Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dialogue on effective and compassionate pastoral ministry to LGBT

I had a chance to dialogue with a person who is engaged in pastoral ministry for LGBT.  I'll call him Athens while I'll use my nickname Paul.  Below is our online conversation:

Athens:

We have an LGBT ministry and the opposition that usually follows this ministry is sometimes incredible. Some people ask, "Do you encourage them to break their relationships if they are in same-sex relationships?" I'm sorry but this approach of love the sinner and hate the sin is such a misnomer in pastoral practice. Truth and hope do not look like this on the ground when crafting a response based on tradition, scriptures and experience. Again I apologize but interpretation of hope of having people embrace truth with an agenda to break responsible adult relationships of LGBT's knocking on the Church's doors in search for a relationship with God reflects incompetence in pastoral care. And honestly those people who feel they cannot go with this balanced approach should not involve themselves in pastoral care positions.

Paul:


2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. 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. 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (Catechism of the Catholic Church
Athens:

It is already a given that we follow this. Now, teaching this and applying this requires utmost competency so that instead of harming and hurting people, we don't lose any of our brothers and sisters again due to incompetent pastoral care. What this teaching does not make mention of or attempt to address in supporting pastoral workers is the clinical reality that homosexuality is not a disease or disorder. We are into DSM 5 already and this catechism is traced from the 80's version. We need to do better than just throwing the books unto the people of God. Nothing about this helps me as a pastoral worker.

Paul:

Catechism has not yet kept up with the times. But that's the latest that we Catholics have as our definitive guide for pastoral work. Thus, the following statement remains true: homosexual attraction is a disorder. Truth is a double-edged sword: it hurts the heart. But not everything that hurts the heart is bad. A defibrillator delivers a powerful dose of electricity to the heart--something painful--but its purpose is not to kill the heart but to coax it back to life that it may beat in the right way again as a normal heart would. And truth is one powerful defibrillator. Only a heart that recognizes its wretchedness in the face of truth can be converted to a new life.

Athens:

These are stuff that we know on paper, harped on decade after decade, left unattended, never addressed. It is not competent and responsible for Church-sanctioned scholars and theologians to leave something as crucial as this to fester, and meanwhile take pastoral workers for granted in attending to the people of God and criticize them when they think that the pastoral workers' response is not in keeping with the "most current" theological and doctrinal teachings. "Not everything that hurts the heart is bad?" Says who? We are not talking about defibrillators here, we are talking about actions that hurt the soul and push people away from God. This action in itself is a hurt that needs to be avoided because it is NOT of God. Sorry but definitive incompetence and irresponsibility must never be allowed to shape pastoral care otherwise it will push people aways from God and create unnecessary wounds.

Paul:

Sinful actions are actions that hurt the soul, because they diminish in the soul of sanctifying grace from God. And if the sin is mortal, the soul is cut off completely from God, and the soul won't benefit from the graces received from Holy Communion, in the same way as Gollum cannot benefit from the waybread of the Elves, but the bread would in fact choke him. The pain of separation from God is terrible, as our conscience would bear witness. The only remedy left is the Sacrament of Confession, and in this Sacrament we call sin for what it is: a sin. Inclination to sin is not a sin, but acting out our inclinations results in a sin. For example, to be attracted to a fellow male is not yet a sin, but to engage in homosexual act is a sin. Those with homosexual tendencies can still be holy by striving against the temptations of the flesh. We are all called to holiness. And to do that we have to call sin a sin and confess them to a priest. Otherwise, our confession would be in vain, and we won't be restored into our dignity as sons and daughters of God, as the Parable of the Prodigal Son shows us.

Athens:

Quirino [Paul], not for not one bit do I disagree with you on your grasp of sin and grace. It is succinct and I encourage you to forge on. However, it is least likely that I will find you among our roster of pastoral workers. As always, we pastoral workers agree with the teachings and doctrines of the Church. But those from the Church who do not encounter the dilemmas we face will never appreciate what we have to share. To insist on doctrine alone to me is incompetence and irresponsibility that creates a profound imbalance in crafting a pastoral response based on tradition, scripture and experience. You got tradition through doctrine alright but it's not going to go far when you are helping people in the real world, you need the other two. I wonder how open you are when I say this.

Paul:

Thank you. I am glad that we agree on the tradition through doctrine. We can go to the next: scripture. May I know on what Scriptural verses do you base your pastoral response?

Athens:

Before I give mine do you agree that doctrine alone cannot inform an effective and compassionate pastoral response?

Paul:

I don't have personal opinions on these things. I only rely on what the Church officially teaches and on this I base my actions. What you mean by the words "effective" and "compassionate" are still vague to me because we haven't agreed on their definitions, e.g. whether the basis for these adjectives is what the homosexual feels about himself in this life or whether what is good for his soul to attain eternal life. I suggest that we move now to the Scriptural basis of your pastoral response, because it is easier to verify whether Christ really said this or that and whether he really means this or that.

Athens:

So this is where a distinction between your approach and mine sets in. Effective and compassionate for me means first, not more hurt or damage is done to the person, no one is turned away from the Church merely on doctrinal issues, and an on-going dialogue on one's commitment to Christian life is kept sacred and safe. I do not seek validity on Scriptural influence in my pastoral approach what I seek is mutuality in sharing conversations about how we are impacted by God's word in our encounters with those of His least brothers and sisters. I go by this and probably my last response to you-- Love your neighbors as yourself. I see that you come from a vantage where you assume a position to validate my experiences. So, I'm coming to a dialogue that is already lopsided. Let the distinctions stay and we'll continue to pray as always and as a Church we move on listening to where the Holy Spirits breathes and leads us. Peace and all good.

Quirino:

Thank you. Since you said your last word, then I shall also end mine. The Scripture you cited is only the second part of Christ's law of love: "“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39k The second is like it:* You shall love your neighbor as yourself.40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (Mt 22:38-40) Our love for God must be shown by our obedience to his laws and our love for our neighbor must be shown by our compassion to them. These two loves cannot oppose each other for our love to be true. One of God's laws is his prohibition against homosexual relations: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman,k they have committed an abomination" (Lv 20:13). Christ has not revoked this teaching from the Old Testament. He forgave the woman who committed adultery, but he nevertheless told her: "Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more." (Jn 8:11) And these words of Christ also applies to those who engaged in homosexual acts: God will forgive them if they repent of their sins, but they must also go and sin no more. In closing, I wish you well in your life. May God abundantly bless you with all the graces that you need.
Homosexuality & the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions
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Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful
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Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism
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Defending a Higher Law: Why We Must Resist Same-Sex "Marriage" and the Homosexual Movement
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One Man, One Woman: A Catholics Guide to Defending Marriage
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