Through the international theological conference “Ways of love, for a pastoral care with homosexual and trans people” we wish to help the Extraordinary Synod on the family reflect on welcoming LGBT people.
Andrea Rubera, a spokesperson for the conference, said that: “The news of the convocation of an extraordinary synod on the family and the questionnaire sent to every diocese in the world has triggered an unprecedented desire to participate. It looks like it’s time, for us Christian LGBT people, to make our contribution and witness the beauty, truth, and, sometimes, even the fragility of our lives, as a proposal for the growth of the whole community of the faithful.”
“The question we ask the church is simple,” observed Gianni Geraci, another spokesman for the conference. “How can an LGBT person live in the fullness of his or her Christian vocation within the church without getting crushed by hypocrisy and loneliness?”
Moderated by the Vatican correspondent Marco Politi, the panel of speakers in Rome will feature the Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (who was an auxiliary of Cardinal George Pell, one of eight members of the committee to which Pope Francis has entrusted the task of studying the reform of the Curia), the English priest and theologian James Alison, the Dominican theologian Antoinette Potente, the Waldensian pastor Letizia Tommassone (who is president of the Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian Committee on “Faith and homosexuality” in Italy). Providing personal perspectives will be Joseannne Pergin (a Maltese mother of a gay man and the chairwoman of the Christian Life Community of Malta) and LGBT believers whose testimony will come to the conference through the documentary “Live & Hopes of LGBT Christian” by director Yulia Matsiy.
As an integral part of the conference a document was read that summarizes the appeal that the Organizing Committee of the Third Italian Forum of LGBT Christians sent to the Italian participants to the Synod and to the secretariat of the Synod as a contribution to the work of the Synod itself. The paper was drawn up by a working collective over several months, starting from the responses made by Italian LGBT Christian groups to the questionnaire distributed last year (the text is available at: http://www.forumcristianilgbt.it/index.php/home/gruppi-di-lavoro/proposte-sinodo).
The conference was organized by the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups and supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the Netherlands.
“It was God who created a world in which there are both heterosexuals and homosexuals. This was not a mistake on God’s part that human beings are meant to repair; it is simply an undeniable part of God’s creation.
The only sexual acts that are natural to homosexuals are homosexual acts. This is not a free choice they have made between two things that are equally attractive to them, but something that is deeply embedded in their nature, something they cannot simply cast aside. Homosexual acts come naturally to them, heterosexual acts do not. They cannot perform what the Church would call “natural” acts in a way that is natural to them.
Why should we turn to some abstraction in determining what is natural rather than to the actual lived experience of human beings? Why should we say that homosexuals are acting against nature when they are acting in accordance with the only nature they have ever experienced?
Geoffrey Robinson, Australian Bishop
“The truthfulness and peace, the zest for the real, that comes with the consciousness of being a daughter or a son: that is the source of the imagination of what is going to be the shape of the arduous good to which we might aspire, and in the realization of which we hope to be found.
The truthfulness that flows from being able to speak out of an unbound conscience is not an extrinsic add-on to being Christian. It is intrinsic to what being Christian is all about. It leads to being able to bear witness, without which there is no Christianity. For us linguistic animals, being able to talk cleanly and openly is essential to being able to live cleanly and openly. It is as we talk and share with each other the experiences of love and of becoming that we will discover in our relationships who we are called to be.”
James Alison, English priest and thelogian
“I would ask the community of believers to create a real space in order to contribute to theological reflection. Do not ask only accompaniment, understanding, because otherwise the Church will do what it has done for centuries with people considered poor. Do not allow and do not continue to give rise to these relations of false benevolence.
None of you is a “poor person”; everyone among the people of God must go in and speak with frankness and this will be his authority, to help understand, along with other people who make different choices, how to take care of the story. You must not attract attention, but just move it.
Remember the community of believers that where two or three come together in His name He, or She who is, stays in the midst and those who listen to His Word and puts into practice become the temple of God. These are the principles that should be of concern to the Church.”
