School Visit for “Anti-bullying week”

If ever we needed a demonstration of why we need an anti-bullying week, we got it this week, with the hostile reaction in some quarters to the entirely sensible guidelines issued to church schools by the Church of England.

Yesterday, I made my own contribution against bullying, speaking to students of Lord Wandsworth College, Hampshire. I was originally invited to the school as a Stonewall LGBT role model,  but with a full 50 minute time slot to fill, and as it is anti-bullying week, it made sense to expand the brief.  I began with a simple, brief outline of my personal story, which sets the background to my particular passions, and that led fairly naturally into a discussion of bullying: homophobic, transphobic (which is getting a lot more attention, currently) – and biphobic – which is still too often overlooked.

How did it go? I thought very well – apart from some minor technical glitches. It looked to me like just about all the 250 students stayed attentive right through the full twenty minutes. I was particularly pleased at the end, when two beaming pupils came up to thank me most profusely. The staff member involved seemed satisfied, so I came home feeling I’d had a constructive day.

Here follows a summary of my presentation, together with a selection of the slides used.

(The full presentation, together with the planned  text, will follow).



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LGBT Catholics, Working for Change

At the end of this month, I will join LGBT Catholics and their parents in Munich for  conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. This follows an earlier gathering in Rome, 2015, where we appointed  a steering committee to formally set up the legal and procedural framework for a permanent body.  The forthcoming conference will approve the statutes, and begin the serious work of expanding pastoral care for LGBT Catholics, extending dialogue and advocacy work with Catholic bishops, and countering church support for legal sanctions against LGBT people.

The German theologian Michael Brinkschroder has, for the past two years, been one of the two co-presidents of the steering committee. In this article published on the GNRC website, he discusses his experience of being both gay and Catholic, as well as his hopes for the GNRC.

The Catholic theologian, sociologist (PhD) and religious education teacher Michael Brinkschröder is gay. Instead of turning his back on the church, he is fighting for acceptance and equality for gays and lesbians in the Roman Catholic Church.




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Baptist Church Approves Gay Marriage

A few months ago, a Georgia Baptist church voted overwhelmingly to approve  allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies in the church. That’s right: a Baptist church,in a southern state of the USA.  The Macon Telegraph reported:

Members of First Baptist Church of Christ, one of Macon’s oldest churches, on Sunday overwhelmingly approved allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies in the church.

The Rev. Scott Dickison, the church’s pastor, said the resolution passed with 73 percent voting in favor. About 230 members voted by secret ballot in a conference following the regular Sunday service. Dickison said that was about the typical size of the congregation on Sunday.

“I’m grateful for the congregation traveling together to this point, and it is an important point but it comes with some tenderness,” he said. “We will continue to heal together as we move forward.”

Yet this is not by any means unique. As marriage equality continues to advance around the world, churches everywhere are having to face up to the implications for their own congregations – and many that were once implacably opposed, are finding that they can indeed live with the new reality – or even embrace it.

For the First Baptist Church in Macon, the decision came after a long process of reflection and discernment, which began five years ago, with discussions about the Christian ethics of homosexuality.  Their decision was a strictly local one, which is the way the Baptists operate.  In the same way, somewhat counterintuitively, it was a Baptist congregation that was the first church in the UK to host a gay wedding service.

More importantly, this decision did not come in a vacuum. A year previously, the congregation had undergone an exhaustive process to clarify their essential mission and charism, as followers of Christ. The decision to approve gay marriage, in church, followed logically from their conclusions. From their website:




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Fr James Martin, on “Building a Bridge”

After the publication of his book “Building a Bridge” (between the Catholic Church and LGBT Catholics), Fr James Martin has received some vociferous opposition from certain quarters – leading to the highly publicised cancellation of a few previously scheduled lectures.

Much more important though, is the less well-publicised heavy schedule he has had, addressing well-attended meetings around the country which have not been cancelled, in parishes schools and colleges.  Here’s Fr. Martin on building a bridge,  during a large scale breakout session at the Ignatian Family Teach-In 2017 in Washington D.C.

Middlesbrough Mass for LGBT Catholics

The diocese of Middlesbrough reported in the September edition of “Catholic Voice” that after reflection by Bishop Terry, clergy, and parishioners, the Diocese would be initiating a new process of pastoral outreach and inclusion for LGBT Catholics.  That process will be formally launched on December 10th in York, with a Mass for LGBT Catholics, their families and friends, followed by time for discussion on pastoral needs and proposals.

From their facebook page:

Help Me Get to the Global Rainbow Catholics Conference!

Two years ago, I was at the inaugural conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in Rome, coinciding with the start of the Bishops’ Synod Assembly on Marriage and Family.

That conference set up a steering committee, to put the organisation on a sound footing to continue solid work to promote full LGBT inclusion and equality in the Catholic Church. The steering committee has now completed its work. At the end of this month, the GNRC will be formally constituted at a conference in Rome. I will be there. 

In addition to the formal approval of the body’s statutes and the election of a board, this will be very much a working conference, with four study groups preparing plans for continuing work. I have asked to be allocated to either the group working on tools and strategies for advocacy with Catholic bishops, or that tasked with improving pastoral care for LGBT Catholics. In addition, I will be urging the conference to send a strong delegation of LGBT Catholics to the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Dublin, where by our simple presence we can provide valuable testimony to the reality of LGBT Catholic lives, present empirical research to counter the prevalent myths promoted by our enemies, and possible even address the full assembly.

