St. Joan of Arc

Among all the multitude of queer saints,  Joan of Arc is one of the most important. In her notorious martyrdom for heresy (a charge which in historical context included reference to her cross-dressing and defiance of socially approved gender roles), she is a reminder of the great persecution of sexual and gender minorities by the Inquisition, directly or at their instigation. In LGBT Christian history, “martyrs” applies not only to those martyred by the church, but also to those martyred by the church. In her rehabilitation and canonization, she is a reminder that the leaders and theologians of the church, those who were responsible for her prosecution and conviction, can be wrong, can be pronounced to be wrong, and can in time have their judgements overturned.(This is not just a personal view. Pope Benedict has made some very pointed remarks of his own to this effect, while speaking about Joan of Arc).  In the same way, it is entirely possible (I believe likely) that the current dogmatic verdict of Vatican orthodoxy which condemns our relationships will also in time be rejected.  We may even come to see some of the pioneers of gay theology, who have in effect endured a kind of professional martyrdom for their honesty and courage, rehabilitated and honoured by the Church, just as St Joan has been.

Joan of Arc Iinterrogation by the Bishop  of Winchester (Paul Delaroche, 1797 -1856)
Joan of Arc:  Interrogation by the Bishop  of Winchester (Paul Delaroche, 1797 -1856)


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Share Your Stories – It’s a Theological Obligation.

In his useful review of Catholics theologians’ work on homosexuality, James Keenan organises his material in three broad divisions: critical reaction, specific moral theological investigations, and power, language, and experience. “Experience” then is formally included in the third of these divisions – but in fact, the importance of experience is a recurring theme throughout.

For instance, under critical reaction to the CDF’s 1986 Pastoral Letter, he includes the complaint by Mary Segers that the Letter “succumbs to the tendency to focus on homosexuality as a male phenomenon and to ignore completely the experience of lesbian women.” By ignoring women’s experiences, the Letter overlooks “the many diverse forms of human friendship and affection which bind people together in relationships and communities”. But it was not only women’s experience, with the diversity of their relationships that was ignored. Men’s experience and relationships were also ignored, with the emphasis on a relentless focus on genital acts. The experience of being a gay man is not simply a matter of sexual attraction and genital obsessions, but also a matter of relationships. The dominican theologian Gerald Moore puts it precisely in “A Question of Truth”, noting that a same – sex attraction is more about who one “takes delight in”, than who one has sex with, and the Baptist gay theologian does even speak of sexual orientation, but of “affectional” orientation.

Keenan also includes in his discussion of critical reaction, the observation by J. Giles Milhaven that it is not only gays and lesbians whose experience is ignored, but that of all loving couples:

“Catholic theologians are only beginning to recognize that there is a number of different kinds of couples who out of their personal lives make the point to the teaching Church. They say to the Church: sex is important for the two of us. You do not take its importance into account in your teaching. You must not know it.”

To this, the only possible response can be of course they “must not know it”. How could they, having taken vows of celibacy for themselves, have any personal experience of loving sexual relationships on which to base that understanding?

Acts of faith

In the second division of his analysis on, on “moral investigations”, Keenan begins by noting that the judgement on the moral acceptance of homosexuality requires a judgement on whether it is “good and “normal”, and lists several theologians who have concluded that while not matching the ideal of heterosexual marriage, for some individuals, same – sex relationships should be judged as subjectively good and normal – for them. This then, raises the challenge of addressing the paradox of general norms that insist that such relationships are wrong – but subjectively, in particular lives, they may be good. To resolve this conflict,

 many moral theologians have accepted the responsibility to examine the morality of the lives of gay and lesbian persons and have used one of three traditional resources: biblical theology, natural law, and theological anthropology.

But to examine the lives of gay and lesbian, requires an awareness of the experience of those lives. This is especially important in the approaches from natural law, for which an important concept is that what is “natural” is that which leads to human flourishing – and to discern what leads to human flourishing for gay and lesbian people, we need to listen to their experience:
Continue reading Share Your Stories – It’s a Theological Obligation.

Gay couples in Portugal win limited adoption rights

 Portugal’s parliament on Friday handed same-sex couples the right to adopt the children or foster children of one partner, a partial victory for equality campaigners that fell short of their call for full adoption rights.


