GENDER: BUT THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH HAS ALWAYS TAUGHT!


Welcome to the 2019 2020 lectures in
Catholic experience. special welcome to any of you who may be here at st.
Jerome’s University for the first time we’re happy that you could be with us
this evening and welcome back to so many faces as great to see you again I want
to begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional territory of the neutral
Anishinaabe and hoed nashoni people’s the university is situated on the
Haldeman tract the land promised to the Six Nations that includes ten kilometers
on each side of the Grand River we give thanks for the privilege to work and
live on this land and we are committed to building respectful relationships
with indigenous people and communities to enhance our knowledge and learn how
we can have an active role in reconciliation my name is Cristina
Vanina I am the vice president academic and dean interim here at st. Jerome’s
University and I’m here tonight actually on behalf of dr. David seljuq who is
coordinating this year’s lecture series I mean you’ll see him in November so
before we get started if you haven’t already done so please make sure that
your electronic devices are turned off as far as possible
that’s right thing to say put them on I don’t forget I don’t know what you’re
supposed to say these days I just say turn them off and as close to that as
you can go thank you last Saturday October the 12th Pope
Francis announced an event it’s going to take place in Rome next May on the theme
reinventing the Global Compact on education as you stated a few years ago
in his encyclical laudato see in this document and this call for this event
Pope Francis reiterates an invitation for dialogue among all people for a
rekindling of dedication for and with young people
and a renewal for a more open and inclusive education one that includes
patient listening constructive dialogue and better mutual understanding so in
this Kali says never before has there been such a need to unite our efforts in
broad educational alliance to form mature individuals capable of overcoming
division and antagonism and to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake
of a more fraternal humanity Francis recognizes that today’s world is facing
a variety of cultural and anthropological crises it’s an era of
rapid change that calls for an educational process that involves
everyone this dialogue and search for global agreement about an education that
integrates and respects all aspects of the person he says will need to unite
studies and everyday life teachers students and their families and civil
society in its intellectual scientific artistic athletic political business and
charitable dimensions that wonderful call for this event though raises a
question for me is there any connection between this wonderful call for global
dialogue and how we are going to shape the future of our planet and how the
Catholic Church develops its various statements and teachings about gender
and sexuality this evening we’re very fortunate to have dr. metres left at
Aaron with us to help us think critically about the meaning and
significance and background of documents such as the one published by the
Congregation for Catholic education last June on a gender Siri
dr. Tatar and his professor emeritus of religious studies here at st. Jerome’s
University he’s a married Ukrainian Grieco Grieco Catholic priest serving as
pastor of holy transfiguration parish in downtown Kitchener butter Tatar has
served as the vice president academic dean here at st. Jerome’s from 2005 to
2011 and during that term he also served as our interim president for one year
while here he has served as chair of the Religious Studies department as director
of the Center for Responsible citizenship with an important
contribution to our Beyond Borders program and he has taught and supervised
done our master of Catholic thought program dr. Tatar and holds a THD degree
in a master Divinity degree from the University of st. Michael’s College his
most recent work discovering Trinity and disability a theology for embracing
difference was co-authored with his wife Maria to conduct Aaron dr. Tatar has
authored many books and papers in the history of the Ukrainian Greco Catholic
Church in Canada and on topics in Eastern Christian theology please join
me in welcoming dr. Muir sought to turn to speak to us in the topic gender but
that’s what the church is always taught thank you very much Christina and thank
you to David as well house Iran for the invitation thank you all for coming this
evening religion sexuality maybe even politics
what a land mind I have agreed to step into well first of all let’s imagine
this as the topic of a Catholic public lecture twenty or thirty years ago we
can’t because it wasn’t happening that’s not to say that it should not have but
it underlines how new the confluence of questions and issues is in the
consciousness of mainstream society never mind in the consciousness of the
church hierarchy we’re not entering onto a path well trodden but as a path we can
and must walk down the imperative comes from one of the most important documents
in the life of the church in memory I speak of course of gaudium it’s best
Vatican’s whose pastoral Constitution on the church in the modern world
promulgated in 1965 just a note here I’ve been I’m citing the katha the
Vatican documents I’m using the official translations so unfortunately the
language is not inclusive but I do so in order that we be aware of the challenges
that still face the church very simply that document states in no uncertain
terms that the follower of Christ cannot but be engaged with the world with quote
the joys and hopes the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age
especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted nothing genuinely human
fails to raise an echo in their hearts but as we engage this process it’s also
important to acknowledge someone who was called quote the invisible presence at
Vatican 2 he was called that by Pope Paul the sixth someone who just this
past Sunday was proclaimed a saint of the universal church and who according
to our own Cardinal Marvelettes should be recognized as a doctor of the
church I speak here of John Henry Newman Newman deservedly is credited with
enunciated a critical but often denied truth about the church’s teaching the
Church’s teaching develops I cite Cardinal Willits thus although the the
positive faith does not change the church’s knowledge of it progresses
deepens and is expressed in a new way always faithful to the original idea
history demonstrates that this deepening is fundamental to the character of the
church but that doesn’t happen automatically it
involves a process the International theological Commission has stated quote
a criterion of Catholic theology is that it should be inconsistent constant
dialogue with the world it should help the church to read the signs of the
times illuminated by the light that comes from divine revelation and to
profit from doing so in its life and mission and quote more recently Pope
Francis reminded us if there is one word that we should never tire of repeating
it is this dialogue we are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every
possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society the culture of
dialogue entails a true apprenticeship and a discipline that enables us to view
others as valid dialogue partners to respect the foreigner the immigrant and
people from different cultures as worthy of being listened to today we urgently
need to engage all members of society in building a culture which privileges
dialogue as a form of encounter and in creating a means for building consensus
