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Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 20, 2018
 10.17.2018 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)10.17.2018 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

With opinion polls consistently showing that young people are accepting of same-sex marriage and other rights for L.G.B.T. people, there were questions how the ongoing synod of bishops focused on young adults might approach the subject. In the early part of the nearly month-long meeting, one U.S. archbishop made headlines when he suggested that there is no such thing as “L.G.B.T. Catholics,” setting off a debate over whether the final document produced by the global meeting should include the phrase.

The issue has not been a primary topic inside the synod hall, but at a press conference in Rome on Saturday, three archbishops responded to questions from journalists by saying the topic has arisen and that the young adult delegates have largely urged church leaders to be more welcoming to L.G.B.T. people and their families.

“We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said.

“We have to make sure that we don’t put obstacles in the face of God’s grace. We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said in response to a question. “Sometimes in that journey they stray or they take a step back, but we’re still with them in order to keep that journey going.”

Pope Francis handpicked Cardinal Cupich, who heads the Archdiocese of Chicago, to attend the meeting, which is beginning to wrap up its work in preparing a final document to submit to the pope next week.

Another synod delegate, Cardinal John Ribat of Papua New Guinea, said that the young people present at the synod talk about L.G.B.T. issues “freely,” urging church leaders to address L.G.B.T. people in their preferred way. He said the lay delegates “are really helping us to understand, to really see where they are at, and how they [want] to be heard, recognized and accepted.”

And Australian Archbishop Peter Comensoli suggested that L.G.B.T. Catholics should not be singled out.

“Very simply, aren’t we all sinners? And aren’t we all looking to be found by God? And being found by God, how we might then find our lives in him?” he asked.

Responding to another question later, the archbishop added that it is important for church leaders to respond in a Christian way to members of the L.G.B.T. community.

“When my friends who might be homosexual or lesbian or struggling with their gender, when I speak with them, I speak with them with the friendship of Christ as I ought to, and as a friend I say, how do we progress together toward the foot of the cross?” he said.

Some Catholic bishops have advocated inside the synod that the church not use the phrase “L.G.B.T.,” a preferred acronym by many gay, lesbian and transgender people, because it connotes a political ideology. They suggest using phrases such as “persons with same-sex attraction” instead.

Earlier this month, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said during his presentation, “There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ.”

Reports released on Saturday show that members of the English-language working groups are grappling with how to address L.G.B.T. issues. One group wrote, “no one, on account of gender, lifestyle, or sexual orientation, should ever be made to feel unloved,” but added, “and this is why authentic love by no means excludes the call to conversion, to change of life.” Another group proposed the creation of a new document about ministering to L.G.B.T. people.

According to Crux, one of the German-language groups reported, “We want a serious discussion with young people in the Church on issues of sexuality and partnership,” while a Spanish-speaking group called for the church to accompany all people, “including those of different sexual orientations, so that they can grow in faith and in their relationship with God.”

The topic of sexuality had been raised earlier in the week as well.

Archbishop Matteo Zuppi, head of the Archdiocese of Bologna, said in a press conference on Oct. 18 that pastoral care for L.G.B.T. people is “an important topic” but he warned against making it “an ideological problem.”

And Silvia Retamales, a lay delegate from Chile to the synod, said in a press conference on Oct. 15 that gay people “should feel as children of God, not as problems” in the church.

“The church has to be more inclusive,” she said.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Nick Heckman
5 years 7 months ago

It's an important question that needs to be settled but a ministry that denies the church's longstanding teaching on sex is no ministry at all. Whether talking to LGBT or young people or remarried or seminarians I think the ambiguity around church teaching on sex is really harmful.

Nick Heckman
5 years 7 months ago

I think Father Martins book does a good job to call out those who are actively hurtful to LGBT but refusal to present the church's teaching on sexuality is sophistry.

Trent Shannon
5 years 7 months ago

"They suggest using phrases such as “persons with same-sex attraction” instead."

Theres a very good reason why we want LGBT used. Besides not being clinical dross and a lot quicker to say, not all of us are same sex attracted. Case in point, B for Bisexual, the both sex attracted (like myself).

Long winded clinical language that isnt inclusive, or worse no recognition whatsoever, pushes things under a rug, out of the way, and is quite ignorant especially given the hate, vitriol, and pressure we get from some quarters

Daniel Montiel
5 years 7 months ago

Very true.

Kester Ratcliff
5 years 7 months ago

How the Church's responses to LGBTI and women and people who don't fit or aren't willing to fit into a fundamentally hierarchical idea of morality will change is inherently related to the most profound issues with how to keep the communion together genuinely in quality and quantity. Some right-wing American Catholics are extremely obsessed with this issue because it symbolises their fundamentally different attitude to what morality is. "Natural ordering" to them isn't teleological as it was for Aquinas (and I disagree with Aquinas on this too, but that's a much subtler difference) but hierarchical, so anyone lower in the hierarchy deviating from obedience to traditional authorities is essentially "sinful" and anyone higher up can violate subordinates with impunity. They may practice it more moderately than is usually expected with this term, but I believe that's essentially the moral worldview of fascism, not Catholicism. Historically, they have been muddled up for some people many times before.

