Sydney Archdioce Threatens Businesses Supporting Marriage Equality

In an update to this story at Mashable, the Archdiocese of Sydney denies that it has “threatened to remove its business” from companies publicly supporting equal marriage. However the text itself of the letter they sent makes clear that they have indeed at least applied pressure on those companies because “same-sex marriage is incompatible with the business practices of the archdiocese”. 

It’s well known that same-sex marriage is incompatible with Vatican doctrine – but are we to deduce from this letter, that the business practices of the Sydney archdiocese, are to avoid dealings with any external organizations that do not comply with Church teaching?

Telstra withdraws from marriage equality debate allegedly due to church pressure

Allegedly under pressure from the Catholic Church, Australia’s largest telecommunications provider will not be participating in the public campaign in support of same-sex marriage, a new report suggests.

According to The Australian, Archdiocese of Sydney business manager Michael Digges approached a number of companies who had given permission for their logo to be used in a newspaper advertisement in support of marriage equality in May 2015.

Source: Mashable

and here’s the update at Mashable, with an extract from the letter they sent to “refute” the orginal story:

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has rejected claims it threatened to remove its business from companies such as Telstra who participated in a public campaign for marriage equality.

While the business manager of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Michael Digges, wrote to companies with which the organisation had partnerships in June 2015, it was to point out that support of same-sex marriage is incompatible with the business practices of the archdiocese, it said in an emailed statement.

“It is misleading to say the Archdiocese threatened in any way a boycott of companies included in the campaign,” it continued. “Mr Digges offered to meet and discuss the issue further with the people to whom he had written in the spirit of genuine dialogue.

“The Catholic Church’s stand on same-sex marriage remains very clear and the Church will continue to engage in respectful public debate on the issue.”

Gay Marriage, in Church: Norway

Approval for gay marriage in church is continuing to spread across several denominations and regions, not only in civil law. The Lutheran Church in Norway is the latest example, giving overwhelming support in a church conference. (Formal change to the rules will come later). As time goes by, there will be more denominations giving formal approval, and more local groups and pastors conducting marriages or blessing services without approval. (And yes, that already includes some Catholic priests, in some regions). For LGBT Christians, especially the young coming to terms with their sexuality for the first time, this is of major importance. It will become increasingly difficult  for some Christian pastors to sustain the traditional line that loving, committed same-sex relationships are inherently and obviously sinful, while others are giving public endorsements of those relationships in front of their local congregations. Instead, the opponents will have to start to come up with sound scriptural and theological evidence for their views – and will find that such evidence is much flimsier than they have supposed.

Church of Norway Officially Embraces Gay Marriage: ‘A Historic…Shift in the Church’s Teaching on Marriage’ 

The Church of Norway voted at its annual conference on Monday to allow gay marriage, with the Christian body joining the French Protestant Church, the U.S. Episcopal and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denominations, among others, in now supporting same-sex unions.

Continue reading Gay Marriage, in Church: Norway

African Theologian Expects LGBT Welcome, Inclusion to Follow from “Amoris Laetitia”

Many commentators on Amoris Laetitia have expressed disappointment that Pope Francis’ reminder of respect and freedom from discrimination for lesbian and gay people, was not accompanied by an explicit condemnation of the LGBT persecution found across much of Africa, or of the endorsement of criminal sanctions by some Catholic bishops.

However, at least one key African Catholic sees it differently, saying that the Pope’s words “should galvanize the Church in Africa to embrace wholeheartedly African families and their LGBT members“.

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ, is a Nigerian Jesuit currently serving in Kenya as the Provincial of the Eastern Africa Province of the Society of Jesus, a position he has held since 2009. An author, editor, and lecturer at Hekima College Jesuit School of Theology in Nairobi, Kenya, Father Orobator specializes in ethics and theology in the church and religion in African society.

Writing at National Catholic Reporter on his early response to Amoris Laetitia, he admits that he had expected more, says that the exhortation is not “groundbreaking”, and adds,

I believe that there is still a long way to go before we actually make the bold steps that are long overdue with regard to critical issues such as the role of women in church, homosexual unions, reproductive rights, all of which are broached and addressed in the document.

However, LGBT Catholics in particular will welcome his admission that bold steps are long overdue with regard to homosexual unions.

Even more welcome is his expectation that African bishops will in fact take on board Francis’ words on respect and freedom from discrimination, and act to welcome LGBT Catholics in the life of the African Church. We can but hope and pray that he is right. As an African myself, I’m delighted that this is being said from within Africa, by a knowledgeable African Catholic leader. (I’m  less convinced than he is though, that the African bishops will in fact take the message of inclusion on board).

