Bishop calls homosexuality ‘gift from God,’ seeks to end ‘prejudices that kill’
[Scroll down to the bottom of the page for details about our MSC confrere bishop]
A Brazilian bishop said July 30 that homosexuality is a “gift from God.” Seeing the reaction his homily generated, Bishop Antônio Carlos Cruz Santos of Caicó then released a statement saying that his only scope was to “save lives,” after learning about the high statistics of suicide among the LGBT community.
“If it is not a choice, if it is not a disease, in the perspective of faith it can only be a gift,” the bishop of Caicó in the Rio Grande do Norte state said during his homily at a Mass closing feast of Santana de Caicó, always marked on the Sunday following the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne.
“The gospel par excellence is the gospel of inclusion,” said the bishop. “The gospel is a narrow door, yes, it is a demanding love, but it is a door that is always open.
“When you look at homosexuality, you cannot say it’s an option,” Cruz said, adding that a choice has to be made freely, while sexual orientation is something a person discovers “one day.”
However, he said, a person can choose how to live his or her sexual orientation, “in a dignified, ethical way, or in a promiscuous one. But promiscuity can be lived in any of the orientations.”
The bishop then said that homosexuality hasn’t been considered as a disease by the World Health Organization since the 1990s, and given this, and the fact that a person doesn’t choose to be gay, same-sex attraction can only be “a gift from God. It’s given by God. But perhaps our prejudices do not get the gift of God.”
During his homily, Cruz said that when slavery was accepted, black people weren’t considered human, “they said we black people didn’t have a soul,” because of “prejudices.”
“Just as we were able to leap, in the wisdom of the Gospel, and overcome slavery, is it not the time for us to leap, from a perspective of faith, and overcome prejudices against our brothers who experience same-sex attraction?” the bishop asked.
Prejudice, he said, is a “concept before an experience,” and it’s what blinded generations to slavery, and what blinds Europe today to the “drama of refugees.”
Cruz, appointed bishop by Pope Francis in 2014, after he served in some of Brazil’s most infamous favelas, or slums, said the Argentine pontiff is sometimes accused by “some who want to be more Roman than the pope,” of wanting to water down the Church’s teaching, “they say we’re selling ourselves, that he’s selling the doctrine for something cheap.
“In truth, what Pope Francis wants is to make mercy the starting point of Catholic doctrine,” he said. “And mercy, people, is not cheap: Mercy is very expensive. Christ paid a high price for mercy.”
Cruz also quoted Francis’s famous line “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” adding, just as the pope did at the time, on the flight back from Rio de Janeiro in 2013, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that gay people are not to be marginalized from society.
“It’d be good for orthodox [Catholics] to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
The prelate also quoted Francis’s document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, in which the pope talks about “accompanying, discernment and welcoming” families in irregular unions, acknowledging that even though it was addressed to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, it could apply to gay people too.
The bishop began his homily talking about a radio interview that really affected him. The host was talking about a professor who did his thesis on the prevalence of suicide among transvestites and transsexuals.
On hearing this report, he said, he began to think about “so many brothers and sisters with a homosexual orientation who feel misunderstood and unloved by us, who are Church, by their families, by their society and even by themselves, as it was in the days of slavery.”
The bishop’s homily, available in video on YouTube, was praised by some and criticized by many others, who even call his words a heresy and demanded the Vatican to get involved.
Seeing the many reactions, Cruz released a statement on the diocesan website on Sunday, a week after his homily. In it, the bishop stood by his remarks, saying that his goal was to “save lives, contributing so that we can overcome the prejudices that kill.”
The bishop said that he did not want to induce anyone to make a mistake, but that he followed the guidelines of the church and of Francis.
“As Pope Francis told us many times, people already know by heart the doctrine of the Church about abortion, divorce and homosexual acts,” Cruz wrote. “He asks us not to be obsessed with sin, increasing the wounds of these people, and insists that the doors of the church are open to welcome, instruct, discern, love in order to bring salvation to all without exception.”
The bishop also wrote that his intention on addressing the issue was merely pastoral, and that he’s not challenging the teachings of the Catechism. Furthermore, he quotes point 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible,” the section he quoted in full says. “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
Following this statement, Cruz said his reflection as a pastor moved by the “weaknesses of his flock, without wanting to minimize the doctrinal and moral dimensions that the subject matter involves, my intention is to save lives, helping to overcome prejudices that kill and enter into the dynamic of God’s mercy that respects, rescues and saves people.”