James Michael Torcivia, Ph.D.
5 years 7 months ago

"We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward."
"We are all sinners."
What does this have to do, specifically, with LGBT?

James Michael Torcivia, Ph.D.
5 years 7 months ago

Trying again...

Roland Greystoke
5 years 7 months ago

The only teaching needed is to tell children that being gay is wrong. If you haven't read the book, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s, then you need to. The 'acceptance' of the gay community was a well-orchestrated propaganda operation. I have been told that being gay is a choice. If so, then it is always the wrong choice, much like suicide. The day I see a straight father go to see his newborn son for the first time, and say, "I hope he's gay.", then I just might, maybe, start considering that I could be wrong. But I am not holding my breath.

Daniel Montiel
5 years 7 months ago

Your pretendalying that *any* human being “chooses” their sexual orientation is where you lose people. And reality.

Crystal Watson
5 years 7 months ago

The idea that Cupich is some kind of gay rights proponent is ludicrous. When a vote on marriage equality came to his state of Washington, he worked against it, implying that gay people getting married would lead to incest marriages and polygamy ... https://thinkprogress.org/washington-state-bishop-oppose-marriage-equality-to-keep-heterosexuality-special-f1145c0e14f6/ .... the church might as well own its homophobia because no one is being fooled.

5 years 7 months ago

Archbishop Chaput is correct: "LGBTQI" does not belong in an ecclesiastical document, and including it there is just the tendency of the "let's reheat those 70s leftovers" party of Cupich, Kasper, et al. to accommodate the Zeitgeist rather than teach Catholic teaching. If the scandal of McCarrick and Pennsylvania does not teach us to address the moral issue of LGBT behavior, then we should clearly answer next Sunday's Gospel by saying: Bartimaeus, you fool, we DON'T WANT TO SEE.

Vincent Couling
5 years 7 months ago

"If the scandal of McCarrick and Pennsylvania does not teach us to address the moral issue of LGBT behavior" is no different to saying "If the scandal of Maciel Degollado** does not teach us to address the moral issue of heterosexual behaviour" ... I wonder who is foolish and doesn't want to see!

**Founder and General Director of the Legion of Christ, who apparently abused the children he had fathered

Michael Barberi
5 years 7 months ago

There is no issue that brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality. LGBT Catholics have faced and continue to face a culture of exclusion and hatred, not only in the world but also in the Catholic Church. It is a blessing that Pope Francis called a Synod on Young People because is this cohort that is the future of our Church. With respect to gay marriage, here is the problem that the bishops face:

> According to a 2017 Pew Poll Survey, 67% of Catholics (self-reported) approve of gay marriage,
> In the same poll, the percent of Millennials that approved of gay marriage was much higher.
> More importantly, according to a 2013 Quinnipiac Poll, 56% of Catholics who attend weekly Mass approved of gay marriage and 65% of Catholics who attend Mass less frequently approved of gay marriage.

It will be interesting to see how much "listening" will be transformed into responsible pastoral changes that will change the minds of young Catholics who are an important part of the sensus fidelium.

Andrew Wolfe
5 years 7 months ago

There is no sex in Heaven. There is a better love there. Either we believe that and let it order the passing things of this world, or we choose an alternative path waiting for us at death. We all have disorders that give rise to sin and which lead us only to death. I go to Confession to escape that death and get grace which alone can conquer sin and the inclination to sin. I'm not sure why SSA is exempted from that economy of redemption.

John Mack
5 years 7 months ago

The church in modern democracies has got to understand the difference between religious membership and citizenship. All citizens are entitled to the same rights. Marriage is not a Christian invention. It is a human practice that is not necessary to procreation or child rearing but has been made necessary to the proper sorting out of property ownership issues child custody issues and child raring responsibilities. It is a secular institution that the denocratic state can regulate for fairness to all. That is why governments allow fr gsame-sex marriage. Statye/civil marriages are totally a separate reality from the Catholic sacrament of Matrimony, which the church can regulate and restruct according to its lights. But it has no right to impose restrictions on how the state regulates marriage rights and responsibilities. I realize thatb the Catholic concept of Natural Law, supposedly a philosophic system but treated as religious doctrine, gives the Pope the right to decide what is allowable and not allowable for all human beings, of every nation and religion, not just Catholics, and that this notion of Natural Law declares that the pope's decicions on Natural Law are binding on all governments. But the citizens of modern democracies do not accept the monarchical and dictatorial pronouncements of the poes. The church should stick to educating on its moral stand on marriage, Holy Matrimony, and homosexuality and cease to use coercion to force governments to adhere to it overreach, using its Natural Law doctrine against democratic constitutional principles. Catholic Natural Law is supposed to be based on reason but modern reason makes use of scientific empiricism and Catholic Natural Law is based on the inadequate scietic notions of the mIddle Ages and the ancients.

