Vatican are be­hind the curve on LGBTQ is­sues

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - OPINION - With Darragh Clif­ford

THE Vatican has marked LGBT Pride Month by pub­lish­ing a new doc­u­ment, called ‘Male and Fe­male He Cre­ated Them’, which was in­tended to help Catholic teach­ers, par­ents, stu­dents and mem­bers of the clergy ad­dress the field of sex ed­u­ca­tion. The doc­u­ment, which re­jects the idea that peo­ple can choose or change their gen­ders, has been widely de­nounced by LGBT Catholics around the globe.

Speak­ing on RTE Ra­dio last week, the chair­per­son of the Trans­gen­der Equal­ity Net­work (TENI), Sara Phillips, said the doc­u­ment con­tin­ues to push tra­di­tional Catholic teach­ing, and called it un­help­ful and dif­fi­cult as it de­nies the re­al­ity of the lives of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity.

The doc­u­ment was an at­tempt by the Vatican to ad­dress the chang­ing land­scape of gen­der and sex­ual iden­tity but all it has suc­ceeded in do­ing is high­light­ing just how be­hind the curve the Catholic Church is on this topic.

The Vatican text called gen­der flu­id­ity a symptom of the ‘con­fused con­cept of free­dom’ and ‘mo­men­tary de­sires’ that char­ac­terise post-mod­ern cul­ture - lan­guage that would not be help­ful to young peo­ple that may be strug­gling with their iden­tity.

Ad­vo­cacy group New Ways Min­istry said it would fur­ther con­fuse in­di­vid­u­als ques­tion­ing their gen­der iden­tity or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and at risk of self-harm. The group said the Vatican’s con­cepts out­lined in the doc­u­ment are out­dated, mis­in­formed and ig­nore con­tem­po­rary sci­ence on fac­tors be­yond vis­i­ble gen­i­talia that de­ter­mine gen­der.

The Catholic Church’s strug­gles to re­main

rel­e­vant in mod­ern so­ci­ety, and their fall­ing con­gre­ga­tion num­bers, has been well doc­u­mented in re­cent years. Pub­lic­ity like this is any­thing but help­ful. They can­not af­ford to be alien­at­ing any strand of so­ci­ety, yet this of­fi­cial Vatican text has done just that. Would the Church be bet­ter served sim­ply say­ing noth­ing on LGBTQ is­sues?

In a bizarre turn of events, in the same week as the Vatican’s mis­sive, a priest in Kilkenny caused out­rage by com­par­ing gay peo­ple to in­fected zom­bies.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary broad­side, Brother Tom Forde spoke of ‘the abuse of drugs and al­co­hol, adul­tery, for­ni­ca­tion and ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, as well as in the ac­cep­tance of abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tion and in the move to le­galise eu­thana­sia’.

‘We sense that many of those around us are phys­i­cally alive but spir­i­tu­ally dead, morally rot­ten or at least in­fected,’ he said in a homily at the Ca­puchin fri­ary in Kilkenny, where some of the con­gre­ga­tion re­port­edly walked out.

‘Once you are bit­ten you are in­fected and there is no hope. The only way to deal with the mon­sters is to stab or shoot them in the brain,’ said Brother Forde.

The Ca­puchin Or­ders has rightly apol­o­gised for the dis­grace­ful re­marks and while this in no way rep­re­sents the of­fi­cial Catholic Church line, it is none­the­less an ap­palling re­flec­tion on the state of the Church in Ire­land that a mem­ber of the clergy would come out with such an aw­ful state­ment in the mid­dle of a religious cer­e­mony.

If the Catholic Church has any hope of re­main­ing rel­e­vant in the 21st cen­tury, it must adopt a more open, in­clu­sive ap­proach to not only LGBT is­sues, but to ar­eas such as women priests and celibacy. And th­ese changes must be adopted fast.

Pope Fran­cis.

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