New Evangelisation: Getting real.
Recent postings notably those of Jo O’Sullivan, Sean O’Conaill, Rosemary McHugh and the article by Tom Rostrelli, have served to highlight what has become increasingly clear to me to me over the past number of years.
Any effort at new evangelisation or renewal of faith in the Roman Catholic Church is doomed to failure unless there is a radical shift to address the dysfunctional magisterial teachings on sexuality.
My reasons for this view are as follows;
1. The Vatican’s core conceptual understanding of homosexuality is flawed and out of line with copious empirical psychological/sociological research over the last fifty years.
2. The November 2005, ‘Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders’ (see Vatican website), is evidence of this contention. Change ‘homosexual’ for ‘straight’ and see how bizarre the criteria of having ‘deep seated straight tendencies’ ‘supporting straight culture’, ‘overcoming adolescent straightness for the past three years’ appears.
3. If this document formed part of the Instrumentum Laboris for examining seminaries, no wonder Timothy Dolan ran into trouble. Diarmuid Martin is correct in observing that some seminarians may be fragile. This Instruction is perverse and conceptually on a level with the ‘flat earth’ theory
4. Any homosexual who achieves a healthy self-acceptance and has a positive attitude toward his sexual orientation is precisely the one this instruction excludes from the seminary. The healthy are unacceptable; only the pathological may apply. What is bad psychology has to be bad theology. (John M Neill ‘Objective Disorder’ 2005)
In January 2011 the first National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland, ‘Share the Good News ‘was launched. In light of Diarmuid Martin’s reflection that ….’its application has been very slow and it has not yet made the inroads into popular catechetics and parish life that it needs to’, and in full agreement with Sean O’Conaill that ‘The really good news for me in the Gospel and the Eucharist is that we are all indeed, and in every moment, of equal and infinite value’, I ask the following:
1. The everyday reality of people’s lives and their lived experiences are difficult to discern in some of the rhetoric used in ‘Share the Good News’. For example, “The dignity of the human person demands that justice and solidarity be recognised as key dimensions at the centre of all catechetical efforts”.(p.161). What about basic dignity, and justice for the equal rights of women, gay people, those who have babies via IVF etc.?
2. In relation to young people ’Share the Good News’ proclaims ” It is only when the young person knows who they are and what is important for them that they can truly move forward toward a more intimate understanding of relation with others and, indeed, with God”(p.149).
Where does this leave ‘intrinsically disordered persons’, as the Vatican describe some, because they stand in judgement on their sexual orientation?
3. Church teaching on sexuality will have to be addressed in any effort to evangelise our idealistic young people. Among their main areas of concern are suicide and homosexuality, (Diarmuid Martin). Their sense of fairness, compassion and ability to discern hypocrisy, would put many of us to shame. You hit the nail on the head, Jo O’Sullivan. ‘Young people accept that discrimination in any form is simply wrong, so they cannot accept the misogynistic, homophobic aspects of Catholicism’.
The closing sentence of the SYNOD OF BISHOPS XIII ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY THE NEW EVANGELIZATI ON FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH (VATICAN CITY.2012) reads
‘May the words, “Do not be afraid!”, be the words of the new evangelization, by which the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, proclaims “to the ends of the earth”(Acts 1:8) Jesus Christ, the Gospel of God, so that everyone might have faith.’
Is there a fearless ‘holy terror’ among our bishops who can put aside ambition and display the moral courage necessary to take a lead in this regard?
New Evangelisation: Getting real.