Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry note that lay Roman Catholic laypeople are exerting a certain democratic and very positive influence on church leadership regarding same-sex relationships. Writing at Huffington Post, they observe:
Faced with mounting evidence that the hierarchy is rapidly losing influence in Europe and the Americas, and alienating the faithful in the process, some leading bishops are seeking to soften the hard line that Benedict XVI drew when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. Their argument –articulated by prelates from Colombia, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and within the Vatican itself — is that marriage, even civil marriage, must be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman, but that legal recognition of same-sex relationships is permissible or even desirable.
This new position is not one that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their friends and families will endorse because it falls short of full marriage equality. Nor is it clear that members of the hierarchy will maintain this stance if they determine that it is no longer useful to appear moderate on this issue. But this moment is worth studying and celebrating nonetheless.
Reform-minded Catholics are often told that the church is not a democracy. In the conventional political sense, that may be true. But the church ministers in democracies. And in country after country, Catholic voters have gone to the polls, ignored the often heavy-handed lobbying of their bishops, and voted in favor of marriage equality, or legislators who support marriage equality. They are changing the teachings of the church by changing the culture in which the church functions.
DeBernardo is executive director and Gramick is co-founder of New Ways Ministry, a member of the Equally Blessed Coalition, which works for LGBT equality in the Catholic Church and the wider society. Read full post here.