Through the international theological conference Ways of love, for a pastoral care with homosexual and trans people we wish to help the Extraordinary Synod on the family reflect on welcoming LGBT people. The conference takes place on October 3th, 2014.
Andrea Rubera, a spokesperson for the conference, said that: "The news of the convocation of an extraordinary synod on the family and the questionnaire sent to every diocese in the world has triggered an unprecedented desire to participate. It looks like it's time, for us Christian LGBT people, to make our contribution and witness the beauty, truth, and, sometimes, even the fragility of our lives, as a proposal for the growth of the whole community of the faithful."
"The question we ask the church is simple,” observed Gianni Geraci, another spokesman for the conference. “How can an LGBT person live in the fullness of his or her Christian vocation within the church without getting crushed by hypocrisy and loneliness?"
Moderated by the Vatican correspondent Marco Politi, the panel of speakers in Rome will feature the Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (who was an auxiliary of Cardinal George Pell, one of eight members of the committee to which Pope Francis has entrusted the task of studying the reform of the Curia), the English priest and theologian James Alison, the Dominican theologian Antonietta Potente, the Waldensian pastor Letizia Tomassone (who is president of the Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian Committee on "Faith and homosexuality" in Italy). Providing personal perspectives will be Joseannne Peregin (a Maltese mother of a gay man and the chairwoman of the Christian Life Community of Malta) and LGBT believers whose testimony will come to the conference through the documentary "Live & Hopes of LGBT Christian" by director Yulia Matsiy.
As an integral part of the conference a document was read that summarizes the appeal that the Organizing Committee of the Third Italian Forum of LGBT Christians sent to the Italian participants to the Synod and to the secretariat of the Synod as a contribution to the work of the Synod itself. The paper was drawn up by a working collective over several months, starting from the responses made by Italian LGBT Christian groups to the questionnaire distributed last year. You can read more about this document and find the complete paper in the article A welcoming pastoral approach to homosexual and trans people on this website
The conference was organized by the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups and supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the Netherlands.
For information check the website Ways of Love
Geoffrey Robinson, Australian Bishop:
It was God who created a world in which there are both heterosexuals and homosexuals. This was not a mistake on God’s part that human beings are meant to repair; it is simply an undeniable part of God’s creation.
The only sexual acts that are natural to homosexuals are homosexual acts. This is not a free choice they have made between two things that are equally attractive to them, but something that is deeply embedded in their nature, something they cannot simply cast aside. Homosexual acts come naturally to them, heterosexual acts do not. They cannot perform what the Church would call “natural” acts in a way that is natural to them.
Why should we turn to some abstraction in determining what is natural rather than to the actual lived experience of human beings? Why should we say that homosexuals are acting against nature when they are acting in accordance with the only nature they have ever experienced?”
James Alison, English priest and theologian:
The truthfulness and peace, the zest for the real, that comes with the consciousness of being a daughter or a son: that is the source of the imagination of what is going to be the shape of the arduous good to which we might aspire, and in the realization of which we hope to be found. The truthfulness that flows from being able to speak out of an unbound conscience is not an extrinsic add-on to being Christian. It is intrinsic to what being Christian is all about. It leads to being able to bear witness, without which there is no Christianity. For us linguistic animals, being able to talk cleanly and openly is essential to being able to live cleanly and openly. It is as we talk and share with each other the experiences of love and of becoming that we will discover in our relationships who we are called to be.
Antonietta Potente, nun of the Dominican Order and theologian:
I would ask the community of believers: create a real space in order to contribute to theological reflection.
You LGBT believers should not ask only to be accompanied, or for understanding, because otherwise the Church will do what it has done for centuries with people considered poor. You should not tolerate these relations of fake benevolence, or let the Church get away with them. None of you is a "someone to be pitied"; each one of us in God’s gathering should stand up and speak boldly and with frankness. That will be her authority, his authority, helping us all to understand, alongside others whose choices are different, how to take full responsibility for history. Don’t draw attention to yourselves, just shift it to where it should be focused. You should remind the community of believers that where two or three come together “in My Name” then “I Am” dwells in the midst of them, and “Those who listen to God’s Word and put it into practice” become the Temple of God. These are the principles that should be of concern to the Church.
Letizia Tomassone, Waldensian Pastor, and President of the Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian commission on “Faith and Homosexuality”:
Is not the church’s vocation to be the place of freedom? The site of a banquet so well prepared that crumbs of freedom could fall even for those who are hiding under the tables for fear of being persecuted? To tell about oneself is one of the many ways towards a world of greater authenticity and truth. But if the interstices and gaps are widening, the whole building is in danger of cracking. And in fact, this is what we really want: that this building of hetero-normativity should crack, in churches too, because it is a building which conceals and delegitimizes every other experience of the self and the world.
Joseanne Peregin, Chairman of Christian Life Community of Malta:
The moment my son had ‘come out’ to me, I automatically started my own journey towards my own ‘coming out’ as a parent. This is also a very long and painful journey for us parents as much as it was for our children. We shut down or crumble, sometimes having to go on anti-depressants for several months. There is a deep sense of failure which leaves parents feeling paralyzed. In my view, taking the hostility experienced by LGBTIs upon ourselves, and choosing to defend them instead of judge them, is perhaps the need I see most urgent and universal right now in the life of the church.