27 February 2015

Reflection on the Church



Veru li dan hu żmien l-Apokalissi? Iż-żminijiet tal-aħħar?
Riflessjoni dwar il-Knisja u r-realtajiet ‘inkwetanti’ fid-dinja kontemporanja

Jekk tmur wara xi bieb ta’ knisja wara l-quddiesa tal-Ħadd u ssaqsi ftit lil xi persuni anzjani, jew forsi xi membri ‘akkaniti’ ta’ għaqdiet kattoliċi u ġieli anke xi qassisin u ssaqsiehom dwar ir-realtajiet tal-lum, spiss tisma’ b’ton xi ftit nostalġiku, li jaħasra, inbidlu wisq l-affarijiet u f’pajjiżna daħlu wisq drawwiet u mentalitajiet kontra r-reliġjon nisranija u kontra l-Knisja. M’għandix dubju li jekk insaqsihom għal xiex ikunu qed jirreferu, żgur li jsemmu l-libertà (jew libertinaġġ) li hawn f’pajjiżna, kemm qed jitkissru familji, kemm daħlu separazzjonijiet, divorzji, taħwid fil-familji u agħar minn hekk, it-tnedija tal-unjonijiet ċivili u l-possibiltà ta’ adozzjonijiet minn koppji gay u bdil fil-ġeneru tal-persuni. Tisma’ l-espressjoni: Fiex wasalna!!

Meta titkellem ma’ din ix-xorta ta’ nies tieħu l-impressjoni li s-soċjetà Maltija ddeġenerat u li wasalna verament fix-xifer u li jekk ma noqogħdux attenti, ser nispiċċaw nitilfu l-fidi Kattolika f’pajjiżna. Dan isib l-eku tiegħu wkoll fid-dinja globaliżżata tal-lum, fejn hemm tant fenomeni preokuppanti bħat-terroriżmu, l-ateiżmu, il-fundemantaliżmu Iżlamiku, u l-persekuzzjoni tal-valuri nsara speċjalment mid-dinja atea u akristjana tal-Punent. F’din it-tip ta’ realtà faċilment tirreaġixxi b’dan il-mod. Qisu, qatt ma kien hemm żmien daqs illum, li l-Knisja u r-reliġjon Nisranija jinsabu daqstant mhedda u għaldaqstant hemm bżonn inqumu fuq tagħna biex niġġildulha!

It-tentazzjoni tal-vitimiżmu

F’din it-tip ta’ realtà, huwa faċli li wieħed jadotta l-mekkaniżmu tal-vittimiżmu. Dan ifisser li wieħed jirreaġixxi għal dawn ir-realtajiet ġodda billi jħossu parti minn minoranza li qed tiġi ppersegwitata u li d-drittijiet fundamentali tagħha qed jiġu mhedda. F’sitwazzjoni bħal din kull att liberali li jsir jiġi kkunsidrat bħala theddida għall-identità ta’ dak li jkun u bħala att provokattiv lejn Kommunità li essenzjalment dejjem kienet ‘inklużiva’ u ‘tolleranti’. Naslu wkoll biex naħsbu li dawn in-nies li qed jagħmlu dawn il-liġijiet ġodda – dawn kollha għandhom l-intenzjoni li jeqirdu lill-Knisja, lill-identità Kattolika tagħna u lill-familja li tant niftaħru biha bħala l-fus u s-sies tas-soċjetà Maltija.

Hija reazzjoni li fil-fatt qed narawha mhux biss f’Malta imma ‘il hinn minn xtutna. Forsi smajtu bil-moviment Pegida fil-Ġermanja li qed jissielet kontra dak li huma qed isejħu l-Iżlamiżazzjoni tal-Ewropa. Bħal dawn, imma b’mod differenti, ssib movimenti fl-Italja, fi Franza u fl-Ingilterra li huma kontra l-immigrazzjoni mill-Afrika, kontra l-Ewropa, jew kontra aktar drittijiet għal persuni gay, għax jgħidu li dawn huma kollha elementi li jmorru kontra l-identità, il-kultura u l-familja tal-pajjiż in kwestjoni. Hija interessanti wkoll, li anke l-kommunitajiet Iżlamiċi jpinġu lilhom nfushom bħala vittmi li qed jiġu mkassbra mill-Midja internazzjonali (bħal ta’ Charlie Hebdo) u mill-Punent u li fil-fatt m’għandhomx vuċi u li huma msejkna. Tidħol f’din id-dinamika kollha, l-firda bejn aħna u huma, bejn it-tajbin u l-ħżiena, bejn dawk ta’ Alla u dawk tax-xitan. Imma, din id-dinamika hija ferm perikoluża, u faċilment tista’ tiddeġenera f’mibegħda, u f’ċirku vizzjuż ta’ vjolenza qerrieda.


