Category Archives: Marriage / family

Belgian Bishops: Church Must BeMore Welcoming to All.

Reporting on the the Religious Information Service release of some European results of the global survey on marriage and family, Vatican Insider has a snippet from Belgium that will not surprise LGBT Catholics – but is of great importance to us, and the for relevant discussions likely at the family synod. The Belgian bishops have concluded that the Church need to be “more open and welcoming” – especially to gay people and remarried divorcees.

“Belgian Catholics expect the Church to welcome everyone, regardless of differences or mistakes made. This especially true when it comes to gay people and remarried divorcees,” SIR says.

“Belgian Catholics, inspired by Francis, are calling for a mother Church that embraces all: hence the need to grow in the faith and form lively communities,” SIR highlights. The questionnaires also placed an emphasis on the essential role women can play in Church life: “It is they who pass on the faith to children and guide them,” Belgian Catholics point out. 

 – Vatican Insider.

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Another Red State Victory for Queer Families

Step by step, queer families are seeing moves to full recognition, even in American red states (and in church). The latest in victory in Idaho follows court decisions in Utah and Oklahoma to strike down the states’ constitutional ban on gay marriage, and the decision by Nevada’s Republican governor not to defend his state’s ban. A challenge to the gay marriage ban in Texas is in court this week, and court challenges under way in a further 19 states.
There is progress too in many churches, including the Catholics: Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, is just the latest in an expanding list of senior bishops who have opposed full marriage equality, but suggested civil unions as an alternative.
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Idaho’s top court grants adoptive rights to spouse in gay marriage 

Idaho’s top court on Monday ruled that state law allows a woman to adopt the children of her same-sex spouse, in a precedent-setting victory for gay couples in a socially conservative U.S. state that has banned the unions.
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The ruling stems from an adoption petition filed last year by an Idaho woman shortly after her marriage in California to her same-sex partner, the parent of boys ages 12 and 15, legal records showed.
The woman, unidentified in court documents on confidentiality grounds related to adoption, sought to share parental rights with her long-term partner. She appealed a magistrate judge’s rejection of her petition.
The Idaho Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision reversing the lower court’s ruling, said a person’s gender or sexual orientation was not part of the legal criteria that allowed a minor to be adopted by an in-state adult resident.
“Any adult person” is defined as any human being over the age of 18 and “cannot possibly be construed to mean ‘any married adult person’ as the magistrate ultimately determined,” Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones wrote for the court.
– continue reading at  Reuters.
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Catholic Archbishop Condemns Homophobia, Supports Civil Unions

Dr Diarmuid Martin told RTE that the Church had to be very careful that this was not done in the forthcoming debate on the same-sex referendum in the Republic.
Archbishop Martin said he felt that the debate had already got off to a bad start.
Discussions have to be carried out in a “mature” way so that people can freely express their views, while at the same time being respectful and not causing offence, he said.
He said Church teaching was that marriage was between a man and a woman, exclusively, but that this approach did not exclude gay people from celebrating their union by a different means.

 

Responding to Dr Martin’s comments, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said they are disappointed by the comments made by the Archbishop of Dublin regarding same sex marriage and homophobia.
GLEN’s Brian Sheehan described it as “a missed opportunity” to tackle the role of the church and church teachings in creating what it said were “some of the difficult realities for lesbian and gay people in Ireland today”.
However, he welcomed Dr Martin’s acknowledgement of the impact that a culture, which still has homophobia as part of it, has on those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny called for a rational, calm and considered debate ahead of a referendum on same sex marriage next year.
Also speaking on RTÉ’s This week, Mr Kenny said he never considered legislating for same-sex marriage and that it was instead an issue for a referendum.
He also promised to partake in the discussion in the lead-up to the referendum.
Mr Kenny said the Government deemed it important for people to have a debate before they vote in the impending referendum.
“We believe that it’s important the people have a rational, common-sense. calm, considered and compassionate debate about this and I hope that happens.
“Next year people will make their decisions. I didn’t consider legislating for this, it is a question for a referendum and it will be held next year,” said Mr Kenny.
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Worldwide, 78% of Catholics Support Contraception.

It’s a myth that Catholic support for contraception is restricted to the wealthy countries of North America and Western Europe. A 2014 global survey of self-identified Catholics in twelve countries (those with the largest Catholic populations) has found that overall,  78% of Catholics worldwide support the use of contraception. Even in Africa, Catholics are divided, without a clear majority backing the official Catholic prohibition.