Phillip Stone
5 years 7 months ago

There was no democracy nor capitalism during the times of Noah or Abraham.
Jesus had the opportunity to connect marriage and money, he blessed the former and warned of the danger of the other.

Law is overall, good and necessary.
Take suicide as an instance - it has been deemed both sinful and illegal from time immemorial. No-one can imagine they forbade it legislatively expecting to be able to punish transgression of it!
No, plenty of law is educative, normative, guiding.
Now, the best it can do is instruct and thereby maybe prevent and induce continence in some who might otherwise act with license through ignorance - Jesus expects us to live by having His Grace transform continence into temperance; doing the right thing for love of the good rather than fear of the punishment.

Making grave sin legal and socially acceptable is terribly wrong.

Judith Jordan
5 years 7 months ago

To claim that homosexuality is an objective disorder is cruel. I do not understand why people who claim to uphold their religion, spend so much time condemning some issues regarding sex. There are over 2,000 verses in the Bible about poverty. Imagine if people became as impassioned over poverty as they are over sexual matters. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, birth control, or abortion. He often focused on poverty and on how we treat others. I have always assumed that these themes were more important to Jesus than sexual topics. Yet, so many people are willing to be cruel and malicious toward gays, straights who use birth control, and women who have had abortions.

Jean Miller
5 years 7 months ago

The quotes from some Bishops in this article:
"walk them forward.....If they stray, we stay to keep them moving forward"

Jean Miller
5 years 7 months ago

Some of the quotes from Bishops in this article, such as: "walk them forward. If they stray--we stay to keep them moving forward" and "aren't we all sinners?" and "we should not exclude the call to conversion---to a change of life" These all imply there is something wrong with this group of people. They are who they are! Let them be that! Why should ministry to them be any different than the ministry to the other Catholics. Accompany all in finding their relationship with God. That should be a minister's goal.

Paul Hierholzer
5 years 7 months ago

Perhaps there could be a better opening statement regarding LGBTQ people, Catholic or otherwise, than “...aren’t we all sinners?" And yes Charles, there IS such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ and a ‘transgender Catholic’ and a ‘heterosexual Catholic,' and those designations DO represent discrete communities of people of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ, even though you yourself clearly do not consider gay people part of that body, as evidenced by your edict which excludes them from ministry in your archdiocese.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 7 months ago

This is strange. This article uses L.G.B.T. 12 times, yet the Cardinals in the panel didn't use that phrase at all, but same-sex attracted, or homosexual. So, this article is directly spinning against what the Cardinals meant to say. So, it seems false to try to oppose what Archbishop Chaput said with what Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop Comensoli and Cardinal John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, said. Then there is this on "the issue of young Catholics who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, proposing that: The main objective of the section should be “pastoral accompaniment of these people which follows the lines of the relevant section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the report states."

Here is the link http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-cupich-discusses-sex-abuse-crisis-same-sex-attraction-at-youth-syn

Michael Barberi
5 years 7 months ago

When it comes to LGBT Catholics, the bishop's remarks so far seem to be carefully chosen and quite ambiguous. For example, exactly how are priests and bishops to accompany them and move them forward in a welcoming and inclusive manner? In other words, how is every priest and bishop to treat LGBT Catholics with respect, compassion and sensitivity and not subject them to any form of discrimination?

More specifically, will any of the following practices change?

1. Will Catholic schools continue to fire and not hire anyone who is a gay or lesbian teacher (e.g., math) especially if they are in a permanent, faithful and loving relationship?
2. Will Catholic adoption organizations continue to deny gay or lesbian Catholic married couples to adopt a child even when there is no other Catholic couple who will adopt the child?
3. Will homosexual Catholics in a civil or Christian marriage continue to be excluded and ineligible as members of a Parish Council, CCD teachers or Lectors?
4. Will children of homosexual Catholic couples who can receive Holy Communion be told that their parents cannot receive Holy Communion because they are living in perpetual sin?
5. Will homosexual Catholics continue to be told and reminded that they have an "intrinsic disorder" even when prominent socio-scientic organizations that studied this issue and concluded that they do not have a intrinsic disorder?
6. Will homosexual Catholics be told they have no choice between remaining single or getting marriage, rather they only have one choice, namely to live a lifetime of sexual abstinence for their salvation?
7. Will priests and bishops continue to give lip-service to effective outreach to the LGBT community so they can listen, learn and understand them in an effort to accompany them and invite them back into a new welcoming and inclusive Church?

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