Archbishop Chaput: ‘LGBT’ Should Not Be Used in Church Docs
In his intervention at the youth synod today, the Archbishop of Philadelphia said the Church should instead be explaining why Catholic teaching about human sexuality is true, ennobling and merciful.
There is no such thing as an LGBTQ, “transgender” or “heterosexual” Catholic and such designations have never been true in the life of the Church, nor should they used in Church documents, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said in his intervention at the Synod on Youth today.
Reflecting on Chapter IV of the synod’s instrumentum laboris, or working document, Archbishop Chaput, who is a member of the synod’s permanent council, said what the Church “holds to be true about human sexuality is not a stumbling block.”
“It is the only real path to joy and wholeness,” he continued. “There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ.”
The acronym LGBT, a version of LGBTQ — both of which have been favored by the homosexual lobby — was used in the instrumentum laboris. Paragraph 197 says that “some LGBT youths, through various contributions that were received by the General Secretariat of the Synod, wish to ‘benefit from greater closeness’ and experience greater care by the Church.”
However, the term LGBT was never used in a pre-synodal document compiled by young people, contrary to assertions made to reporters by the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. The cardinal nevertheless has refused to remove the acronym in the document.
In his intervention today on Chapter IV, whose sub-themes include “anthropological and cultural challenges,” “sexuality and affectivity” and “new inquiring paradigms and the search for truth,” Archbishop Chaput said defining people by their “sexual appetites” has “never been true in the life of the Church, and is not true now.”
He added: “It follows that ‘LGBTQ’ and similar language should not be used in Church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the Church simply doesn’t categorize people that way.”
Instead, Archbishop Chaput said what “seems crucial” to any discussions of anthropological issues is “explaining why Catholic teaching about human sexuality is true, and why it’s ennobling and merciful.” But he noted that that is “regrettably missing from this chapter and this document” and so he hoped “revisions by the Synod Fathers can address that.”
The issue has been a particular concern in the run-up to the Oct. 3-28 synod because under new rules, the meeting’s final document can become part of the papal magisterium, thereby potentially enshrining the loaded term in the Church’s teaching.
Elsewhere in his intervention, Archbishop Chaput praised the chapter for describing the anthropological and cultural challenges facing young people, but he criticized paragraph 51 of the chapter for speaking of young people as “watchmen and seismographs of every age.” Such “false flattery,” the archbishop said, “masks a loss of adult trust in the continuing beauty and power of the beliefs we have received.”
He also said young people are often “products of the age,” and shaped more profoundly today by a culture that is “essentially atheist.”
Furthermore, he said “too often my generation of leaders” has abdicated its responsibility of passing on the truth of the Gospel through “ignorance, cowardice and laziness.” The clergy sexual abuse crisis is a result of the “self-indulgence and confusion” introduced into the Church, he explained, and young people have “paid the price for it.”
No specific mention of the intervention was made at the press briefing today, nor by Father Thomas Rosica, the English language media attaché to the synod, who also spoke with journalists.
Father Rosica said poverty, war, despair and unemployment were “big themes.” Asked if homosexuality and gay relationships were part of the interventions, Father Rosica replied: “Not those exact words, the issue was present, but there wasn’t any dominant issue.”
Also speaking at the synod this morning were Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary of Los Angeles, and Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia.
Here below is the full text of Archbishop Chaput's intervention:
Chapter IV, paragraphs 51-63
+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
I was elected to the synod’s permanent council three years ago. At the time, I was asked, along with other members, to suggest themes for this synod. My counsel then was to focus on Psalm 8. We all know the text: “When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?”
Who we are as creatures, what it means to be human, why we should imagine we have any special dignity at all — these are the chronic questions behind all our anxieties and conflicts. And the answer to all of them will not be found in ideologies or the social sciences, but only in the person of Jesus Christ, redeemer of man. Which of course means we need to understand, at the deepest level, why we need to be redeemed in the first place.
If we lack the confidence to preach Jesus Christ without hesitation or excuses to every generation, especially to the young, then the Church is just another purveyor of ethical pieties the world doesn’t need.
In this light, I read Chapter IV of the instrumentum, grafs 51-63, with keen interest. The chapter does a good job of describing the anthropological and cultural challenges facing our young people. In fact, describing today’s problems, and noting the need to accompany young people as they face those problems, are strengths of the instrumentum overall. But I believe graf 51 is misleading when it speaks of young people as the “watchmen and seismographs of every age.” This is false flattery, and it masks a loss of adult trust in the continuing beauty and power of the beliefs we have received.
In reality, young people are too often products of the age, shaped in part by the words, the love, the confidence, and the witness of their parents and teachers, but more profoundly today by a culture that is both deeply appealing and essentially atheist.
The elders of the faith community have the task of passing the truth of the Gospel from age to age, undamaged by compromise or deformation. Yet too often my generation of leaders, in our families and in the Church, has abdicated that responsibility out of a combination of ignorance, cowardice and laziness in forming young people to carry the faith into the future. Shaping young lives is hard work in the face of a hostile culture. The clergy sexual abuse crisis is precisely a result of the self-indulgence and confusion introduced into the Church in my lifetime, even among those tasked with teaching and leading. And minors — our young people — have paid the price for it.
Finally, what the Church holds to be true about human sexuality is not a stumbling block. It is the only real path to joy and wholeness. There is no such thing as an “LGBTQ Catholic” or a “transgender Catholic” or a “heterosexual Catholic,” as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ. This has never been true in the life of the Church, and is not true now. It follows that “LGBTQ” and similar language should not be used in Church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the Church simply doesn’t categorize people that way.
Explaining why Catholic teaching about human sexuality is true, and why it’s ennobling and merciful, seems crucial to any discussion of anthropological issues. Yet it’s regrettably missing from this chapter and this document. I hope revisions by the Synod Fathers can address that.