15Mar No blessing for same-sex unions

The Vatican has announced that the church cannot bless same-sex unions.

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2021-03/holy-see-the-church-cannot-bless-same-sex-unions.html

 

Full official text in English:

Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium
regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex

TO THE QUESTION PROPOSED:
Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?

RESPONSE:
Negative.

Explanatory Note

In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex are being advanced. Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons, to whom are proposed paths of growth in faith, “so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives”[1].

On such paths, listening to the word of God, prayer, participation in ecclesial liturgical actions and the exercise of charity can play an important role in sustaining the commitment to read one’s own history and to adhere with freedom and responsibility to one’s baptismal call, because “God loves every person and the Church does the same”[2], rejecting all unjust discrimination.

Among the liturgical actions of the Church, the sacramentals have a singular importance: “These are sacred signs that resemble the sacraments: they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church’s intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions of life are sanctified”[3]. TheCatechism of the Catholic Church specifies, then, that “sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it” (#1670).

Blessings belong to the category of the sacramentals, whereby the Church “calls us to praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, and exhorts us to seek his mercy by our holiness of life”[4]. In addition, they “have been established as a kind of imitation of the sacraments, blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved through the Church’s intercession”[5].

Consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.

For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex[6]. The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.

Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing[7] invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”[8].

The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.

The Christian community and its Pastors are called to welcome with respect and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations, and will know how to find the most appropriate ways, consistent with Church teaching, to proclaim to them the Gospel in its fullness. At the same time, they should recognize the genuine nearness of the Church – which prays for them, accompanies them and shares their journey of Christian faith[9] – and receive the teachings with sincere openness.

The answer to the proposed dubium does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations[10], who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching. Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such. In this case, in fact, the blessing would manifest not the intention to entrust such individual persons to the protection and help of God, in the sense mentioned above, but to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God[11].

At the same time, the Church recalls that God Himself never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world, because for Him “we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit”[12]. But he does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. He in fact “takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are”[13].

For the above mentioned reasons, the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex in the sense intended above.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Secretary of this Congregation, was informed and gave his assent to the publication of the above-mentioned Responsum ad dubium, with the annexed Explanatory Note.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the 22nd of February 2021, Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle.

 

Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.
Prefect

✠ Giacomo Morandi
Archbishop tit. of Cerveteri
Secretary

_______________________

[1] FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, 250.

[2] SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly, 150.

[3] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 60.

[4] RITUALE ROMANUM ex Decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. Il promulgatum, De bendictionibus, Praenotanda Generalia, n.9.

[5] Ibidem, n. 10.

[6] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357.

[7] In fact, the nuptial blessing refers back to the creation account, in which God’s blessing on man and woman is related to their fruitful union (cf. Gen 1:28) and their complementarity (cf. Gen 2:18-24).

[8] FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, 251.

[9] Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter Homosexualitatis problema On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 15.

[10] De benedictionibus in fact presents an extended list of situations for which to invoke the blessing of the Lord.

[11] CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter Homosexualitatis problema On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 7.

[12] FRANCIS, General Audience of December 2, 2020, Catechesis on Prayer, the blessing.

[13] Ibidem.

18 Responses

  1. Eugene Sheehan

    So the Vatican continues to believe that it has the power to prohibit the blessing of anyone – or anything, for that matter. The notion that this institution can take upon itself the authority to determine what God may, or may not bless, is more sacrilegious than anything it may so declare.

    The loving, unconditional union of two people is already blessed by God, and the only role the Church may play is to remind the couple that this is so. That is the role of a “sacramental” and can be performed by anyone – the sacraments were long ago appropriated by the clerical classes.

