Paul Lakeland, a Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies at the American Jesuit University Fairfield has written an interesting article recently on Sexual Diversity and The Catholic Church in the Huffington Post which is receiving some media attention.
He is organising a public conference series, More Than a Monologue, in the Autumn this year along with Fordham, a Jesuit University in New York and two other non-denominational divinity schools.
He says the aim is "to raise awareness and generate vigorous debate on sexual diversity issues within the community of faith and beyond to the broader civic and political worlds that the Catholic Church and the Catholic people inhabit.
The doors of the conferences will be open to all, whatever their points of view, in the confident expectation that true dialogue and honest conversation is the way forward.
The conference organizers are motivated by a deep love of their Catholic tradition. "More Than a Monologue" is an act of faith and hope that there is a sure and full place in the Church for people of diverse sexual orientation and experience."
Summaries of the main Speakers Voices from More Than a Monologue:
Christine Firer Hinze, Professor of Theology and Director of the Francis & Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University: "At Learning to Listen: Voices of Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church, we hope to move beyond the usual back and forth of official church statements and gay Catholic activists' responses by exploring how the issue of sexual diversity affects all Catholics - active or former, gay or straight, female or male, of every culture, race and ethnicity. The time has come for us to learn to listen to all the voices and engage in a more enlightened, compassionate and honest conversation."
Kelby Harrison, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Social Ethics, ( Sexual and LGBTQ Ethics ) at Union Theological Seminary: "The Catholic Church is the number one provider of private education in the U.S. The cultural and personal influence that it maintains over its students - intellectually, spiritually, and morally - is profound. The recent wave of teenage and young adult suicides by those who are, or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer is only new in its large-scale media coverage. Educational institutions must take responsibility for protecting against the culture and attitudes that contribute to LGBTQ suicide. The Pro-Queer Life: Youth Suicide Crisis, Catholic Education, and the Souls of LGBTQ People event will focus attention on where Catholic educational institutions are getting it right, where they need to be better, and where their complicity in the wounding of young LGBTQ persons is unacceptable."
Diana M. Swancutt, Associate Professor of New Testament at Yale Divinity School: "When the Connecticut Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the fall of 2008, the Connecticut Bishops responded first with a public statement offered on behalf of all the Catholic faithful in the state ( without their deliberation or consent ) condemning the decision and arguing that marriage was not a civil right to be exercised by gay and lesbian people. Other Catholic points of view - from expertise in ethics, theology, law and the special tasks of the laity in the world - can and must be heard for a more robust discussion. Same-Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church: Voices from Law, Religion, and the Pews aims to provide that forum."
Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University: "The Catholic Church has large numbers of LGBT laity engaged in pastoral work in the Church and many gay clergy. But the official standpoint of the teaching Church makes their status as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender problematic for individuals, their communities, and the Church. This creates conflicts and tensions for many, while hiding the fact that all Christians contribute to Church life because of, not despite, who they are.
So at the Care of Souls: Sexual Diversity, Celibacy, and Ministry event, we will be examining the challenges of the baptismal call to ministry in the lives of LGBT Catholics and looking at how a more positive and fruitful situation can be created."
Related articles from America Magazine here
and a statement from the American bishops on one of the speakers at the conference here