Do you support or oppose the use of contraceptives?Contraception, global surveyIn this diagram, “100%” represents the extent of agreement with the Vatican position, and so the points closest to the centre are those most strongly disagreeing with the Humanae Vitae prohibition on artificial contraception. It’s clear that none of the countries included show any strong support for the Vatican position, and most are firmly against. Continue reading Worldwide, 78% of Catholics Support Contraception.

"Redefining Marriage?" (Birmingham Conference, Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality)

The bitter and divisive arguments in the struggles towards marriage equality have highlighted some important issues around the institution of marriage, challenging many common assumptions. For example:

  • The claim by opponents that we cannot redefine marriage are groundless – marriage has been constantly evolving, or “being redefined”, throughout human history. Traditional marriage is not threatened by gay marriage  – issues like widespread promiscuity, cohabitation without marriage, adultery and divorce are far more serious threats.
  • In many modern weddings, the expensive social occasion and conspicuous expense, with the wedding planner a more important presider over ritual than the priest or pastor, has undermined the religious significance of the institution.
  • The inherently patriarchal nature of traditional marriage, raises the question whether civil unions may be more desirable – for different sex couples, as well as for gay men and lesbians.
  • It is untrue that same – sex couples cannot form enduring, stable relationships. There is abundant research evidence to show the contrary, and that on balance same – sex couples are often happier than different – sex couples, because they are more likely to be based on genuine partnership, equality and negotiation.
  • While most gay men and lesbians are overwhelmingly in favour of equal access in law to marriage, some are ambivalent about the extent to which they want it for themselves, wondering if they really want to give up the more relaxed attitude to open relationships, or the single lifestyles, they’ve previously enjoyed.
  • Conversely, some heterosexual people have begun to ask whether their relationships too, could benefit from some tolerance of relationships outside the marriage? Continue reading "Redefining Marriage?" (Birmingham Conference, Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality)

Findings of English Consultation on Marriage to Remain "Confidential"

The results of the global consultation on marriage and family from Austria, Germany and Switzerland have shown widespread Catholic disagreement with the Vatican teaching and rules on marriage and sexual matters. Formal polling in the UK indicates that results here will be very similar, but we won’t know for sure (unless there are unauthorized leaks of the information). The English bishops have reported a high level of public engagement in the process – but will not make public the content of their submission to Rome.

16,500 respond to survey on family ahead of Extraordinary Synod

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England of Wales (CBCEW) has received 16,500 responses to their survey on ‘Pastoral Challenges in the Family,’ but a spokesman for the Conference said that details of the responses will remain confidential.

“In accordance with the wishes of the Holy See, the summary of the responses sent to the Synod of Bishops is confidential,” said the spokesman.

“However, the statistical information shows a high level of engagement in the consultation process. Summary reports were received from all 22 Dioceses in England and Wales, as well as reports from the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Apostolic Prefecture of the Falkland Islands.”

The spokesman revealed that diocese received emails, letters and online forms from Catholics across the country, ahead of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which is due to take place at the Vatican in October.

The spokesman said: “Analysis of 12,266 online responses indicates that 80% of respondents were laity, 69% were married and 38% were parents. 20% of respondents were in positions of responsibility within the Church as priests, chaplains, catechists, teachers, deacons, seminarians, or pastoral assistants.

– full report at  CatholicHerald.co.uk.

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Swiss Catholics Reject Sexual Doctrines

The Austrians have found it so, the Germans have found it so – and the Swiss have found it so: Most Catholics reject Vatican doctrines on sex and marriage.

Churchgoers surveyed: Catholics voice pragmatic attitudes about sex

Most Swiss Catholics are in favour of birth control and living together before marriage, according to a survey commissioned by the Swiss Catholic Bishops Conference. Nearly 24,000 people answered the questionnaire, which focused on marital and family issues.

The questions, posed by Pope Francis, were designed to help the Catholic Church get a better idea of the attitudes held by its members.

Asked how they felt about having a church wedding, about 80% said it was “important” or “very important”. Nearly all said that a Christian upbringing for their children was a priority.

However, as the SPI pointed out in its report on Tuesday, being close to the Catholic Church doesn’t mean participants agree with all of its guidelines.

For example, about 75% said they were in favour of couples living together before getting married to determine their compatibility as spouses. The survey also found that about 70% preferred artificial methods of contraception to natural ones – despite the fact that the Catholic Church is opposed to birth control.