and agreement while seeking the goal of a just responsive and inclusive society that’s the need to engage with the
modern world with its issues and questions awareness of our imperative to
continue deepen our understanding of God’s revelation and a commitment to a
process of dialogue form the basis of our inquiry this evening this past June
dr. Vernon has mentioned the Congregation for Catholic education
published a document entitled male and female he created them the document
immediately sets out the context and burning questions as perceived by the
congregation the document speaks of an educational crisis described in his
second paragraph quote the context in which the mission of education is
carried out is characterized by challenges emerging from various forms
of an ideology that has given the general name gender theory which denies
the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and woman and envisages a
society without sexual differences thereby eliminating the anthropological
basis of the family end quote now what may or may not agree the
questions raised by gender theory constitute a crisis in education but I
think we can all agree that the church needs to become a participant in the
debates produced by the various forms of gender theory the document is a voice in
the contemporary dialogue but a voice aimed at assisting the members of the
church by both inviting us to engage the question and providing guidance of that
voice find that in that process however it is very important that we recognize
the nature of the voice the documents full title states the following towards
a path of dialogue on the question of gender theory and education the process
laid out for this dialogue relies on quote three guiding principles seen as
best suited to meet the needs of both individuals and communities to listen to
reason and to propose although the document then goes on to present the
congregation’s understanding of gender to the new theory via this process it
does not bring the discussion of gender theory to an authoritative conclusion in
fact quote the Christian educational proposal fosters deeper dialogue true to
its objective to promote the realization of men and women through the development
of all their being incarnate spirits and of the gifts of nature and of grace by
which they are enriched by God and mode therefore my purpose this evening is to
enhance our common understanding of how we are to engage in this deeper dialogue
in order to better serve our Christian mission to bring joy and hope to the
world clearly the question of gender theory
and the manner in which the church approaches such questions takes us into
the realm of moral theology so I immediately provide a disclaimer I am
NOT a moral theologian rather my approach is that of a systematic
theologian deeply imbued with a sense of the need to understand the history of
the development of the Church’s teaching earlier I noted the contribution of
Newman affirmed by Cardinal will adds in opening the church to see itself engage
in the process of the development of doctrine a process which initially
related to how over the ages the entire church formulates struggles with and
often reformulates its fundamental truths not because the truth changes but
because historical moment cultural context linguistic necessities all
affect the reception of truth as a result the truth needs to be
reformulated in order for it to be understood for example in 325 the
Council of Nicaea established the truth that the Sun is khamoshi us with the
father that is Jesus the Son of God is divine
although the implication of that truth was that the human being Jesus of
Nazareth was both human and divine it became necessary a century later for the
Council of Cal Seton to establish the formula which spoke of Jesus as fully
human and fully divine in one divine person those words continued to this day
as the binding formula of our Christian faith yet in explaining the formula we
instructors must always remind the listener that although we use this word
person we don’t exactly mean it in the manner of our current psychological
understanding of personhood additionally although the formula is perceived by
most Christians as binding there are Christians whose predecessors did not
accept the Council of calcium and therefore rejected the formula we on
this side of the argument used to call them heretics of course they used to
call us heretics as well men but today after much dialogue those who accept Cal
Seton and those who reject it agree that we all hold to the same truths about the
person of Jesus Christ we have I believe over the past 50 years
become comfortable with this understanding of development or
deepening a fundamental Christian teaching but does this apply to moral
teaching can something have been clearly a mortal sin in one age and not so
sinful in another age can the Church’s teaching on sex sexual relationship
gender change before it’s tempting to answer the questions I think it
important that we understand that the source of Catholic moral teaching is not
and has never been singular in fact quote Catholic moral theology accepts a
quadrilateral of sources of moral knowledge scripture tradition reason and
experience and potent developing moral teaching is therefore complex and
ongoing given that human experience varies and understanding of tradition is
not homogeneous in fact as the church opens itself to hear more voices the
development of moral teaching becomes more and more complex it is imperative
to remember that quote in a church that is a communion of believers the
resolution of different controls of experience to arrive at moral truth
requires an open respectful charitable and prayerful dialogue such as that
lauded and rhetorically embraced by Pope John Paul the second and quote
thus it should not surprise that when we look at the history of the church we
actually do see major shifts in moral teaching there are four significant
instances in church history that demonstrate this capacity of the church
to change its moral teaching I speak here of the teaching on usury accepting
interest on a loan slavery marriage and freedom of
conscience although no formal teaching has been declared on this matter yet I
would add the church is changing its understanding of the nature of male and
female in fact I would argue the underlying question really is a question
of theological anthropology how do we understand our humaneness but given all
the talk in the election about economics let’s start with your work with our
wallets usury usury was the practice of receiving a benefit interest from
loaning money to someone a common and generally benign practice today however
in the early church the practice was condemned at all levels of the church
widely seen as a form of oppression of the poor the condemnation of usury
became so ingrained in church teaching than in the 12th century Pope Alexander
the 3rd proclaimed it a sin that even a Pope could not forgive then in the 14th
century the Council of en went as far as declaring quote if anyone should fall
into that error of her tenaciously persisting to affirm that interest
taking is not a sin we declare he should be punished as a heretic end quote
so if you’re working at a bank clearly taking interest on a loan was not
regarded as a trivial matter it was a grave offense evoking the most extreme
punishment nonetheless if any of you have offered someone alone and accepted
interest payments I don’t think he or the church believed yourselves guilty of
a heinous offense what changed business gradually as forms
of Commerce in Western Europe shifted and first limited interest and then less
restrictive interest payments became the norm the church grew slowly more and
