Category Archives: Personal / QTC

Meeting Krysztof Charamsa

“The Church Needs a Stonewall Revolution”

At last month’s Gdansk conference of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, one of the highlights for me was a workshop by Krysztof Charamsa.  This began on a strictly personal high. On entering the room, he went around and personally greeted everyone present, shaking them by the hand. By virtue of my seating, I was the last person he got to, next door to Martin Pendergast (whom he already knew). He first greeted me as “Terry”, reading my conference label, but then when Martin introduced me as “Terry Weldon”, his eyes grew wide. “Terry Weldon?” he repeated, and instead of just a simple handshake, gave me a great bearhug, saying “thank you, thank you”. (I’m not in fact sure what it was he was thanking more for, but whatever the reason, the simple fact gave me a substantial high. In my view, it is he that deserves the thanks, from all lgbt Catholics).

I’d love to report in detail on the content of his address, but alas I cannot – he began by specifically asking that it not be published, which I must respect.  I think I can however, report some of the bare bones, and how his words have impacted my own thinking.  Some of the talk repeated material widely reported from earlier interviews, such as his view that the process of coming out was a profoundly liberating, theological process. Also notable was the observation that for all the improvements in tone and supportive pastoral care under Francis’ papacy, the fact remains that the harsh elements of doctrine promulgated by the Pope John Paul II/Cardinal Ratzinger partnership remain unrefuted as part of the formal magisterium. Indeed, if strictly adhered to as it stands, much of this formal body of doctrine would make the current improvements in pastoral care impossible. For this reason, he concluded that the Catholic Church needs its own Stonewall moment.

It can of course be argued that by the nature of his personal journey, he is still carrying a great deal of anger directed at the Church, to the extent that he is exaggerating the harm and ignoring the good in the present state of the Church and its response to LGBT people. It is also true that one response to the harmful elements in the formal magisterium is to point out that there are different levels of Church teaching, not all equally important, and that these sexual matters are less important than might appear at face value. We must also acknowledge that some of the important shifts in pastoral care are in fact required by Amoris Laetitia, with its emphasis on conscience, discernment and accompaniment, and that given its status as an “apostolic exhortation”, Amoris Laetitia is itself contributing to and developing the magisterium.

But still.  I was left with two key take aways for my own thinking. On the one hand, I was reminded of where I was when I first began blogging about lesbian and gay Catholics:  taken as a whole, Catholic teaching is riddled with inherent contradictions and ambiguities. It is as wrong to assume that to conform with Church teaching lesbian and gay Catholics must simply renounce all same-sex relationships, as it is to reject the whole  of Church teaching as inherently unsound. The fact is that even in the standard formal documents, there is some supportive material which needs to be more widely known and understood – along with harmful, unsound material that needs to be vigorously challenged.

On the other hand, as I was listening, my mind constantly wandered to the image embedded in Fr James Martin’s book on the Church and LGBT Catholics – “Building a Bridge”.

Any bridge connects two opposite ends. When I first began writing about Catholic teaching, I was mostly concerned with pointing out what was wrong, and how it was contradicted by things like science, history and public opinion. Later,  as things began to improve, I tended to concentrate on highlighting signs of that improvement, and the more supportive elements in the magisterium.

The bridge however, requires a balance between both.  To reach out to LGBT Catholics, there is a need to show them that there is a welcoming and supportive side to the Church, in doctrine as well as on the ground. But to the Church, it is also important to act as a critical friend, pointing out to those who can not yet see it, the countless ways in which elements in doctrine and practice are both deeply harmful, and unsupported by sound evidence.

Two Months on, and Back in the Saddle!

It’s now just on two months since I headed up to London for major surgery to remove a massive GIST stomach tumour – and with it, the whole of the stomach itself, along with the spleen. I’m pleased to report that my recovery has been excellent: everybody from the surgeon down to my local GP, has expressed amazement at the speed of my recovery. Life in nearly all respects, is now almost back to normal: I’ve even resumed part-time work, for just a (very) few hours a week. I’m deeply grateful to the host of friends and supporters who supported me through this time, with prayers, candles and Masses, from at least four continents that I know of.  I’m convinced that this wave of support carrying me had something to do with that rapid recovery.

The disruption to my life caused by this, with frequent medical appointments and associated anxiety has been partly responsible for my much reduced activity here at QTC, over the past few months in particular. Now, I’m pleased to say, I’m “Back in the saddle, again”.

saddle

However, there’s another, more serious reason for my slowdown – and for getting back in that saddle.

Continue reading Two Months on, and Back in the Saddle!

Senior African Cardinal: “Homosexuals Cannot be Criminalized.”

Cardinal Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:

Homosexuals cannot be criminalized.

and

We are all growing in this regard.

These are important statements, coming from one of the two most senior African officials at the Vatican, Cardinal Turkson made them in an interview with Frank DeBenardo of New Ways Ministry, who is in Rome for the Family Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

They are important in themselves, and also for the lessons they hold about the importance of LGBT engagement with Catholic bishops. There’s some useful background to this. Continue reading Senior African Cardinal: “Homosexuals Cannot be Criminalized.”