    According to the report above “the negative response given to the blessing of a union does not, in fact, imply a judgement regarding the individuals involved, who must be welcomed with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” This statement reminds me of another Vatican statement that teaches it is ok to be homosexual, as long as sexual activity is not engaged in – a teaching Fr. Owen O’Sullivan once likened to saying “it is ok to be Irish, but you can’t act Irish, such as go to Croke Park, drink Guinness, etc.” Where is the respect, compassion and sensitivity towards the individuals if the Church rejects their loving union as being a reflection of a loving God?

    This Vatican statement also points to the huge barriers that need to be overcome in any future re-ordering of the Roman Catholic Church. This statement is so far from reality it saddens me! Scripture and tradition will always act as our guide in discerning God’s will, but future synods on Church reform will surely fail if the lived experience of the people is not accepted as an authentic sacramental of a “Christ-soaked world”.

    Would this lead to what Gerry O’Hanlon recently described as “noisy discernment”? If so, then let it be so!!

  2. Joe O'Leary

    Come on, Vatican Monsignori, please STOP! In the midst of a pandemic that has closed churches, your droning is the last thing we want to hear.

    Pope Francis, call a Council, and let it issue an address to LGBT people.

    Part I: An Apology.

    Part II: A word of Encouragement.

    Part III: A resolution to Dialogue and Consult, and to be close to LGBT folk on their journey of life and love.

  3. Paddy Ferry

    Tonight we had a Zoom meeting hosted by the Lauriston Jesuit Centre here in Edinburgh with Christopher Lamb who is the Tablet’s man in Rome. He had a few interesting things to say about yesterday’s announcement from the CDF.
    First of all he said it was an attempt by a section of the CDF to reassert the old model of power and control. Also, that it was in response to the new enlightened stance of the German bishops. He also thought it had to go out before the film, “Francesco” is released but he thinks it definitely is not the end of the matter. I am not sure of the significance of the release of the film “Francesco”.

    A year ago tonight we had Angela Hanley in Edinburgh speaking at our Newman Association meeting — just before lockdown — on the subject of Same-Sex Unions. It was an excellent presentation by Angela and I thought, tonight, it might be worth while giving it a second look.