more silent on the issue I quote John Noonan here the customs of the business
community were powerful support for any approach that permitted moderate profit
from the extension of credit between 1450 and 1750 the rules changed so only
the simulacrum of the prohibition remained even though papal Authority was
unwilling to admit as much until the 19th century when confessors were
instructed by Rome as to penitence asking about usury do not disturb them
sounds like early evidence of don’t-ask don’t-tell but more importantly it is
evidence of the church deepening its understanding after reflecting on the
actual lived experience of the faithful now we turn to a practice that was
completely acceptable even by New Testament writers but today is
unequivocally abhorrent slavery for biblical authors quote slaveholding as
an institution is presented as divinely sanctioned and quotable the only early
Christian writer that we know of who explicitly condemn slavery was gregory
of nyssa one of my favorite scenes by the way it must be noted however that
being a slave did not exclude one from being a member of the church ostensibly
in God’s eyes a slave was equal to his or her master but in human eyes worthy
of subjugation Pope’s possessed slaves Pope’s bought and sold slaves popes even
gave slaves as gifts even the exceptional case of the 16th
century Dominican bottle made las casas who explicitly condemned the holding of
indigenous Emmer Indians as Spanish slaves and suffered greatly for its
demonstrates how difficult it was for faithful people to free themselves of
this cultural blindness again Noonan las Casas cannot be called an abolitionist
because he did not believe in abolition he accepted the institution of slavery
he helped bring blacks as slaves to the Indies and he worked more strenuously
against slavery than anyone who preceded him
no abolitionist when abolitionists appeared centuries later confronted the
concrete evils of a slaveholding society with more passion and courage so a moral
challenge that seemed Sisyphean he brought what was essential to his task
experience empathy energy and endurance he put himself in the place of the
oppressed in the history of thought on slavery Kalaa scott de las casas towers
over other men of his era and most other men today as recently as the 19th century pope leo
xiii who himself sanctioned an annual collection to assist the work of
abolitionists defended those christians who held slaves because they were more
generous and gentle than non-believers who did not recognize the fundamental
equality of all human beings even as recently as the code of canon
law published in 1917 it did not suggest that holding slaves was sinful but did
implicitly admit the validity of the institutions force when it stated that a
marriage was invalid if contracted between a free person and a slave who
had not received permission of the master the first categorical
condemnation of slavery by the official church occurred in my lifetime at
Vatican 2 when in gaudium it’s past slavery was included in a list of
actions shameful and offensive to human dignity in 1992 the Catechism of the
Catholic Church listed slavery as a sin against the seventh commandment finally
in quote the Magisterium came into harmony with the thinking of the body of
a faithful and quote by the end of the twentieth century church teaching had
caught up to the practice of the overwhelming majority of the church
which had been imposing slavery in some cases for over a hundred years there’s
no doubt that also marriage is one of the institution’s most vigorously
defended by the church over the centuries
yes we must not mistake defense of the institution for an unchanging teaching
first of all without denying its sacramental character it’s important to
remember that initially Christians took part in marriage to the same ritual that
Roman citizens would have done the first suggestion of a Christian
aspects of marriage comes from Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the
second century he suggests in the matter of it would be nice that it’s right for
men and women who marry to be united with the consent of a bishop but we have
to wait until the latter quarter of the century to learn more when sort Elian in
North Africa speaks of the need to actually see the permission of a bishop
to contract a marriage however the actual ritual that a couple engage in is
the same as that of non-christians unique Christian marriage rituals seem
to be a product of the fourth century in Western Europe and the only gradually
developed in other areas and North South Africa specifically North Africa is
important of course because that’s where the ship a Gustin of Hippo lived
Augustine of Hippo for one seemed to focus his attention more on the nature
of marriage contract than on the ritual Augustine referred on numerous occasions
to the reading and signing of a marriage contract
he said because they were signed by a bishop the taboo diametre when the
Alistair document itself indicated that the covenant between the couple was
being accorded ecclesia recognition but while these documents themselves were
largely secular dealing with matters of dowry and inheritance they were of great
significance for Agustin because they contained the phrase quote for the sake
of producing children and motive the documents served to define the essential
purpose of sex and marriage for Augustine and he hoped for his
congregation the similarity between the marriage contracts and other forms of
property agreements suggested to Agustin that the relationship between husband
and wife could be understood in similarly proprietary
terms the husband and was to be considered the dominoes and the wifely
inshallah ancillary Augustine’s concern about the ends of
marriage became pre-eminently significant in the development of a
theology of marriage and also of our understanding of a male-female binary
more on that later with the expansion of the church’s claim over marriage which
resulted in its becoming a sacrament and thus of divine institution over time a
significant challenge arose can marriages be dissolved the answer was
developed over the course of the 12th century when the church claimed the
right to dissolve a marriage in particular circumstances this came to be
called the Pauline privilege a person who is baptized after their marriage may
have their marriage with an unbaptized person dissolved should the unbaptized
partner so wish or be antagonist ik to the others christian faith significantly
this principle is based not on a divine statement but on a reading of saint paul
in his letter to the corinthians chapter 7 verses 12 to 15
an excerpt which he begins with important words I say I and not the Lord
from our perspective Paul’s words provide an exception to the norms of a
divine institution not because of a claim of the Lord’s words but because of
his judgment an expansion of this practice developed in the 16th century
faced with the issue of polygamy and missionary lands the papacy expanded its
understanding of the right of the solubility to include cases where
marriages of non baptized persons could be dissolved since the marriage was not
sacramental and thus the dissolution would allow one of the parties to marry
a baptized Catholic in a Catholic Church quote now it appeared that what was
intrinsically indissoluble might be dissolvable extrinsically that is by the
application of a superior power and Boden the expansion of papal power from
a focus on teaching in the first millennium to a firm hand on governance
in the second millennium provided the support for the papal office to defend
the truth of marriage as being made by divine institution yet at the same time
