Pittsburgh, Pa., Jun 17, 2021 / 20:19 pm (CNA).
An organization based in Pittsburgh has called on Bishop David Zubik to reject a March note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding blessings for same-sex couples, and has asked him to offer blessings to those who identify as LGBT.
The Association of Pittsburgh Priests, a group composed of “ordained and non-ordained women and men,” released a statement on the matter June 14.
“Our Catholic faith and tradition compel us to respect and honor the faith journeys of LGBTQ people,” the group, which claims some 300 members, wrote.
“We know that those who enter into committed relationships do so out of love which is divinely inspired and supported.”
In March, the CDF clarified that the Catholic Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions.
In answer to the question: “does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded, “negative.”
The Pittsburgh organization called the CDF’s statement “pastorally unacceptable and insensitive to the loving, committed relationships of many members of the body of Christ.”
The group called on Pope Francis and the Vatican to “reconsider” the March statement and pledged to “find pastoral ways to affirm and bless all LGBT people, whether they are single or in a committed relationship.”
In connection with the statement, the group sent a letter to Bishop Zubik on Monday requesting his “blessing on the ministries to LGBTQ people and their families here in our own diocese,” the Post-Gazette reported.
The CDF stated in its March note that “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.”
The ruling and note, which were met with resistance from some Catholics, were approved for publication by Pope Francis.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those who identify as LGBT “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
The Catechism elaborates that homosexual inclinations are “objectively disordered,” homosexual acts are “contrary to the natural law,” and those who identify as lesbian and gay, like all people, are called to the virtue of chastity.
Barbara Finch, a spokeswoman for the Association of Pittsburgh Priests, told CNA in an email that the group, as a body, does not have plans to bless same-sex unions at this time. However, she said the group’s plans “would not eliminate the possibility that individuals within the group would prophetically choose to do so.”
“We do not believe that to be homosexual is sinful and committed relationships should have the opportunity to have there [sic] unions blessed,” Finch wrote to CNA.
When asked if the group considers extramarital sexual activity sinful, Finch responded: “It is a wonderment why homosexual sexual activity is always scrutinized as being sinful and heterosexual sexual activity not as much.”
Despite the group’s explicit support for women’s ordination and blessings for same-sex relationships, Finch asserted that the group is in “good standing” with the Church.
Finch said the diocese has, in recent years, “made small efforts to work with us simply because we are some of the most pastorally active in the Church.” She asserted that the diocese has several times “tried to have us change our name.”
In a statement to local media, the Diocese of Pittsburgh said the Association of Pittsburgh Priests “is not affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh,” and added that the diocese “has nothing further to add to the statement from the Vatican issued on March 15, 2021.”
The diocese did not respond to further questions about the group’s standing.
The Association of Pittsburgh Priests says it is “is a diocesan-wide organization of ordained and non-ordained women and men who act on our baptismal call to be priests and prophets. Our mission, rooted in the Gospel and the Spirit of Vatican II, is to carry out a ministry of justice and renewal in ourselves, the Church and the world.”
Finch said while the Pittsburgh group is independent, they have been “in dialogue” with an Irish organization called the Association of Catholic Priests, a group whose constitution places a special emphasis on “the primacy of the individual conscience” and “a redesigning of Ministry in the Church, in order to incorporate the gifts, wisdom and expertise of the entire faith community, male and female.”
The Irish organization’s founder, Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery, has been barred from public ministry for his views on the priesthood and sexuality. The CDF last September asked the 73-year-old to affirm four Catholic doctrinal propositions as a condition of returning to ministry, which he refused to do.