    Same-sex marriage: the Church’s argument that isn’t an argument
    by Angela Hanley
    In 2003 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican’s department for doctrinal oversight, produced a document called Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons. This was in response to the growing political campaigning for acceptance of homosexuality as just one iteration of what it is to be human and all the human rights associated with that – such as freedom from persecution and the right to have legal recognition of relationships.
    While nobody would dispute the right of any organisation, especially a religious one, to speak on issues of the common good, the minimum one might expect is good research, cogent arguments and engagement with those most affected. This CDF document fails on all counts. It is a badly constructed document, muddled in its argument, shows no evidence of research and is lacking in any engagement with those most likely to be affected by it. Yet it is useful as a summary of Church teaching on same-sex marriage (though it refuses to the use the word marriage, preferring “unions” instead). It is stated in the document that there is nothing new in it; its purpose is to reiterate the essential points of the question. These are that same-sex unions:
    • undermine the family
    • destabilize society
    • weaken procreativity
    • confuse you and prey on the vulnerable
    These claims are made without any evidence of qualitative research to substantiate them. So we need ask, are they true?
    The information available on loving, faithful gay and lesbians experiences is still very new, and there is not a historical basis for evaluating it in the Church’s tradition. But the same applies to anything new needing to be evaluated that has not been considered before, for example, in the 1970s when IVF was developed to help couples who were having difficulties to conceive. That something wholly outside our frame of reference has not been considered before does not mean that it should not be done. One moral theologian, John O Mahoney, suggests that “theological systems which account for everything and which leave no room for surprise are constricting the Spirit of God, and are just too neat to be true to reality.” (The Making of Moral Theology)
    Let’s take the CDF’s points in turn:
    Undermine the family
    Despite its claim that same-sex parented families create obstacles in the normal development of children, it offers no concrete evidence for this assertion. A number of longitudinal studies currently being carried out in different parts of the world actually show that not only are children not disadvantaged by same-sex parented families, but report very positive relationships. Another very positive outcome is that the presence of children in same-sex unions can repair ruptures in relationships that occurred in the couple’s families of origin because of sexual orientation. The grandparent relationship is healing for all concerned.
    Destabilise society
    The document says that if heterosexual marriage was considered just one possible form of marriage the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation with grave detriment to the common good. But there is simply no evidence that this is so. On the other hand, there is empirical evidence that permitting secular same-sex marriage does not impinge on the marital intentions of heterosexual couples. Also, more conservative gay people encourage same-sex marriage. Andrew Sullivan, an English journalist, and by his own admission quite a conservative Catholic, points out that there have been same-sex marriages existing in a variety of forms – they have just been euphemised. He says that legalising same-sex marriage would bring the gay/lesbian couple in the heart of the traditional family in a way that the family can understand. He also says that this familial identity could be properly discussed not in terms of sex, but in terms of their future life stories, their potential loves, and their eventual chance at some kind of constructive happiness. In my own research, where civil partnership was introduced, it was the experience of some couples that the societal perception of a ‘pervert partners’ suddenly changed to being ‘one of us.’ It also opened up conversations – parents who had been extremely homophobic began to moderate their views. It also opened up private conversations where others in the community spoke about family members who were gay. Taking marriage seriously with all its commitments to stability, fidelity and permanence and offering that challenge to same-sex couples can only be societal good.
    Weaken procreativity
    Again, there is simply no evidence for this. Once women and couples were able to control their fertility with a high degree of effectiveness, they did so. This was without reference to gay/lesbian couples – it was about their own relationships and their ability to rear and educate children and have opportunities for themselves outside child-bearing and rearing. Also, the lengths couples are prepared to go to with IVF – both in terms of the financial and health implications, is evidence that procreativity is still as much a drive as it ever was
    Confuse youth and prey on the vulnerable
    Contrary to this assertion, repressed sexuality is infinitely more damaging, finding expression in abusive behaviour – and the history of clerical sexual abuse is the most obvious example of this. All the gay and lesbian people who grew up in heterosexual families had ample opportunity to see and absorb what marriage is, for good or for ill. This is especially so in Catholic families, but this had no effect on the reality of their sexual orientation, because of its given-ness. Why should it be assumed that in same-sex headed families it will be any different? Where is the evidence? The fact is, there is no evidence for this claim.
    As I’ve pointed out, much is asserted on the basis of very little. Each of the claims above is amenable to qualitative research to find out if it is true. But there is a steadfast refusal on the side of the teaching magisterium of the Church to engage in such research. Worse still, not only will it not engage in credible research but it sets out to actively punish those theologians who do. This brings us to the prophetic aspect of the Church. Many theologians take this prophetic dimension of Church very seriously and seek to make the Good News available as widely as possible. For moral theologians and pastorally sensitive members of the Church, this inevitably brings them into contact with the LGBT community, many of whom “still experience God’s Word primarily as a weapon used against them.”
    Given that within the Church’s own tradition there is the means of evaluating same-sex marriage, its current stance seems to have more to do with preconceived ideas and prejudice than honest engagement. I refer to the Natural Law tradition. Unfortunately, a particularly biological understanding of natural law underpins much of the resistance to same-sex marriage. But that is artificially restricts the meaning of natural law.
    In the tradition of the Church, natural law is understood to be the participation of humanity in the life of God – that divine spark in us that bestows us with the use of reason. Faith and reason has a long tradition in the Church, but in the case of same-sex relationships they become very restricted. You will see a variety of definitions of natural law, that all have something to offer – again that tells you something – there is no one single definition. My own favourite is given by Donal Harrington in his book, What is Morality? It is based on Bernard Lonergan’s transcendental precepts of: be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable, be responsible. Those principles which we need to employ to transcend our ego, our instinct to tribalism, our blindness to self-knowledge and also to overcome an anti-intellectualism which fosters fundamentalist thinking – all the things that act as stumbling blocks to authentically living out the gospel in community of equals.
    It is the law
    • of being open and attentive to our experience
    • of being intelligent and insightful in our inquiries
    • of being reasonable and comprehensive in our judgements
    • of being detached and responsible in our deliberations
    • of being committed to the good we discover
    This definition certainly opens the conversation – if the will to converse is present. However, that is still lacking, despite some positive comments by Pope Francis at times.
    Scientific research has shown that same-sex attraction is very much part of nature, both in the animal and human kingdom. From birds to primates, from mammals to fruit flies! Indeed, much of this information was discovered in general biological/behavioural studies, and not as specific studies of same-sex attraction. So, it was almost accidental discovery, which in its way should be informative. It fits in neatly with Fr. James Alison’s definition of same-sex orientation as: “a non-pathological, regularly occurring minority variation in the human condition.”
    However, this new knowledge was not an impetus on behalf of the teaching office of the Church to start thinking about same-sex relationships orientation and its implication for human flourishing. The Church leadership simply changed the premise of the argument. A new concept was introduced to sexual morality – complementarity. This may initially sound plausible, but the Church’s focus is not on a holistic complementarity of mind, body and spirit – it focuses mainly on the biological, which is only ever assessed in the male/female dyad. A holistic complementarity on the other hand “unites people, bodily, emotionally, spiritually and personally, within the reality of a person’s sexual orientation.” (Salzman & Lawler, The Sexual Person: toward a renewed Catholic anthropology).
    Sometimes the tradition of the Church is used as an excuse for avoiding change – we never did this in the past, so we can never do this in the future. This is to be wilfully blind to the fact that while tradition moulds us as human beings, we, in turn, mould tradition. It is a two-way experience. Taking ownership of tradition as a free, mature adult needs critical engagement with it. A necessary part of this engagement is interpretation. Narrowing this interpretation to one limited view serves nobody, and certainly not the Church, well. The choices and decisions made on behalf of the community of Christians affect the lives of a significant segment of humanity, especially where there is a claim to be a teaching authority. That is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. We need to remove our sandals and remember we are standing on hallowed ground when people of same-sex orientation talk about their experiences – their pain at our hands; their faith, their hope and their love. For they, too, are God’s holy people.

