Italian Bishop: Celebrate the Richness of (Sexual) Diversity!

There is now a steadily expanding list of Catholic cardinals and bishops who have expressed some measure of support, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, for some form of civil unions or other legal recognition of same – sex couples. There will be many more who are privately coming around to this way of thinking without speaking up publicly, or who (like Pope Francis), believe that the issue needs more study before taking a position.

Archbishop Italo Castellani

Archbishop Italo Castellani

One notable exception to the standard cautious and guarded approval, has come from Archbishop Italo Castellani, of Lucca, Italy, who has described diversity as “richness” to which the church must open up (and the context makes clear that he was referring to sexual diversity). Unlike so many of his episcopal colleagues, he has been influenced in his thinking by the findings of science, and spells out the fundamental fact that this diversity is observable in nature.

Early in March, Archbishop Casetellani participated in a round table chat with a group of Italian journalists, moderated by a celebrated Vaticanist, broadcaster Raffaele Luise. Part of the discussion touched on same – sex couples.

The evening concluded with a debate in depth on the matter of homosexuality. Both Luise and the archbishop praise, in substance, the opening of the Church regarding gays and de facto couples. Particularly for Luise, it is necessary on this theme, “a cultural revolution, that contemplates the fact that homosexuality is not a deviancy, but a human attitude, and not just that, considering that almost 500 natural species display homosexuality.” “The new paradigm – says bishop Castellani – is that every diversity is richness. In my life as a parish priest, I saw and lived so many situations [and he describes a few]; and I am convinced that the time has come for Christians to open up to diversity.”

via Lucca in diretta, (English translation at Rorate Caeli).


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Gay Marriage, Tennessee: Chattanooga Choo Choo Joins the Southern Equality Train.

Not quite a ruling to strike down the constitutional ban, but one that compels the state to recognize same – sex marriages contracted elsewhere. Notably, the ruling has not included a stay pending any appeal, but instead explicitly gives immediate protection to the couples.:

From NCLR (National Centre for Lesbian Rights):


 Federal Court Orders Tennessee to Recognize Marriages of Same-Sex Couples While Their Legal Challenge Proceeds

(Nashville, TN, March 14, 2014)—Today, a federal district court in Nashville, Tennessee ruled that Tennessee officials must recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples who moved to Tennessee after legally marrying in other states. The ruling provides immediate protection for the couples while the suit they filed in October challenging Tennessee’s failure to recognize same-sex couples’ marriages remains pending.  The court found that Tennessee’s refusal to recognize the couples’ valid marriages fails to protect them and likely violates the United States Constitution.

Tennessee now joins several other states—including Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas—in which a federal court has ruled that states must allow same-sex couples to marry or recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states since the Supreme Court’s ruling last June requiring the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Every federal court to have considered such a challenge since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsorhas ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

In her ruling today, U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger took note of these earlier decisions, writing: “In light of this rising tide of persuasive post-Windsor federal caselaw, it is no leap to conclude that the plaintiffs here are likely to succeed in their challenge to Tennessee’s Anti-Recognition Laws.”

The couples filed a federal lawsuit on October 21, 2013 alleging that Tennessee’s failure to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples violates the federal Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process and the constitutionally protected right to travel between and move to other states. The couples filed a motion in November 2013 to seek immediate protection while their case proceeds. In granting that motion today, Judge Trauger held that Tennessee’s laws prohibiting the state from acknowledging the equal dignity of the married couples’ relationships and families likely would cause them significant and irreparable harm, including because one of the couples is expecting a baby within days and urgently needs the legal protection and security of having both partners recognized as legal parents, as other married couples in Tennessee are recognized.

The couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty of Knoxville; Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura of Memphis; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo of Franklin.

The couples are represented by attorneys Abby R. Rubenfeld of Nashville, William Harbison, Scott Hickman, Phil Cramer, and John Farringer of the law firm of Sherrard & Roe in Nashville, Maureen T. Holland of Memphis, Regina Lambert of Knoxville, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Dr. Jesty said: “We are overjoyed with the court’s ruling. As a result of this order, our daughter will never know a time when her bonds with her loving parents were not protected or the state saw her family as less worthy than other families. We look forward to the resolution of this case so that all married same-sex couples in Tennessee can have the protections that we were granted today.”

Sgt. DeKoe said: “Having had the privilege to serve my country both at home and abroad in defense of the values this country treasures, I am proud that Thom and I will finally be treated with the same dignity Tennessee affords other married couples. Because of this ruling, we can rest assured that our relationship will be respected in all aspects of our lives not only by our friends and neighbors and the federal government, but also by our home state of Tennessee.”

Added attorney Rubenfeld: “This is a very significant ruling for Tennessee. The Court has correctly required Tennessee to live up to its basic values of fairness and family. The judge’s ruling correctly concludes that excluding same-sex couples from state sanctioned marriage violates fundamental notions of dignity and respect protected by the United States Constitution for all Americans, including the families of same sex couples.”

Attorney Harbison said: “We share our clients’ excitement about today’s ruling. Judge Trauger’s analysis recognizes the significant harms these laws cause, which are contrary to Tennessee’s stated interest in protecting families and children.”

NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said: “Today’s decision marks yet another recognition by a federal court that there is no reasonable justification for laws that treat same-sex couples differently and cause so much harm to their families. The courts’ decisions also reflect a broader societal movement toward respect for same-sex couples and their families. As people have gotten to know the same-sex couples who are their neighbors, co-workers, relatives, and friends, they have come to see the unfairness of laws that deny protection to loving, stable relationships and stigmatize children being raised by same-sex parents.”

Read the decision and learn more about the case.

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Pope Francis Has NOT “Supported” Civil Unions – but Catholic Thinking Continues to Evolve

Zenit’s complete English translation of Pope Francis’ interview with Correia makes it clear that no, he did not in fact “support” civil unions, but stopped well short of any direct endorsement.

The Pacs day demonstration hold, in order to r...

Many countries have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?

Marriage is between one man and one woman. The secular States want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of coexistence, spurred by the need to regulate economic aspects between persons as, for instance, to ensure healthcare. Each case must be looked at and evaluated in its diversity.

Pope Francis and Civil Unions: The Complete Text

As I thought, the post at Catholic News Service was not an English translation of the full text, but a synopsis of the key points. On civil unions though, it does include pretty well all that matters. What is left out is mostly the soft, personal interest stuff – his feelings about leaving Argentina and the like.

One important point though that I’ve not seen in any of the English language reports, deals with Cardinal Kasper’s address to the consistory, last month. The interviewer asked Pope Francis why it should be that this speech should have been so “controversial” among the cardinals. That’s a good question – before this story about the pope’s interview broke, I’d been struggling through Kasper’s interview myself, along with a critical response published alongside it. I’ve not yet understood the text in full, let alone digested it – but it’s clear that it’s a most important contribution to discussions of marriage and family, so Francis response reply to the question is significant.

Here’s the question and answer in the original Italian, followed by a reliable English translation, slightly adapted from Zenit:

Perché la relazione del cardinale Walter Kasper all’ultimo Concistoro (un abisso tra dottrina sul matrimonio e la famiglia e la vita reale di molti cristiani) ha così diviso i porporati? Come pensa che la Chiesa possa percorrere questi due anni di faticoso cammino arrivando a un largo e sereno consenso? Se la dottrina è salda, perché è necessario il dibattito?

«Il cardinale Kasper ha fatto una bellissima e profonda presentazione, che sarà presto pubblicata in tedesco, e ha affrontato cinque punti, il quinto era quello dei secondi matrimoni. Mi sarei preoccupato se nel Concistoro non vi fosse stata una discussione intensa, non sarebbe servito a nulla. I cardinali sapevano che potevano dire quello che volevano, e hanno presentato molti punti di vista distinti, che arricchiscono. I confronti fraterni e aperti fanno crescere il pensiero teologico e pastorale. Di questo non ho timore, anzi lo cerco».

and the English translation:

Why did Cardinal Walter Kasper’s report in the last Consistory (an abyss between the doctrine on marriage and the family and the real life of many Christians) generate so much division among the Cardinals? Do you think that the Church will be able to go through these two years of toilsome journey to come to a broad and serene consensus?

Cardinal Kasper made a beautiful and profound presentation, which will soon be published in German, in which he addresses five points, the fifth of which is that of second marriages. I would have been more worried if there hadn’t been an intense discussion in the Consistory, because it would have been useless. The Cardinals knew that they could say what they wanted, and they presented different points of view, which are always enriching. Open and fraternal debate makes theological and pastoral thought grow. That doesn’t frighten me. What’s more, I look for it.

Google translate is obviously not entirely satisfactory, but I find it’s a useful first step. I’m certain that a good quality, complete English text will soon be available, but meanwhile I’ve prepared for my own use, a text set up in two columns, with the Italian and Google English side by side. 

(Update: There is now a complete English translation at Zenit. For my own use, I continue to use a parallel text, comparing the Italian and English side by side – but have now replaced the poor Google version with the Zenit translation).

Readers who would like to see this, and download my parallel text, can do so by following this link  Pope Francis, interview with Corriere.

(I was already preparing something similar for Cardinal Kasper’s address, which Pope Francis speaks so highly of. When completed, I’ll post a link to that, too, in the same two column, parallel text)..




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Pope Francis and Civil Unions

The MSNBC report on Pope Francis and civil unions that I’ve just published, states that a full English translation is available at Catholic News Service. I’m not sure if this is quite correct – it looks to me like a report on the interview, rather than a full translation of the complete interview, but it does offer more than other reports. I have the complete Italian text, which I will compare with the CNS version, and report on as soon as I’ve completed grappling with the language. (UPDATE: It’s clearly NOT a complete translation. I’m working now with the Italian text, and will have more shortly).

Here are the parts of the CNS report, that deal specifically with civil unions. .

Pope, in interview, suggests church could tolerate some civil unions

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis suggested the Catholic Church could tolerate some types of nonmarital civil unions as a practical measure to guarantee property rights and health care. He also said the church would not change its teaching against artificial birth control but should take care to apply it with “much mercy.”

Pope Francis’ words appeared in an interview published March 5 in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

“Matrimony is between a man and a woman,” the pope said, but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.” Asked to what extent the church could understand this trend, he replied: “It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

Bishops around the world have differed in their responses to civil recognition of nonmarital unions. The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said in February 2013 that some legal arrangements are justifiable to protect the inheritance rights of nonmarried couples. But until now, no pope has indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions.



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