des soluble by the pastoral prerogative of the church change did not stop there
though I said earlier that a Gustin was unequivocal in his assertion that
procreation was the sole true end of a Christian marriage in fact this concept
predated him mediated Christianity it’s rooted in the Roman understanding of
natural law for centuries though for Christians the focus of the teaching on
marriage was the biological act involving the belief that the male was
the active principle providing the sperm and the woman the passive principle
providing the womb the socially restrictive role of women
was considered to be embedded in biology this approach identified quote the moral
and human act with the physical or biological aspect of the act in light of Vatican twos broader
understanding of the human person and morality debates arose as to whether it
was adequate to simply focus on or was called at the intrinsic end that is
procreation the 1983 revision of the code of canon law encapsulated the
result of those debates when in its canon 1055 number one it’s stated quote
the marriage covenant by which a man and a woman established themselves a
partnership of their whole life and which of its own very nature is ordered
to the well-being of the spouse’s and the creation and upbringing of children
has between the baptised been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of
sacraments we’ve added a new end the well-being of the spouses
the concluding statement of the Synod on the family moves in this direction when
it asserts quotas the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for
life but to love one another for life and both love joy happiness the unitive
aspect of marriage is given new prominence in the church’s formal
proclamations once more teaching was more directly reflecting the lived
experience of the faithful it should not surprise then that there
continued to be discussions are on the nature of marriage the role of
procreation and of course the question of marriages which are de facto dissolve
but not dee-uring not in law the final example of change
in the church’s teaching and moral issues is the one which I believe will
most impact our contemporary discussions on sexuality and gender development it
is also the teaching which I suggest we as church are only slowly and arduously
coming to terms with it is many authors say the biggest surprise of vatican ii
and contained within the final document promulgated the council on the second
last day of the council i speak of the declaration and religious freedom in its
second paragraph the document declares quote the human person has a right to
religious freedom this freedom means that all men are to be immune from
coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power
in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to their own
beliefs whether privately or publicly whether alone or in association with
others within due limits the council further declares that the right to
religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as
this dignity is known through the revealed Word of God and by reason
itself in quote now compare this to the statement of
Pope Gregory xvi a little over a hundred years ago or earlier 300 years earlier
the council who condemned quote this absurd and erroneous teaching or rather
that folly that is necessary to assure and guarantee to whomever it may be
Liberty of conscience and put or more recently Pope Leo their teens
although correctly is seen as a significant figure in the development of
Catholic social teaching had an understanding of the human person which
would seem foreign today quote and he did not advocate freedom
equality participation in fact he denied all three Leo strongly condemned modern
liberalism in his encyclicals freedom of worship he felt goes against the chief
and holiest duty that calls for worship of the one true God in the one true
church freedom of speech and the press mean that nothing will be sacred we will
recognize the basic equality of human beings with regard to origin value an
end but there are differences in abilities and powers of mind and body
that call for inequalities in the institutions of civil life the natural
inequalities of the family Beauty intelligence thought and courage
involves social inequalities that are essential to the good functioning of
society and bully the final document of Vatican 2
overturns this fundamental position held by church leaders for centuries and
recognized the human person as an autonomous responsible and free human
agent the church’s teaching now had to deal with quote the moral person who is
both a subject and agent by our actions we make ourselves the kind of persons we
are invoke the moral life could no longer be defined in terms of minimal
requirements it is now presented as a response to the gift of love that God
has first showed us but freedom has a price the moral person
only comes to know the past forward by developing and informed conscience in
make in other words it’s not that freedom of conscience means that
individuals make their judgments in complete isolation from all external
factors but rather that each is responsible to engage earnestly in the
process of moral judging and that involves reflection on the four factors
mentioned earlier scripture tradition reason and experience we can now turn to
the question of the Church’s teaching on the nature of male and female and then
by logical consequence speaks to the document male and female he created them
and the question of gender theory a first official Church teaching
recognizes that the questions created by contemporary understandings of the human
person human sexuality and gender theory presented a new challenges to the church
many see the challenge in terms of a church which never changes its basic
moral teaching I hope that by now I have dissuaded you of that myth nevertheless
there is a challenge but the challenge is created by the wholesale shift that
has happened in many societies and thus cultures in the world the church today
is reformulating certain fundamental aspects of its theological anthropology
what does it mean to be human if we’re created in the image and likeness of God
where do we see that image the fact that European and North
American societies are much less homogeneous than they were as recently
as the middle of the 20th century means previously ignored understandings of
humanity are being revealed and valued the church has become more aware of
itself as a global church and so is opening to the voices of the many
peoples of the world we’re effusive about the good work of
attic entomb but perhaps we forget that the work manifests the grace of the Holy
Spirit how well think about it the council was dominated overwhelmingly
by white and European men only the power of the Holy Spirit can explain how they
were able to escape their own enculturated ideologies
today is faithful Christians we participate in the development of the
Church’s teaching on human sexuality because amidst all the changes described
we are finally hearing the voice of persons whose very humanity had often
been denied heterosexual women lesbian gay bisexual transgender and queer
persons I’ve already mentioned how historically the Church’s teaching
reflected a specific understanding of humanity in terms of a sexual binary
male/female that’s it I don’t need to revisit how that binary
has played out in terms of social roles for men and women and specifically in
terms of often akley’s Aliyah proved denigration of women christianity
uncritically inherited a gender essentialism from greek philosophy which
at times led to a not just anti-woman sentiment but also views which denied
