NZ bishop wants theology-science dialogue on sexual orientation


Bishop Charles Drennan has called for theologians to engage with the science that says sexual orientation is neither a matter of choice nor of conditioning.

In his intervention at the synod on the family in Rome last week, Bishop Drennan appealed for mercy for a particular category of people who feel rejection – persons with homosexual tendencies.

“The mercy for which they yearn is not one of pity but of comprehension of the truth of who and how they are,” the Palmerston North bishop said.

“Decoupled from the question of same sex marriage which will never be part of the Christian way, the Church’s theologians can engage seriously with the voices of science that say sexual orientation is neither a personal choice nor a matter of social conditioning, but rests in the deepest ontological makeup of the individual and thus forms part of the mystery of human nature which is good,” he said.

Referencing section 69 of Fides et Ratio, Bishop Drennan said “such a dialogue of theology and science would deepen our understanding of the anthropological cultural context in which we evangelise, and would do much to protect the credibility of the Church, including our claim to be a people of mercy and truth”.

Also in his three-minute long speech, Bishop Drennan spoke of people who identify as Catholic in New Zealand, but who don’t come to Mass on Sundays.

“Analysis of them indicated clusters: the first marriage of a significant portion had come to grief; some were homosexual; and many simply did not recognise themselves in the language we use to describe marriage and the family.”

These groupings featured in responses to the questionnaires of the synod done in New Zealand, Bishop Drennan said.

“They, whom some describe as having drifted from the Church, in fact harbour a yearning to belong but their experience is one of being beyond the Church.

“For them the greatest cause of suffering is rejection – whether perceived or real. That suffering affects the wealthy as well as the poor.”

Nonetheless, most people, including the disaffected, indicated positive encounters with New Zealand priests and parish workers, Bishop Drennan said.

“It seems therefore that where renewal is most required is within the framework and language with which our faith is communicated at a public level,” he said.


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