In 2013, his first year as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis declared himself unable to reject homosexuals who sought God’s comfort. “Who am I to judge?”
The speech filled LGBT Catholics with the hope that they would finally be welcomed wholeheartedly into the institution.
Eight years later, who is he to bless? The same Francis gave the green light to the Vatican to disclose, on Monday (15), the guideline so that the clergy do not give their blessing to unions between people of the same sex. After all, “God cannot bless sin,” says the document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body charged with formulating standards for the faithful of the world’s largest Christian current.
Few priests have dared to clash with the leadership of the Holy See approved by the Pope, at least openly. The CNBB (National Conference of Bishops of Brazil) is an example of caution. Although there are criticisms of the position in the reserved, no one wants to speak publicly.
Around the world, there have been reactions that were careful not to advance the signs, but that were seen as a nod to LGBT people. One was from the Archbishop of Chicago. Blase Cupich acknowledged that “the understandable reaction from many will be a reaction of disappointment” and asks that the quid pro quo be “to redouble our efforts to be creative and resilient in welcoming all LGBT people into our family of faith.”
The author of “Building a Bridge”, Father James Martin was appointed in 2017 by Francisco as a consultant to the Holy See. Jesuit as Pope, he said that “the journey is long and Christ is with us – LGBT people, families, friends and allies – and he will never leave us”.
“We are a pilgrim church, learning, changing and growing, even in the midst of what may seem to many disappointments and even sadness,” said James, who drew Psalm 34 to console the disappointed: “The Lord of the broken is near”.
Gay reverend and theology professor at Fordham University, founded by the Catholic Diocese of New York, Bryan Massingale said priests willing to engage in pastoral action for diversity “will continue to do so, except this will be even more under clothing. than before “.
In Austria, a group of dissident priests who challenge the Church on taboos like clerical celibacy have said they will not follow the Vatican mandate. “We will not deny any couple who love the blessing of God, which they already experience every day, also at a time of worship,” said Father Helmut Schueller. We are a family business.
The decision, however, is not an easy one. Priests who are against the decision of the high clergy may face sanctions ranging from warning to removal of their clerical functions. It happened in 2019 with Father Vicente Paula Gomes, suspended from his duties in the diocese of Assis (433 km from São Paulo) after blessing the marriage of two men.
A criminal precept (a sort of ecclesiastical condemnation) established that Gomes could return to the parish at the end of 2020, but he was forced to go a year without celebrating unions and had to take a course on “the theological, legal and pastoral perspective. ” marriage.
The text says that the priest regretted the decision “inconsequential”, an “imminent scandal”. He was also banned from speaking to the press for three years.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made the decision after it was provoked by some parishes who expressed a desire to bless couples as a welcome to LGBT Catholics. The body said the position “is not meant to be a form of unjust discrimination, but a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite.”
The text reiterates what is expressed in the catechism: we must respect LGBT people – a sign that encompasses sexual orientations and multiple gender identities that the Church brings together under the aegis of “homosexuals”. The problem is, “there is a fundamental inconsistency between this warning and the violence of the statement ‘God cannot bless sin’,” said Cris Serra, president of the National Network of Catholic LGBT Groups.
Cris grew up listening to priests tell him that “a woman with a woman is sin”. A practicing Catholic, the type who insists on receiving Communion (receiving the host), says it wasn’t until her late teens that she realized that the “inexplicable suffering” of the “best friend” had a name: she was in love.
For Cris, who since 2018 identifies as a non-binary person (who does not want to be seen in an exclusive gender, male or female), mark sexual orientation as perpetuating the idea that “the family and the Church, which should be safe places, are the first places of violence for LGBT people ”.
He just doesn’t think the Vatican’s refusal to bless couples outside of the “traditional family” concept will change what we’re already seeing happening. “The priests who, more or less clandestinely, thanks to the discernment of their conscience, have rarely celebrated these unions, will hardly fail to do so”.
Cris offers another look at this chapter of the Church. “It is very significant that the Congregation had to answer this question. Perhaps the question itself speaks as much or more than the answer.”
A sign that the parishes want to open up to more plurality. “It becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a doctrinal position that declares that the lives and relationships of such people are ‘inherently disordered,’ as the doctrine says. The document is, as is often the case in Church history, a reaction to the winds of change. Or, to put it in Christian terms, the breath of the Spirit. “
The “most polite language” also has points, says Felipe Marcelino, coordinator of the Minas Gerais Diversidade Católica group. “There is a bit of progress there. Older documents said it was an evil thing, or a bad inclination, those terms are no longer used.”
Another positive aspect, according to Edelson Soler, of the Regional Commission for Dialogue with Diversity, integrated into the Archdiocese of São Paulo: “It touches for the first time on the theme of blessing for homosexual couples, showing that the presence of gays in the Church can no longer be despised, simply condemning homosexual acts as sins. “
The document is the latest cross signal in a series of ambiguous positions by Francisco on the participation of gay, transgender and other such minorities.
In the 2020 documentary “Francesco”, he says that homosexuals “are children of God and have the right to a family”. But it should be remembered that, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he said that the idea of same-sex marriage put “the identity and survival of the family at stake: father, mother and children”.
He also told a homosexual who was abused by clergymen in his youth that God made it that way, loves him that way and that his sexuality “doesn’t matter.” And that Jesus would never dismiss a person just because they love someone of the same sex. Quite a contrast with the predecessors João Paulo 2º and Bento 16.
Ally of the cause, then? Take it slow: in 2019, the pontiff supported sex education in schools, seeing sex as “a gift from God, not a monster”. But only if these classes were free from “ideological colonization”. Otherwise, “you destroy the person,” he preached.
“We should ask ourselves what would be the praxis of Jesus. He was a person who included it. If you look, what is inherently evil in a romantic relationship? Even in the biblical view, it generates life. . It is not necessary to generate a child. To generate life. A loving relationship generates life for the two people who compose it, “explains Felipe Marcelino.
Another aspect to consider, according to him, is the “LGBT phobia of the individual with himself, and in most cases what is behind it is religious discourse”.
Examples abound. “I have heard many reports of people who say they thought it was ‘a mistake of God’, look at that terrible phrase,” he said. “And I cried a lot, even though I’ve always been religious, always asking myself ‘God is good, God is a father, but then isn’t God my father? Am I a devil then? “”.