Il-periklu tal-vittimiżmu fil-Knisja Kattolika

Fil-Knisja Kattolika hemm ukoll dan il-periklu, speċjalment għaliex il-Knisja hija inkwetata mir-realtajiet ‘ġodda’ fis-soċjetà tal-Punent li qegħdin jheddu l-familja ‘tradizzjonali’ u li jisfidaw b’mod sfiq id-duttrina morali tal-Knisja fuq diversi punti, inkluż il-Liġi Naturali, in-natura taż-żwieġ, il-kompożizzjoni tal-familja, is-sesswalità u tant elementi oħra. Spiss il-Knisja tirreaġixxi billi tara iż-żjieda apparenti ta’ sitwazzjonijiet irregulari (li jiġifieri jmorru kontra t-tagħlim tal-Knisja) bħala theddida fundamentali li rridu niġġilduha sabiex insalvaw il-familja kif Alla riedha. Ħafna drabi l-Knisja twaħħal f’ideoloġiji ġodda perikolużi bħal ma huma r-Relativiżmu u ‘l hekk imsejħa Ideoloġija tal-Ġeneru, għaliex dawn, permezz ta’ lobbying qawwi minn gruppi politiċi u saħansitra anke minn numru ta’ gvernijiet fil-Punent, qed jirnexxilhom joqtlu u jeqirdu darba għal dejjem it-tagħlim ta’ Kristu fuq in-natura vera u unika tal-familja u tar-relazzjonijiet umani. Il-Knisja għalhekk tħossha fid-dmir li tiġġieled kontra dawn il-kurrenti qerrieda.

Dan ta’ spiss jinħass f’ċerti ċrieki Kattoliċi f’Malta, fejn mhux l-ewwel darba, tisma diskors reminixxenti tal-kruċjati medjevali kontra l-għedewwa tal-fidi. Spiss minn biżgħat ċkejknin noħolqu iħirsa li jwerwru u nimmaġinaw li kull liġi ġdida ser titfa’ lill-pajjiż u lid-dinja fi spirall u abbiss qerriedi, li jekk ma nkunux aħna li nieqfu lil dawn il-kurrenti, possibilta’ jista’ jsir ħsara irreparabli. Smajna dan id-diskors meta daħal id-divorzju, u stennejna li mad-daħla tad-divorzju ser jiżdiedu l-familji mfarrka u ser ikollna dilluvju ta’ żwiġijiet li jfallu. Smajna wkoll li jekk jidħol l-unjoni ċivili, jispiċċa ż-żwieġ bejn persuni eterosesswali, għax qisu dak li jkun, jitħawwad dwar it-tifsira taż-żwieġ u allura ser jispiċċa kompletament il-valur taż-żwieġ. Instema’ wkoll li jekk tidħol l-adozzjoni tat-tfal minn koppji gay, f’daqqa waħda, dawn biss ikunu jistgħu jibdew jadottaw u għalhekk ikun hemm impatt terribli fuq il-familja Maltija u ħsara bla tarf fuq it-tfal. Qisu, li jekk jiġu legaliżżati forom ġodda ta’ familja, il-familja Kattolika tinqered darba għal dejjem. Iżda fil-fatt, l-ebda minn dawn il-biżgħat ma seħħu. Tant hu hekk li minn statistika riċenti, n-numru ta’ żwiġijiet bil-Knisja fl-2014 żdiedu!

