Gay Weddings Begin in Argentina

The first gay weddings under Argentina’s new family equality law have begun. (These are not the first gay marriages- a handful of couples were able to sneak in by earlier court challenges and sympathetic magistrates, but these at the first to be arranged routinely under national marriage laws.  As you see, this was neither a traditional white wedding, nor a quiet affair in the registry office – there were too many reporters and photographers for that description. The couple are an actor and his agent – they will be used to the press, and wont’ object to the publicity.

CNN reports:

Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNN) — Two men who have been together for 34 years have become the first couple to obtain a same-sex marriage since it became legal in Argentina on July 15.

Artistic representative Alejandro Vanelli and actor Ernesto Larrese were married in a civil ceremony Friday morning in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital.

They wore dark suits and striped blue ties and were surrounded by well-wishers and a throng of reporters, photographers and videographers.

Larrese spoke to his partner — but also to the nation at large.

“To all those who are afraid … those who are homophobic … I tell them, don’t worry; this doesn’t affect you,” Larrese said. “You have nothing to fear. Fear is the opposite of love. Any phobia can be cured with love. There is nothing love cannot cure.

However, the BBC says a different couple got in first, just an hour earlier, in a northern town.  Who cares? There will be many, many more.

An architect and a retired office administrator have become the first gay couple to marry in Argentina under a new law legalising same-sex marriages.

Miguel Angel Calefato, 65, and Jose Luis Navarro, 54, have lived together for 27 years.

Argentina is the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage.

The law was passed after a long and often bitter campaign and it still faces opposition, most notably from the Roman Catholic Church.

After the early-morning ceremony in the northern town of Frias, Mr Calefato and Mr Navarro promised to hold a big party to thank all who had supported the passage of the law.

The couple have been together for 27 years

Abuse and Suicide: A Moving Reader’s Response

My post on the church’s culpability in youth suicide has brought this moving comment, which has brought me , quite literally, to tears. I reproduce it here for your consideration, with no further comment – I have no words that would be good enough:

Thank you Terence for posting this thought provoking post. I would not want to comment directly on the Unglo family’s actions, though I have a good idea of their anguish and pain.

All I would say is that sometimes (and more often than appears on the surface) your two threads of thought intersect, tragically.
My wife and I are firmly convinced that young gays and lesbians are far more likely to be clergy sexually abused than their straight peers.

Here is our story, which is the story of our beloved son: Remembering Eric – 2nd Anniversary Of His Death the associated links tell some more about him and us. I know we had to fight my then-Bishop to have Eric’s funeral service in the local church building ~ because ‘the canons’ forbade the funeral of ‘a suicide’ in church. Heaping insult upon injury.

May Eric, and all the other suicide-victims of clergy sexual abuse … rest in peace, and rise in Glory!

sincerely,

John Iliff

Eric’s story” concludes with these word:

It was there in 1935 that he told his students:

‘The one who does not cry out for the Jews has no right to sing Gregorian chant’.

Today, we forthrightly submit that:

‘The one who does not cry out for the victims of clergy sexual abuse has no right to say the Catholic mass nor sing the Orthodox Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom’.

UK Church Takes Action FOR Gay Marriage!

Here in the UK, there has not been a big  push for same sex marriage, as the civil partnership regulations provide virtually the same benefits as full marriage  This includes national benefits (unlike Washington’s proposal),and really is “marriage in all but name” (an important qualification).  Now, according to the BBC, the British Quakers are to take up the issue.

gay_marriage

The proposal to begin performing marriage ceremonies for same -sex couples is expected to pass  by consensus, without opposition, at their annual gathering in York “on Friday”, even though this could bring them into conflict with the law.  They are also expected to ask for the law to be changed.  (Is “Friday” today…..or next week? I don’t yet know, but will investigate).

(UPDATE:  This has now been approved.  See the TIMES ONLINE)

This is the first time that I know of that a church group is taking a lead on the issue – anywhere.

