Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ivone Gebara and Krzysztof Charamsa on Amoris Laetitia: "Ideological Propaganda of the 'Joy' of Love Which Is Heterosexual Only, and Which Insensitively Excludes All Others, Who Should Not Exist"

Two more very valuable pieces of commentary about the papal exhortation on the family Amoris Laetitia that I'd like to recommend to you this morning:

First, Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebara comments on the exhortation in an interview with João Vitor Santos at IHU On-Lin. At Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl helpfully offers an English translation of the original Portuguese: here are Ivone's brilliant framing remarks opening her analysis of Amoris Laetitia:

The direction of the exhortation is clear, though it deals with the family and Christian marriage. It addresses, in hierarchical order, the bishops, priests and deacons. It follows the same style of the letters, encyclicals and exhortations of previous popes. However, due to the subject, I had naively hoped that it would be addressed first to Catholic families, especially those who want to be, as far as possible, within a practice of following the papal guidelines. 
The fact that Pope Francis, wanting to be so close to poor people and reiterating various times that we need to go to the streets, listen to the poor, embrace their cause, has once again written or signed a document that is so vast and so inaccessible to the poor as well as to the common people, astounds me. This means that the poor who want to understand something of the document won't be able do so directly, but always through the interpretive mediation of bishops, priests, deacons, etc. We're faced anew with the problem of subtlety of religious powers and their ability to keep minds and hearts submissive to their claims, considered 'truths' according to God or according to the Bible. 
The much-vaunted personal and collective responsibility is reduced to words or rhetoric without significant efficacy in life. Also, once again, the Church appears as being first a celibate male hierarchy, a hierarchy that isn't constituted as a family according to the model indicated, but that criticizes behavior and defines life guidelines as if it were a master of the complex intricacies of human love. A malaise invades readers who were expecting simpler and more direct reflections that could help in the contemporary formation of consciences, respect for differences and collective responsibility.

And, secondat his Cris Charamsa blog site, Polish priest Krzysztof Charamsa, who formerly worked in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and who publicly came out as gay on the eve of the Synod on the Family, notes the duplicity of those who, like Cardinal Schönborn, are now trying to soft-sell the pastoral rigidity of the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, with the moral absolutisms promoted by those popes, which have done so much harm to so many people. As Krzysztof points out, we're now being told, in the wake of Amoris Laetitia, that the seeds for a merciful approach were always there in the rigid teaching about marital issues — well, the seeds for that merciful approach are there in the case of heterosexual Catholics, vis-a-vis the issues of divorce and contraception.

Vis-a-vis non-heterosexual Catholics, Krzysztof thinks that, some years down the road, we may see a similar Vatican song and dance as Vatican officials try to soft-sell the cruelty they have visited on LGBTQ people in the name of unyielding moral absolutes, right up to Amoris Laetitia itself. Krzysztof concludes,

Pope Francis allows himself to say that the Church has studied the reality [i.e., of homosexuality and gay lives], but this is simply not true. The Church has not consulted any human science, except for its own jokey homophobia within the walls of the Vatican maintained in sentiments of hatred but concealed for the world public in sugared words. That Church has compared itself only with the synodal Fathers and homophobic experts, incapable of examining objectively, calmly and without prejudices the current state of scientific knowledge. The Church has simply ignored the knowledge of reality, and in this way it has ignored homosexual persons. And so even Pope Francis has failed to live up to his promise: Before building or confirming ideas, confirm the reality ('Evangelii gaudium', but who still remembers the promises?). He has shut us in the blind alley of cold, rigid and unverified ideas about non-heterosexual persons, deprived of dignity and not even worthy of serious study, and he has imposed an ideological propaganda of the "joy" of love which is heterosexual only, and which insensitively excludes all others, who should not exist.

Some mercy. Some love. There really is no cruelty greater than pretending that people unlike us simply do not exist.

(Thanks to esteemed Bilgrimage reader Mark O'Meara for letting me know that Krzysztof Charamsa has recently uploaded to his blog site an English translation of his recent commentary [in Italian] on Amoris Laetitia). 

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