“Why are we afraid to welcome gay Catholics? Why are we afraid to listen to their stories?”
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) wrote a letter to the Bishops of Ireland asking for a conversation to be held about a pastoral outreach to gay Catholics.
In the letter, the ACP leadership team addressed the publication made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stating that Catholic clergy cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.”
The priests claim that the need for this conversation comes after the CDF’s “insensitive and unnecessary intervention” that has caused much “pain and distress” to gay Catholics, their families, and friends. They noted that the “content, language, and judgemental tone” of the CDF’s statement is a reflection of the exact attitudes that lead to increasingly more Catholics walking away from the Church.
In a reference to the changing times, particularly in the middle of a global pandemic, the four signatories communicated that “we now have to try and do things in a way we never would have dreamt of doing in the past.” This included holding a webinar over Zoom on the topic: ‘Pastoral care of LGBTQ+ and the Church’s position on LGBTQ+.’
The ACP stated that they were disappointed that no bishop attended this webinar, but were even more disappointed to find out that some bishops failed to forward the invitation to the priests in their dioceses, “a practice that by now is an established protocol.”
Some very important questions were brought up by the ACP, who represent more than 1,000 clergy in Ireland. They ask the bishops: “Why are we so cold and uncaring in the Church around this topic? Why the lack of knowledge and understanding that still informs inappropriate sermons and comments? Why are we afraid to welcome gay Catholics? Why are we afraid to listen to their stories?”
The letter also made note of the hurt and shame felt by many gay Catholics of Ireland, who have shared their stories as they “write of the struggle they have remaining part of the church.”
The four priests urge for more compassion from the bishops of Ireland, stating: “There is a listening and a conversation that need to take place in our Church and we respectfully request the Irish bishops to facilitate it and to participate in it. A refusal to engage runs counter to the synodal pathway.”
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