From the BBC, 30th July 2009:

“Quakers ‘to allow gay marriages’

One of the UK‘s oldest Christian denominations – the Quakers – looks set to extend marriage services to same-sex couples at their yearly meeting later.

The society has already held religious blessings for same-sex couples who have had a civil partnership ceremony.

But agreeing to perform gay marriages, which are currently not allowed under civil law, could bring the Quakers into conflict with the government.

…BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the Quakers had been more prepared than other groups to reinterpret the Bible in the light of contemporary life.

Religious commitment

The Quakers – also known as The Religious Society of Friends – are likely to reach consensus on the issue of gay marriage without a vote at their annual gathering in York on Friday.

They will also formally ask the government to change the law to allow gay people to marry.”

The full report from the BBC is here.

***

From TIMES ONLINE, July 31st:

“The Quakers sanctioned gay marriage today and decided to call on the Government to give same-sex couples the same standing as married couples.

Other Christian churches and religious denominations have approved blessings for civil same-sex partnerships but the Quakers have now become Britain’s first mainstream religious group to approve gay marriage.”

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Won’t someone please think of the kiddies?

Hello all. This is Robynn, Terence’s daughter, responding to his invitation to comment for myself on the terrible, terrible hardship I suffered growing up with a gay father. Wait, that’s not quite right…I feel a little out of place writing here, as I am not Catholic; indeed, not a believer at all. Normally I am happy to stick to what I know and keep my opinions on Church policies to myself, but then, the Church doesn’t seem to follow the same principle, insisting as it does on telling us all that gay couples make terrible parents. Not only do the bishops not have any special knowledge on the subject, they seem to be denying what evidence and experience is in fact out there. And they’re certainly not keeping their prejudices opinions to themselves. Continue reading Won’t someone please think of the kiddies?

Clerical Abuse: A Lesson From South Africa

In the aftermath of apartheid, an important part of the country’s transition to normality was played by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, magnificently led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

TRC logo

Among mountains of harrowing tales of huge personal tragedy and confessions of guilt from all sides of a long conflict, I was especially struck by one man’s testimony.

Dr Beyers Naude was a minister and theologian in the Dutch Reformed Church, who in his youth was seen as a rising star and future leader in that community. So it turned out, but not in the way then anticipated.  

Dr Beyers Naude

For long before his coreligionists, Naude came to see the evil of apartheid for what it was: harmful destructive and contrary to Scripture. He tried to persuade his colleagues of this, but instead of converting them, he found himself first ostracised, later actively harassed by the state. In spite of immense personal hardship, he contrived to continue working to an end of apartheid in whatever way he could. By the final end of apartheid, he was widely seen as one of many heroes of the internal resistance.

Yet in his personal testimony to the TRC, Naude did not speak to his achievements, nor to his suffering. Instead, this man who had contributed so much, apologised to the nation for not having done more. In earlier unusual testimony, white men who had served as conscripts in the South African Army and participated in many atrocities in the townships, spoke not of their guilt, but of their mental trauma they had experienced as a result.

Reflecting on this, I was struck by a thought that I still hold with conviction. Although the popular mind in South Africa and abroad tended to think of the apartheid evils simplistically, in dualistic terms of “perpetrators” and “victims”, I saw the reality as far more complex. If Naude, who had done so much, could see himself amongst the perpetrators, and soldiers who were widely condemned for their part, could describe themselves as victims, so could the same be said of all of us.

In one or way or another, in big ways and small, we had all been part of the problem, we were all victims, directly and indirectly. Equally, we all were part of the “system”, as beneficiaries and participants of the apartheid process directly, or by contributing to the internal divisions and violence that wracked the black communities. But most importantly, in many different ways, we were all contributing to the solution. We were not all heroes of the resistance: but in the small daily acts of simple humanity, of increasingly ignoring the laws of petty apartheid, by the little acts of simple friendship or mere neighbourliness across the colour line, and by increasingly speaking frankly among our friends and colleagues of the truth we were beginning to see, we all contributed to gradual breakdown of an oppressive “system”.

