English Catholics defy Vatican - Church leaflet offers gay support
Call for understanding and acceptance; rejection of homophobic oppression.
London - 1 December 2008
A new leaflet produced by the Catholic Church in England and Wales urges priests and churchgoers to be respectful and welcoming towards lesbian and gay people.
It also acknowledges and rejects the "oppression" suffered by homosexuals; and suggests that Catholics "express appreciation for the gifts that homosexual Catholics bring to their faith community."
Catholic traditionalists have condemned the leaflet's liberal message and accused the English and Welsh Church of defying Vatican orthodoxy.
"This leaflet is a welcome, positive initiative which will bring great comfort to gay Catholics and their families. Its sympathetic, understanding message is a big improvement on the stern, uncompromising homophobia of most Vatican pronouncements on homosexuality," said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, the UK lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights campaign.
"Its liberal stance has provoked condemnation from traditionalist, conservative Catholics. They denounce the leaflet as a maverick, renegade move by the English and Welsh Catholic Church, acting in defiance of Vatican orthodoxy," said Mr Tatchell.
See a copy of the leaflet here:
"I hope the Catholic Church in England and Wales will encourage the Vatican to adopt this leaflet for use by Catholic dioceses worldwide. Its broader dissemination would help counteract the ignorance and prejudice that exists among many clergy and laity," added Mr Tatchell.
"The laudable change of tone is undermined by the homophobic content of the Catholic Catechism and by the Pope's frequent endorsement of legal discrimination against lesbian and gay people. The Vatican's policy of denouncing loving, stable same-sex relationships risks undoing the good, kind intentions of this leaflet.
"The Catechism, which sets out the basic doctrines of the Roman Church, reflects the pre-scientific ignorance and anti-homosexual prejudice of the medieval era; describing same-sex acts as a 'grave depravity' and 'intrinsically disordered'. It states that lesbian and gay relationships are 'contrary to natural law ... and do not proceed from genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved'.
"The Vatican identifies homosexuality as a deep-seated personality disorder and psychological flaw; variously condemning same-sex acts as 'grave sins ... .objectively disordered ... intrinsically immoral ... (and) contrary to natural law.' Even men who have a gay orientation but abstain totally from sex are condemned by the Pope as possessing a 'tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil.'
"This leaflet challenges these outdated, bigoted attitudes. It reflects the growing acceptance of loving, loyal, long-term same-sex relationships by grassroots Catholics." said Mr Tatchell.
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