Il-Knisja lokali dan l-aħħar bdiet ukoll tuża tip ta’ diskors ieħor fejn iffukkat fuq il-bżonn li jitnaqqas l-impatt ‘negattiv’ ta’ realtajiet morali diversi, bħal ngħidu aħna, nies li sseparaw jew ddivorzjaw, jew li użaw metodi ta’ inseminazzjoni artifiċjali permezz tal-IVF, jew persuni li qegħdin attivament f’relazzjonijiet bejn persuni tal-istess sess. Il-Knisja tibża’ li dawn l-għażliet morali ‘ħżiena’ jistgħu jkunu ta’ skandlu, speċjalment għat-tfal u allura persuni li huma fil-maniġment tal-iskejjel tal-Knisja jew għalliema tar-Reliġjon u tal-PSD, għandhom ikunu mħeġġa li jew jirranġaw l-għażliet morali tagħhom jew għal tal-inqas jostruhom. Il-problema ta’ dan kollu hu li l-Knisja għadha toħlom li t-tfal tal-iskola jgħixu ġo bozza u li dawn ir-realtajiet ma jarawhomx madwarhom.

Niflu sewwa r-realtà ta’ madwarna

Jekk niflu sewwa r-realtà ta’ madwarna, għalkemm hemm verament realtajiet li jistgħu jkunu inkwetanti, però, ikun żball li nqisu dawn il-fenomeni kollha bħala sinjal li s-soċjetà Maltija sejra l-baħar. Qabelxejn, irridu noqogħdu attenti meta nitkellmu dwar ir-realtà tal-familji Maltin, daqslikieku d-diffikultajiet u s-separazzjonijiet f’pajjiżna huma biss fenomeni ta’ żminijietna. Kultant nagħmlu l-iżball li naħsbu li fl-antik il-familji Maltin kienu dejjem sodi u ma kienx hemm taħwid u tifrik. Fil-fatt, nafu mill-istorja li dan mhux minnu. Tant hu hekk, li fl-imgħoddi kien hawn problemi familjari kemm trid, inkluż sess qabel iż-żwieġ, abort, prostituzzjoni u relazzjonijiet barra miż-żwieġ. U jekk naħsbu li l-omosesswalità hija xi ħaġa moderna, għandna żball ukoll, għax kienet minn dejjem.

Naturalment, il-periklu hu li npoġġu kull realtà alternattiva fl-istess keffa u nwaħħlu kollox fl-egoiżmu u f’xi deġenerazzjoni soċjali. Spiss nippreferu li dawn ir-realtajiet ikunu mistoħbija u li dawn, jekk isiru, isiru b’mod mistur qishom huma xi ħaġa tal-mistħija. Eżempju klassiku huwa l-prattika tal-omosesswalità. Għall-knisja u għal ċerti setturi fis-soċjetà Maltija, bniedem gay tajjeb, huwa wieħed li jostor l-identità tiegħu, li ma jkunx sfaċċatament gay u li ma jgħix ir-relazzjonijiet tiegħu b’mod publiku. Allura persuna gay li tkun trid turi s-serjetà tal-imħabba tagħha lejn il-maħbub jew maħbuba tagħha, ma tista’ qatt tagħmel unjoni ċivili, għax dak hu att publiku u allura qed ikun ta’ skandlu għall-oħrajn. Tifhimha mbagħad li persuna bħal dan mhux adattat biex ikun mudell għat-tfal tagħna! Jiddispjaċini ngħid li dan mhu xejn tajjeb, għaliex ifisser li għadna ma fhimnix biżżejjed li relazzjonijiet gay u anke relazzjonijiet ‘irregolari’ jistgħu wkoll ikunu sbieħ u ta’ valur daqs kull relazzjoni bejn koppja eterosesswali miżżewġa. Fuq kollox dawn l-għażliet mhumiex kapriċċ jew qżież imma għażla kultant iebsa minn persuni li jixtiequ jgħixu b’mod ġenwin ma’ dak li Alla nibbet fil-qalb tagħhom. Tagħmel sens li wieħed jgħix indannat għall-ħajtu kollha biex jibqa’ fidil għall-istraitjacket tal-liġi ortodossa morali tal-Knisja? Mhux aħjar li wieħed jagħraf il-verità tiegħu nniffsu u bi prudenza jagħmel l-għażliet morali li fil-kuxjenza ffurmata tiegħu jinduna li huma l-aħjar għall-ġid tiegħu u ta’ ruħu? Ma jistgħux ikun jewwila li dawn il-liġijiet morali jkunu jixbħu lill-madmad tal-liġi tal-fariżej li Kristu ried isaffi biex verament tagħraf il-ħniena, u l-mogħrija ta’ Alla?