Ministry Expanding at Queering the Church

Here at the Queer Church, restructuring continues – and we’re also expanding our ministry.

queer church logo

Expansion

I began my activities in LGBT ministry by volunteering at the Soho Masses, and went on to begin writing about LGBT faith matters here at Queering the Church. I also became involved with Quest as conference speaker, webmaster and now Quest Bulletin editor,  took on additional webmaster responsibilities for the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality, and for the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. I have also facilitated successful workshops for Quest, and on “Next Steps” in expanding LGBT ministry. During the build up to the introduction of UK equal marriage, I was a regular participant in radio and television programmes as an openly gay, Catholic advocate for equality.

I’m now expanding still further. Continue reading Ministry Expanding at Queering the Church

“Take Back the Tradition” – the Video Series (Coming Soon)!

After spending last weekend in Rome for the founding conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, this week I am just outside Zurich, for some family time of my own with my daughter and grandchildren. This not however, just holiday time. It’s also very much a working holiday: keeping up  with news from Rome on the Family Synod, and pushing ahead with some new projects.

One of these new initiatives is to expand from simple blogging, to vlogging – video blogging. Continue reading “Take Back the Tradition” – the Video Series (Coming Soon)!

I’ll Talk About LGBT Catholics, Family Synod to my Parish!

I met this morning with my new parish priest, to tell him about my activities as openly gay activist for LGBT Catholics. I also spoke about my visit this weekend to the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Haslemere (Surrey)
Our Lady of Lourdes, Haslemere (Surrey)

A parishioner had said to me a few weeks ago that when I return, she’d be interested in hearing about it – and so would others. She suggested that I should report back to the entire parish – so I put this to the pp this morning. He has no objection in principle, but said I would need to discuss this with the member of the parish council who is responsible for adult education. In fact, I had already done so earlier – his response then was that he had no objection in principle, depending on how it was packaged, but that I would have to speak to the new parish priest.

So – the two key people I’ve spoken to have no objection in principle, and others I’ve discussed the idea with, agree it will be worth doing. On my return from Rome, I’ll have a discussion with both these two, to work out details, and how we want to present the event to the parish.

Renewed Focus, Renewed Energy at “The Queer Church”

It’s been a difficult year for me,  medically, spiritually and technically – but with your support, I’ve been dramatically reinvigorated, and found renewed clarity and focus.

It was just about a year ago that I learned that the supposed bowel problem that had been troubling me for months, was in fact a rare form of cancer, a massive GIST wrapped around my stomach. Getting to grips with that, and with the major surgery I will need sometime in the next 6-8 weeks, has been a journey and a half.

Even before the onset of the medical trouble, I had been deeply troubled by what I had been doing here at QTC and elsewhere – and what I should be doing. I was asking myself deep questions about my purpose, effectiveness, and priorities. I was also convinced that the troubling abdominal pains I was experiencing (due to the GIST) were in fact stress related.

Then came the technical trouble, when my primary site appears to have been hacked, and became no longer accessible. With difficulty, I was able to retrieve some of my historic material and repost at a new URL (this one), but not all of it. I came to wonder very seriously, whether perhaps it was time to stop, to set aside the keyboard, and attempt to experience for once, some real life, outside of faith and sexuality.

All that changed,  a month or two ago, when I agreed to take on two new challenges: editor of the Quest Bulletin, along with my existing role as Quest webmaster, and responsibility for the new websites (in three languages) for the new Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which has its foundation conference in Rome next month, to coincide with the start of the bishops’ Family Synod, 2015. Continue reading Renewed Focus, Renewed Energy at “The Queer Church”

Prayers, Please!

I had a phone call today from my specialist nurse at Royal Surrey, with the decision taken by the MDT (multidisciplinary team) that’s been assessing my innards, after my most recent CT scan. I’m summoned to the hospital for a Monday meeting with the senior stomach oncologist to discuss the matter, but it seems the essence of the recommendation is to proceed directly to surgery – they’ve already pencilled in a date of 30th September for the op, and an earlier date for pre-operative tests.

GIST scan (NOT mine).
GIST scan (NOT mine).

I’m not having it, and have told them so. I must be in Rome on the first October for the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. Somehow, I don’t think they’ll let me fly out the day after major surgery – nor do I think the NHS will cough up for a private air ambulance to Rome. It will be “major” surgery too. Even after the significant shrinkage, the tumour is still pretty big. Anything over 10cm is classified as large (and with it, usually high risk). Mine is down from the original 26 x 20 cm to “only” 18 x 15, which is still much bigger than common or garden “large”.

Continue reading Prayers, Please!

My Ministry is Valuable – So Fund Me!

16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,…

This passage, taken from Jesus’ first recorded public teaching, could almost be taken in modern terminology as as his “mission statement”.

Here is some more from the relevant passage in Isaiah:

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;

Isaiah 61:1

This idea of bringing good news to the afflicted, healing broken hearted LGBT Catholics, goes to the heart of what I’ve been trying to do, for some ten years now – almost exactly, since I first attended a “Soho Mass” at St Anne’s, Soho. Continue reading My Ministry is Valuable – So Fund Me!