Same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions, etc. in Ireland.
2015-MAY-23: Reform beliefs of Diarmuid Martin,
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin.
In this web site, the acronym LGBT refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender/Transsexual community. The acronym "SSM" refers to
2015-MAY-23: The Roman Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin suggests that the Church needs a "reality check:"
During an interview in the Irish Times, Archbishop Martin said:
"I think really that the church needs to do a reality check, a reality check right across the board, to look at the things it’s doing well, to look at the areas where we really have to start and say, 'Look, have we drifted away completely from young people'?"
"I think it’s a social revolution... It’s a social revolution that didn’t begin today. It’s a social revolution that’s been going on, and perhaps in the church people have not been as clear in understanding what that involved.
It’s very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people, then the church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and to get its message across to young people, not just on this issue, but in general.
We won’t begin again with a sense of renewal by simply denying.
Most of these young people who voted Yes are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years. There’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church...We need to sit down and say ‘are we reaching out at all to young people?’ ... We’re becoming a church of the like-minded, and a sort of a safe space for the like-minded.
That doesn’t mean that we renounce our teaching on fundamental values on marriage and the family. Nor does it mean that we dig into the trenches.
We need to find ... a new language which is fundamentally ours, that speaks to, is understood and becomes appreciated by others.
We tend to think in black and white but most of us live in the area of grey, and if the church has a harsh teaching, it seems to be condemning those who are not in line with it.
But all of us live in the grey area. All of us fail. All of us are intolerant. All of us make mistakes. All of us sin and all of us pick ourselves up again with the help of that institution which should be there to do that.
"The church’s teaching, if it isn’t expressed in terms of love - then it’s got it wrong." 1
Many people, including large numbers of Catholics, persons of other Christian denominations, persons of other religions, the religiously unaffiliated and secularists will agree with his statement -- particularly with his final sentence on love.
Webmaster's opinion (bias alert):
I personally agree that Catholic Church's attitude towards sexual minorities is unloving. However, I don''t think that this is the main problem facing the Church at this time. I feel that its main problems are its teaching that homosexual orientation is a disordered state, that sexual activity between a loving, committed same-sex couple is a mortal sin, and that some acts of discrimination against the LGBT community are acceptable.
Unfortunately, Dr. Martin's desire for reform of the Catholic Church would only be able proceed within the limits imposed by the church's fundamental understanding of human sexuality. This is defined in the Church's Catechism, which is a collection of teachings prepared by the Church's teaching authority -- the Magisterium -- and intended for the guidance of individual Roman Catholics. It aims to present:
"... an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve 'as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries'." 2
It is important to realize that knowledge arrived at by scientific studies of human sexuality external to the Church are not included as one of the sources of information used in the preparation of the Catechism. Personal experiences's of members of the LGBT community are also not included.
Section 2357 of the Catechism discusses what most people refer to as "sexual orientation." The section appears to cover both homosexuality and bisexuality. Unfortunately like most fundamentalist and other evangelical Protestant Christians, the Catholic Church's Catechism defines homosexuality and some forms of bisexuality in terms of behavior -- referring to sexual relations or activity between two persons of the same sex. It states:
"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, ... tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' ... They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." 3 [Emphasis is by us and was not in the original.]
These beliefs contradict the understanding of human sexuality reached by essentially all members of the LGBT community and most human sexuality researchers. Scientists have determined that same-sex attraction and behavior is natural and is found in all mammals. It is normal for a minority of humans and is found in persons in the form of either a bisexual or a homosexual orientation.
Theologians disagree when interpretation the meaning of the six "clobber passages" in the Bible that may deal with same-gender sexual behavior. These passages appear to be ambiguous because they are interpreted very differently by sincere, intelligent, thoughtful Christians. In particular, many liberal Christians interpret the passages as condemning same-gender rape, ritual sex in pagan temples, sexual molestation and exploitation of children by adults, and same-gender sexual behavior by heterosexual men and women in violation of their basic nature. Many liberals point to the Bible's approval of loving and committed feelings of attraction among same-sex couples. The most notable of these included David, Ruth, and their partners. Many liberals believe that same-gender sexual behavior within a loving, committed relationship is not specifically mentioned in the Bible.
If the Roman Catholic Church retains Section 2357 intact, with its declaration that 'homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and are "contrary to natural law" and do not proceed from acceptable genuine moods, feelings and attitudes, then they are going to make little progress with older teens and young adults. That generation is the first one in which the majority knowingly have a lesbian,gay, or bisexual friend or family member. That generation is much more highly informed about the reality of human sexuality than previous generations.
If the Catholic Church is going to improve it rapport with young people, it seems obvious that it would have to start with a complete revision to the sections of the Catechism that deal with human sexuality so that it agrees with real nature of sexual orientation as actually experienced by the LGBT community. This might be impossible for the magisterium to achieve for the foreseeable future.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Diarmuid Martin: Catholic Church needs reality check," Irish Times, 2015-MAY-24, at: http://www.irishtimes.com/
- Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985, Final Report II B a, 4
- "Article 6: The Sixth Commandment," Catechism of the Catholic Church, at: http://www.christusrex.org/
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2005-MAY-23
Latest update: 2015-MAY-28
Author: B.A. Robinson