Grace, Gays, and Aircraft Carriers.

Grace, Gays, and Aircraft Carriers. December 21, 2023
“US Navy Aircraft Carrier USS John C Stennis”
The Vatican is now allowing priests to conduct blessings for same-sex couples. I posted about this yesterday on Facebook, sharing an article from CNN and simply including my go-to remark – “Atta Pope!”-  whenever the current pontiff offers words or policy change in positive directions. As a Protestant pastor and proponent of progressive Christianity I feel it is my role to be a cheerleader for progressive change wherever it takes place.

However, this is not just some mere “baby step” in a positive direction. Even though the Vatican hasn’t gone yet to the full enchilada of treating same-sex persons exactly the same as heterosexual couples and allowing for the sacrament of marriage for such couples, this is a profound shift in the Roman Catholic Church. Just two years ago the same office at the Vatican stated that “there’s no way they could endorse what they said is sin.” Half of the world’s Christians are members of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the largest denomination by far. Using an analogy of a naval fleet, it is much harder for a giant aircraft carrier to turn and change course compared to a cruiser or a PT boat. Much smaller denominations have been able to be more nimble, pivot, adapt, and evolve more easily, much earlier.Those of us who might be inclined to criticize this new move by the Vatican as “not enough” would do well to remember that most every denomination that is now fully LGBTQI inclusive and welcoming did so gradually over time, and generally with a fair degree of conflict and division as part of that process. The Roman Catholic Church is now, like certain other major denominations, beginning to make the steps needed to pave the way.

Yes, people who were raised in the RCC (or in any other denomination) who have felt unseen, judged, and/or condemned by their denomination have every right to continue to criticize and want nothing to do with the Church – of any sort. And yet, I am profoundly moved by the words of elation and joy coming from gay Catholics who are overjoyed about the opportunity to invite a priest to bless their romantic partnership.

Just  Listen to their words of Hope and Joy! 

I don’t know about you, but I hear the same elation that was in the voices of that young maiden named Mary, her cousin Elizabeth, Joseph, the Shepherds, and Simeon and Anna! I hear oppressed, afflicted, and marginalized people saying Alleluia! Praise God!”  I hear the Christmas story.
Perhaps those of us who are straight, white, cis-gender folk who are disillusioned by organized religion – can humbly honor and recognize the real reality of real hope and real joy in the lives of people who need it. Perhaps we can admit that entities that we’ve written off as beyond hope – are still able to be vessels of God and God’s love. 

I for one am cheering on the aircraft carrier as it changes course with this marvelous pontiff at the helm. Whenever things seem bleak and that all hope is lost and that things are completely intractable, that’s when Grace appears. God makes a way when it seems like there is no way.Praise God. Merry Christmas indeed!

XX ~ Roger

Rev. Roger Wolsey is a certified Spiritual Director, United Methodist pastor, and serves on the Board of Directors of ProgressiveChristianity.Org. He is a contributing writer for the Progressing Spirit newsletter, and author of Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity  His new book, Discovering Fire: Spiritual Practices That Transform Lives, is available on Amazon.image of roger wolseyimage of roger wolsey

       

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