Housekeeping Note: Recovering Some History

A few years ago, I suffered a major technical problem here at QTC (possibly the result of a hacking attack), in which I lost access to my dashboard, and with it much of my historic archives.  To recover, I set up a new site with a new URL, and manually transferred what I could to the new site. Since then, I have been able to locate some but not all of the previously lost material at third party archives, from which I have been restoring such of the lost material as I can.

As I do so, the newly retrieved material will be appearing on my social media feeds (Twitter and Facebook) as if it were entirely new posts. I apologise for any confusion. With each of these “new” old posts appearing, please note the date of publication – which will be shown as the original date, not the current date.

John, the (Queer) Evangelist.

The Gospel of John is of particular interest to queer people of faith for its repeated references to the “beloved disciple”, or to “the disciple that Jesus loved”. These references make clear that whoever he was, this disciple had a relationship with Jesus of particular intimacy. There’s the well-known scene from the Last Supper where he rests his head on Jesus’ breast (or lap), and at the crucifixion, he is the only man standing among the women at the foot of the cross. He is the one to whom Christ entrusts the care of his mother – rather as a surviving spouse in marriage would assume some responsibility for the care of a mother-in-law. The existence of this special relationship  provides much of the argument for the proposition that Jesus’ sexual orientation may have been what we call “gay”.

The beloved disciple is not explicitly named, but is often assumed to be John himself. I have written before on these lines, using “John, the Beloved Disciple” as a jumping off point for a reflection on the gay Jesus:

Continue reading John, the (Queer) Evangelist.

Inclusive Study Material for World Meeting of Families.

Lifesite News once again have their knickers in a knot over how the mainstream church is promoting an alleged “homosexual agenda”.

The six-part program titled “Amoris: Let’s talk Family! Let’s be Family!” contains explicit promotion of homosexual relationships as a form of family, saying that such relationships provide “mutual support” for active homosexuals.

This would be great news if it were true – but in fact, the picture described is greatly exaggeration, depending on a single picture of two women embracing, and a line that refers to “other forms” of union, which Lifesite chooses to interpret as applicable specifically and exclusively to same-sex couples. In fact of course, Amoris Laetitia (on which the entire World Meeting program will be based) recognises a great number of relationships outside of lifelong heterosexual marriage. Same-sex couples are just one of these.

Nevertheless, even if Lifesite fears are exaggerated, there is indeed good news for gay and lesbian couples, and queer families of all shades, in the study material and in the general planning for the World Meeting of Families.  Just as the  line to which Lifesite objects does not necessarily apply only to same-sex couples – it most certainly could apply to us, alongside many others.  In the same way, some of the other images in the material could apply to us – or perhaps not. This one for instance, is quite clearly of two men. Are they a “couple”? That is not spelled out.




Continue reading Inclusive Study Material for World Meeting of Families.

Support for Pope Francis Counters “Filial Correction”

Reports yesterday from the Czech Republic describe a letter by Czech theologian and Charles University Professor Tomas Halik in support of Pope Francis and his positions on marriage. Those reports stated that the letter has been signed by “several dozens of personalities” and supported by “hundreds” of others

Signatory Bishop Kevin Dowling (Rustenburg, South Africa)

Here’s the text of the letter, from their website:

Dear highly esteemed Pope Francis,

Your pastoral initiatives and their theological justification are currently under vehement attack by a group in the church. With this open letter, we wish to express our gratitude for your courageous and theologically sound papal leadership.

In a short time, you have succeeded in reshaping the pastoral culture of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with its origin in Jesus. Wounded people and wounded nature go straight to your heart. You see the church as a field hospital on the margins of life. Your concern is every single person loved by God. When encountering others, compassion and not the law shall have the last word. God and God’s mercy characterize the pastoral culture that you expect from the church. You dream of a “church as mother and shepherdess.” We share your dream.

We ask that you would not veer from the path you have taken, and we assure you of our full support and constant prayer.