Għażliet morali magħmula b’kuxjenza ffurmata tajjeb

Tista’ tkun tentazzjoni għal min qed jaqra dan l-artiklu biex jgħid: Mela kollox jgħaddi! La kull għażla morali hija tajba, allura, m’hemmx differenza bejn tajjeb u ħażin. Nistgħu nibdew naċċettaw kollox! Fil-fatt, din hija tentazzjoni reali, u jekk il-kejl tal-moralità tagħna jkun ix-xiber tagħna biss u l-egoiżmu tagħna, dan jista’ jwassal biex l-għażliet tagħna ma jkunux tajbin, imma jkunu bbażżati fuq moralità fażulla. Ikun tip ta’ Relativiżmu morali li l-Papa Benedittu XVI tant kien jwissi fuqu.

Imma jien mhux għal din it-tip ta’ attitudni qed nirreferi. Jien qed nitkellem minn għażla morali msejsa fuq riflessjoni sinċiera u personali, fuq għarfien sewwa tax-xewqat, bżonnijiet u aspirazjonijiet tal-persuna, kif ukoll tiftixa ġenwina u sinċiera tar-rieda ta’ Alla fil-ħajja ta’ dak li jkun. Trid tkun akkumpanjata minn ħajja ta’ talb, direzzjoni spiritwali u programm ta’ ħajja msejsa fuq il-valuri tal-Vanġelu. Irrid ngħid, li mhux l-istil ta’ ħajja li jiddetermina li wieħed qed jgħix verament ħajja moralment retta, imma l-motivazzjonijiet, il-valuri u l-prinċipji, kif ukoll it-tiftixa sinċiera ta’ Alla fil-ħajja ta’ dak li jkun. Ħa nagħti eżempju: wieħed jista’ jkun miżżewweġ u jgħix mal-mara tiegħu, imma jsawwatha, jabbużha verbalment, anke jekk mhux daqstant quddiem in-nies. Dan esternament qed jgħix stil ta’ ħajja regolari: hu fidil lejn martu, fis-sens li ma għandux xi skappatura. Madanakollu b’daqshekk mhux qed jgħix moralment tajjeb, għaliex ir-rispett ġenwin lejn il-mara tiegħu ma jeżistix. U kif kien iħobb jirrepeti San Ġorġ Preca: Mhux il-virtù, imma l-kawża tal-virtù għandha grazzja quddiem Alla!