African theologian responds to ‘Amoris Laetitia’

 

Furthermore, on a continent where at least 38 countries criminalize homosexuality, the pope’s trenchant call for respect for human dignity, avoidance of unjust discrimination, aggression, and violence, and respectful pastoral guidance [paragraph 250], should galvanize the church in Africa to embrace wholeheartedly African families and their LGBT members who have been stigmatized, marginalized, and excluded from the life of the church. Church leaders need to dissociate themselves from governments and politicians who persecute gay people, and show example of respect for their dignity. In Africa, we say the church is “family of God,” implying that it welcomes all without discrimination. The preeminent mark of this church and the world church is hospitality. Clearly, Francis is calling the church in Africa to practice what it preaches by becoming a church that welcomes all into the family without discrimination.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

Gay Marriage, in Church – Norway!

Same-sex marriages may now be conducted, in Church, across Scandinavia (at least, in the region’s national churches, the Lutherans).


Sweden paved the way in 2009. With the support of Swedish bishops, the same legislation that provided for same-sex marriage, included provision for gay marriage in Lutheran churches.

Iceland followed suit when it approved gay marriage the following year, in 2010. Again, this was by parliamentary legislation, but with the support of the country’s bishops.

By Nordic standards, Denmark was slow to legislate for full gay marriage – perhaps because as the first country to approve a form of  civil partnerships that were popularly thought of as gay “marriage”, way back in 2009 they did not feel the need as keenly as their neighbours. Nevertheless, when they did finally approve full equal marriage in 2012, that also included provision for same-sex weddings in Lutheran churches.

For some years, Norway was the laggard. Gay civil marriage was approved back in 2009, but for years, a handful of Lutheran bishops resisted all attempts to extend that to church weddings. Now, in a vote by an overwhelming margin of 88 out of 115, a Norwegian Lutheran church conference has voted to extend marriage services to same-sex couples.

Norway’s Lutheran church votes in favour of same-sex marriage

Norway’s Lutheran Church voted on Monday in favour of allowing same-sex marriage, becoming the latest of a small but growing number of churches worldwide to do so.

Last year the French Protestant Church allowed gay marriage blessings, while the U.S. Presbyterian Church approved a change in the wording of its constitution to include same-sex marriage.

In a vote at the annual conference of the Norwegian Lutheran Church on Monday 88 delegates out of 115 in total backed same-sex marriage.

“Finally we can celebrate love independently of whom one falls in love with,” said Gard Sandaker-Nilsen, leader of the Open Public Church, a religious movement within the church that had campaigned to change the rules.

Source: Reuters

Pope Francis’ Blistering Attack on Catholic Marriage Discourse.

In the pursuit over marriage equality around the world, LGBT Catholics have been accustomed to a range of standard arguments used by many bishops and other Catholic opponents of same-sex marriage.  As our own advocates have regularly countered, many of the claims presented in support of these arguments are either unsubstantiated or just plain misrepresent reality. Others simply miss the point.

We now have a powerful ally in support of our counters to these “Catholic” defences of supposedly traditional marriage: Pope Francis. Continue reading Pope Francis’ Blistering Attack on Catholic Marriage Discourse.

Rainbow Catholics Call for LGBT “Listening Process”

In it’s response to Amoris Laetitia, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics expresses disappointment with a number of features, but also sees reasons for hope. Although the document has not yet opened the door to full lgbt inclusion in the Catholic Church, this could be the start of a process that could lead us there. In a striking image, they suggest that “maybe the key to the door is under the mat”.

key under the mat

The difficulties that they find with Amor Laetitia have been pointed out also by others. Of possibly greater importance, certainly for the longer term, are the signs of hope that they see.  They welcome the fact that Pope Francis has opened up new ways for the Church to engage pastorally with the reality of its members’ lives, including all its LGBTQI people of God, and the Exhortation’s reinforcing the priority of respect for the human dignity.  Continue reading Rainbow Catholics Call for LGBT “Listening Process”

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!

Francis Proposes Better Psychosexual Training for Priests

Many assessments of the Catholic Church troubles with clerical sexual abuse have noted as contributory factors the importance of inadequate seminary training in human sexuality, and the poor level of psychosexual maturity of some seminarians and priests. Especially for those priests who entered religious life in minor seminaries as young adolescents, many priests have observed that they entered the seminary as twelve year olds – and emerged in their twenties, with the sexual knowledge of a twelve year old.

