Category Archives: News

Epiphany: Soho Masses Community Celebrate the Feast of Coming Out

On Sunday, January 6th, the Church celebrated the great Feast of the Epiphany – the feast where Jesus is shown to the world, revealed.

At the Church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, the Soho Masses community celebrated too, for the first time since Archbishop Nichols’ announcement of our move next month to Farm Street – and heard his letter to the congregation read.

Wise Men_Adoration2 (1)

 

From the liturgy, the homily, and the discussions which followed the Mass, I offer here some personal reflections. Continue reading Epiphany: Soho Masses Community Celebrate the Feast of Coming Out

Catholics Cited as Top LGBT Faith Voices of 2012

While we are still in the season of looking back at 2012 while we jump right into 2013, we’d like to mention proudly that New Ways Ministry’s Co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick was named as one of the top ten pro-LGBT faith voicesof 2012 by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)!   Additionally, we are delighted that two other Catholics made the list: Barbara Johnson, the lesbian who was denied communion at her mother’s funeral; and Dominic Sheahan Stahl, the gay man who was disinvited as a commencement speaker from his high school alma mater.

Sister Jeannine Gramick

In naming Sister Jeannine, GLAAD stated:

“Nuns were a big deal in 2012, and the LGBT community had a great ally in Sister Jeannine Gramick. She was one of the most visible pro-LGBT Catholic voices as Maryland adopted marriage equality and through the ballot process. She spoke about Roman Catholic hierarchy to MSNBC, and created a video series on The Daily Beast to discuss faith and life, including LGBT issues.”

Barbara Johnson

Of Barbara Johnson, they said:

“While Barbara Johnson was grieving the loss of her mother, the presiding priest stated, “I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.” This blatant lack of pastoral care to an LGBT person captured the attention of the nation.GLAAD worked with Barbara to tell her story and to shine a light of the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s internal persecution of LGBT people.”

Dominic Sheahan Stahl.

GLAAD praised Dominc Sheahan Stahl:

“When Dominic Sheahan Stahl was uninvited from speaking at the Sacred Heart Academy graduation for being gay, the graduating class, which included his younger brother, rallied around him. They formed #LetDominicSpeak and worked with GLAAD to express their support for the alum. They formed an inclusive graduation event, in which the entire graduating class, as well as 600 people listened to Dominic give his speech, of which, GLAAD produced a video. Dominic has gone on to establish a “Live Through Love” foundation to raise scholarship money for LGBT students.”

To view the entire list, which includes luminary leaders from other denominations and faiths, click here.

Bondings 2.0 followed the work and activity of all three of these leaders in 2012.  To search for their stories, type in their names into the “Search” box in the right-hand column, and all the relevant posts about them will come up.

We are proud of our co-founder, Sister Jeannine, and of these two lay leaders!  We are grateful for all the work that the three of them have done to make our world and our church a more welcoming place for LGBT people and their families!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.

Religious Divides in Support for Same-Sex Marriage

It is often assumed, quite incorrectly, that the disputes over marriage equality are between those standing up for religious belief (especially Christian belief), and secularists on the side of human rights. The fallacy of this assumption is neatly illustrated by the graphic below, in a post at the Public Religion Research Institute, drawing on a comprehensive analysis of data from the Pew Research Institute. This clearly shows that the disagreement is not between religion and human rights, but between the different shades of religious affiliation. Two of the three groups with the strongest support for equality are from religious groups – but not Christian religion (Jews, and other non-Christian faith groups).

Even within the Christian faith, there is clear division between denominations. White and Hispanic Catholics, and White Mainline Protestants, all show clear majority support for equality. (The research does not break out Black Catholics):

    • White Catholics: 56% in favour, 39% opposed
    • Hispanic Catholics: 53% in favour, 37% opposed
    • White Mainline Protestants: 52% in favour, 40% opposed

The arguments from “religious freedom” against legal recognition for all marriages must surely also take into account the freedom of those people of faith that support same – sex marriage, both in other faith groups, and within their own denominations. (In

Of the groups broken out for analysis, only Black Protestants, Mormons and Evangelicals are opposed  – but, it must be said, very strongly.

 

Beyond Secular vs. Religious: Religious Divides in Support for Same-Sex Marriage


In 2011, majorities of most religious groups favored allowing gay and lesbian couple to marry legally, illustrating that the old narrative of battle lines between secular supporters and religious opponents no longer serves as an accurate characterization of the landscape of the same-sex marriage debate. In the general population, 2011 was also the first year on record in which supporting same-sex marriage was not a minority position. In May, several surveys (all asking slightly different versions of the same question) found that a majority of the public supported allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry. PRRI’s May survey found that 51% of Americans were in favor, and 43% were opposed.

-full analysis at   Public Religion Research Institute.

This strength of feeling from the opponents, and the rather milder feelings of supporters, must be assessed together with the evidence from several sources that opposition is dropping in degree, as well as in extent, while supporters are growing in both numbers and intensity of feeling.

The striking contrast between the views of younger people, including younger Evangelicals, and their older co-religionists shows clearly that this shift within the churches towards more widespread, and more intense, support for marriage equality will surely continue to grow:

There are large generational differences between Millennials (age 18-29) and older Americans on the issue of same-sex marriage. Sixty-four percent of Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, a rate that is more than 20 points higher than among those ages 30 and above (42%). This generational gap persists within every religious group, including more conservative religious groups. For example, 66% of Catholic Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, 15 points higher than Catholics ages 30 and above (51%). Even among white evangelical Protestants—the group most opposed to same-sex marriage—nearly 4-in-10 (39%) white evangelical Protestant Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, a rate that is more than 20 points higher than that of white evangelicals ages 30 and older (18%).

