Gary Wills is an eminent historian of the Catholic Church, who was described by John Allen (in 2008) as “”perhaps the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in America over the last 50 years”. With his long view of the Church, his assessment of it’s present state of change deserves close attention – and it’s a most encouraging one, for lesbian and gay Catholics, for women, for for others whose understanding of sexual realities is far removed from the theorizing of Vatican documents – and for all who understand, as proclaimed by Vatican II, that the Catholic Church really is the whole “people of God”, and not just its public office – holders.
In a wide – ranging interview with Macleans magazine, Wills explained why he was enthusiastic about the change in style being introduced by Pope Francis, and why these will in time become entrenched as permanent features of the Church. Francis’ willingness to stimulate debate and tolerate disagreements, he says, are a sign of his strength. He contrasts this with Pius IX, whose proclamation of papal infallibility he sees as a sign of weakness, not of strength. Continue reading "The Acceptance of Gays Among Catholics is Irreversible" – Historian Gary Wills.
In Genesis 9:8-15,the first reading for the first Sunday of Lent (year B), we learn how God described the rainbow (his “bow in the sky”)as a covenant between God and all God’s creatures:
‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind.
There is nothing in there to suggest that the Covenant applies only to opposite – sex couples in church – approved marriages. It is fitting, then, that in this image of the ark by Paul Richmond, the homophobes and bigots opposed to inclusion and equality are left to drown in the flood waters. Continue reading God's Rainbow Covenant for ALL!
In an attempt to justify the San Francisco diocese’ proposed morality clause for teachers in Catholic schools, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has claimed that
all teachers are expected to “contribute to an atmosphere of holiness, virtue and familiarity with the Gospel.“
As legal confusion continues over gay marriage in both Alabama and Texas, one couple have succeeded in obtaining a licence, and registering their marriage, in Austin, Texas
Two Austin women were legally married Thursday morning after a Travis County judge ordered the county clerk to issue a marriage license.
Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, together almost 31 years, said their vows before Rabbi Kerry Baker while standing in front of the Travis County Clerk’s Office sign on Airport Boulevard.
The rushed ceremony was a mix of personal – with friends and their teenage daughters, Dawn and Ting, standing nearby – and public statement, with photos of their vows sure to include the county sign.
“It’s very exciting,” Bryant said before the wedding. “My little one was worried about missing her history class. I said we’ll be making history.”
This passage, the third in the English bishops’ suggested texts for reflection on marriage as part of the consultation process for the Rome Family Synod 2015, is the familiar story of the Annunciation, Mary’s subsequent visit to Elizabeth, and her song of praise, the “Magnificat”. (The text may be read here, at Bible Gateway)
In my lectio divina practice, for the passage, I went through this as three distinct reflections. For each, I give the phrases that most struck me, followed by my reasons. Continue reading Mary – the Annunciation and Visitation (Luke 1:26-56)
ABC News reports:
The Vatican did something it has never done before by giving a group of U.S. gay and lesbian Catholics VIP seats at Pope Francis’ weekly general audience Wednesday.But in a sign that the welcome wasn’t all it could have been, the New Ways Ministry pilgrims were only identified on the Vatican’s list of attendees as a “group of lay people accompanied by a Sister of Loretto.”And not even that got announced: When a Vatican monsignor read out the list of the different groups of pilgrims in attendance in St. Peter’s Square, he skipped over the group altogether. Francis didn’t mention them, either.Even without a papal shout-out, New Ways Ministry officials were nevertheless pleased that they had been invited to sit up front by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, the prefect of the papal household who dispenses the coveted reserved tickets for Francis’ audiences.
Gaenswein for years has also been the top aide to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. When Benedict headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he permanently prohibited the New Ways Ministry co-founders, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and the Rev. Robert Nugent, from ministering to gays after determining in 1999 that they didn’t sufficiently adhere to church teaching on the “intrinsic evil” of homosexual acts.
Nugent abided by the directive and died last year. Gramick has continued her ministry, changing religious orders to the Sisters of Loretto, and was on hand for Wednesday’s audience.
“Pope Francis gives me hope,” she told The Associated Press. “To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness he has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church.”
The group’s executive director, Francis DeBernardo, said New Ways Ministry had tried unsuccessfully under the previous two popes to get VIP seats for its Rome pilgrimages.
This time, the Vatican ambassador in Washington and the archbishop of San Francisco forwarded their requests onto Rome, a sign that Francis’ call for the church to be more welcoming to gays has filtered down to local church leaders.
In preparation for the Rome family synod 2015, the bishops of England and Wales have invited Catholics to reflect in lectio divina on a selection of biblical texts, and in the light of their reflections, to answer a set of questions about their experience of marriage and family life.
In the second of the selected texts, we read about the prayer of Tobias and Sarah before their marriage, in Tobit 8:4-8.
In my application of lectio divina to this text, the two lines that particularly spoke to me, with the reasons, were:
‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a helper like himself.’(v,6)
Indeed, it is not good for man to be alone. We all need a companion, a “helpmate” , to assist us in our daily tasks, to support us in times of difficulty, and to shore our joy in the good times. This line mirrors a similar line in the creation story of Genesis 2: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” As John McNeill has pointed out (in “Sex as God Intended”), the reference to “helper” is gender neutral: it could be a same -sex partner, and need not necessarily be construed as a wife. In this particular statement of the principle in Tobit, gay men will be interested to note that this is even more explicit – I will make him a partner like himself.
In my life, I experienced for many years the comfort, joy and support of such a companion “like myself”, a same – sex partner who shared with the routines of attending to household tasks and resonsibilities, the care of children when they were with us, and we accompanied each other through several major life stages: deaths of parents and other relations, marriages of my two daughters, and crises in careers.
What was striking in this relationship was how much it was a genuine “partnership”, in a way that just did not apply to m
“grant that we may grow old together” (v.7)
Pope Benedict once noted, when addressing Italian local government officials, that one of the values of marriage, is that it relieves government of many financial obligations – for example, that of caring for the aged. At its best, marriage ensures that instead of depending on the state for care, ageing couples can rely on each other and their children for that care, in the comforting situation of a family home.
It is iniquitous of the Church to expect gay men to be deprived of that family support when they need it most. We too, need companionship, love and family support as we grow old.
The questions suggested by the English bishops for further discussion . with my responses to some, were:
- How might Sarah and Tobias have felt on their wedding night, knowing Sarah’s history?
- How do you think Sarah’s parents felt leaving their daughter in the bridal chamber again? Can you describe a time when you felt something similar?
- What does it mean to walk in trust with the Lord?
- When have you and/or your family had an experience of God’s mercy?
- What part does prayer play in your daily life?
- How has prayer helped you and/or your family?
The key questions to draw the conversation together might be:
- How does this story ‘speak’ to us about our ‘call’ to be a family?
- How does it speak to our ‘journey’?
- How does it speak to us about our ‘purpose’ or ‘mission’ as a family?
- What support do we need from the Church?
- What is already available? What needs to be developed?
- From our family life experience, what do we offer that could enrich the life of the Church?