that a female carried the image of God this view was overcome in the 20th
century to a great extent for Catholics by the reflection of pope john paul ii
and his theology of the body although holding on to the male-female binary
well rather than describing these differences as evidence that women are
less godlike than men john paul ii describes these same differences as
evidence that men and women have different but equal and compatible gifts
and together as man and woman image god and both
aside from the limits of this approach in that it so emphasizes the male-female
relationship and its function of procreation and does not go beyond
biological determinism in our expression of divine image John Paul the seconds
approach is challenged by the evidence of contemporary science
breanne Jacob observes but to be a woman or man is not an ontological reality but
a series of historical constructions which give real social meanings to our
bodies moreover it is a social construction with a flawed biological
basis there is no biological binary there are women born without a uterus
without ovaries or vaginal muscles women with genetic disorders that veer from
the usual xx chromosome placement many people are born with ambiguous
genitalia secondary sexual characteristics are even more assorted
in married women have hysterectomies and mastectomy z’ many women may have a few
things in common when it comes to essentialist proposition no.1
characteristic or property is shared among all members of the group
identified as male or female while there may be difference there is no basis for
a biological binary and gold Jonathan Heep and Neil Ormerod remind us
of what seems often forgotten in the church documents on sexual questions
vote human beings are not reducible to
biology and quote but if we deny the binary are we destined to simply say
that gender is completely definable by each individual but is this not just
another form of gender essentialism the work of Heep and our Ormerod can be of
assistance they propose an alternative to viewing
the question in terms of essentialism and recognize the scientific evidence
whoa alternative gender and sexual identities
should be expected and expected as the normal outcome of an inherently
statistical process in other words for example quote it is normal for over time
some small proportion of infants to be born intersex in some fashion or other
the normativity of a predominating gender duality is not biologically
speaking absolutely say so what historically has often been
viewed as aberrant forms of human sexuality should rather be seen as forms
of human existence which are statistically to be expected
however quoting them again societies decide whether or not to consider
persons with alternative senses of their own gender and/or sexual orientation to
be persons at all and whether or not their lives matter
moreover they make these decisions under the operative but not often explicit
constraint of statistical heteronormativity now words the dominant
group are heterosexual and although I would not suggest that this is a
perspective which Pope Francis holds for his teachings reflect the earlier view
of gender cum complementarity I would say that the position enunciated by heap
and Ormerod calls for a much more inclusive pastoral approach to all
persons as evident in the actions of Pope Francis here too they can be
helpful for they remind us that cultural meanings and social realities do not
develop at the same pace rather than seeing the church as somehow living in
the past they observe that quote traditionally dominant Western cultural
understandings of gender identity and sexual orientation have largely remained
in place while social organization has undergone a major renegotiation and
quote nonetheless along with others the church
needs to quote take cognizance of and responsibility for the ways in which the
constraints of statistical heteronormativity is likely to dominate
unreflective culture making if we are right they say that alternative gender
and sexual identities are marginal and normal at the same time and moreover
that the people embodying them are normally going to be a part of all
cultural communities even if always in marginal numbers then there seems
implied immoral opportunity to intensively intelligently
reasonably responsibly and with God’s help lovingly generates social and
cultural structures and rules that touch on gender and sexuality directly and the
place of gender and sexuality in our communities and Bolden I think that we
can now turn to another fundamental social teaching of the church the need
to place the marginalized at the center of our theological reflection
recognizing the limits of the traditional male-female binary
understanding Heep and Ormrod notion of the sista tist achill probability of
alternative gender identities and the implications of statistical
heteronormativity we must I believe as a community of
faith admit our failings which have inflicted violence on those whose
existence has been devalued here I agree again with Brianne Jacobs who asserts
quote because of the violent history of heterosexual masculinity and femininity
the propagation of these ideals does not allow us to be free or freely give
ourselves to each other and to God in order to give ourselves as free gift to
each other into God we must recognize complicity in the violence this binary
has created we must recognize the ways in which we each benefit from the
histories that violently police masculinity and femininity across the
multitude of racial and economic intersections we what makes us human
what makes us free can never be that which has enslaved others those who are
complicit must cry to God for freedom for all in both although a controversial step I believe
a step nonetheless was made in this direction in the interim report on the
action or extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family in 2014
in that interim report we read homosexuals have gifts and qualities to
offer the Christian community are we capable of welcoming these people
guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities often they wish to
encounter a church that offers them a welcoming place welcoming home our our
community is capable of providing that accepting and valuing their sexual
orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and
merit matrimony and put it is clear that we’re not there yet but I think that we
are in the midst of some profound and positive changes no consolation to those
who suffer on the margins but an important observation in order for us
all to decide whether we continue to be open to the spirit and become better
witnesses of God’s gift of faith or as Pope Paul Pope Francis has said and we
quote spend our days content that this is the way things have always been done
then the gift vanishes smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending
the status quo and both before I close I’d simply like to offer a few cursory
comments about the Vatican document with which we began the document reflects a
fear over the implications of something which the authors do not fully
understand we don’t fully understand it hopes to be a dialogical document yet it
shows no evidence of giving voice to those persons most affected by its focus
those students who are struggling with questions of gender identity it
homogenizes various perspectives on gender under the umbrella of gender
ideology without clarifying what specific forms of gender theory are
under consideration it reflects a point in a process not the end of the process but it also concludes with the most
significant reminder to all quote every school should therefore make sure it is
an environment of trust calmness and openness particularly particularly where
