My seminary was a Catholic Jesuit seminary, Loyola University in Chicago. I was a Catholic lay person at the time I attended in the early 90’s. The Institute of Pastoral Studies at the University awarded me full tuition scholarships and graduate assistantships for all three years of my MDiv program. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA, was the first student in the history of the degree program to do so, and was inducted into the National Jesuit Honor Society. I tell you all this my friends so that you may have a certain confidence that what I am about to remark is intimately familiar with the history, theology, polity, and canon law of the Roman Catholic Church.
Firstly, the recent Responsum released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith represents the conservative perspective within the Church but does not represent the full mind of the Church. Secondly, the theology informing the Responsum is based in Natural Law theory, a Medieval understanding of biology that views procreation as a primary good and evidence of Divine order in creation. Thirdly, anything that inhibits or does not advance human procreation is therefore deemed sinful. The overall argument is circular and focused on preserving patriarchal constructs of theology and polity.
Much like the Eames Commission’s Windsor Report (2004) in the Anglican Communion, the recent Responsum on blessing same sex union is more concerned about enforcing union within institutional relationships at the expense of union between LGBTQ people. The current organizational dynamic reflected in the Responsum is similar to what occurred between conservative and progressive leadership in the Anglican Communion almost twenty years ago, with formal statements serving as a public institutional dialog that revealed more about the nature of the institution than about the nature of Divine or human love.
My friends, God loves you. The times when this is perceived as a radical or threatening statement are the times when people of faith must join arms, not take them up. Your love for another person already has God’s blessing as the fulfillment of Divine law – your commitment and fidelity to another person is made sacramental by the presence of your mutual love, a love intended to remind us all of God’s love. Your tears of joy or sorrow bless you with a baptism that the Church can only ever hope to emulate.
You are God’s own Beloved. The Church will be transformed by that same love.