Nearly 90% said they wished the church would recognise and bless marriages between divorced people. And about 60% said that the church should also recognise and bless same-sex marriages.

via – swissinfo.ch.

Der Spiegel: "Pope Francis' Sex Problem"

When news first broke of the global consultation on marriage and family, I predicted that because this would lay bare the huge gulf between Vatican teaching on sex, and Catholic belief and practice on the ground, the consequences would be far greater than Pope Francis and his advisors may have anticipated. As results start to come in, and assorted submissions from reputable theologians are made public, it is becoming clearer than ever that I was right.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna has released results for Austria showing how wide is the gap, and now we have a investigative report from Der Spiegel, on the thoughts of German Catholics.

The Pope’s Sex Problem:

Catholic Survey Shows Deep Frustration within the Church

The Vatican last year sent out a survey to Catholics around the world focusing on attitudes to sex and sexuality. The responses are now in — and they show that the Church is badly in need of reform. Can Pope Francis meet such expectations?

Adolescents find it embarrassing to talk about sex with adults. Even more so when the adult in question is their Catholic priest.

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About 20 girls and boys are sitting on leather sofas in the basement of St. Josef Catholic Community Center on the outskirts of Berlin. The walls are brightly painted and bags of gummy bears and chocolate are on a table in the center of the room.

Hannah, Jonas and their friends giggle when Harald Tux, a friendly, balding man with glasses, reads a questionnaire from the Vatican out loud. It’s about premarital sex, and the officials in Rome want to know how these young Catholics in Berlin’s Weissensee neighborhood feel about it. “Is contraception an option for you?” the theologian asks. The youths are already whispering, and they can’t help but smile when Tux finally gets to the point: “If you used contraception, would you confess to it?”

“Huh?” a girl asks with a grimace. “It’s not a crime,” exclaims a boy in a hooded sweatshirt. They all snort with laughter.

The debate continues. “For our generation, it’s also a question of responsibility. If you don’t want to become a parent at 16 or 17, you have to use contraception,” says Hannah. The 16-year-old and her fellow adolescents cite many other issues where they believe change is needed. “Homosexuals should also be allowed to marry, so that the church can be open to everyone,” says Jonas. “The church doesn’t have the right to interfere.”

Last week, Germany’s Catholic bishops held a two-day conference in the Bavarian city of Würzburg for the purpose of compiling and analyzing the responses given by Hannah, Jonas and other Catholics from all 27 dioceses in Germany. Their conclusions are bound for Rome. The project has likely led to more churchgoers expressing their opinions than ever before in 2,000-year history of the church.

In the past, the church has turned to its bishops to assess the mood in the grassroots, but their reports often contained more pious desires and wishful thinking than facts.

A Wave of Protest

But now the people of God have spoken. Church members around the world were asked for their opinions on the most controversial issues in Catholicism. They expressed how they feel about the strict prohibitions of their faith, on issues ranging from the family to sexual morality. In the coming weeks and months, their responses to the surveys will be processed and analyzed, and in October Pope Francis and bishops from around the world will discuss the results during an extraordinary synod.

SPIEGEL has taken a closer look at the mood in all 27 German dioceses. Some divulged very little information, while many others provided extensive data. Catholic family and youth organizations that were particularly involved in the survey also contributed.

The outcome is devastating for the guardians of pure doctrine. Even the reactions of committed Catholics reflect disinterest, enmity and deep displeasure. Many can no longer relate to the old dogmas and feel left alone by the church. Even in conservative Bavaria, 86 percent of Catholics do not believe it is a sin to use the pill or condoms, both condemned by the church.

– full report at  SPIEGEL ONLINE.

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Fortunate Families: “A Mom Comes Out”

We usually think of the sexual closet and “coming out” as applying to lesbians and gay men, but there are many others dealing with the same issues – especially our parents. “Voices for Justice“, the magazine of Fortunate Families (a group of Catholic parents who have LGBT children) has printed numerous stories of people who have found themselves in closets of their own when their sons or daughters came out, terrified at the anticipated response of friends in their Catholic parishes to the news that they had raised people that would now be regarded (they feared) as unabashed and obvious sinners).

The current issue of Voices for Justice has one more of these. In common with so many others, it carries many useful lessons for parents of gay, lesbian or trans people, but these are also applicable to those of us who are ourselves in that LGBT community:

  • Coming out is challenging, but ultimately rewarding
  • Coming out is a process, not an event
  • The reaction from friends and co-parishioners is usually warmer and more supportive than we expect
  • Where priests or others have made offensive remarks, they can learn from our honest and frank responses.