there are cases that require time and careful discernment it is essential that
the right conditions are created to provide a patient and understanding ear
far removed from any unjust discrimination and quoting what is
unfortunately often forgotten amidst the rather heated debates on these questions
is that the primary mission of the church is one of reflecting divine
compassion and solicitude bringing joy and hope to the world involves nothing
less than above all living the love we receive from the one who loves us all
Rianne Jacobs reminds us quote the ultimate fulfillment of the human person
is not according to procreation with a sexual binary it is love love of one’s
in but embodied self in defiance of histories that shaman’s
love of one’s embodied self that is not based on violence to others when we
appreciate the value of our bodies along a binary maintained through violence we
are not free when we love our bodies for what makes us holy what makes us like
God then as Copeland suggests we will be free this performative an acceptance of
the body reshapes history making us able to reach our full dignity as a gift to
one another and to God thank you so we have time for some conversation
and questions we have two people with microphones and if you could be patient
we’d like to record and hear the questions so feel free and I’ll let
Miroslav monitor I can’t believe it is personally I’d just like to thank you
I’m a high school chaplain and you almost brought me to tears frankly
because we’ve we have students that the words are like burned into my mind we
had a meeting at one point and it was these were students that you know were
either identified as as homosexual gay questioning transgendered and the
statement was the church hates us my god if that’s if that is how you feel
about our church and our unity of love we’re doing something wrong and to try
to and and be as sister Helen Prejean says the face of Christ or each other
we can’t put up those walls and we can’t say you can come in because you fit
certain parameters and you are left on the outside because you do not or you
don’t even know what your parameters are these students they live a very
challenging life I think if you wanted attention there are easier ways of
getting it it’s it’s it’s it’s just painful to sometimes watch their
experience and over the years too see them try to find out who they are
and know they’re loved and and lovable so thank you I needed to hear these
words today and I’ve got your book so I’m going to read it
but I think we do it’s not they’re not easy questions and they’re not easy
answers and I don’t pretend to know them just know the individuals and they don’t
recognize the dignity be or they’re not used to having people condemn them for
carrying it the challenge is that they can’t they have so thank you very much
thank you thank you I I needed to hear this too I’m a graduate
student at Wilfrid Laurier University and my major research paper yet to be
actually firmed up but it’s around the topic of does organized religion foster
or hinder the self-actualization of the individual it’s a really big thing and I
have to really narrow it down but my lived experience as a Roman Catholic I
was stuck in in thinking that there’s no way that the Catholic Church can
contribute in a healthy way to the self-actualization of every type of
individual but you’ve given me hope today in the thought of evolution its
evolving and I guess the question is will it evolve fast enough well before
something through the whole process of globalization and the individualization
of religion kind of renders it into a cultural relic or will it we all will
change and evolution happen fast enough of course I know the answer that
question I’ll answer in two ways no and yes no because it is if you talk
about the pain of people it’s not fast enough
what is it hopes of snow and I think it’s part of hopefully what you got from
this evening is is you know often times you don’t see the church changing but
it’s happening it’s happening and and and I think the more we as members of
the church recognize how it has happened in the past can push it to keep
happening now now I say that you know not not saying all change is good no I
don’t think any of us would say that but I’m saying that from the sense of I mean
that that’s the biggest gift of Vatican to I think is this gift of affirming our
conscience of affirming our of our right – OH – to say this is what I come to
come to in good conscience and and we can’t be afraid of that but we’ve got to
do it in good conscience right right we’ve got to do we got a it’s not just
about saying it’s about recognizing who we are in the face of that that God who
loves us and how we respond to that but the change is happening and and and it’s
not just the change that’s happening I mean that’s why I’m still I remember the
church the Holy Spirit is working in the church sometimes we’re the biggest block
but thank you for this presentation I hope
this isn’t too tangental but I don’t like I think I want to open a dialogue
with you about this whole usery thing being benign you know yuzuriha is really
it’s a fundamental part of capitalism and parts of capitalism are certainly
under scrutiny because it’s leading us perhaps to the whole death of the planet
you know so and and yeah so that we’re well I like to think of those other
three areas as places where the church has progressed and gotten close to the
truth I’m not so sure about you Zuri and my only comment is that was I’m saying
generally disregarded as benign nowadays I’m not I’m sure they’re huge problems so I was a youth group leader at my
church up until I was divorced and came out at which point I was told my morals
no longer aligned with those of the church at which point the students who I
taught as I am a grade 1 to Catholic educator they looked at those in charge
and said this is ridiculous so I’ve now got 14 to 16 17 year-old
kids looking at the church saying what’s wrong with this place
you have taught us since we were 6 7 years old you’ve been a part of the
church and part of this school for 15 years as a married heterosexual woman
what’s changed so I guess my question is how do we open this this dialogue for
those people who are so unwilling and so critical of these changes that are
happening when they’re not only affecting the adults in the church but
those up and comers who aren’t seeing any give as far as as the those in
charge are concerned we’re so sorry to hear about your experience how do we do
the dialogue well this is part of it engage I mean how does it and how does
the church change it changes because we started talking we started talking about
it we start asking ourselves the questions of do I really understand
right I have I have I formulated my opinions
based on enculturated norms based on misunderstandings or I really reflected
to calls on each of us to do that and then it calls each of us to listen to
your voice so listen to your PO to listen to everyone’s voice and and to
honestly say to ourselves we need to listen you know we just we need to
listen and and and I do believe that the Holy Spirit is active and that listening
will be fruitful but there are some people who just are not gonna listen I’m
they just aren’t and I can you know thank you
absolutely absolutely yeah yeah how powerless can you get right but really
absolutely yeah yeah yeah Behrman there’s a there in the Eastern Christian
tradition there’s this wonderful holiness it’s the whole it’s called holy
stubbornness so stubbornness isn’t always bad I just
like to say thank you very much for your talk you spoke about homosexuality we
have to be accepted for who we are and what we are you could put 10 years ago I