Bishop Antônio Carlos Cruz Santos, M.S.C.
Many of us will have heard the recent news about the Vatican rejecting a trans* man as a godparent. The man, Alex Salinas, is a faithful trans* Catholic. This is a story that began in Spain and went to the Bishop then to Rome.
The story is well summarised on the New Ways Ministry website here: Vatican Intervention Causes Bishop to (Again) Reject Trans* Man as Godparent. I think it is worth noting that other Church-affiliated news about this tend to refer to Alex as 'a transsexual woman, who considers herself a man'.
The story is discussed this week on ABC National on the Religion and Ethics program. After transmission, it can be listened to or downloaded online at any time. The program airs on Wednesday 5:30PM and again on Thursday 5:30AM (Sydney times). Father Peter Maher was interviewed for this program.
Program details can be found on the ABC website here: Religion and Ethics Report.
(This article is a stub. I'll update this article after the program airs. Stay tuned! If you're wondering why there are asterisks in this article (i.e. trans* man), then this link explains.)
— Chris Price, 08 September 2015.
Ben Oh, Acceptance member, Newtown parishioner and campaigner for peace, equality and justice, reflects on the meaning of the Easter events as paradigms for developing a more equitable and just world.
- This is from an article published on 12 November 2014 by Michael Kenny.
Please see the link at the end of the post for source and attribution.
The 54 year old one time corporate lawyer has been installed as Archbishop during a ceremony at Saint Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.
He takes over from Cardinal George Pell who left the position in February to become the Vatican's finance chief in Rome.
Archbishop Fisher said he wants to use the role to reach out to those who have felt alienated from the Catholic Church, including gay people and the divorced.
"I think the Catholic Church is and should be a church for the whole of humanity," he said.
"Our arms are wide open for everyone. So whatever the struggles in their life, whether that's with their sexuality or their marital history or any other issues, I want to say to them: 'Come to the Church. The Church loves you because God loves you’."
Archbishop Fisher said he had been moved by recent calls from Pope Francis for the Catholic Church to adopt a greater openness towards gay people and divorced Catholics who have remarried.
"I have a consciousness now of the struggles of people with same sex attraction", he said.
"Our concern should be there to help them rather than to be adding to their problems and I fully back the view that we should be compassionate to people with a same sex attraction or with other struggles in their life."
The new archbishop said he also wanted to use his new role to reach out to younger Catholics and to restore public trust tarnished in the wake of recent paedophile scandals involving Catholic priests.
"We have to be very honest with ourselves and with everybody else about what has gone wrong", he said.
"We need to own up to that and show that we are genuinely ashamed and contrite and determined that that will never happen again," he added.
"We have to make sure that the victims are given every help they can be to be healed of what's been done to them and I think we have to put in processes for the future that mean that paedophiles can't be in positions like this again and that when there are complaints, they are dealt with very quickly."
Archbishop Fisher said he holds strong views on a number of social issues, particularly the treatment of asylum seekers.
"There is no doubt that we have to do what we can in this country to make sure that people smugglers have no incentive to continue that deadly practice", he said.
"But that said, we don't want to have such strong disincentives that we end up being unjust, especially to children", he added.
"I think all people of good will in this country would be deeply uncomfortable with the thought of having people incarcerated in horrible camps and who go on to suffer further psychological damage".
Source: Michael Kenny at this link on sbs.com.au on 12 November 2014
'Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,' says Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew. Look at what these words say to his followers.
You don't need a crowd, just two or three. 'Gathered in my name', not 'gathered in a church' or 'at a certain time or place', but simply 'in my name': that is, two or three, with Christ as the common centre of their faith, gathered to pray and praise God. 'There am I among them.' This is an affirmative statement. It's a positive statement. It is a statement of assurance. It is a statement made with no other qualifications.Read more
A beautiful article by His Holiness on Happiness.Read more
This study identifies the extent of homophobia in Australia, using data from 24,718 self-completion interviews with respondents aged 14 and over.
Click here to download and view
Corey's experience of growing up Gay and Catholic published in the Star Observer.Read more
Donal Godfrey SJ is Executive Director, University Ministry at The University of San Francisco writes about his visit to AcceptanceRead more
Paul's testimony on AcceptanceRead more