Nuova Proposta, LGBT Christian in Rome, answers to the questionnaire of the Synod
Nuova Proposta press release, LGBT Christian group in Rome, January 6th 2014
The Association called Nuova Proposta (www.nuovapropostaroma.it) – a Christian group, born in Rome more than 20 years ago, and which has been active in meeting and gathering together people who wish to reconcile with serenity faith and love – offers to the Dioceses of Rome and to the Church itself its support to the extraordinary Synod of October 2014, answering to the questions proposed to all dioceses in the last few weeks.
The numerous members of the above mentioned Association, transsexuals and homosexual women and men who are Christian, starting from their lives and experiences worked together to elaborate the following text that can be considered a useful contribution to the debate proposed through the questionnaire sent to all the dioceses all over the world in view of the Synod that is going to take place in October 2014 on “pastoral challenges to the Familiy in the context of evangelization “.
We always felt, and we feel we will always feel a part of this Church and that’s why it is important for us to send you this contribution, regarding the part of the questionnaire related to homosexuals’ condition .
We believe that a calm and fruitful growth path about the acceptance of gay people and their families could take place especially through the direct comparison with the lives of the gay people who are hopefully going to be finally included in the new pastoral challenges.
The women and men of Nuova Proposta Association are always available to speak and meet those members of the Church who are willing to investigate the homosexuality issues to initiate a fruitful dialogue that can bring only benefits.
5- On Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
a) Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?
There is not an Italian law on this issue; it is not possible a civil marriage for people of the same sex and there isn’t any type of similar union recognition even for heterosexuals couples. In fact there isn’t anything similar to PACS or “domestic partnership”.
Some Municipality or Cities have issued, locally, a register for “civil union” that has not, though, a lawful meaning and has not a real impact on life and rights.
b) What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
We see, in the Italian Episcopal Conference, a totally close attitude towards any proposal of civil union recognition and moreover towards same sex civil marriage. This closeness and rigidity bring along negative consequences for the gay people who have not rights in their couple life, even in testament rights, health caring , real estate rent and lease issues etc. The lack of recognition of the dignity of such unions also fosters homophobic attitudes because some people consider “second-class” citizens the same-sex couples members.
With deep sorrow we report also the almost total absence of any kind of initiative regarding the inclusion of homosexuals and same-sex couples within the faith Community path proposed by the Catholic Church.
The official Catholic Church catechism teachings, which condemn homosexual relationships, are the only references that are usually made in the presence of people or same-sex couples. This has two important consequences (especially on the serenity of homosexual persons):
first, the fact that homosexuality is never mentioned except as a moral or social class and, therefore, gay people, especially young gays, do not see themselves recognized and this means “no name” in the Catholic community contexts, in practice.
For instance, in a parish context, a gay young girl or boy, who is homosexual is unlikely to share with any other person her or his own experience: fall in love, first emotions and affections, in short, his life experience.
The second consequence is about the same-sex couples. In fact, if two catholic people of the same sex, who feel the desire to build their own project of life in a relationship, want to attend, as a couple, a faith path within the Parrish or within a catholic movement, would face the total unpreparedness of the shepherds of reference. In most cases, those shepherds would only live as a “problem” the demand of these couples and, therefore, in some ways would feel embarrassed to present the couple to the community not allowing the inclusion in the community.
Although same-sex couples would need special guidance in strengthening and developing their plan of love, like others, or maybe more than others since there are not role models to inspire them, at the moment this special guidance is still lacking.
c) What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?
The assumption of the Gospel “do not judge”, the inclusive spirit of Jesus’ message of Father’s love and the ability of the Spirit to be fruitful in many different ways of life should lead the Church to welcome anyone. Especially those gay people, even in couples, who wants to embrace Christ’s message and the dimension of hope and assurance that faith brings.
The acceptance of gay people in the Church should start from the recognition of the dignity of the homosexual person as well as of his/her affective dimension. In fact any gay person in a couple’s relationship is capable, just like a heterosexual person, of unconditional love, of self-giving and spiritual fecundity.
Particular attention should be given to girls and boys who realize to be homosexual.
In fact, if they attend church groups, often they see their feelings reduced to the size of “sin” and do not have the ability to share an essential part of their life with fellows and catechists, with the risk to internalize homophobic mechanisms that are obstacles to the full development of the person in all dimensions.
At first, the pastors should make a calm and serious path of in-depth analysis of the condition of homosexual people’s lives, who are experiencing problems due to a not inclusive society and community contexts. The path should continue, then, with a reflection on what has actually prevented a full welcome of gay people and same-sex couples within the paths of faith, trying to stand in front of the subjects not with the eyes of the law but with the eyes of the heart. It is also important to remember to have always at the center the good of the person.
d) In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
It is estimated that in Italy there are approximately 100.000 children with, at least, one gay or lesbian parent (born, in these cases, from a previous heterosexual relationship) or with both parents of the same sex (born abroad through assisted fertilization techniques, not being heterologous fertilization possible in Italy and since adoption is allowed in Italy only to heterosexual married couples). Many of these homosexual parents would like to baptize their children and to educate them in the faith of the Church.
This should be an occasion of joy and happiness and not “rock of offense.” Many parishes believe, rightly, that the transmission of the faith in the size of the catechism and of the sacraments can only be achieved with a strong involvement of families. But this can only be achieved if all type of families have full acceptance and same dignity in the parish environment.
Very important for psychological health and serenity of these children is that, the faith community to which they belong, never denies the reality of the family in which these children are born and live. The Church should (and can) be a tender mother who embraces these children and their families in a fortifying hug.