Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa to The Guardian — Pope Francis's View of Catholic Discussion of LGBT Issues and Lives: "This Is Not for This Moment"

Again, many thanks to all of you for your many valuable comments here that have gone unacknowledged as I've been traveling for several days. This morning, I want to share a link that Chris Morley kindly provided in a comment here yesterday. As he notes, The Guardian has just published an article by Stephanie Kirchgaessner about Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, the Polish priest and Vatican official who was expeditiously defrocked after he came of the closet as gay right before the synod on the family convened.

An excerpt from the article:

Speaking to the Guardian from Barcelona, Charamsa discusses his own journey to the moment when he made the life-altering decision to reveal his sexuality, despite the fact that he was part of a church that believes gay sex is a sin and that homosexuality is a "tendency". "I was sure [I was gay] all my life. From the first moment when a person realises his sexuality. For me it was clear and a source of suffering," he says. 
In his native Poland, Charamsa says the church was seen as a haven from communism, and a place where "freedom is possible". "So the church was this space where you can realise yourself and your nation and your desire for freedom. But at the same time, there are homophobic actions and mentality. [The church says] that to be gay is ill, that it is horrible, that it is something from hell, not from this world, something contrary to the nature and to God – and this is God who you love," he says.

Kirchgaessner reports that, while some friends urged Charamsa to remain in the closet while pursuing his relationship with his Catalan partner Eduardo Planas, after coming out first to himself and then to friends and family, he chose not to live a double life:

Too many priests, he says, fall into deep depression as they seek to grapple with double lives and suffer a sense of culpability. "I am not a paedophile. I am a healthy homosexual man. I am not a monster. I am not bestial. I am a minority, but I have my dignity and this must be approved by my church."

According to Kirchgaessner, Charamsa also decided to come out of the closet because he is convinced, after years of having worked in the Vatican, that "a real discussion of homosexuality," particularly in the Vatican and above all in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for which he worked, is simply not possible. She reports:

In 2013, the pope uttered his now-famous phrase "Who am I to judge" when he was asked about the existence of a "gay lobby" within the Vatican. Charamsa said it was "like a bomb for the Catholic mentality".
"My first reaction was 'fantastic'. This is the man who said marriage equality is demonic when he was archbishop … and when he became pope, he began thinking and talking in another perspective," he says. "For me, the phrase returned dignity to gay men, which is destroyed by the church."
But now Charamsa says the comment was merely a "slogan", because the church is "locked, in a paranoid position against the pope". "I think the pope has a practical mind. He has the perception that he has no collaborators. It's like in a government, where a ministry works against the prime minister. I think Pope Francis has also a conviction that he has opposition so great that this is not for this moment," he says. 
"We [in the church] are incapable of knowing one another. Of dialogue. It is like a mental dictatorship. I'm from Poland. I knew the communist system, it is irrational, without argument."

This is not for this moment: in my view, this is powerful and important testimony from a Vatican insider who knows whereof he speaks. In the minds of the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church, this is not the moment in which it's feasible or advisable to speak unambiguously, mercifully, or openly of the humanity of LGBT human beings.

This is, instead, the moment — a moment that has gone on for far too long now — to continue telling LGBT human beings to wait. Wait a while before we decide to treat you as human beings.

Wait a bit longer while we continue playing ugly, invidious, evil games with your human lives.

Those games work for us, after all, since we are given a free pass to play them by the media and, in particular, by "liberal" Catholics who show themselves continuously willing to put up with the gay-bashing as we offer empty promises of "progress" and "reform" to the world and to the members of our church. Why would we change what we have no incentive to change?

Until hell freezes over, it will never be the moment to discuss welcoming and affirming LGBT human beings, in the view of the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church.

This is what I hear Msgr. Charamsa reporting, as a Vatican insider. This is the mentality I hear him describing at the heart of the church.

I hear his statement, This is not for this moment, in fact, as sound advice to LGBT people to stop waiting for the Catholic church to offer any kind of welcome to them or any kind of affirmation of their humanity. That welcome is not in the cards for LGBT human beings, and the words of top Catholic pastoral officials like Cardinal Wuerl, a supporter of Pope Francis, about how the Catholic church proceeds from a position of respect for LGBT individuals, ring absolutely false when the list of LGBT employees fired by Catholic institutions in the U.S. in recent years, or removed from positions of ministry, or denied communion at the funerals of their mothers, keeps growing longer.

(Here's a list of names up to early 2013, which doesn't include many names that need to be added to the list from 2013 until now. If readers want to help me gather those names and links to their stories, I'll gladly update it now.)

The graphic is from the Flickr photo stream of Ade Oshineye, who has kindly made it available for sharing through Creative Commons.

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