attempted suicide because of my lifestyle and I’ve come to know that
people who support me and my sexuality is that’s who I am
I think the Catholic Church has to change because homosexuality’s are human
beings and we’re loved by God and we created by God and it’s it was a
frightening experience for me but thanks be to God I’m here today and I have a
lot of people to support me in my lifestyle thank you very much for your
talk thank you thank you if I if I could just use what you just said for those of
us who want those who who Artin perhaps maybe we were heterosexual names to play
the best way to put it what you said is really important for
people to hear and and I’m coming from it from the experience of wired
experience of having two children with disabilities
what sorry for say putting it this way but I’m gonna suggesting you didn’t try
to commit suicide because of your lifestyle you tried to commit suicide
because of the way we treated you and we need to remember that thank you you know its loved one of the things
that I found very hopeful in your illustrations of the first four examples
is it’s a change it’s hopeful and but and discouraging at
the same time the changes happened very slowly and those who were more open to
the change early on ended up in demmed anathema and so I I think what’s hopeful
in what you’re saying tonight for me is to be part of the voices of the larger
society of the culture so that there will come a point that the spirit moves
the church to act I follow him a Jesuit that some people may know father Jim
Martin Jesuit out of the United States and he published a book a couple of
years ago about building bridges and it was about building bridges between LGBT
athletes and Catholic parishes and if you’ve ever read any of the vitriol of
the trolls respond and have condemned and he’s remained faithful to that and
so I think it’s what you’ve said tonight is encouraging and hopeful but
discouraging at the same time in that it’s going to take time as these as
these changes that as they’ve taken centuries I am hopeful though that
because of the way communication works nowadays it won’t take as long thankfully I mean we do have a pope
who’s acting in ways which we would never have imagined 50 years ago we
really do and and it’s affecting the church you know sure that that interim
document there the interim report of the family that became controversial that
comment and they’re all you know the stuff said in that but it
still was there isn’t it’s in writing I can quote it right we can’t we can we
can actually mean start turning to some of these documents and actually saying
this is what what formal authoritative Offices of the church have said which
are different than what used might think we’re different from what we thought
fifty years ago or so to set fifty years ago
so it’s more I think I think I think we need ya could
you get the last slide up so we can see her quote go this way that one it’s that
one is it yes it’s that what happened to fine one too many unfortunately we
haven’t been able to see what you were quoting from because your slides weren’t
synced with your voice so we were sort of when you said quote unquote we didn’t
know I didn’t have all the quotations yeah so I wanted to see this last one
the performative acceptance of the body reshapes history making us able to reach
our full dignity as gift to one another and to God I don’t think Breanna’s
talking only about people who are not in that that centerpiece of most and I
don’t think she’s talking only about the people who are on the fringes of the
statistical I think she’s talking about the whole spectrum if I can use that
mathematical physical very so my question is as we involve ourselves in
this dialogue how do we within the dialogue behave in a dignified way and our lowing way what’s what’s our cue
what’s our what’s our how do you see it happening so we can talk to each other
but lightly if nothing more than lightly well it’s might sound to strike them I
think we all need to do a good examination of conscience
the grill needs to really I guess mention that earlier ask ourselves like
sorry I think we all need to do a good examination of conscience ask ourselves
where our where our perspectives have come from what are they reflecting are
they really reflecting our own belief in the gospel
what is the gospel the gospel is about death and resurrection of Christ that
gospel is about the heart the reality that love God’s love comes into us and
is revealed in and through us and so for me the challenge is doing that with the
person who seems stuck in wherever there in lies my challenge
yeah absolutely sometimes we have to just say gotta go
somewhere else any bells just a small reflection on what’s going
on in the call to dialogue so back when I finished University a long time ago as
you can tell from the color of my hair and I grew up in a very Irish Catholic
community in Newfoundland and going through I made friends and was
eventually roommate while I was in university with a very close friend of
mine stay close all my life we’re we’re very close and very strong friends still
he also grew up in a very Irish Catholic community about 100 kilometres away from
where I grew up and as we finished University I remember that as a
conversation he says I and I had to tell you something and he was afraid and he
said I’m gay and it left me with at that moment I
remembered a decision because I had a pretty buying a very straightforward
view of the whole thing but what was more important was the relationship a
friendship and that decision of you know you’re my friend you work you are sawfly
different paths whatever but it’s more even dialog you go deeper into entering
into a relationship because then you discover what really is there it’s it’s
deeper than dialogue dialogues the pathway I think I don’t know if you want
to comment on that further thank you absolutely I do a plug for a book they
do a plug for our booklet Trinitarian relationship is a model I think for all
of our human relationships because that’s what it’s about that’s how we are
imaging God by following that image of that that a community of three beings
three persons everyone apart it’s a relationship who’s another question I’m an optimistic
person with a pessimistic point of view about the ability of the church to make
meaningful change on meaningful pace about a billion people and we we’re
across all of the continents and and to get such a diverse and large
organization to make significant changes in a hurry I think it’s probably
unrealistic and even if we look at it from the point of view of a diocese it’s
a lot smaller but we still have that huge huge diversity and I think if we
really want to affect change in our church in and how we approach all of
these issues I think we need to look at our own parish first of all I know in
our parish we have disabled adults that attend our church and have for years
they know that they’re accepted in our church I know that there are some gay
families families in our church and it’s never been acknowledged but I think they
feel comfortable because of how I see them and how we interact with them and I
think if we do even more at our parish level that message gets out and as the
message gets out more and more people will come to our church and feel
comfortable there and at some point the hierarchy looks at what’s going on and
can’t deny it because in I work in with bureaucracy it’s all my life and I know
how easy it is for one person to block change it happens
but if you built if your if your momentum builds up parish by parish by
parish which means that starts with individual by individual and individual
I think then we look at what’s happening in our Catholic parish and if you like