  4. Liamy MacNally

    PRESS RELEASE AUSTRIAN PRIESTS INITIATIVE
    Call to disobedience 2.0
    We will continue to bless same-sex loving couples
    We, the members of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative are deeply appalled by the new Roman decree that wants to prohibit the blessing of same-sex loving couples. This is a relapse into times that we had hoped to be overcome with Pope Francis. In solidarity with so many, we will not reject any loving couple in the future who wants to celebrate God’s blessing, which they experience every day, in a church-service. Reality has long since shown that same-sex couples connected in love can very well celebrate God’s blessing in church. A state-of-the-art theology establishes this responsible practice.
    We vehemently protest against the assumption that same-sex loving couples are not part of God’s divine plan. Here an attempt is made to undermine the reality of creation with dogmatizing presumptions. We deeply regret that this decree, which seeks to revive the spirit of bygone times, widens the gap between Roman bureaucracy and the local Church. This decree offends many Christians and obscures and discredits the liberating message of Jesus.
    The Austrian Priest’s Initiative is an Austria-wide movement of Roman Catholic priests and deacons who follow their conscience and campaign for new paths in the church. Its goals are: lively congregations, contemporary synodal church structures and, above all, a credible and open-minded world church that focuses on sincere service to people.
    Founded in April 2006 by nine priests, the initiative now has around 350 members from the ranks of the Roman Catholic official church. More than 3,000 lay people support the reform movement around Father Helmut Schüller.
    Press-contact:
    Pamina Haussecker | presse@pfarrer-initiative.at | +43 680 502 7010
    Interview partners:
    Fr. Gerald Gump, Pfarre Zur Frohen Botschaft, 1040 Wien Gerald.Gump@zurFrohenBotschaft.at | Tel. +43 1 505 50 60
    Fr. Bernhard Kranebitter, Pfarre Kranebitten, 6020 Innsbruck Bernhard.Kranebitter@dibk.at | Tel. +43 512 281 724
    Pfarrer-Initiative | Marschallplatz 6 | A-1120 Wien | presse@pfarrer-initiative.at | http://www.pfarrer-initiative.at