Huwa importanti li din l-istess metodoloġija tiġi applikata wkoll għall-għażliet morali li apparentement m’humiex konformi mal-liġi morali tal-Knisja. It-tagħlim stess tal-Knisja jitkellem dwar l-importanza ta’ għażla morali magħmula minn persuni b’kuxjenza ffurmata tajjeb (Katekiżmu tal-Knisja Kattolika, 1776-1802, Gaudium et Spes, 16, Dignitatis Humanae, 1). San Tumas t’Akwinu jgħallem li bniedem jista’ wara proċess ta’ dixxerniment jasal biex jiddeċiedi biex jagħmel ċertu għażliet morali li ma jkunux konformi mat-tagħlim tal-Knisja (Scriptum super sententiis, 4). Għaldaqstant, quddiem Alla dawn l-għażliet, meta magħmulin b’serjetà u b’reqqa kbira, jistgħu jkunu għażliet ta’ fejda u spiritwalment sani. Fil-fatt, nemmen li persuni bħal dawn jistgħu jkunu wkoll ta’ rowl modils biex juru lit-tfal li huwa possibli li tgħix ħajja Nisranija tajba anke jekk l-għażla personali ma taqbilx strettament mat-tagħlim ortodoss tal-Knisja. Wara kollox, kif jgħid San Pawl (Rum. 6-8), l-ispirtu ta’ Alla jmur ‘il hinn mill-liġi u jara u jgħarbel dak li hemm fil-qalb. San Pawl fl-Ittra lill-Galatin  (Gal. 5: 16-26) jitkellem dwar il-frottijiet tal-ispirtu li huma l-imħabba, l-hena, is-sliem, is-sabar, il-ħniena, it-tjieba, il-fidi, il-ħlewwa u r-rażan u dawn iservu ta’ sinjal biex wieħed jagħraf jekk fl-għazliet tiegħu hux verament qed jgħix skont l-ispirtu, anke jekk ikun qed jgħix kontra ‘il-liġi’. Kristu stess kemm-il darba ‘kiser’ il-liġijiet tal-Lhud fuq il-jum tas-Sibt għax ħass li l-imħabba tissupera kull liġi u kull kodiċi. Madanakollu, hemm bżonn ukoll li l-bniedem ikun tassew koerenti u mhux jgħix, la kif jaqbillu b’mod egoistiku, u lanqas għax mġiegħel mill-Knisja jew minn kwalunkwe istituzzjoni oħra (Dignitatis Humanae, 1-2, Gaudium et Spes, 16-17). Meta jgħix fil-verità fih inniffsu, ikun qed iħalli din il-verità tagħmlu bniedem integru u ġenwinament ħieles.

Lejn inklużjoni ġenwina

Meta l-Knisja f’Ottubru li għadda ċċelebrat is-Sinodu tal-Isqfijiet ittratat dawn ir-realtajiet ġodda wkoll. Il-fatt li għall-ewwel darba qegħdin niddiskutu dawn ir-realtajiet alternattivi huwa ġà pass pożittiv. Fil-fatt, l-awgurju tiegħi huwa li l-Knisja tkompli tindirizza dawn ir-realtajiet – imma mhux bħala xi velenu perikoluż li qed jhedded il-fundament tal-Knisja. M’għadniex mill-ewwel naħsbu li dawn ir-realtajiet neċessarjament ser ikissru lill-familja, li d-diversità neċessarjament hija theddida. Naħseb li dawn jistgħu jgħannu lill-Knisja, għaliex, kif ammetta l-ewwel dokument tas-Sinodu, dawn ukoll għandhom affarijiet pożittivi li jistgħu jkunu ta’ ġid għall-Knisja kollha kemm hi.

Fuq kollox, il-Knisja trid timxi saqajha mhux biss mal-art, imma għandha bżonn tinża’ ż-żarbun u l-kalzetti u tħoss il-qigħan tal-art u tirrealiżża li din mhix realtà ta’ ħażen, imma hija r-realtà tal-bniedem tal-lum u li Alla qiegħed jitkellem mal-Knisja u juri ruħu f’dawn is-sinjali taż-żminijiet. Il-konverżjoni li tipprietka l-Knisja m’għandiex tkun sejħa biex dak li jkun jitlaq mill-istat ta’ ħajja li qed igħix, imma biex f’dak li jkun qed jgħix jifhem iżjed dak li l-Mulej irid minnu u jħalli l-Mulej imexxih. Ta’ spiss ninsew li aħna lkoll midinbin, u mhux biss min hu f’sitwazzjoni hekk imsejħa irregolari, imma wkoll dawk li forsi jippretendu li huma ‘it-tajbin’. Allaħares, il-Knisja tkun il-club tat-tajbin biss, u biex inti tkun ġenwinament aċċettat, tkun trid tikkonforma mal-mudelli ‘tat-tajbin’ fil-Knisja! Fil-fatt, l-irwol tal-Knisja għandu jkun dejjem u biss għas-servizz tal-kuxjenza (Ġwanni Pawlu  II, Veritatis Splendor, 19) u għalhekk, kif jgħid l-Isqof Geoffrey Robinson, il-Knisja għandha b’sensitività tisma’ s-sensum fidelium, jiġifieri l-qalba ta’ ruħ il-poplu t’Alla u flok ma tibda mit-teorija, tibda mill-umanità ‘on the ground’ u tiddjaloga mal-bniedem fejn hu. Ma tistax il-Knisja tassumi li min ma jaqbilx magħha awtomatikament ma ffurmax il-kuxjenza tiegħu b’mod tajjeb u għalhekk mhux bniedem rett (Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church, 161-165).

