Church must systematically reappraise its homophobia

This is a well-written article.  Let’s hope that the Jesuit that is now “in charge” listens to a fellow Jesuit.  I am finding they are a clannish bunch and network with each other.  Just because PF wears that white cassock, underneath he wears his black pants as he always has as a Jesuit.  So maybe there is enough of it in him that he will take his fellow religious to heart.  This article is provided in full here with the express permission of the publisher, Fr Michael Kelly SJ, of Global Pulse.  Check them out.  It is a subscription venue but relatively inexpensive and the content is very good, and comes from all over the world……reyanna

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt             July 12, 2016                 GlobalPulse on-line

A Jesuit whistleblower who in 2010 triggered tsunami-like revelations of clergy sex abuse in Europe’s German-speaking countries has called on the Church to reappraise its long-standing and still-ongoing history of homophobia.

Fr Klaus Mertes SJ, a highly regarded author and educator, made his appeal a day after Pope Francis on a June 26 return flight from Armenia said the Church needed to apologize to gay people for the way it had treated them.

In a detailed article for the online theological journaltheologie.geschichte (t.g), the 62-year-old priest argues that passages concerning homosexuals in the both the Old and New Testaments – as well as in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – are often decidedly homophobic

Homophobia first and foremost breaks the commandment to love our neighbors, Fr Mertes writes in t.g., which is published by the Catholic-theological faculty of Saarland University near the French-German border.

He points out that neither the Hebrew nor Christian scriptures confines the term “neighbor” to a certain group, nation or gender. And he insist that the Church must heed St Paul in his “revolutionary” Letter to the Galatians, where the Apostle to the Gentiles says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3,28).

“That the Church cannot bring itself to uphold the basic human rights of homosexuals, and that it even allows senior church representatives to champion cultural traditions which threaten homosexuals with death, contradicts the Gospel Message”, Fr Mertes writes.

The Jesuit laments that homophobia has prevented a historical-critical interpretation of the relevant scripture passages and relies, instead, on a fundamentalist exegesis of the Bible.

“It is therefore not surprising that homophobic and anti-modern circles mutually attract one another,” he writes.

“And yet the historical-critical method of Biblical interpretation has long since been recognized by the Second Vatican Council. It has, moreover, been recognized not as one of several possible methods of interpreting Scripture, but as the method which is best-suited to correlate Scripture with modernity,” he claims.

“Without the historical-critical method the Church loses its faculty of speech,” warns Fr Mertes.

He therefore concludes that there is no reasonable argument against using the historical-critical method to interpret the passages in the Bible that concern homosexuality.

Fr Mertes also take issue with the language used in the Catholic Catechism referring to homosexuality (especially in pars. 2357-2359). He says it is discriminatory to cite the Old Testament’s (Genesis 19, 1-29) condemnation of homosexual acts as “acts of grave depravity” and repeat that the Tradition has always declared “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”. The Jesuit argues that even the way the Catechism states that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity”, is “condescending and hurtful”.

Fr Mertes deplores that the fact that often there are those in the Church who insist there is a link between sexual abuse by priests and homosexuality.

For far too long “the strategic reply of Church leaders to the abuse scandals has been: ‘remove gays from the clergy and then we will have no more sexual abuse’,” he says.

He points to research undertaken by the US bishops’ conference that clearly refutes the prejudice that “priests with a homosexual orientation are more inclined to sexual abuse than heterosexual priests”.

In his recent article in t.g., Fr Mertes also recalls the heated debate at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family after a Catholic Australian couple described to participants what it was like to have a son who had a homosexual partner. He says many in the Synod Hall seemed less concerned with the couple’s family situation than with the fact that the assembly of bishops was expected to listen to such an input.

“This is where homophobia shows its face,” he writes, because it doesn’t want a discussion triggered by people’s direct experience.

“Homophobia is unmasked when people speak in the first person,” he points out. And he concludes by saying this is why “speaking in the first person is the most important contribution to invalidating homophobia”.

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3 Responses to Church must systematically reappraise its homophobia

  1. M Sikora says:

    Thanks so much for publishing this for us, Reyanna. I think it should be sent to AB Chaput of Philadelphia by Special Delivery.

  2. Kenny says:

    [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “0”. Reason: Human SPAM filter found “port” in “comment_content” *]
    Dear Reyanna,
    Thank you for your good works.

    I was reminded today in the sports pages about our societal cleansing, evolving with discovery, pain and then hopefully healing.

    A Philadelphia judge ordered to the closed files on the Penn St situation, and former head coach Joe Paterno, and university administrators. That was 40 years in the making.

    It is so difficult to get that first exposure. Enormous courage for those to come forward and facing the wrath of society who do not want to believe it. And to those who want it covered up.

    The church has these same challenges. It is a painful process.

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