The co-adoption law scraped through with a majority of just five votes in the 230-seat Lisbon assembly, prompting long applause from the gallery. Nine deputies abstained and as many as 28 did not show up for the vote.
Activists hailed the biggest step forward for gay rights since Portugal became the eighth country to allow nationwide same-sex marriages in 2010, breaking with the Catholic nation’s predominantly conservative image.
“It was a super-important, fundamental approval as it concerns the human rights of the children and not just the couples,” said Paulo Corte-Real, head the country’s gay, lesbian and transgender rights association, ILGA.


He said the law would benefit children raised by same-sex couples by giving the children additional protection if their original parent died or became seriously ill.
Catholic Church leaders have opposed moves by some European countries to allow same-sex unions and adoption by gay couples, saying heterosexual marriage has an indispensable role in society.
France, which is mainly Catholic, last month followed 13 countries including Canada, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Uruguay and New Zealand in allowing gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot. The French law also authorized adoption.
The Portuguese bill, presented on the International Day Against Homophobia, still needs to be signed into law by conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who enacted the same-sex marriage bill in 2010 but expressed his disapproval.
Another bill introduced by two left-wing parties that would have extended full adoption rights to gay couples failed to pass on Friday.
The ILGA took the Portuguese state to court after the European Court for Human Rights ruled in February that Austria’s adoption laws discriminated against gay people on the issue of co-adoption.
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Brazilian judicial council: Notaries must recognize same-sex marriage

The Brazilian National Council of Justice, which oversees the nation’s judiciary, passed a resolution Tuesday that denies notaries the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

In Brazil, notaries officiate marriages and civil unions.
Recently, 12 Brazilian states began allowing same-sex couples to marry or convert their civil unions into marriages. However, since the Supreme Court does not carry legislative powers, it was up to each notary to officiate at their discretion, and many refused, citing the lack of law.
Joaquim Barbosa, president of the Council of Justice, said in the decision that notaries cannot continue to refuse to “perform a civil wedding or the conversion of a stable civil union into a marriage between persons of the same sex.”
Barbosa, who also presides over the Supreme Court, says the resolution merely follows the transformation of society.
“Our society goes through many changes, and the National Council of Justice cannot be indifferent to them,” he said.
Civil unions between same-sex couples have been recognized in Brazil since 2011, after the Supreme Court ruled that the same rights and rules that apply to “stable unions” of heterosexual couples would apply to same-sex couples, including the right to joint declaration of income tax, pension, inheritance and property sharing. People in same-sex unions are also allowed to extend health benefits to their partners, following the same rules applied to heterosexual couples.
Brazilian lawmakers have debated same-sex marriage, but in most cases, the bills introduced have not progressed through Congress.
Brazilian neighbors Uruguay and Argentina are the only other two countries in Latin America that have laws allowing same-sex couples to marry.

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"Ascension Day: Jesus Returns to God" (Jesus in Love Blog)

“As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” — Acts 1:9 (RSV)

A male couple seems to dance skyward in a vision of the Ascension from “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by Doug Blanchard, a series of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard. Churches celebrate the Feast of the Ascension today (May 9).

Ascension, 22 J Returns To God.

The loving couple seems to dance in a mystical homoerotic union. Jesus, shirtless and wearing blue jeans, swoons in the arms of a dance partner who appears to be a hunky angel. But they both have crucifixion wounds on their wrists. Jesus is embraced directly by God! The position of their arms suggests a ballroom dance, perhaps a waltz, with God’s hand planted firmly on Jesus’ buttocks.

Detail from “Jesus Returns to God”

Beams of white light stream from God’s head in a bright sunburst, almost obliterating the blue sky. His wings look muscular, as if God must work hard to lift the dead weight of Jesus up from the earth. The wounds in Jesus’ wrists and feet were dark before, but now they glow like hot-pink jewels. Dissolving into white at the top, this is the lightest painting in Blanchard’s Passion series, contrasting with the pitch-black panel of “Jesus Among the Dead.” Now the misty clouds even spill over the frame on the lower left. The Bible and creeds make it clear where the dancing couple is headed. Soon Jesus will sit at the right hand of God.

– continue reading at Jesus in Love Blog