Signatory Bishop Paul Iby,(Eisenstadt, Austria)

The letter was released just yesterday – October 17th. Today, website lists 199 formal signatories (including at least six bishops that I can see, from )the original “hundreds” of supporters has become several thousand (4366 at 13:45, BST), and is increasing rapidly –  up by 80 in just the last 35 minutes. It’s also notable that the initial formal signatories are overwhelmingly from the Czech Republic and the adjacent Germany. Past experience (eg, from the German “theologians’ revolt) suggests that as news of this initiative spreads, many more prominent theologians, pastors and bishops from Western Europe, the Americas and elsewhere will add their signatures.

Signatory Dom Erwin Krautler (Bishop of Xingu, Brazil)

When news first broke of the “filial correction”, it soon became clear that not only were the numbers of signatories limited, but their status was low. That is certainly not the case with the counter initiative.  Even in these early stages. signatories include bishops from Austria, Hungary, Brazil and South Africa as well as the Czech Republic, and professional theologians from several universities, including Marie-Jo Thiel, president of the European association for Catholic theology and Professor Thomas O’Loughlin, President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain.

Signatory Bishop Miklós Beer (Eger, Hungary)



Continue reading Support for Pope Francis Counters “Filial Correction”

LGBT Presence at World Meeting of Families?

The bishop of Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy, has  made explicit what has previously been implied – that gay couples must be made welcome at next year’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

….speaking after his diocese launched its preparation programme for WMF2018, an international event which promotes traditional Catholic teaching on marriage, Dr Leahy said the event in August 2018 in Dublin would be a missed opportunity if the Church did not embrace family in all its variety.”We are living in changing times and family too is changing,” he said.”We’ve had the referendum in favour of same-sex marriage and a lot of people voted in that referendum and all are equally welcome to join in this celebration of family.”Everyone must be made feel welcome next year. We all want to build a good family network of support in Ireland at all levels.”

Independent.ie





Continue reading LGBT Presence at World Meeting of Families?

“Traditional Family” Values, Traditional “Family Values”