Hemm bżonn niftakru li Kristu dejjem beda mill-bniedem, u mhux mill-liġi, u li l-mimmi t’għajnejh kienu l-emarġinati u dawk fil-periferiji. Sfortunament xi drabi ninsew li l-Knisja trid tixbah iktar lil sptar fuq kamp tal-battalja (kif qalilna l-Papa) milli palazz dehbi. Noqogħdu attenti li ma nkunux fariżej, li nwarrbu dawk li fil-fehma tagħna qed jgħixu irregolari, bl-iskuża li dawn ser jiskandaliżżaw lil uliedna. Fuq kollox, hemm bżonn li l-Knisja tibda djalogu ġenwin ma’ dawn ir-realtajiet u takkumpanja lil dawn il-persuni ‘bħala oħt u qaddejja’ (kif jingħad mis-Sinodu Djoċesan ta’ Malta tal-2004) u mhux tiġġudikahom u tippretendi li taf kollox dwar il-bniedem. Trid tkun umli biżżejjed biex titgħallem iktar mill-esperjenza ta’ wliedha kollha kemm huma speċjalment dawk fil-periferija, u titħarreġ ġenwinament fl-istudji tas-Soċjoloġija, fl-Antropoloġija u fix-Xjenzi l-oħra u tkun lesta biex tħares mill-ġdid lejn ir-realtà u tħalli din tixpruna l-iżvilupp tat-tagħlim tagħha u mhux bil-kontra. Għandha tkun lesta li ġġedded it-tagħlim tagħha jekk tagħraf li dak li qed tgħallem mhuwiex totalment koerenti mal-ispirtu ta’ Kristu u mal-valuri veri tal-Vanġelu.

Dan biss għandu jkun il-mod kif il-Knisja twieġeb għall-isfidi tal-lum. Inkella wisq nibża’ li l-Knisja ser tibqa’ l-art, u tkun hi li titlef lil uliedha u b’hekk tonqos lejn il-kmand ta’ Kristu. Dan hu l-awgurju tiegħi għal din is-sena li matulha l-Knisja qiegħda tkompli tlaqqa’ s-Sinodu tal-Isqfijiet dwar il-familja. J’Alla l-Knisja tkompli ssir il-Knisja tal-Periferija, il-ġemgħa tal-midinbin li qed jinħmew bil-grazzja t’Alla f’qaddisin. U hekk inkunu tassew il-melħ tal-art u d-dawl tad-dinja.


Chris Vella


29 January 2015

Drachma's feedback to the bishops on the Lineamenta

In recent weeks, the Vatican issued a series of questions and points for reflection called the Lineamenta. The Vatican and the local Episcopal Conferences invited Catholic people and organisations to reflect on these Lineamenta and send feedback on the Family and related themes. 

In response to this invitation, Drachma reflected on the Lineamenta and issued the following feedback, which we are now posting on our blog.

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21 January, 2015


Mgr. M. Grech, President, Maltese Episcopal Conference, Bishop of Gozo

Mgr. C. Scicluna, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Malta, sede vacante


Feedback on the Lineamenta


We wish to contribute our humble part towards widening the reflection leading up to the October 2015 assembly of the Synod on the Family. In this context we would like to communicate our thoughts that are the fruit of our experience as a group that is already immersed in the LGBTI pastoral field.

We have opted to limit our reactions to Question 40 of the Lineamenta and the corresponding paragraphs 54-55 of the Relatio Synodi (which the Lineamenta erroneously numbers 55-56).

The attached feedback includes a number of proposals that can be brought to the attention of the General Secretariat of the Synod. Some of these proposals can be implemented also locally.

We thank you for your kind attention and support.

