Two more takes on Amoris Laetitia that friends or readers of this blog have recommended to me: the first is by Catholic moral theologian Daniel Maguire at the Consortiumnews site:
Pope Francis too should be embarrassed by the significant failings in his Exhortation The Joy of Love. A fatal flaw in the text is that Francis is singing in an all-male chorus and in that company he embarks on marriage counseling, a field in which neither he nor they have any privileged expertise.
Laity were consulted in the preparation of this Exhortation but their voices are missing in the text, or filtered through the male chorus. Worse yet, Francis' theology is muddled, and unrepresentative of the best of current Catholic thought. To be fair, Francis admits from the start that what he says makes no claim to infallibility, a healthy admission since some of his mistakes are whoppers.
And then Maguire adds,
The document should have been called The Joy of Heterosexual Love. Is it that all LGBT persons are too "selfish, calculating and petty?" Are they so deficient in their humanity as to be incapable of this achievement of human love. Is the Pope suggesting in a new nasty way that all these persons are "queer" and "deviant." Is that why heterosexuals have seven sacraments but gays only have six since marriage is beyond their reach? That is theologically queer. Do we see here the old brutal prejudice wrapped in the language of love, pastoral concern, and pity?
Marriage by definition is the paramount form of committed friendship between sexually attracted persons. There is nothing heterosexual-specific in that definition.
Francis quotes the Christian scripture that "everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected." (1 Tim. 4:4) Does that not apply to those whom God has made gay?
The pope is wrong here. And he is cruel. He insults LGBT human beings who suffer enough in a heterosexist world. He says in the face of well-documented evidence that children cannot be well raised by same sex couple — there must be a father and a mother — and thus he insults those children with same sex parents and demeans the families in which they are thriving.
More distressing yet are the fawning, uncritical comments on this document from theologians and bishops. If they see Peter as the first pope could they not join Paul who said of Peter "I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong." That's called prophecy, not disloyalty.
And here's feminist scholar of religion Carol Christ from the Feminism and Religion site, noting the overweening emphasis Pope Francis places on patriarchal and heterosexist norms in the exhortation:
In focusing on individuals within the Church, the Pope chooses to ignore the on-going political impact of Church doctrines. As is well-known, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is working to deny all women and families access to birth control or abortion as part of the Affordable Care Act. In the United Nations, the Catholic Church continues to oppose family planning. The Church opposes gay marriage not just for Catholics–but for everyone. The Church’s impact on these issues is even greater in largely Roman Catholic countries.
In Poland a right-wing government supported by the Church has proposed a law outlawing and criminalizing abortion in all cases, with no exceptions for saving the life of the mother or allowing abortion in the case of rape or incest.
The "Holy Father" has failed to open a genuinely new discussion about the full humanity of women and LGBQT people in the Church. The challenges posed by these questions will require new theories of the authority of scripture and tradition. The Pope may fear that such an opening would undermine the notion of a hierarchical church and raise questions about the very notion of a "Holy Father." He would be right. Still, these questions cannot be avoided in the long term. In the meantime, many Catholics will continue to "vote with their feet." (Be sure to watch!)
The "Holy Father" has failed to open a genuinely new discussion about the full humanity of women and LGBQT people in the Church: that sounds very right to me. This document seeks to draw a smiley face on untenable (and, ultimately, cruel) teachings regarding the role of women and LGBTQ human beings in the world. It will be celebrated by true believers who choose to pretend that the price of their optimism is not being paid by some fellow human beings who do not deserve their denigration and exclusion.
Though this approach to questions about where women and LGBTQ human beings fit into the scheme of things may well carry the day for a little while longer, it will not continue to do so for very much longer — and those true believers will have to face the fact that they have not served the mission of the church they have defended well at all, when they have connected that mission to the denigration and exclusion of targeted others.