Skeletons

And so it is with the Church. Now, almost twenty years later, as I look at and reflect upon the horrors of the Church’s immersion in tales of sexual and physical abuse, I see strong parallels. To view the problem solely in terms of “perpetrators”, directly in the cover-ups, and of victims only of physical or sexual abuse, is grossly simplistic. We in the Church now, as we in South Africa then were, are all at some level victims, as we are all perpetrators.

But ultimately, we too can all be part of the solution. In later posts, I will expand on these to show just how this can be.

Desmond Tutu at TRC

UK Bishops Rejecting Church Teaching?

Once again, the Catholic Church, in defending its dogma, is in practice going against its own teaching.  The BBC has reported that the UK bishops have “reacted angrily” to a speech by Terry Pendergast, of Marriage Care, in a speech this past weekend to Quest.

 

The Roman Catholic Church has reacted angrily to comments endorsing gay parenthood from a charity with strong links to the Church.

Terry Prendergast of Marriage Care, which is partly funded by the Church, said there was no evidence children were harmed by having same-sex parents.

gay_adoption
Continue reading UK Bishops Rejecting Church Teaching?

Same Sex Unions in Church History

The earliest church, in Rome and in the Slavic countries, recognised some forms of same sex union in liturgical rites of  ”adelphopoein” .  It is not entirely clear precisely what was the precise meaning of these rites.  They were clearly not directly comparable to modern marriage – but nor were the forms of heterosexual unions at the time.  Some claim that they were no more than a formalised friendship under the name of  ”brotherhood” – but many Roman lovers called themselves “brothers”.  Some of the couples united under this rite were certainly homosexual lovers, but it is possible not all were.  What is certain, is that the Church under the Roman Empire, for many years recognised and blessed liturgically some form of union for same sex couples.  As late as the sixteenth century, there is a clear written report of a Portuguese male couple having been married in a church in Rome.

This recognition also extended to death.  From  the earliest church until at least the nineteenth century, there are examples of same sex couples, both male and female, being buried in shared graves, in a manner exactly comparable to the common practice of married couples sharing a grave – and often with the parallel made clear in the inscriptions.

The modern Church likes to claim that in condemning same sex relationships, and resisting gay marriage and gay clergy, it is maintaining a long church tradition.  It is not.  To persist in this claim, in the light of increasing evidence from modern scholars, is simply to promote a highly selective  and hence dishonest reading of history.

Continue reading Same Sex Unions in Church History

Openly Gay Bishop Consecrated in 1098

With all the current fuss about the decision of the US Episcopal Church to consecrate openly gay bishops, and the Catholic Church’s declared hostility to gay priests and to gay marriage or even civil unions, we forget that in the older history of the church, it is not gay priests and bishops that are new, or gay marriage, but the opposition to them.  Many medieval and classical scholars have produced abundant evidence of clearly homosexual clergy, bishops, and even saints, and of church recognition of same sex unions.gay bishops

Gay Bishops in Church History

One story is particularly striking.  At the close of the 11th Century, Archbishop Ralph of Tours persuaded the King of France to install as Bishop of Orleans a certain John  – who was widely known as Ralph’s gay lover, as he had previously been of Ralph’s brother and predecessor as Bishop of Orleans, of the king himself, and of several other prominent men.   This was strongly opposed by prominent churchmen, on the grounds that John was too young and would be too easily influenced by Ralph.  (Note, please, that the opposition was not based on the grounds of sexuality, or even of promiscuity).  Ivo of Chartres tried to get Pope Urban II to intervene.  Now, Urban had strong personal reasons, based in ecclesiastical and national politics, to oppose Ralph.  Yet he declined to do so. In spite of well-founded opposition, John was consecrated Bishop of Orleans on March 1, 1098, when he joined two of his own lovers, and numerous  others, in the ranks of openly homosexual Catholic Bishops. Continue reading Openly Gay Bishop Consecrated in 1098

