Out of touch: The Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski
The schizophrenic nature of the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality has come to the fore in Florida, where same-sex marriage was legalised this week.
In a letter to Church employees, the Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski, addressed “recent decisions by courts in Florida that have imposed the redefinition of marriage.”
In bid to provide them with answers to questions on the issue, he threatened employees with dismissal if they take part in any activity that is “inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
The ban includes activities outside of working hours and shockingly even aims to stifle the expression of supportive comments about same-sex marriage by church employees on social media.
Wenski warned that “online activity indicative of prohibitive behaviours may subject an employee to disciplinary action or termination.”
Also this week, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Petersburg in Florida, wrote an opinion piece for the Tampa Bay Times citing Pope Francis and calling for “patience” and “humility in light of same-sex marriage.”
While acknowledging that the church defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, he stated that “I do not wish to lend our voice to notions which might suggest that same-sex couples are a threat incapable of sharing relationships marked by love and holiness and, thus, incapable of contributing to the edification of both the church and the wider society.”
He added that in light of changing social norms, the church must strive to “discern what pastoral response faithful to church teaching and marked by respect and sensitivity might be appropriate for same-sex couples…”
It’s quite possible that if Bishop Lynch worked for Archbishop Wenski he’d be in trouble for making these statements.
Melendez Rivera from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation commented that, “These contradictory narratives cause a bit of whiplash for Catholic Floridians.”
She noted that, “In Miami, Catholics are told they can’t even publicly congratulate their LGBT loved ones celebrating marriages today. Yet across the state in St. Petersburg, the Church’s message is one of compassion celebrating the love and value of same-sex couples.
“I can tell you it wouldn’t take long for me to decide which of these church leaders’ sermons I’d prefer to hear,” Rivera added.
While Pope Francis has hinted at a willingness to be more accepting of gay people, the Catholic Church remains officially opposed to same-sex relationships and especially gay marriage.
The Pope’s stance has ignited an ugly internal battle within the Church, pitting conservatives against more progressive clerics and officials.
According to Catholic dogma, while gay people are accepted, their sexuality is not. This is described as “acts of grave depravity” and as “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”.