Month, has immediately come under fire from LGBT Catholics. They argue it will add to the bigotry and violence against gay and transgender people.

A US Advocacy group, New Ways Ministry, feels it will further confuse individuals questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation.

And speaking on RTÉ radio the chairperson of the Transgender Equality Network said it would upset LGBTQ people as it denies them their identity. But Sarah Phillips said that she was not surprised at the document. The Vatican text, 'Male and Female He Created Them', was, we were told, intended to help Catholic teachers address an "educational crisis".

And it appealed for a "path of dialogue" and listening on the issue of "gender theory" in education. Judging by the reception it has been given it has already failed, seen as dogmatic and dismissive. "The real-life experiences of LGBT people seem entirely absent from this document," said the Rev James Martin, a Jesuit priest who wrote a book on improving Catholic Church outreach to the LGBT community. Of course, Pope Francis has repeatedly argued people cannot choose their genders.

A binary focus seems out of touch with the multi- layered, non-physical factors which determine gender. Last year former President Mary McAleese found herself at odds with the Church on its "exclusion of women".

Whatever about the Vatican, the Bible accommodates all. Corinthians 12:12-14 tells us: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body." To belong is a primal human need; to feel excluded is therefore hurtful.

Listening is required if the Church is to demonstrate it is sincere about holding a "dialogue". Otherwise it is merely preaching from the pulpit over the heads of many of its congregation.

Irish Independent

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