Here is the full report by Porter Ballard, in Fortunate Families’ Voices for Justice, Feb / March 2014 (reproduced with permission):

fortunate_families2Our son, Kieran, was a freshman at  Rutgers University 12 years ago when he came out to our family. It was a shock to me, but not to my husband or Kieran’s older brother. Kieran’s disclosure did not cause us to love him any less; if anything, his courage and honesty made us love him even more.

However, I felt I had a big secret to  keep. My husband and I were founding parishioners and were active in several ministries. After Kieran came out, I started investigating the Church’s official position on homosexuality. The more I read of  intolerant and uncharitable policies, the more ashamed I felt of my church. It has been said that when a child comes out of the closet, the parents go IN, and this is what happened to me, most especially and particularly at church.

Thoughtless remarks of other people wounded me greatly. I was afraid to speak out because every time I talked about Kieran and Catholicism, I cried. The lowest moment was during a talk on Bible history, when a priest cited the book of Leviticus as proof that homosexuality was an abomination. I cried myself to sleep that night. During this period I was so hurt and angry about the thoughtless remarks and the “official” position of the Catholic Church, I seriously considered leaving the church for good.

My own “coming out” was a long process. First, I learned of a support group for LGBT Catholics and their families at nearby Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in South Plainfield, NJ, and I began attending monthly meetings. These meetings became opportunities to share stories and to pray with Catholic gay people and their parents. When our group, now named “In God’s Image,” staffed a booth at the New Jersey Pride Festival in Asbury Park, NJ, I enjoyed handing out pamphlets to people surprised to see Roman Catholicism represented at the event. The other group members teased me because I was the one calling out to passers-by, “Yes, we’re the real Catholic Church!” In God’s Image also ran a parish fundraiser which enabled us to make a donation to the Ali Forney Shelter for LGBT youth in New York City.

I was asked to make a short presentation about our group after Mass in our hosting parish. I talked about the hurtful remarks and reiterated that my child, like every child God created, had a place in God’s heart and at the Lord’s table. As I talked, much of the hurt and anger I felt at the Church began to fall away. After Mass, many people came up to hug me and thank me for speaking. Speaking publicly was a big step out of my closet!

I also learned about Fortunate Families and began reading the newsletters. It was heartening to read how many Catholic parents of LGBT adult children were actively engaged in creating Catholic communities which welcomed their children. After hearing Mary and Joe Byers speak of their experiences reaching out to LGBT Catholics, and reading “I Wear a Rainbow Because” in the FF newsletter, I began to wear the rainbow pin every Saturday night when I served as a Eucharistic Minister.

Later on, I heard Deb Word, current President of Fortunate Families, speak about her experiences helping homeless gay teens. Deb said something that really caught my attention. She  challenged parents to speak up when priests or bishops say or do something hurtful. Be respectful, she said, but be firm and informative about how and why you were hurt.

Not long afterward, I decided to take Deb’s advice and speak to my own pastor about the hurt I felt when he appealed from the altar for parishioners to sign petitions against New Jersey marriage equality. My pastor was distressed by the depth of my reaction to what, for him, had been merely an act of obedience to the bishop. He asked me if he could give my name to other parents of gay children, should they need support.

Recently Central NJ PFLAG asked me to speak about my experiences as the Catholic Mom of a gay son. That experience caused me to look back over the past few years and see how far I’d come in twelve years. I’m so grateful I’m no longer in the closet!

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Church must adjust to reality of co-habitation, divorce and remarriage, says cardinal

A few years ago, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn hit the headlines, saying that at a time when so many people are not bothering to get married,  the Church should reconsider its approach to divorced people who do want to remarry. At the same time, he said that it was time to shift the emphasis, in responding to gay couples, from an obsession with genital acts, to consideration of the quality of the relationships. On both counts, he was ahead of the pack – and remains so. Speaking about the response of Austrican Catholics to the global survey in preparation for the synod, he has now said that the Church must adjust to the reality of co-habitation, divorce and remarriage, To which LGBT Catholics would add, and to the reality of same – sex couples – and if the “Church” should adapt, then so too should Catholic schools.

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Continue reading Church must adjust to reality of co-habitation, divorce and remarriage, says cardinal