Equally Blessed Coalition responds to the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia ("The Joy of Love")

While Pope Francis acknowledges the complicated and complex issues facing Catholics on the margins, he offers little for LGBTQI Catholics and their families.

April 8, 2016 -- Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic organizations committed to LGBTQI equality in the church and civil society, is disappointed in Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia ("The Joy of Love"). While the Pope acknowledges the complicated issues facing Catholics on the margins, including divorced and remarried Catholics and Catholics who identify as LGBTQI, and he urges respect for individual consciences, he ultimately reinforces existing harmful church teaching that characterizes LGBTQI people as unable to reflect the fullness of God's plan for humanity. Specifically, the Pope continues to condemn same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex parents, and he refuses to acknowledge the complexities of gender identity.

Members of the Equally Blessed Coalition had this to say:

Call To Action:

Yet, at a time when the majority of Catholics in the U.S. support inclusion of the LGBT community, equality for women, and a direct path for divorced & remarried Catholics to find full acceptance back in the Church, we’re deeply concerned this document results in an institutional and ecclesial status quo that does not make real substantive changes in Catholic structures and practices (e.g., an end to the unjust firings of LGBT Church Workers and discrimination against women, to name only a few examples).

Hierarchical leaders must go further in advancing the Gospel values Catholics today embody so well: radical welcome and openness, expansive and inclusive values, equality and justice for all, and unconditional love for the amazing diversity of God’s people. Read more

New Ways Ministry:

Many in the Catholic LGBT community had great, but realistic, hopes for this document.  While not expecting a blessing on marriage for lesbian and gay couples, many were anticipating that Pope Francis would offer an affirming message to LGBT people, and not the same ill-informed comments. Many were hoping for something more pastoral from this pope known for warm gestures and statements. Where is the Pope Francis who embraced his gay former student and husband during his U.S. visit?  Where is the Pope Francis who invited a transgender Spanish man for a personal meeting at the Vatican? That Pope Francis is hard to find in his latest text. Read more

Dignity/USA:

DignityUSA also expressed frustration that while Amoris Laetitia calls for respect for the dignity of all people regardless of sexual orientation, and the avoidance of ‘unjust discrimination,’ there is no strong call for an end to anti-LGBT violence, for Church officials to avoid inflammatory statements against the LGBT community, or for a clear statement that LGBT people and supporters are welcome to participate in the Church’s sacramental life and ministries. “While the Pope acknowledges the Church has been too rigid in other areas, there is no repentance when it comes to LGBT people. We need to see changes in teaching and practice before we can move forward,” said Duddy-Burke. Read more

Fortunate Families:

Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia ("The Joy of Love"), contains many positive statements concerning the role of conscience in pastoral guidance of the divorced and remarried.  We feel that this document would have been even more powerful if only the Pope would specifically extend this primary teaching of conscience formation to our LGBT children, who often feel called by God to full participation, including sexual intimacy, in a committed relationship. We are also disappointed that the document fails to call Church institutions to be just with regard to the employment practices it applies to LGBT persons and to clearly state that the Church is against anti-LGBT violence.  In addition, positive statements on the issues of gender expression and language based on solid scientific evidence are also lacking. As well, it is disappointing that the document’s message of compassion was simply repeated without a commitment to truly listen to the experiences of our LGBT children.  As parents of LGBT children, we will continue to stress the primacy of conscience and ask the hierarchy to specifically recognize this fundamental teaching of the church in connection with the lives of our LGBT children.

Comments

As a Catholic lawyer who has spent more than fifty years in a trial and appellate practice , I look at this document as poorly written if its goal was to make its subject matter perfectly clear . There was no attempt to have sentences and paragraphs formulated in unambiguous discursive language . As a lawyer who has spent years interpreting contracts . I see this document as the verbal equivalent to Swiss cheese. There are many holes through which to escape any would-be traps . I am reminded of St. Augustine's advice to the apologists and laity alike : " In fide, unitas ; in dubiis , libertas ; in omnibus , caritas ." In plain English , this means that the faithful can follow the advise of whichever priest or theologian appeals to one's well-informed conscience if there is disagreement amongst the " experts " . For example , Archbishop Cupich has said in analyzing this document that : " You can't have one particular approach for a certain group of people and not for everybody. Everyone has the ability to form their conscience well . " This was addressed to the GLBT community . As one who has lived in a same-sex relationship for more than 45-years , I can say that I have formed my " conscience well " and play an active role in my local Church . This hortatory document is vague enough that one might want to let the sleeping dog lie for awhile . My well-formed conscience at the moment allows me to get a good-night 's sleep .

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