  5. Alan McGill

    Sadly there is no vaccination against this but the suffering experienced because of such integralist stances is being mitigated by the fact that fewer and fewer people care what the magisterium has to say. Herd immunity is taking hold.

  6. richard o'donnell

    Just ignore these sad Vatican people and follow one’s conscience.
    It is a pity that even those, in the modern world most people ignore them, they still cause a lot of hurt to many good people both lay and clerical.

  7. Joe O'Leary

    Can we believe America’s spin that the Pope was rushed into giving a merely formal acknowledgment to the Responsum while he was busily preparing his trip to Iraq? Something similar was said of the inane CDF statement on civil unions in 2003.

  8. Soline Humbert

    To ignore the outdated teaching on sexuality, the anger and the deep hurt generated by this latest document would be irresponsible. These are words which cost lives, both in suicide and violence against LGBT+ people. This is not the time to remain silent. Pope Francis often refers to the church as being a’field-hospital’ but the reality is that with such malevolent ruling it is not being a hospital but a slaughter-house: it wounds and kills life and love. I hope the ACP will have the courage to speak out.
    https://www.newwaysministry.org/2021/03/17/nearly-1000-pastoral-ministers-in-germany-commit-to-blessing-same-gender-couples/
    See also:
    https://www.newwaysministry.org/2021/03/18/bishop-is-ashamed-of-church-apologizes-for-vaticans-ban-on-same-gender-blessings/

  9. Gina Menzies

    Hurt, crushed yet again by the unchristian words from the Vatican, sanctioned, we are told, by Francis.

    A warped theology of human sexuality continues at the institutional level of the church.

    How can love, wherever it is encountered not be welcomed as a gift and blessed?

    Mary Hunt has written a superb article on this recent condemnatory statement. Assessed at: .https://religiondispatches.org/the-vatican-doubts-same-sex-love-but-more-doubt-the-vatican/

  10. Liamy Mac Nally

    Association of Catholic Priests
    Statement on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) claiming the Church cannot bless same-sex unions.
    18th March 2021

    The ACP believes that the CDF document is unfortunate and unwise, both in content and in timing. It is also contradictory. The content is negative, and condemnatory.

    While it says that gay people are loved and valued by the Church, it then states that they are sinners, that their loving relationships are fundamentally opposed to God’s plan for creation The certainty with which they assume what God can and cannot do, is breathtaking. It seems fair to say that gay people, reading this document, will not feel loved and valued.

    This divisive statement comes at a time when there is a major initiative, both in the Vatican and by the Irish bishops, to initiate a process of synodality, meaning a process where people will be asked for their views on all aspects of church life. It is emphasised that everyone’s voice will be heard, especially those on the margins of the Church.

    Following on from this judgemental and discriminatory statement, it will be hard for gay people to believe that Church authorities will be open and welcoming of their views.

    The leadership of the ACP is saddened and disappointed by this document. It is increasingly difficult to remain hopeful of an inclusive church.

    Ends

    Roy Donovan 087-2225150; Gerry O’Connor 087-2320295
    Tim Hazelwood 087-1337164; John Collins 086-8046020
    For verification: Liamy Mac Nally, ACP Admin Sec 087-2233220
    The ACP provides support and a voice for Irish priests to engage proactively with the crucial debates in society; and full implementation of the vision and teaching of the Second Vatican Council.

