Priest group urges bishops to show more compassion to gay Catholics
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has written to bishops across the country asking them to strike up a conversation about the Church’s treatment of gay Catholics.
The ACP, which represents more than 1,000 Irish clergy, asked why the The church is “so cold and indifferent” and “so afraid” to welcome gay Catholics and why a “lack of knowledge and understanding” still informs “inappropriate sermons and comments”.
ACP spokesperson Father Tim Hazelwood said: “There is a tremendous degree of ignorance among the clergy on this subject because it is not being addressed within the church. Society and psychology have evolved, but the the church remained motionless. There is no merit in ignorance.
He called on bishops to take the initiative to listen to the stories of homosexuals and show their support, rather than saying nothing.
The parish priest of Killeagh-Inch in the diocese of Cloyne, Co Cork, said Independent.ie: “I have been a priest for almost 40 years and at no time during these years has the diocese ever invited a homosexual person to speak out on this issue.
“There is a lack of understanding around the issue and there needs to be a conversation about sensitive and respectful pastoral outreach to gay Catholics.
He said the CAP letter was drafted after the association’s comments received for his statement criticizing the decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to exclude all blessing for same-sex couples because “you cannot bless sin”.
“People told us about the pain and shame they felt when the church says negative things or does not speak out.
“All homosexuals hear in the the church is negative and it is a cause of shame. We think Pope Francis is trying to engage with homosexuals with respect and sensitivity, but in the Irish Church we don’t seem to hear that.
However, Father Hazelwood said part of the problem was that some groups within the The church was opposed to any softening of the church position on LGBT people.
“I received a huge amount of negative mail after our statement on the CDF document,” he said.
“Very negative stuff. These groups create a lot of fear and I think people think it’s easier to keep quiet.
But following the ACP position on the CDF document, there were also positive reactions from Catholic parents, including a mother in her sixties who wrote to the ACP telling them, “She was so happy that somebody else. ‘one in her the church said something positive and stood up for its son ”.
The ACP leader stressed that “growing up young people now know homosexuals from an early age and when they hear negative information from the church, they will not accept it ”.
“I think of the 700 young people who gave up their baptism in the diocese of Antwerp to protest against the CDF declaration on the blessing of same-sex unions. Young people won’t take it because you talk about their friends.