LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Welcome Pope Francis Latest Affirmation
LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, media release, 21 october 2020
The LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council welcomes Pope Francis’ latest comments on same-sex unions and the right to family life as expressed in the just-premiered film, “Francesco”. While not representing a break with the Vatican’s past doctrinal statements on sexuality or gender, Pope Francis has broken new ground in affirming the right of LGBT+ people “to be in a family.”
The Pope’s position on same-sex civil unions is not new. In 2010, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires he proposed to Argentinian Catholic Bishops that they should support same-sex civil unions, albeit as a way of staving off same-sex marriage legislation. This was said to be the first time he lost a vote in that Bishops’ Conference! What is new, as expressed in this new documentary film, is that he affirms the right of same-sex couples “to be in a family…,” confirming what he said to an Italian Catholic gay man who, with his male partner, has three children.
The Roman Catholic Church’s official position does not accept same-sex marriage due to it not being encompassed within its sacramental understanding of marriage, as between one man and one woman. However, increasingly, there is no similar issue with civil unions. Pope Francis’ statement is valuable in two ways: firstly, because it once again reaffirms the teaching of the Catholic Church as laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “[Homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition,” and secondly, reinforces to ordinary LGBT+ Catholics that they are welcome at Mass and in the life of the Church.
In 2014, the Bishops of England and Wales recognised the social value of same-sex civil unions in their response to the UK Government’s Consultation on the Future of Civil Partnerships. Although they do not authorise blessings of these unions, thanksgiving liturgies are increasingly common at grass-roots parish levels. LGBT+ Catholic communities include a diversity of people: those in civil partnerships, others in same-sex marriage, some committed to celibacy, and others simply remaining single.
LGBT+ CATHOLICS WESTMINSTER PASTORAL COUNCIL
PO BOX 24632, LONDON E9 6XF