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05 A Caring and Conciliatory Approach to the LGBTQ Community

posted Mar 21, 2019, 6:19 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 17, 2019, 10:10 PM ]
This week's Pro-Life Day issue of The Examiner tackles the issues of Gender and LGBTQ rights. These issues, particularly the latter, have increasingly become a matter of public debate, as more and more LGBTQ-oriented people come out fearlessly to assert their rights and ask for a more compassionate treatment by society. This issue is especially relevant in Catholicism, since the debate on homosexuality often makes arguments and assertions inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church. The Church is often portrayed as an enemy of the LGBTQ movement, and against giving them their rightful and respectful place in society. This, of course, is a false narrative. As social mores in our country change, Catholics must understand the deeper ramifications of this issue in the light of Church teaching, and what the Church really teaches. 

Increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were natural and normal, and to condone homosexual activity. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person, as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) 

The push for redrawing the traditional understanding of marriage is just one among the many strongholds that an aggressive post-modern secularism is trying to topple in its thirst for reshaping the future of humanity. The underlying narrative here is what is slowly coming to define modern society — complete and unfettered personal freedom. "I have the right to be happy, any which way I can. I have the right to exist in the manner I choose." They fail to see the truth about the human person which is disclosed in the mystery of Christ. 

A clear distinction must be made between an 'orientation' and the sexual act. While the Church is not against LGBTQ-oriented persons, the Church cannot condone homosexual activity. Homosexual acts go against the "spousal significance" of the human body, as intended by the Creator. In the complementarity of the sexes, man and woman are called to reflect the inner unity of the Creator, by cooperating in the transmission of life by a mutual donation of the self to the other. 

Having said this, it is also true that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics often feel ignored, marginalised, excluded, insulted and misunderstood by their own Church communities. Those who live out an authentic Christian life in keeping with the values of the Gospel are also shunned, instead of being praised for their heroism in the spiritual and moral life. The Church needs to listen to the experiences of LGBTQ Catholics in order to better treat them with "respect, sensitivity and compassion," as the Catechism of the Catholic Church asks. The Catechism, in its discussion on homosexuality, says "every sign of unjust discrimination" must be avoided (No. 2358). 

Pope Francis' tenure has been especially notable for his adoption of a more conciliatory and compassionate tone towards the LGBTQ community. He has dined with them, and identified with the anguish that they go through, in coming to terms with their identity and place in society. He has led the charge in creating a Church which is more welcoming and understanding. 

We need to listen. When we listen, we will hear not only their experiences, but also their desire to live as disciples of Christ. We will hear their desire to experience God's love through the loving embrace and welcome of their Christian community. We will hear of their desire to serve the community, through the gift of their personhood and God-given talents. The stories of courageous LGBTQ persons who have resisted secular ideologies and been steadfast to the teachings of Christ need to be told. Testimony builds, encourages and brings hope. Every child of God, irrespective of orientation, is called to imitate the Divine Love that God - so selflessly and unceasingly - continues to pour down on us everyday. 

Fr Joshan Rodrigues is on the Editorial Board of The Examiner.