LGBT community needs better spiritual guidance

Now the Catholic Church is starting to address how to minister to the LGBT community, Italian Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi is inviting Catholics to look at gays and lesbians “as God looks at them.”

“When communities will truly begin to look at people as God looks at them, then homosexual people — and everybody else — will begin to feel, naturally, a part of the ecclesial community,” Zuppi says in the preface of a newly released book.

“Church and Homosexuality: An Inquiry in Light of Pope Francis’ Magisterium,” written by Luciano Moia, is hitting the shelves this week in Italy.

The Church considers gay and lesbian relationships as “intrinsically disordered” and does not recognise marriage between two people of the same sex.

But ever since he quoted “Who am I to judge?” in 2013, Pope Francis has promoted a more inclusive stance toward homosexuality.

In his 2016 encyclical “Amoris Laetitia” (the Joy of Love), Francis called for the need to come alongside members of the LGBT community. He has reiterated this several times since.

In the preface of his book, Moia interviews Zuppi on how best to offer spiritual guidance and welcome members of the LGBT community as Francis expects.

“The Pope, and the Church with him, isn’t interested in leading people to follow external rules,” Zuppi said.

“His interest is in helping people do the will of God; meaning to enter a personal relationship with God and hear from him the appropriate Word for each life.”

Zuppi also said Catholic communities often fail in listening to the needs of people from different walks of life. Not defining a person based on a single characteristic is important, he stressed.

“We mustn’t relativise the law, but make it relevant to the concrete person, with their own peculiarities.”

In his view, it’s more important to have a “specific outlook on people.”

“As Christians we must look at the person as a child of God, meaning with the full right to receive, feel and experience the love of God just as any other child of God,” he said.

Regardless of the Church’s position on homosexuality, Zuppi pointed out that doctrine distinguishes between sexual orientation and homosexual acts.

“What we cannot ‘welcome’ is the sin expressed in an act,” he said.

“Sexual orientation – which nobody ‘chooses’ – isn’t necessarily an act. Also, it’s not separable from the identity of the person; by welcoming a person we cannot overlook their (sexual) orientation.”

Even if an individual leads a lifestyle that is not approved of by the Church, this cannot mean the person is not to be welcomed, Zuppi said.

“If Jesus had this criterion, he would have required the conversion of Zacchaeus.”

“Before accompanying the Samaritan to the adoration of God in Spirit and Truth, he would have asked her to regularise her marital situation. … Did Jesus act this way?”


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