Earlier this week, CNA reported that a video called “OwningOurFaith: LGBT Catholics” would be screened by the pope in a private audience yesterday morning.
A Vatican official says there will be no papal endorsement for an LGBT activist video whose backers want it to reach Pope Francis.
Father Gil Martinez, C.S.P., a member of the development team for the video “LGBT Catholics: Owning our Faith,” intended to present the video to Pope Francis in a private audience after morning Mass on March 17, according to the website of the St. Philip Neri Parish and Northwest Paulist Center in the Portland, Ore.
The video contains the personal reflections from self-identified LGBT Catholics, several of whom reject Church teaching.
An official with the Holy See Press Office told CNA March 16 that the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household had not announced any public events for Pope Francis on March 17. This means that “no public or official meetings are scheduled.”
“The Pope can, however, meet whomever he wants, but this cannot mean in any sense an official endorsement, since every audience is intended to be kept private,” the official said. Such meetings are made public “only if some of the people involved speak out about it.”
The press release for the video said it is dedicated to “achieving the full acceptance of LGBT persons in the Catholic Church.” It said that the video evokes “the need for change” and will “reach thousands, including Pope Francis, many bishops and other prominent Vatican clergy.”
The St. Philip Neri Parish website said that Fr. Mark-David Janus, C.S.P., would also present Cardinal Walter Kasper’s newest book from Paulist Press, “Pope Francis’ Revolution of Tenderness and Love.”
The “Owning our Faith” video is produced and directed by Michael Tomae, a parishioner of New York City’s St. Paul the Apostle Church. Fr. Martinez is pastor of the parish, which shares a mailing address with the “Owning our Faith” project. Tomae is part of the parish’s Out@StPaul LGBT ministry, which is promoting the video on its website.
The “Owning our Faith” video includes interviewees who reject Catholic teaching on sexual morality and marriage.
The fact is, we don’t know if the screening took place, or what was said. (Put this with the story of the “transgender man” who says he met with the pope last December in the “unconfirmed-but widely-reported” file.)
50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing […] them […] a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
51. The question of homosexuality requires serious reflection on how to devise realistic approaches to affective growth, human development and maturation in the Gospel, while integrating the sexual aspect, all of which constitute an important educative challenge. Moreover, the Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that the pastor’s outlook be pressured or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology.
52. Without denying the moral problems associated with homosexual unions, there are instances where mutual assistance to the point of sacrifice is a valuable support in the life of these persons. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to […] children who live with same-sex couples and stresses that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.
This language was voted down by a slim margin by the synod fathers, although a simple majority wished to retain it. (Cardinal Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Synod, has stated that it was kept on the table for consideration by none other than Pope Francis himself. This, also, is unable to be confirmed.)
Whatever is truly driving this agenda, a new spirit of “openness” under the guise of “mercy” has empowered individuals who believe the Church should change her teaching on same-sex relationships or gender-reassignment to push harder for accommodation. And despite the high production values and obvious emotional appeal, that’s exactly what the “OwningOurFaith” video is doing: agitating for change on things which are unchangeable. It starts out subtle. Even features some authentically Catholic understandings of human sexuality. But watch as it evolves once the hook is set:
I personally feel a deep sympathy for those who struggle with the affliction of same-sex attraction. I’ve had conversations with two Catholics who bear this cross, and it’s a burden that is hard to understand and even harder to bear.
Changing what we believe about our divinely-created nature isn’t going to fix it. Difficult circumstances do not provide us with the power to alter reality.
Clearly, there are no easy answers to the questions these individuals face. The Church is confronted with a need to better understand the problem so that effective guidance can be offered. Celibacy for the unmarried is the law of the land for all Catholics. But this is not an issue of discrimination. Same-sex attracted Catholics are allowed to be married. They just aren’t allowed to be married to same-sex partners. They have the same opportunity we all have. The challenge is that their desires conflict with what is acceptable under the moral law.
Something all Catholics need, whatever their sexual orientation, is clear and unequivocal teaching (or, where the teaching is established, reaffirmation) from Rome on sexual morality and ethics. As for the mixed signals, confusing language, and secret meetings that imply change where change is impossible and yet somehow always make their way into the media? Those aren’t helping anyone.
CORRECTION: I originally stated that the mid-term relatio (officially referred to as the “relatio post-disceptationem”) received a simple majority vote, but it has been brought to my attention that this is mistaken. Upon further research, it appears that the midterm relatio was not voted upon. The section dealing with homosexuality was almost entirely rewritten for the final relatio synodi, and this far less offensive section was that which received the simple majority vote, rather than the two-thirds required. It appears I confused the two. However, it remains true that Pope Francis is reported to have ordered that both the midterm relatio and the voted-down sections of the final relatio be included in the final synod documentation.
Confused? I was too. I hope this helps clarify. My thanks to Murray in the comments for helping me to recognize my error and sort this out.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.