This is fun!
From the great state of South Carolina, we were diverted some months ago by the fascinating tale of how one can now go “hiking the Appalachian trail” in Argentina. Now, in quick succession, it appears that there are two more emerging stories of interest: Mike Rogers reports that rumours about the sexual orientation of a certain Lieutenant – Governor, which have been doing the rounds long enough that even I, on this side of the Atlantic have heard them before, have been “confirmed” (but instead of evidence, Rogers simply points to his “100% track record” on previous outings). Also, from FitsNews.com (“unfair; unbalanced”. the site proudly proclaims), we have:
“S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford may be an amateur Romeo, but it looks like he’s got nothing on his appointment to the S.C. State Board of Education.
Kristin Maguire, an Upstate evangelical and one of South Carolina’s most respected social conservatives, has been one of the governor’s closest education policy advisors for years. She’s also Sanford’s appointment to the S.C. Board of Education, which last year elected her its Chairwoman.
What else is she?
The prolific author of hardcore erotic fiction on the Internet, according to documents provided to the governor’s office earlier this summer and later obtained by FITS.
Maguire, a professed Christian who home-schools her four children, declined to comment for our story but did not deny that she had previously frequented websites that feature such X-rated material.”
Ah, that grand tradition of “defending traditional family values”, as espoused so fervently by Larry Craig, Congressmen Vitter & Foley, preacher Ted Haggert …and all the others whose names I have forgotten and am too lazy right now to look up. You know them better than I do.
In any case, pointing out the hypocrisy is too easy. There are two other points behind this that deserve closer attention, because they are less frequently pointed out.
Outing the Church
First, I applaud Mike Rogers for his commendable work on outing the political hypocrites. (For the record, I am a “fierce defender” of any individual’s rigut to privacy. While I strongly endorse the personal and community value of coming out wherever possible, that final qualification is crucial: sometimes it is just not possible). BUT: when some closeted queer goes on the attack aginst the community, all rights to sympathy are waived. This is a position which I believe is fairly widely shared. So when are the professional ecclesiastical journalists, in the Vatican or around the world, going to start to follow suit?
It is widely reported that a large and growing proportion of priests, at all levels in the hierarchy, are gay. Others are heterosexual, but non-celibate. Professional Vatican watchers, it is said, know not only who many of these people are, but also their partners and preferred sexual practices. As with politicians, I would prefer that they should have the courage to come out publicly, difficult as this would be, but where they choose not to, we must respect their privacy. But as with politicians, where they actively connive in the church’s demonization of “homosexuals” and other sexual minorities, they should lose that right to provacy. There have been plenty of reports of gay bishops and cardinals emerging after their deaths, or after nasty blackmail scandals – so why not when they are alive?
It is also often said that tthe pope’s balls are one of the three most useless things in the world. So………come on, you professional clerical journalists: are yourcojones any more useful than His Holiness’s ?
“Traditional family”: a modern invention
Raymond and I had a wonderful day today enjoying the English landscape, driving around Jane Austen’s beloved Hampshire. I got to see Jane ‘s house where she spent the last ten years of her life, as well as the nearby Gilbert White’s House. Jane Austen is well known as the most popular English novelist, totally respectable and a model of gentility and propriety. Gilbert White is less well known, but equally respectable. He was a clergyman, renowned as a naturalist for his careful observations and detailed notes on natural history and gardening. Guess what? Neither of these models of English respectablity lived in “traditional” family structures. During her years at Chawton, Jane and her similarly unmarried sister Clarissa lived with their widowed mother – and a friend, who lived with them, but occupied a bedroom a little apart. Jane’s brother Thomas had earlier left the family – because he had the good fortune to have been “adopted” by a wealthy childless couple, the Knights, who felt in need of an heir to take charge of their large estate. The Rev White was unmarried – but does not appear to have lived alone in his large, rambling house and extensive garden.
Nor did many people at this time (late 18th and early 19th centuries), or earlier, live in “traditional” family structures. If you were rich enough, you might get to live with your family in a grand country house – but also with the extensive staff required to run it. Tradesmen and working professionals shared their homes with apprentices and servants. Conversely, if you were not rich enough, you probably left your family to live with your employer (if you had one), as an apprentice, in domestic service, or as a farm labourer, or travelled the country as an itinerant tradesman. And if a man was lucky enough to live with his woman and children, perhaps in a farm cottage – it was entirely possible that they were not married at all: marriage was largely a legal matter of settling property, of little practical value or religious importance if there was no property to settle. (Marriage was not required, nor treated as a sacrament by the church, for many centuries),
Biblical Times.
After returning home, I began reading the introduction to Bernadette Brooten’s “Love Between Women”. Just in theopening chapter, I came acros numerous references to same-sex marriages in the classical period – in Rome, in Sparta, in Canaan, in Egypt and elsewhere. It is well known that family structures of the Hebrew Bible hardly conformed to the “traditional” family we keep hearing about, with all-powerful men holding absolute power over the women, children and slaves of the household, with multiple wives and concubines, arranged marriages and extended families living together. In the Christian New Testament, I can’t off the top of my head think of a single instance of a “traditional” family unit. Certainly not Christ’s own biological family, nor His later family of choice, nor the household of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, nor those of the apostles, who were urged to leave their families behind, nor the Roman centurion and his “paidion” (or male slave, commonly used for sexual purposes).
No, wait: there is one, if you ignore the palace staff. The family of Herod, Herodias and Salome lived together as Daddy, Mummy and daughter.
So which of these do you suppose is referred to by “traditional family” values?
(Cross-posted from “Queering the Church“)
 

Pope Francis, John XXIII: “Development” of Doctrine

Pope Francis’ observation that “development” of doctrine means that we can now declare that the death penalty is unacceptable to Catholics, opens up an important debate on the very nature of “development” of Church teaching. Typically for Francis, when he introduces something seemingly new, he is in fact resting solidly on his predecessors, and on past practice. In Amoris Laetitia, the issues that have drawn the most strenuous opposition were in fact firmly grounded in Thomas Aquinas, and in the teaching of Pope John Paul II. Right at the beginning of his papacy, in a widely publicised interview with  La Civiltà Cattolica, he said clearly that it is both inevitable and necessary that doctrine will constantly develop. He supported that statement, by quoting from the a reading for the daily office for the feast of St Vincent of Lerins – whose feast day was yesterday (Friday of week 27).

