The Catholic Church must find a way to accommodate the relationships of its LGBTQ members


In a ceremony at Westminster Cathedral, seat of English Catholicism, twice divorced Boris Johnson married Carrie Symonds.

Boris Johnson was confirmed as an Englishman as a teenager. He also has one child with Carrie, out of wedlock, and has other children from previous relationships (he is believed to have fathered seven children).

None of this is meant to be a judgment of the British Prime Minister and his new wife. The sacraments are not just for the righteous and we should not use them as a political tool to score points.

The Church has shown compassion and understanding towards the newlyweds. Life is complex and not always easy.

Why can’t this same understanding be given to same-sex couples?

Many people have wondered how Boris Johnson could have received the sacrament of marriage in a Catholic church given that he had been divorced twice. While it’s important to note that he received no special treatment, some Church leaders still expressed concern during the ceremony.

Canon Paul Gargaro is the head of the Scottish Catholic Court, which deals primarily with marriage annulments. He took to Facebook to dispel some of the confusion over how the twice-divorced Johnson could be married in the Catholic Church, although canon law does not allow remarriage of a divorcee whose the spouse is still alive.

While he acknowledged that “we do not know all the details”, he said that “the situation appears to be as follows”.

Catholics (and Johnson is a baptized Catholic) have an obligation to marry in the Catholic Church. Although Gargaro says that “becoming an Anglican is a grave sin for a Catholic, it does not remove the obligation to marry in the Church”.

Johnson’s previous marriages have not taken place within the Catholic Church, and Gargaro says that “these marriages would be invalid for ‘lack of canonical form’ and he would therefore be free to marry” and “bound by the obligation to marry in the Catholic Church ”.

Gargaro adds that “the absence of canonical form is a type of nullity of marriage” meaning that there was no “special treatment” for Johnson when he received the sacrament of marriage in the Church. .

As Gargaro notes, “Countless people will marry in the Church this year despite their divorce because their previous marriage was outside the Church.”

It should be noted that such an exemption is not offered to divorcees who are not baptized Catholics. In these cases, an annulment would be required before being able to marry in the Catholic Church.

However, even though there was no bar to Johnson getting married in a Catholic ceremony, Gargaro said Johnson’s “treatment of women and loyalty seemed to leave a lot to be desired” and he hoped the priest who presided over the wedding had “a good marriage preparation for them” in light of this.

Canon Paul Gargaro says Johnson’s “treatment of women” leaves a lot to be desired, but his marriage is going off without a hitch.

How hurtful it must be for LGBTQ Catholics, who are told their relationship is so sinful that it cannot be blessed, even in private.

In March of this year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) declared that it was “impossible” for God to “bless sin” in response to a question whether the Church had “the power to” give the blessing to same-sex unions ”.

Pope Francis says that “the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is an immense mystery” but it can be summed up as follows: “God is love”.

Homosexual members of the Catholic Church exist and they want to be part of the faithful. The Church must find a way to make room for their love and to bless same-sex civil unions is a common sense way to afford the dignity they deserve as members of the faith.

This is not a radical idea but something that is already happening in Catholic churches around the world, especially in Germany, where around 100 churches are defying the ban on blessing same-sex unions.

The “Love Wins” movement emerged in the German Church in response to the CDF’s proclamation that God “cannot bless sin”.

The group said they “will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship,” adding that they “will not refuse a blessing ceremony.”

Volunteers, accompanied by 16 German priests, gathered thousands of signatures for a petition calling on the Church to bless same-sex couples, while more conservative churches were encouraged to fly a rainbow flag to mark that all forms of love are worthy of God. thanks.

The Catholic Church is a pilgrim church which must always be turned towards the future.

As Saint John Henry Newman notes: “To live is to change. To be perfect is to have changed often.

Change is needed to treat gay members of the Church with dignity, but also to stay abreast of changing times.

Two-thirds of Catholics in Ireland support same-sex marriage. In the UK, that figure is 78%. But the question is more pressing than the opinion polls.

Father James Martin, a prominent American priest and editor of “America Magazine,” said the CDF’s statement that the Church could not “bless sin” caused “anger” and “demoralization”. Within the Church that he has not seen since the emergence of children’s sexuality. abuse scandals.

And in an interview with the New York Times, Reinhard Kleinewiese, who blesses same-sex couples in his German church, said: “We cannot ignore the fact that many same-sex couples have already left the Church.

He insisted on the need to “clarify that we do not agree with Rome on certain issues and prohibitions”.

If the Church can accommodate Boris Johnson’s marriage, whose “treatment of women and faithfulness” leaves much to be desired, then it must find a way to accommodate the relationships between its gay members.

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