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Parallel 14

“Critical Harmony” as Pastoral Principle for Accompanying LGBTQ Christians as Church: A Singaporean Catholic’s Perspective


Dr. Alfred Kah-Meng PANG
Independent Scholar

Drawing on East Asian philosophy, Ho and Barton (2022) develop the notion of critical harmony as a complement to rights and equality in predominantly Western discourses on justice in civic education. Critical harmony, they contend, “depends neither on consensus nor on blind obedience to authority, but instead requires an embrace of conflict and tension, a valuing of difference and even deviance, and judicious balance among diverse perspectives and areas of expertise” (280).


In this paper presentation, I consider how critical harmony is constructive as a principle for the pastoral accompaniment of LGBTQ Christians in the Catholic Church. Reflecting on my experience in a diocesan ministry that ministers to LGBTQ Christians and their loved ones in Singapore, I highlight how critical harmony can move us toward an incarnational approach to LGBTQ ministry that nurtures what VanderWal-Gritter (2004) calls “generous spaciousness” (107) in God. Critical harmony, I argue, is not only a principle that engages LGBTQ Christians dialogically as church. It also cuts through the intense polarization over LGBTQ issues in our churches and society today, moving us toward the model of pastoral care rooted in God’s reconciling love.



Ho, Li-Ching and Keith C. Barton. 2022. “Critical harmony: A goal for deliberative civic education.” Journal of Moral Education 51(2): 276-291.


VanderWal-Gritter, W. 2014. Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.



Alfred Pang has a PhD in Theology and Education from Boston College. Born and residing in Singapore, he is an educator and independent researcher. He researches and writes on spirituality and ethics in Catholic education, as well as on LGBTQ inclusion in churches and schools. He teaches  ethics in educational leadership.


Alfred is also the coordinator of the LGBTQ-Allies Working Group in the Religious Education Association. He is currently involved in a Catholic ministry to LGBTQ Christians in the diocese of Singapore.

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