Pope Saint John XXIII

In his statement this week on the death penalty referring to the possibility of development in church teaching, he drew on Pope John XXIII and Vatican II:

The Jesuit pope began his talk by recalling that at the opening of the Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11, 1962, John XXIII said, “It is necessary first of all that the church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time, she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world which have opened up new avenues to the Catholic apostolate.” Moreover, Pope John added, “our duty is not only to guard this treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the church has followed for 20 centuries.”




Continue reading Pope Francis, John XXIII: “Development” of Doctrine

Catholics and the Death Penalty: Teaching CAN Change.

In a notable development, Pope Francis has announced that the death penalty is “no longer acceptable” to Catholics, because there have been what are described as “developments” in doctrine. As a result, it is reported, there will be revisions to the Cathechism.

Pope Francis declared today that the death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel.” He said that “however grave the crime that may be committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person.”

He did so in a major talk on Oct. 11 to an audience of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, catechists, and ambassadors from many countries on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the catechism, affirming that there has been a development of doctrine in the church and a change in the consciousness of the Christian people on the question of the death penalty. The pope’s comments and the timing of them suggest that a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church may be forthcoming to reflect this new development in the church’s understanding.

-America magazine




Continue reading Catholics and the Death Penalty: Teaching CAN Change.

“Queer and Catholic” – NOT a Contradiction

Mark Dowd’s impressive new book, “Queer and Catholic” is subtitled “a life of contradictions”. However, as the book itself demonstrates, there is no inherent contradiction between being queer and Catholic. Mark’s life has been steeped in Catholicism, from childhood in a deeply Catholic family, through education, to professional life as a broadcaster specialising in religion, to his current activities. At the same time, he has always known he was gay – from the age of eight, before he knew the word or what it meant – and at least from university, he has always been open about his orientation.  This is a life fully gay, fully and deeply Catholic. The title however is not “Gay and Catholic”, but “Queer and Catholic”. This is significant. In its original meaning before it became a pejorative, or was later appropriated by queer theory, the word meant simply “strange”. There is something very strange indeed in the Vatican horror of homosexuality.

The only contradiction that exists between being queer and Catholic, as Mark himself states in his introduction, is within the church itself, where he states that the church is so anti-gay, because it is so gay.  This is an internal contradiction that the church will in time be forced to resolve. Indeed, there are encouraging signs that even now, important leaders of the church, from Pope Francis himself, through senior cardinals and professional theologians, to lay Catholics in the pews, know that things must change. Pastoral practice in many dioceses and parishes is already vastly better than it was a few decades ago, even to serious discussions taking place about blessing same-sex unions.  Changes in pastoral practice will eventually and inevitably lead to changes also in underlying theology.




Continue reading “Queer and Catholic” – NOT a Contradiction

“Positive Faith” – an HIV Video Resource

HIV/Aids is not a specifically gay problem. In Africa and elsewhere, it is primarily a heterosexual disease. However, in the UK, USA and other rich countries, for historical reasons it has disproportionately infected gay men. Among LGBT Catholics in these countries, a high proportion of our people have been affected (if not infected), through a disease which has hit their lovers, their families, their friends – or themselves. From the early days of what was known as “the plague”, LGBT Catholics and other Christians were prominent in offering help and support to those struggling with what was a life-threatening condition.

In London, the twin charities Positive Catholics and CAPS (Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support) have for years been delivering a great service to people affected, of all genders and sexual orientations, and including refugees and other migrants as well as local Brits.  In London last night, they launched a new extension to their service, a useful video resource.

In the clip above, founder of CAPS/Positive Catholics Vincent Manning introduces the service. Follow the Youtube channel, or this link, to see the rest.