what’s going on there what a joyous thing you’re absolutely right I think
that the bottom line is and that’s why we begin with that personal thing is is
the church isn’t you know that document the church isn’t that that that papal
pronunciation the church’s is everyone and if we change the church changes we
won’t see it in a document right away but that doesn’t matter
people Catholics were no longer having slaves long before the official document
came out thankfully we’ve got to change just a Segway a little bit off of that
nice last sentiment as a gay person in the church and I’ve been not just in the
Catholic Church I’ve been across the board I would just state for everyone
involved it’s an important point that if you have gay families in your church and
you interact them interact with them on the day-to-day but never actually
upfront acknowledge their sexuality they are likely not comfortable because it
comes across that feeling of toleration that as long as we kind of don’t-ask
don’t-tell don’t draw attention to it don’t actually make a notice of it being
there it’s fine but they don’t know if they were ever actually to
outwardly Begay apart from just their own existence if that would be tolerator
if that would be condemned so just the simple statement of how lovely for you
and your wife to be here with us would you like to have some coffee something
that’s small but forward and direct and acknowledging is important just add to
that we also have two children and to acknowledge that we are a family and not
where’s your husband also helps make us feel a little more
comfortable in a parish or you know not asking my boys Oh where’s your daddy
because biologically yes they have a father but when we come to church when
we when we come as a family it’s myself my partner and our children we are the
family you don’t think you important so we’ve had a lot of questions that
center around how do we treat people better in the church I’m kind of
interested from the other way because at the beginning you were talking about
Henry Newman and how he was sainted he was also homosexual although he still
lived celibate and was lonely and struggled with loneliness all his life
so was he living the truth by doing that and as a sort of follow up let’s say
that he hadn’t been single and celibate for all his entire life like the church
wanted him would he not deserve to be sainted then thanks for the question
and this is since your answer you’re asking me whether he lives living the
truth I don’t know I don’t I can’t know that’s where if I asserted what I was
saying earlier about our our being serious about having our own informed
conscience then we we have to be are our judge of whether we’re living our troops
or not I can’t judge that can’t judge that if somebody comes with a struggle
to me and wants to talk about it we can talk about it but it’s not up to me to
say whether you’re living your truth or not I can do that listen thank you for the conversation I’d like
to invite forward dr. Ann Jamison who’s the director of the office of catechesis
for the Diocese of Hamilton Hamilton to formally thank our speaker I have known
that Miroslav was a great teacher since I sat in his classroom and the Masters
of the Catholic thought here at st. Jerome’s and he remains my good teacher
he’s a good teacher because he doesn’t just tell us about freedom of conscience
and our responsibility and our agency he invites us to participate in that to
take ownership of that and to do something with it by raising
questions for us that we have to wrestle with on the way
home in the car I told Miroslav before it’s fine but my husband with me so that
I’ll have somebody to talk to because I know I’ll have questions it’s so
important that the dialogue continues in the introduction into discovering
discovering Trinity in disability I’ll give a plug to the book because it’s a
wonderful book written by Miroslav and his wife they ask the question in the
introduction why introduced discomfort what would be the point why why rock the
boat in any way and he says the answer is alarmingly simple because of Christ
he goes on to say that Jesus persisted in hanging out with people who were
outside the mainstream and then in reflecting on the history of the church
they say the Christian Church was seen as a place of sanctuary where members
could find protection from the brutalities of the outside world as
members of Christian churches today can we do any less and I think that that’s
the question I’m gonna drive home with tonight I’m so grateful for your
presentation this evening that’s raised those questions that’s assured us that
we have the conscience that can wrestle with them and to invite us to be
with one another in continuing the dialogue thank you so much some
announcements before we finish up well first of all we send out regular emails
about upcoming speakers if you’re not on our mailing list and you want to receive
information about the lectures and Catholic experience as well as other
lectures and events that take place here at st. Jerome’s please sign up at the
Welcome Table in the atrium every year we’re happy to be able to present a
program of speakers to the community and we’re able to do that because of the
generosity of so many partners and supporters if you would like to support
the lectures that there are donation envelopes at the Welcome Table there are
a number of fairly traded products available for sale in the atrium by our
social justice committee our local independent bookseller Wordsworth’s
books is with us this evening please make sure to visit their table and I’ll
plug that’s my job to Miroslava Maria’s book is there and I’m gonna assume that
they’re willing to meet you and sign the book and have a conversation with you
the next lecture and Catholic experience is going to take place on Friday
November the 15th at 7:30 p.m. dr. carolyn whitney brown who is a lecturer
in the Department of Religious Studies and a fellow at the University of
Victoria Centre for studies in religion society was going to be here to present
a lecture entitled the paradox of pleasure Jean Vanier and the growth of
L’Arche in this talk dr. Whitney Brown will
explore the often surprising stories of the founding of large communities around
the world communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities
live work learn and grow together according to Jean Vanier himself the
secret behind lartius growth is pleasure an observation that can give
us insight into the success of this amazing global movement
the first of our bridges lectures is taking place next Friday October the
25th at 7:30 right here in Vanstone and that lecture is entitled the glass
problem changing and challenging material definitions just sit with that one for a while if
you thought tonight was how does a lot of stuff to think about that lecture is
going to future Patrick Charbonneau from Duke University and Katherine Larson who
is assistant curator of ancient and Islamic glass at the Corning Museum of
Glass the first of our annual reading series is going to take place also next
Friday that’s at 4:30 p.m. so you just come at 4:30 then you grab a bite to eat
for dinner and then you stay for the 7:30 bridges election so the first
reading series is going to be with poet – Susan Holbrook and lastly I just want
to say thank you for all of you for coming this evening good to have you
with us as always thank you for being willing to be engaged in challenging
conversations with us and thank you for whatever ways you helped to spread the
word about our lectures and events so have a safe trip home and look forward
to seeing you again good night

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