  11. John Hayes

    With due respect, the stated disapproval of the ACP of the CDF’s statement will be about as significant to Rome as the famous editorial of the “Skibbereen Eagle” of 1857, declaring that the newspaper was “keeping its eye” on Russian policy in China was to the Tsar of Russia… The CDF’s reaction was entirely predictable. No other outcome was ever possible, or, given the nature of the Church, ever will be possible. It is bemusing that anyone with any knowledge of Church history or tradition should ever think otherwise. If I believed that private judgement should be the decisive factor in such an issue, I would join one of many churches based on that principle, but expecting the Catholic Church to change what it feels it has no competence to change, even if it had wanted to, is a pure waste of time.

  12. Joe O'Leary

    “No other outcome was ever possible, or, given the nature of the Church, ever will be possible. It is bemusing that anyone with any knowledge of Church history or tradition should ever think otherwise.”

    Hmm, two counter instances leap to mind: The Papal Bill, Cum nimis absurdum, of 1555, ratified by successive popes, which declared the Jews were spiritually blind and condemned to perpetual servitude, and the Holy Office declaration of 1866, bearing the papal signature, which declared the buying and selling slaves was compatible with divine (scriptural) and natural law. Roma locuta, causa aperta.

  13. Joe O'Leary

    John Hayes, see Cum nimis absurdum 1555, the Bull of Paul IV ratified by popes in the next two centuries, which declared Jews to be blind and condemned to perpetual servitude, and the 1866 Holy Office declaration, signed by Pius IX, that buying and selling slaves was in accord with natural and divine law.

  14. Paddy Ferry

    Joe@12 and 13, so damningly interesting ! But did one of St. Peter’s letters not tell us as well that having slaves was absolutely fine.

    Of course the next question has to be can we be sure Peter actually wrote those letters.
    Tony explains in his new book that some of the writings attributed to John were written long after John’s death by those who were his followers and who would have been tempted to write what they would have hoped John himself might have believed. And then, the next question is which John?

    Gerald O’Collins SJ in his book Jesus: a Portrait, tells us there were actually three Johns. It is a long time since I read it now but I do remember that bit. I can’t remember which one he maintained wrote the Gospel and letters. There was John the apostle, John the Elder –I think –and another John too.
    Joe, can you help?

  15. Joe O'Leary

    It’s clear enough that the Apostles Peter and John are not the authors of the letters under their name. But the authors are claiming their authority, as perhaps the founders of the communities they represent. Bart Ehrman denounces these texts as forgeries, along with the Deutero-Pauline letters, but that is a kind of inverted fundamentalism, trampling on the conventions of biblical “authorship.”

    The Fourth Gospel glorifies the Beloved Disciple as the star witness to Christ, gifted with contempative insight and surpassing Peter. Its composition seems to draw on a “signs source” (though that topic may have fallen from favour), and on traditions close to Mark (as in the incidents of John 6 or the passion narrative), with the central distinctive material being the discourses and dialogues of Jesus (the upper room of Jn 20 brings us close to Luke). Then there are additions from the “ecclesiastical redactor” including Jn 21 (which seems to date not from “long after John’s death” but soon after, to judge from 21:23).

    Complicated! No wonder John has been called the difficult child (Sorgenkind) of NT studies. Then the Johannine Letters are claimed to represent a different group in the Johannine community (according to Raymond Brown who finds a string of not always obvious or convincing differences between Jn and 1 Jn). The obscure John the Presbyter might come in here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Presbyter

  16. Paddy Ferry

    Thanks, Joe. It certainly is complicated.

  17. John Hayes

    Joe O’Leary @ 12 & 13: see Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind (1949), regarding what philosophers term a “category mistake” or “ontological error”. The Church’s view of the normative relationship between marriage, the family and society is manifestly of a different and primary order, in contrast with the past teachings you cite on Jews and slavery.

  18. Joe O'Leary

    “The Church’s view of the normative relationship between marriage, the family and society is manifestly of a different and primary order.”

    That view also exhibits a wide variety over history, and is in any case enhanced rather than undermined by recognition of lgbt people and their families.


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