“You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7,16). The new journey of Christian homosexuals in Italian dioceses
Written by Innocenzo Pontillo, Kairos group (Florence, Italy), Adista Segni, issue 87, November 13th 2010, p.7, translated by Claudio Abate
Thirty years went by since the first ecumenical meeting on “Faith and homosexuality” took place in June 1980, in Prali (TO), at the Ecumenical Centre in Agape.
That’s where the journey of the Italian gay Christians started taking by the hand many women and men believers who didn’t feel welcomed by their Church. Today the journey goes on more and more prolifically.
Over the last thirty years many things have changed both in the society and in the local Italian church, even though we have witnessed an actual involution of the Magisterium about the homosexual issue.
However, there’s something new on the horizon, especially in the Italian dioceses where the experience of gay Christians’ groups was established and where their voices were heard and received attention.
In Turin two priests, on mandate of the Archbishop, met members of the work team “Fede e Omosessualità” (Faith and Homosexuality), born for TorinoPride2006. After this two year experience the Office for the family pastoral of the Archdiocese in Turin wrote and spread a pastoral aid book entitled “Fede e omosessualità. Assistenza pastorale e accompagnamento spirituale” (Publisher Effeta, 2009). (Faith and homosexuality. Pastoral assistance and spiritual support).
It’s an interesting document because it doesn’t speak about homosexuals but it was written with them, as cardinal Severino Poletto says in the preface: “The moment has come for us to face also this particular issue in our parishes and communities, both because these people have the right to be helped and because it is with facts that we prove to be that Church that cares for unity and salvation of all human beings…”.
Very different is the journey started in Cremona, in 2005, when some homosexuals conveyed to the Bishop “their wish to be in the Church and to avoid other people to go through the sufferings of isolation and breaking off they had experienced” in their ecclesiastical community. So, under the protection of Mnsr. Lafranconi, in December 2007 “Alle querce di Mamre” was born, the group of the diocese of Cremona for the pastoral support of homosexuals.
In Parma, on the other hand, the recent meeting between Mnsr. Enrico Solmi, Bishop of Parma and in charge of the episcopal Commission for family and life of CEI, and the group of gay Christians from Parma (born in 1998) boosted again the pastoral care for homosexuals, started for the first time in Italy right in Parma diocese. “Not only a sign of the personal sensitivity of Mnsr. Solmi”, as the the weekly magazine of the diocese says, but mainly “a clear invitation not to discriminate anyone”.
Besides these concrete projects undertaken by Italian Bishops, the “inclusive” welcome of Christian homosexuals in the Italian parishes has increased. They host more and more often the groups of homosexual believers from their city.
This is what has been happening for years in Catania, Bologna e Padua and since few years in Milan, Palermo and Florence where a member of the parish pastoral council recently said “only after meeting in my parish the Christian homosexuals from the group Kairòs in Florence I was able to give a name and a face to what, for me, was just a social category.
This is why, I think, it is important, for a parish community, to welcome a group of gay Christians because only when speaking with them can many useless biases be abolished”.
The journey of gay Christians’ groups in parish communities has just started in Italy, but it is well rooted in several other European and American catholic realities, whose fruits hopefully can yield for the whole Church.