Canada

Canadian bishops silent 

Opinion

By Teodoro Alcuitas

Editor, Philippine Canadian news.Com

Two Filipino gay Catholics have expressed support for the Pope’s endorsement of civil union laws for same- sex couples which has stirred the long-simmering conflict between the left and right of Church  adherents.

In the documentary,”Francesco,” Francis says that gay people are “children of God” and “have a right to be part of the family.” The pope then suggests that civil union laws may provide a way for countries to protect the legal rights of persons in same-sex relationships.

Former Edmonton resident Mark Guevarra believes the Pope’s endorsement is characteristic of being a Christian and church today – that of being “synodal”. 

 

Mark Guevarra (left) and his long-time partner, Mark Chiang, a minister at a Presbyterian Church who caters to LGTB people. (Photo: The Star

“Being a synodal Christian and a synodal church means encountering and engaging in dialogue with those who have opposing views to allow the Holy Spirit to transform each other. It is not about persuading the other to take on your position but it is committing to wrestling with another person’s truth and being open to being transformed by it,” Guevarra says in a statement to Call to Action.

The PhD student at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union, Guevarra’s field of research is synodality. Guevarra is known as the pastoral worker who was fired by the Archdiocese of Edmonton for being gay.

Asked about its impact on Filipino families, he says “on one end of the spectrum, they accept their LGBTQ+ child, on the other there is rejection and even disowning.”

Calling the Pope’s endorsement as “monumental”, Guevarra hopes that Francis’ call to respect and protect LGBTQ+ rights “will encourage individuals, families, and faith communities to take life and faith saving action.”

The film features interviews with Vatican figures Cardinal Luis Tagle and other collaborators of the Pope. Francesco looks at the Pope’s advocacy for migrants and refugees, the poor, his work on the issue of clerical sexual abuse, the role of women in society, and the disposition of Catholics and others toward those who identify as LGBT.

Former Calgary journalist Renato Gandia says Pope Francis is doing what a shepherd does – “he gathers his flock and he cares for them.”

Gandia and his partner at their wedding. (Facebook)

“It’s not exactly what everyone within the LGBTQ2S+ Catholic community wants but I think it’s definitely a step forward. He’s the most caring and inclusive a pope in my lifetime. I didn’t expect to see this far in my lifetime but I’m glad there’s some movement forward. I don’t think recognizing same-sex civil union does anything to damage marriage. It in fact enriches our understanding of what marriage is by recognizing the lived experience of all.”

Silence by the Canadian bishops

Canadian bishops have been silent on the raging issue preferring to let other voices speak about it. Notably, the only remaining Catholic print media in the west, The B.C. Catholic, did not offer a line of analysis  except to reprint a story by the right-wing ETWN media, a known opponent of Pope Francis’ reforms. Toronto’s The Catholic Register also reprinted the Catholic News Service, another right-wing media outlet who belongs to the cabal of organizations determined to oust the Pope for his so-called “heretical” initiatives.

Some Western bishops have been at odds with the church’s social teachings and have been attacking its own social service arm – Development & Peace, Caritas Canada for alleged ties to abortion-promoting groups in the developing world. These bishops have over the years withheld funds intended for the organization because of allegations raised by the radical right-wing organization LifeSite News.

Guevarra thinks the bishops silence on the same-sex issue reflect their own ambivalence on many other issues the church faces, preferring instead to let the “puck fall where it will.”

Despite the fact that 72% of Canadian Catholics support same-gender marriage, the bishops know that the “sky has not fallen on the church”, he adds.

“Taking a strong position against Francis’ endorsement will create division in a church already impoverished, ” Guevarra concludes.

 

How a fired LGBTQ+ church worker never lost his faith