Rorate Caeli

Homosexuality on the threshold of the Synod: Two Conferences in Rome.

by Sandro Magister
[from his Italian-only blog] Settimo Cielo

Homosexuality is per se outside of the topics of discussion at the Synod convened to discuss matters of the family.  But in fact it was present in a powerful way in the debates themselves.  According to the media hype, the dominant leanings in the Catholic world are for a radical change in the doctrine and practice of the Church, with the full acceptance of the practice of homosexuality and with the blessing of unions between persons of the same sex.

But there are also others who want to take a new path with respect to the pastoral ministry to homosexuals that is firmly based on Catholic doctrine.  Both these approaches will be represented in Rome in these feverish days before the Synod.

The first approach will have its moment in the sun on Saturday, October 3 at the international conference with the title “Ways of Love:  Snapshots of Catholic Encounters with LGBT Persons and their Families”.  The program in Italian, English and Spanish can be found at  LGBT is an acronym for Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual.  At this meeting in Rome, they explain, they will initiate “a global network of LGBTQI Catholics”, extending the acronym to include “queer” and intersexuals.  Their stated objective is “a Catholic Church in which the whole people of God—LGBT and heterosexual persons—can live, pray and offer their service together in harmony”. Speakers at the conference include Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, José Raúl Vera Lopez, Bishop of Saltillo in Mexico, himself a Dominican, the Jesuits Pedro Labrin from Chile and Pino Piva from Italy, the American Sister Jeannine Gramick and the Italian Sister Anna Maria Vitagliani, Martin Pendergast from England, Rungrote Tangsurakit, from Thailand, and also “a priest who works in Africa whose anonymity was requested by his superior”.

The second approach will be expounded on Friday, October 2, in a conference at the Angelicum, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.  In the morning session papers will be presented by Cardinal Robert Sarah and by Livio Melina, the president of the Pontifical Institute John Paul II for the study of marriage and family. The speakers at the afternoon session are Cardinal George Pell, the psychiatrist Paul McHugh of the Johns Hopkins Institute, Dr. Timothy Lock, and Jennifer Morse of the Ruth Institute.  Included in the morning session will be testimonies from three Catholic homosexuals each with his own different story: Rilene, David and Paul.

The meeting was organized by the San Francisco based publishing house, Ignatius Press, (, founded and directed by the Jesuit Joseph Fessio of the Napa Institute (, headed by the Jesuit Robert Spitzer, and by Courage International (, a Catholic organization headed by Father Paul Check and dedicated to the pastoral care of homosexual persons, which operates with the placet of the United States Conference of Bishops and the Pontifical Council for the family. The conference statement, program, profiles of the speakers and other information can be found at (

The presence of Cardinals Sarah and Pell at this conference leaves no doubt about the orientation of this conference and its opposition to the “openings” supported by the “Rainbow Catholics” at the other conference in Rome and the Synod fathers friendly to their way of thinking.

Father Check introduces the conference at the Angelicum in this way:

In the Gospel Jesus does not only bestow his compassion, but he also calls us to conversion, because he knows that we will be truly joyful and fully realized as persons only when we live in the way that God wanted us to live when he created us.  Many of today’s approaches to homosexuality do not include this fuller perspective of the human person.  They rather seem to limit themselves to an acceptance without recognizing the call of Jesus to conversion.  And they defend a “right” to sexual intimacy, but they do not acknowledge the plan of God with respect to  marriage to which Jesus himself refers to in Matthew 19.

[a Rorate translation]