–   Public Religion Research Institute.

Catholic Revolution Gaining Momentum: Germany, Ireland

Within hours of my post earlier today on the Catholic silent revolution, came news of a dramatic corroboration, with a solid band of German academic theologians in open revolt.

In September this year, Pope Benedict will make his first papal visit to Berlin. This will be worth watching: there have been numerous indications that the German Church has been transformed by public anger and disillusionment following the abuse scandals. Well in advance of the visit, prominent German Catholics are preparing for the visit by making public calls for reforms in the Church.

Reuters has a call by a sizeable number of Catholic theologians, said to represent fully one third of all the theologians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, for far-reaching, radical reforms of the Catholic Church.

English language reports have concentrated on the call to ordain “older” married men, which intriguingly appears to mirror a similar call made right back in 1970 by – Fr Joseph Ratzinger.

Supporters of a married priesthood caused a stir late last month when they unearthed a 1970 appeal to ordain older married men signed by nine German theologians including the then Father Joseph Ratzinger, the present pope.

An end to celibacy though is not the only reform that is needed, nor the only one demanded by the German theologians.  They have also asked for the ordination of women, lay participation in the election of bishops, and greater inclusion for those who have remarried or are in homosexual partnerships.

The English language reports do not carry a great deal of detail, so I am currently attempting to wrestle with the German language originals. I will have more later, once I have done with my labours, but already I have gleaned enough from the German to add two encouraging snippets to the brief English reports. The team of eight who initiated the move say they would have been content to get 50 signatories – but ended with 144.

“It looks like we struck a nerve,” said Judith Könemann a professor from Münster and one of 144 signatories of the declaration.

The professors said that they no longer wanted to stay quiet in the face of child sex abuse scandals that came to light last year and plunged the Catholic Church into an unprecedented crisis.

– from Deutsche Welle

I also have confirmation of a guess I made earlier, that there were many others who made clear their agreement with the text, but were unwilling to sign.

Signatories include theologians from a diverse set of backgrounds, including veterans of previous calls for reform, but also younger people and even some usually regarded as “conservatives”. Part of the appeal included a call for the bishops to begin a process of “dialogue”. It is encouraging that the bishops have agreed to discuss this appeal at a meeting in mid-March. They will need to: Germans have been leaving the Church in droves, while estimates are that by 2020, in less than ten years, as many as two-thirds of German parishes will not have their own priest.

These are all fundamental reforms, for which the need seems to be obvious and urgent. The demands, however, will not be met – not yet. Patience is required, but the simple fact that such a high proportion of theologians can be saying these things publicly is highly significant. With so many speaking up publicly, there are many more who may agree privately, but are wary of rocking the boat publicly, for fear of endangering their careers. We can be sure that the total number desiring reform is much higher than those who have gone public, and that these sentiments are also shared in other parts of the world, even if not in quite the same numbers. We can also be sure that the demand for reform will grow in the years ahead, and surely cannot be resisted indefinitely.

Over 140 Roman Catholic theologians in Germany have urged the church to embrace far-reaching reforms to end priestly celibacy, ordain women, welcome same-sex couples and let lay people help pick their bishops.

The proposals reflect liberal positions in deep disfavour at the Vatican. While they have no hope of being adopted, the fact that 144 theologians backed them meant Benedict’s third trip to Germany since his 2005 election could be his most difficult.

The latest appeal said the scandal-hit church needed a new start to win back Catholics who had left in protest last year.

“The church needs married priests and women in church ministry,” it said. Catholicism should also not “shut out people who live in love, loyalty and mutual support as same-sex couples or remarried divorced people.”

It criticised Benedict’s stress on bringing back older practices in Catholic worship, saying “the liturgy must not be frozen in traditionalism.”

-Reuters

This is the second such German appeal for reform in two weeks. A group of prominent Catholic politicians urged the bishops last month to ordain older married men in response to the worsening shortage of priests.

Meanwhile, in another encouraging development, the Church in Ireland has embarked on a “listening process” to hear the views of Catholics, as part of the extended response to the crisis in that country precipitated by the Ryan and Murphy reports. This listening process is thus triggered by the abuse problems, but it is to be hoped that those participating do not restrict their contributions to that topic alone. The abuse problems did not arise in isolation, independently of wider problems of Church governance and leadership arrogance. Discussion of one must also include discussion of all the others.

On Wednesday night, Bishop Noel Treanor visited the Good Shepherd Church, Belfast, to begin the project and choose the group of facilitators who will document the views of Church members.

In an earlier letter to parishoners, Bishop Treanor extended an invite to “all whose experience has caused them to become angry or disaffected with the Church” to take part in the two month project.

“The purpose of this Listening Process is to give a voice to the People of God – parishioners, clergy, religious and those who live the monastic life – in regard to the ways in which we celebrate, pray and live the Christian faith,” the Bishop explained.

“As we address the need to renew our response to the Word of God in the life of the Church and in society, it is vital that parishioners have an opportunity to express their views and be heard.”

What I particularly like about this, is the news that the process will culminate in a diocesan synod, which will be convened in 2013. We need many more of these diocesan synods, with participation from all strata of the church, in every diocese, every country. Where the bishops fail to convene them, the rest of us should consider doing so ourselves – as the people of the Twin Cities did last year, in the Synod of the Baptized.

See also:

 

Pope Questions Celibacy? (ncregister.com)

Catholic Church ‘listens’ to followers (U TV)