With a promise of our prayers,


Chris Vella  and  Joseanne Peregin
Drachma


Feedback on the Lineamenta from Drachma LGBTI and the Drachma Parents’ Group


Title: Pastoral Attention towards Persons with Homosexual Tendencies

The wording used in the sub-title and in the question itself immediately poses great difficulty since it refers to ‘homosexual tendencies’. This makes homosexuality sound like something pathological or ‘curable’, while it is scientifically proven that homosexuality is neither of the two. Suggested alternative wording: Pastoral attention towards homosexual persons.

The pastoral care of persons with homosexual tendencies poses new challenges today, due to the manner in which their rights are proposed in society.

Again, this wording is fundamentally flawed. The real problem is not ‘the way in which gay people’s rights are proposed in society’. The real problem is the way in which such people’s fundamental rights are being denied by society (sometimes even by the Church).

As Christians we believe that everybody, including gay persons, has the right to live his life in a dignified way, free from all types of persecution and discrimination. In many situations and in many countries it is such a fundamental human right that is being denied. Certainly the efforts being made to have such rights respected are not to be perceived by the Church as causing a challenge or a problem to its pastoral mission!

We think that this sentence should be worded differently: The pastoral care of homosexual persons poses new challenges today, due to the manner in which such persons have been and are being marginalized by society, including by some members of the Church.
40. How can the Christian community give pastoral attention to families with persons with homosexual tendencies?

A homosexual person is a person. He or she is not a person ‘with homosexual tendencies’ – just as much as a heterosexual is a person and not just a person ‘with heterosexual tendencies’. This text should be recast as follows: How can the Christian community give pastoral attention to families with homosexual persons?

Church members must be made aware of the trauma that homosexual persons pass through before, during and after their ‘coming out’. We know from our experience, that many parents find it extremely difficult to accept their children’s homosexuality, often owing to their religious upbringing.

Therefore in her pastoral ministry with families the Church should encourage parents to accept their children’s sexuality – whatever it is. Always our children! In this way, LGBTI persons would find acceptance and love in the place where they most expect to find it – at home and within the Church. Indeed, according to Christian anthropology every human person is a son or daughter of God, made in His image and likeness. Hence before being ‘always our children’ such persons are, first and foremost, always daughters and sons of God. The wording of the previous paragraph 50 is very pertinent here: “Oftentimes, they (homosexual persons) want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation?”

It is a known fact that a significant proportion of suicides is committed by LGBTI persons – often as a result of not feeling or not being accepted by their families. This alone brings out the need for much greater tact on the part of bishops, priests and pastoral workers when speaking of and dealing with these persons.

The Church should take every opportunity (including this Synod) to be perceived, and in fact be, shoulder-to-shoulder with homosexual persons and genuinely concerned by the unjust way in which such persons are treated by society. The Church should stand, and be seen to stand, in their defence in the midst of a society that is all too often hypocritical and hostile towards them.

What are the responses that, in light of cultural sensitivities, are considered to be most appropriate?

We submit the following proposals:

1.     The Church needs to review paragraphs 2357-2359 and 2396 of the Catechism because:

(a) The only place homosexual persons find something written about their reality in the whole Catechism is under the section entitled: Sins against Chastity.

(b) The present text that reads “This inclination is in itself intrinsically disordered” (paragraph 2358) must be removed, especially the words ‘intrinsically disordered’. Nobody has the right to call disordered what God himself has created! In this context the 1997 amendment to the CCC was a step backwards.

(c)  The passages from Scripture and Tradition that are quoted in the footnotes to sustain Church teaching on this reality need to be reviewed as many advances in human sciences and biblical studies can shed new light upon this reality.

2.     The Church should introduce a Ministry for Lesbian and Gay Catholics (including gay priests and nuns).

3.     The Church should acknowledge the positive elements in civil partnerships. In this context the wording of (previous paragraph 52 of) the Relatio post disceptationem were particularly significant: “there are instances where mutual assistance to the point of sacrifice is a valuable support in the life of these persons”. Such unions, rather than undermining the institution of marriage, actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a life-long relationship can find their place and protection and the relevant legal provisions. Such unions can enhance the values of equality and commitment in relationships, to which the Church already is very committed, because it is equality and the reliability of commitments between people that constitute the very basis for stability in society.