However, to get there I need your help. Please support my “Go Fund Me” page.

It´s been almost two years from the first time the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics gathered, for its genesis in Rome on October 2015 and in parallel to the Extraordinary Synod of the Family. Since then Pope Francis, male and female religious, lay members and our local LGBTI pastoral care groups pronounced diverse speeches or took different actions related to LGBTI issues within the Catholic Church. While some of them are great approaches for justice and inclusion for LGBTI´s and their families, there are still many others that sustain the need to keep an open and direct dialogue with the whole Church and society. “We have made a lot of local efforts, but indeed a single and global voice with our lay Community, the Curia and the Vatican itself is needed”, explains Benjamin Oh, member of the GNRC Steering Committee and part of Acceptance Sydney (LGBTI Pastoral Care Group based in Australia). “We have made these journeys as independent initiatives, when there are a lot of synergies we can develop together as a Global Network”, complements Benjamin O.

So recognizing the benefits of the GNRC existence we are pleased to inform you that our 2nd GNRC Assembly will be held from 30th November to 3th December 2017 in Munich-Dachau (Germany). The conference title is “Hear a just cause” from Psalm 17. “Our time has come for social justice and our plea must be heard because it is indeed a just cause – and above all, urgent!” said Joseanne Peregin, also a member of the GNRC Steering Committee and part of Drachma´s Parents Group (LGBTI Pastoral Care Group based in Malta).

Source: Global Network of Rainbow Catholics

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Coming Out –  to Parents

Coming out can be scary – especially to parents in a religious family

I found it possible, only because I knew that the nature of my family, was that we took it for granted that we would stick together, no matter what (I’d already seen this, with a couple of younger siblings). I had no real fear of rejection. Also, I was already in my 30’s, after a patently unsuccessful (opposite-sex) marriage. There was no way that my parents could suggest that for me, being gay was “just a phase”. So, for me, coming out in the end was no big deal – but even so, the prospect was  scary.

Of course, the reason it didn’t happen until my 30’s, was that  earlier, I had simply bottled it. I have a very vivid memory of walking home from university one day, thinking about an obviously gay couple on campus, and reflecting on how good it would be to be settled in a nice home with a loving manI – and how impossible to admit to that, in my Catholic family.

Instead, I simply avoided the problem. I refused to confront or deal with the truth of my natural orientation, and entered instead into what turned out to be a completely inappropriate, ultimately destructive marriage. Others who have avoided coming out to family, have made other destructive choices: leaving home, or even suicide.

The healthy thing to do, while young or later, is to embrace the old biblical adage, “the truth will set you free” – and come out to parents. But, as stated up front at the beginning of this post, that’s not easy – especially when young. That’s why a post by Susan Cottrell, at Freed Hears, is so welcome. She is the mother of not one, but two gay children, and regularly dispenses sound advice to LGBT Christian families.

Here’s a summary of the four steps she recommends for LGBT kids contemplating coming out to parents. (Read the full post at  Freed Hearts)

How To Prepare for the Potential Hurricane of Coming Out!

  1. Take Care of You.
  • Make a plan. If you’re in a position of risk—you’re still living at home, or your parents are paying for your college—then consider that carefully. It can be soul crushing to wait until you’re beyond your parents’ support before you come out, so you have to weigh the risk.
    1. Take Care of Your Family.
    • Give them some time. Because here’s the deal: they did not go through all the preparation that you did, so their heads may be spinning. They’re afraid: for you, for them, and for what this might mean. They’re likely to be running the program the culture or the church has installed in them. They don’t yet understand God’s full love and inclusion. If you can stay calm—even if they’re not—it will help you… and them.
    1. Recognize that your parents’ response reveals them, not you.
  • In other words, if they say terrible things to you, hateful, vicious words, that is because that is their worldview, NOT because you deserve it.
  • Remember the Truth About You! No matter how your family reacts, they do love you. They just may be so clouded with fear that they’ve lost sight of that. But it’s still true.

Read more at Patheos – Freed Hearts

Scripture As Hope: Romans 15:4-9

For too long, LGBT people have suffered under Biblical textual abuse, with our opponents brandishing a handful of cherry – picked scriptural texts as weapons to accuse and condemn us, It is not surprising then, that so many of our community view the Bible with suspicion, or even reject it entirely, and with it very often, all religious faith and practice. But this abuse is a gross distortion of what scripture is all about, as the second reading for today, the second Sunday of Advent (year A) makes clear:

scripture as hope

“Gospel” derives from “Godspell”, that is “good news” – and the hope and good news apply as much to gay, lesbian and trans Christians as to any other:

Everything that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about hope from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God. And may he who helps us when we refuse to give up, help you all to be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus, so that united in mind and voice you may give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  It can only be to God’s glory, then, for you to treat each other in the same friendly way as Christ treated you. The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing to your name.
Romans 15:4-9




Clerical Celibacy: The Beginning of the End?

It’s been rumoured for some time, and now it’s out in the open. Pope Francis could permit the ordination of married priests, at least in the remote Amazon region.

Amazon basin – Wikipedia

The Pope has requested a debate over allowing married men to become priests in the Amazon region of Brazil, a move likely to outrage conservatives in the Catholic Church.

The pontiff took the decision to put a partial lifting of priestly celibacy up for discussion and a possible vote by Brazilian bishops after a request by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, Il Messaggero newspaper quoted the sources saying.





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