Antonietta Potente, Domenican nun and theologian
“Is not the church’s vocation to be the place of freedom? The site of a banquet so well prepared that crumbs of freedom could fall even for those who are hiding under the tables for fear of being persecuted? To tell about oneself is one of the many ways towards a world of greater authenticity and truth. But if the interstices and gaps are widening, the whole building is in danger of cracking. And in fact, this is what we really want: that this building of hetero-normativity should crack, in churches too, because it is a building which conceals and delegitimizes every other experience of the self and the world.”
(Letizia Tomassone, waldensian pastor and president of Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian commission on ”Faith and Homosexuality)
The moment my son had ‘come out’ to me, I automatically started my own journey towards my own ‘coming out’ as a parent. This is also a very long and painful journey for us parents as much as it was for our children. We shut down or crumble, sometimes having to go on anti-depressants for several months. There is a deep sense of failure which leaves parents feeling paralyzed. In my view, taking the hostility experienced by LGBTIs upon ourselves, and choosing to defend them instead of judge them, is perhaps the need I see most urgent and universal right now in the life of the church.
Joseanne Peregin, Chairman of Christian Life Community of Malta
A WELCOMING PASTORAL APPROACH TO HOMOSEXUAL AND TRANS PEOPLE SOME PROPOSALS FOR THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
(short version: the whole paper can be read and downloades at http://www.forumcristianilgbt.it/index.php/home/gruppi-di-lavoro/proposte-sinodo)
Welcoming homosexual persons
We hope for a Church community which is able to genuinely welcome and to love homosexual persons, especially during the upheavals of adolescence; one that sustains them in their self-discovery, in their ability to relate to others, and in their full acceptance of their own dignity as humans capable of giving and receiving love.
Welcoming the parents of homosexual persons
We hope for a Church community which is able to welcome the parents of of homosexual persons with words of support, encouraging them to see their own child as made in the image and likeness of God, as worthy of God’s love, and as marked by Grace in every aspect of their life; one that explicitly rejects, as lacking in any scientific merit, all approaches designed to “change sexual orientation” as if this were a matter of choice.
These approaches deceive both as to expectations and results. Above all they promote a superficial reading of human affectivity and its inherent complexity, one in which the good of the person is sacrificed on the altar of ideology and the norm.
Welcoming same-sex love
We hope for a deep renewal of pastoral guidelines concerning the affective lives of homosexual persons, one which will make clear how much good is to be found in the expression of their love, and how exemplary such love can be in its strength and generosity towards others.
Welcoming same-sex couples
We hope for a Church community that is able to take to its heart those homosexual people within whom the desire for life as a couple waxes strong; one that knows how to include such couples, embracing them and guiding them; one that has set itself free from ideological battles, and is strong in its conviction that the love of Christ is for all, and for all is the source of abundant life.
Welcoming same-sex parents
We hope for a Church community that is able genuinely to welcome the children of same-sex parents, and which has their true interests at heart; one which knows that it is love which turns people into parents, and so doesn’t exclude from itself same-sex parents, those first charged to transmit the Christian message to their own children.
Standing up against homophobia
We hope for a Church community that is able to recognize dramatic stories of everyday homophobia and is able to take a clear stand in favour of victims, creating a respectful and inclusive environment in dioceses and parishes that will lead progressively to the eradication of homophobia. We hope for a Church community that wants to make its own the pain and fear of homosexuals and transsexuals who find themselves living in countries where they are criminalized, and who face daily risks to life or liberty because of their identity and their love; one which will stand up against the very sorts of persecution that historically have been unleashed against the Church itself.
Welcoming trans people
We hope for a Church community dedicated to knocking down the barriers to trans people becoming full members of society; one which knows how to embrace the truth and beauty of their journey into freedom. In this way the journey of each individual, and of every community, can be enriched by the diverse experiences of all who share it.