If the Church starts using a new language towards homosexual believers living in a stable relationship that is based on the principles of fidelity, care and love, it will open up a new pastoral avenue not only with Catholic gay persons but also with gay persons of other faiths or none.

4.     Catholic LGBTIs should be protagonists in the formulation of the Church’s pastoral care of gays. Such pastoral care should not be about them and for them, but with them and from them. Through their direct and positive contribution, gay persons can be an enrichment to the Church and its vision. “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community” (previous paragraph 50 of the Relatio post disceptationem). The Church can listen to homosexual persons by: (a) inviting LGBTI persons themselves (b) people involved in pastoral work with LGBTIs (c) theologians who have studied this subject, to be part of its commissions and study groups, to address the assembly in October 2015, and to participate in the redaction of Church documents on the subject (see 1 above and 5 below).

5.     We suggest that the Pope opens up a theological-anthropological discussion on fundamental questions such as gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexuality and the Scriptures. Such discussion would be expected to continue even after the October Synod is concluded.

While avoiding any unjust discrimination, how can such persons receive pastoral care in these situations in light of the Gospel? How can God’s will be proposed to them in their situation?


What we understand by the words ‘in light of the gospel’ is: unconditional love, forgiveness, tolerance, openness, acceptance, being non-judgmental. These are Christ’s own attitudes, and we should derive our light from Him alone. Such attitudes should be reflected in the Church’s language, its documents and its ministers’ dealings with gay persons.

A Church that expels its own employees only because they are in a same-sex relationship or because they have entered into a civil union is not a loving, tolerant, non-judgmental, non-discriminating mother and/or sister.

All those in pastoral work, or who are somehow in contact with gay persons and work in this particular field, should be adequately trained.

         Particularly, seminarians’ formation should include training in this specific area. Such training is to be given by competent persons with an adequate background in psychology, since unfortunately there still exist many myths, misconceptions, ignorance and prejudices about this reality.


We would also like to comment briefly on paragraphs 54-55 of the Relatio Synodi.

As a general comment we would like to register our disappointment at the fact that most of the wording, vision and pastoral approach found in the first version of the Relatio post disceptationem (General Rapporteur, Card. Péter Erdő, 13 October, 2014) are absent from the present paragraphs.

54. Some families have members who have a homosexual tendency. In this regard, the synod fathers asked themselves what pastoral attention might be appropriate for them in accordance with Church teaching: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family.”

Is it possible that when the synod fathers asked themselves what pastoral attention is appropriate, the only thing that came to mind was that ‘there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family’?

Is a prohibition the only answer the synod fathers can offer to millions of gay persons? Is this an appropriate pastoral initiative?

We acknowledge that this issue is new to the Church. We also appreciate that the Church has started to debate and study this reality, and for this we are grateful to God.

Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4).

Although the Relatio states that ‘Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’ it omits any comment with regard to the unacceptable state of affairs in many countries where homosexuals are discriminated against, persecuted and even killed. It is unfortunate that the Church remains silent and fails to condemn the criminalization of homosexuality and the persecution and harassment of homosexuals. Such lack of solidarity puts into question the credibility of the Church regarding its commitment to receive homosexual persons ‘with respect and sensitivity’.

55. Exerting pressure in this regard on the Pastors of the Church is totally unacceptable: it is equally unacceptable for international organizations to link their financial assistance to poorer countries with the introduction of laws that establish “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

The Church appears to be more concerned that its pastors are being pressured – rather than preoccupied by the enormous physical and psychological pressure that is exerted on gays everyday throughout the world. Therefore, this part of paragraph 55 should be replaced by a new paragraph that categorically condemns all countries that criminalize homosexuality at various levels.

As regards the question of funding: Funding to poor countries by certain organizations is sometimes linked to certain conditions. But such conditions are not exclusively gay-related (e.g. those that exert pressure to accept ‘pro-choice’ laws easily come to mind). Therefore this last sentence of para 55 should be removed from here completely and put in a separate paragraph under a different item and which would condemn all funding to developing countries that carry ties or conditions.

Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents
21 January 2015