This is a bigger problem than just that a lack of personal psychosexual maturity in some priests, may contributes to [possible pathological behaviour. Even among those who have achieved a satisfactory level of maturity, there remains the problem that a lack of training in human sexuality, may leave them ill-prepared to provide suitable pastoral support to those who come to them for guidance on sexual matters.

Part of the reason for the inadequacy of current and past seminary training, lies in its base in single-sex institutions. isolated from normal family life.

Pope Francis

It is encouraging then, to find in Pope Francis’ response to the Bishops’ Synod Assembly on marriage and family, (“Amor Laetitia”, the Joy of the Family), that he has acknowledged the problem, and proposed improvements.

It’s particularly notable that he proposes that instead of training in sexuality derived solely from Church doctrine, this should in future be interdisciplinary in nature – presumably including the findings from the social sciences.  He also proposes that part of the priestly training should be based in parishes, where they are more likely to come into contact with real families, and their real-life problems. Another notable  recommendation is for greater lay participation in pastoral support for families.

203. Seminarians should receive a more extensive interdisciplinary, and not merely doctrinal, formation in the areas of engagement and marriage. Their training does not always allow them to explore their own psychological and affective background and experiences. Some come from troubled families, with absent parents and a lack of emotional stability. There is a need to ensure that the formation process can enable them to attain the maturity and psychological balance needed for their future ministry. Family bonds are essential for reinforcing healthy self-esteem.

It is important for families to be part of the seminary process and priestly life, since they help to reaffirm these and keep them well grounded in reality. It is helpful for seminarians to combine time in the seminary with time spent in parishes. There they can have greater contact with the concrete realities of family life, since in their future ministry they will largely be dealing with families. “The presence of lay people, families and especially the presence of women in priestly formation, promotes an appreciation of the diversity and complementarity of the different vocations in the Church”.

204.  The response to the consultation alsoinsisted on the need for training lay leaders who can assist in the pastoral care of families, with the help of teachers and counsellors, family and community physicians, social workers, juvenile and family advocates, and drawing upon the contributions of psychology, sociology, marital therapy and counselling. Professionals, especially those with practical experience, help keep pastoral initiatives grounded in the real situations and concrete concerns of families. “Courses and programmes, planned specifically for pastoral workers, can be of assistance by integrating the premarital preparation programme into the broader dynamic of ecclesial life”.

235 Good pastoral training is important “especially in light of particular emergency situations arising from cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse”.

“The Joy of Love”: Also for Lesbian and Gay Catholics?

At first reading, many lesbian and gay Catholics could be disappointed with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love). There’s little enough about us to start with, and what there is, seems to do no more than restate the familiar but badly neglected platitudes about “respect”, and the need to avoid violence and persecution. Right up front in its opening pages, the document restates the mantra of the family as consisting of one man and one women, and children – and the purpose of marriage as intertwined with procreation. Later, there is yet again, a firm restatement of opposition to gay marriage. Above all, there is absolutely no hint of any change in the hurtful established Catholic doctrines on sexuality.

A handout picture released by the Vatican press office show Pope Francis (C) chairing an extraordinary synod of nearly 200 senior clerics in the Synod Aula at the Vatican on October 6, 2014. Pope Francis issued a strong signal of support for reform of the Catholic Church's approach to marriage, cohabitation and divorce as bishops gathered for a landmark review of teaching on the family. Thorny theological questions such as whether divorced and remarried believers should be able to receive communion will dominate two weeks of closed-door discussions set to pit conservative clerics against reformists. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images

Closer examination however, reveals some cause for optimism, certainly in the longer term. Continue reading “The Joy of Love”: Also for Lesbian and Gay Catholics?

Amoris Laetitia – Goodbye to “Objectively Disordered”?

During the two sessions of the family synod, there were many reports of an emerging consensus among the bishops of a need to move away from the hurtful language of the past, concerning lesbian and gay people, and matters of same-sex orientation. By the time of the 2015 synod assembly, even the archconservative Charles Chaput came to acknowledge that the term “objectively disordered” had, in his words, “outlived its usefulness”.  (For others of course, such words never had any usefulness, but were downright offensive and intensely hurtful).  I’m pleased to report that while the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) has little enough to say specifically about lesbian and gay people, there is no reference at all to “objectively disordered”.  I think we can take it that this disordered language has now been banished, for ever.

Continue reading Amoris Laetitia – Goodbye to “Objectively Disordered”?