 SS Symeon of Emessa & John: Hermits, Saints & Lovers

The information for this pair of same sex lovers is sparse, but the story important.  I quote directly from the LGBT Catholic Handbook Calendar of gay & lesbian saints :

“The story itself is about a same-sex relationship. Symeon..and John…. meet on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They become friends and “would no longer part from each other”. In fact they abandon their families and go together to dedicate their lives to God. In the monastery they first join, they are tonsured by the abbot who blesses them together(Krueger 139-141, 142). This seems to refer to some early monastic version of theadelphopoiia ceremony.”

Twenty nine years later, they part and their stories diverge. Simeon wants to leave John, as he had ealrier left his wife, and becomes know as a “fool for Christ”.  But:

The extent of the relationship is revealed at this point. John is not keen for Symeon to leave. He says to Symeon “..Please, for the Lord’s sake, do not leave wretched me….Rather for the sake of Him who joined us, do not wish to be parted from your brother. You know that, after God, I have no one except you, my brother, but I renounced all and was bound to you, and now you wish to leave me in the desert, as in an open sea. Remember that day when we drew lost and went down to the Lord Nikon, that we agreed not to be separated from one another. Remember that fearful day when we were clothed in the holy habit, and we two were as one soul, so that all were astonished at our love. Don’t forget the words of the great monk…Please don’t lest I die and God demands an account of my soul from You.”

Halsall states clearly that this was not a sexual relationship, but it is clearly an emotionally intimate, same sex relationship.  At a time when “marriage” did not carry the same meaning that it has today;  when many religious married couples, even outside holy orders, were encouraged to remain celibate;  and given that they had entered a omnastery before living together as  hermits, this is unremarkable. Continue reading  SS Symeon of Emessa & John: Hermits, Saints & Lovers

Give me Back That Old Time Religion

Gary Macy, a historical theologian, has an article at National Catholic Reporter prompted by the Vatican “Visitation” to US women religious. Macy reminds us in this article that this very concept would have been unthinkable until fairly recently in church history.  Quoting just one example, he notes that

“The abbess (of Las Huelgas near Burgos in Spain) had the power to appoint parish priests for the countryside subject to the convent of Las Huelgas, some 64 villages. No bishop or delegate from the Holy See could perform a visitation of the churches or altars or curates or clerics or benefices under the care of the abbess. The abbess of Las Huelgas was even able to convene synods in her diocese and to make synodal constitutions and laws for both her religious and lay subjects.”

Trappings of the modern church?

Previously, Macy has written about women’s active role in the priesthood of the early church. (Treasures from the Storeroom: Medieval Religions and the Eucharist) .While agreeing that this role was not the same as that of modern ordained priests, nor was that of their male peers in their own time. (I am grateful to The Wild Reed, once again, for drawing my attention to these two articles)

Exploring these ideas a little further, I came across another piece in the NCR which caught my attention: Under the Heading “A Map to the Future Church” , Tom Roberts writes about the ideas of Sr Christine Schenk on ways in which to renew the church.  Reading these, I was struck once again by how so much of the obvious way forward (dispense with compulsory celibacy, ordain women, accept homosexuality as natural, invigorate the laity and accept their participation in decision making and the appointment of bishops) are not radical new ideas at all, but simply return to the best traditions of the church.  (I do NOT say the “early” church, which brings suggestions of the first centuries of a small band struggling against a hostile Empire.  The practices to which I refer were part of the mainstream church for twelve centuries – for over half of Church history.)

All of this confirmed what I have long suspected.  Somewhat to my astonishment, I find that I am at heart a deeply conservative, traditional Catholic:  but not of that sham “tradition” which  emerged in the 19th century, and falsely claims to represent the historical “truth”.

My readers will know of my conviction that LGBT Catholics should be more aware of their respected place in Church history.  To find a more viable future for the church, so should we all better understand the truth of our past.

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