Category Archives: Pastoral Ministry

​France’s Protestant Church Approves Blessings for Gay Couples

Two years after France legalized gay marriage, church blessings for same – sex couples have been approved by the main Protestant Church (formed after a 2012-2013 merger of the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church).

The headline in the RT report quoted below is a little misleading. The church has not voted to “bless” or conduct gay marriages, but will permit pastors to conduct blessing services for same – sex couples. The scale of the support for this decision is notable – 94 votes for, just 6 against.

​France’s Main Protestant Church Gives Blessing to Gay Marriages

France’s largest Protestant Church, the fourth-largest religious group in the country, has voted for its pastors to give their blessing to homosexual couples. The move comes two years after Paris legalized same-sex marriages.

“The synod has decided to take a step forward in accompanying people and these couples by opening the possibility of celebrating liturgical blessings if they want,” said Laurent Schlumberger, president of the Church.

The decision was supported by 94 delegates out of 100. Only three voted against blessing homosexual couples. However, the vicars who oppose the practice won’t be forced to perform it.

— RT News.

Colombian Bishop: No Biblical Condemnation of Homosexuality

Like Ireland, Colombia is a heavily Catholic country now considering the introduction of legal provision for same – sex marriage. (It has had civil unions for some years already). As in Ireland, Catholic bishops are opposed to the measure – but also as in Ireland, the tone and rhetoric of this opposition is markedly more sensitive and acceptable than that seen previously in Scotland, say, or in some states of the USA.

In calling for respectful debate, Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba of Fontibon has made some remarkable admissions (remarkable, that is, for Catholic bishops. For those of us who pay attention to the facts, they seem quite obvious). Continue reading Colombian Bishop: No Biblical Condemnation of Homosexuality

Church of Scotland Votes to Allow Gay Ministers in Civil Partnerships

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to allow congregations to ordain gay ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships – BBC News.

Delegates voted 309 in favour and 183 against.

The vote followed a church-wide debate and consultations with all 45 presbyteries, which voted 31 to 14 in favour of change.

A further vote will be held this week on whether or not to extend ordination to ministers in same sex marriages.

Supporters said it was time for the church to be inclusive and recognise the “mixed economy” of modern Scotland.

Opponents warned that the move was contrary to God’s law, would prove divisive and lead to resignations.

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said that the current stance meant that the Church had adopted a position which “maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to ‘opt out’ if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same sex civil partnership.”

-more at  BBC News.

Continue reading Church of Scotland Votes to Allow Gay Ministers in Civil Partnerships

Is Cardinal Nichols “Queering the Church”?

This is fun. Mark Lambert, referring to the transfer of the old Soho Masses congregation from Warwick Street to Farm Street, writes:

However, it became very obvious, very quickly, that Cardinal Nichols had no intention of stopping the Masses, he simply moved the venue. What about dealing with the Pastoral issue? Surely he did that? Well, the Masses are followed by a “social” organised by LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council. Their lack of fidelity to Christ and His Church is written all over their Facebook Page here. These are people who self-identify as LGBT, who think the Church is wrong in what it teaches, and who want to change the Church to suit their own sexual predilection.

The Catholic Herald cover the story of the Mass here. Of course, the Cardinal’s spokesman is very careful to articulate that the Mass was not specifically “for gay Catholics”, but for all Farm Street parishioners.

Regardless, the most revealing comments are made by the people the Mass was aimed at. Terence Weldon runs the blog Queering the Church, the title of which disturbs me greatly in itself and speaks to its agenda.

via Cardinal Nichols is Queering the Church.

If the title of my blog is “revealing”, then so are the comments made by Mark Lambert Continue reading Is Cardinal Nichols “Queering the Church”?

“God’s commandments are not rules but an expression of mercy”: English Cardinal

From the Tablet:

God’s commandments are not rules but an expression of mercy, cardinal tells lesbian and gay Catholics

12 May 2015 12:27 by Liz Dodd

Follow God’s commandments but never forget his mercy, Cardinal Vincent Nichols told lesbian and gay Catholics during a pastoral visit to the London parish where they celebrate Mass together.

The service at the Jesuit-run church in Farm Street, in central London, on Sunday evening marked the first time a cardinal has presided at a Mass specifically welcoming LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Catholics, its organisers said.

The group, LGBT Catholics Westminster, moved their regular community Masses from Soho to the Immaculate Conception church in Farm Street two years ago at Cardinal Nichols’ request.

The cardinal’s homily opened by remembering St Peter’s words to the Gentile Cornelius in Acts 10 that “God does not have any favourites” – something he described as a prelude to opening the Church to those thought of as “beyond its boundaries”.

He told the congregation that God’s mercy and his commandments were not in opposition to each other.

“The commandments of God are given to us precisely as a mercy. They are not, in some strange way, more important than mercy. They are not rules imposed from the outside that above all else have to be obeyed. They are given to help us to live the pathway of our true dignity and highest calling,” he said.

-more at The Tablet – News.

Swiss Catholics Call for Blessings for Same-sex Partnerships

In a remarkable document published by the Swiss Bishops Conference, it is noted that in Switzerland, there is strong support for the recognition of same – sex relationships, including blessings of such partnerships.

Following a comprehensive national consultation with the nation’s Catholics, in which more than 6000 people participated, the Swiss Catholic bishops have reported that Swiss Catholics want to see blessings for same – sex partnerships, and also a change in the teaching on communion for divorced and remarried people.

Swiss consultation

Continue reading Swiss Catholics Call for Blessings for Same-sex Partnerships

Polish Archdiocese Retracts Invitation for LGBT Pastoral Discussion

From the Tablet News

Westminster LGBT representative ‘snubbed by Krakow archdiocese’ on visit to encourage pastoral care

11 May 2015 14:23 by Paul Wilkinson

A member of the Catholic lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in London has claimed he was snubbed by Polish church leaders during a visit last month.

Martin Pendergast, from the Westminster diocese, said his invitation to meet Krakow diocese representatives to discuss LGBT pastoral care was suddenly withdrawn, despite Cardinal Vincent Nichols providing a letter of introduction to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow.

Mr Pendergast said that although he knew that neither Cardinal Dziwisz nor his auxiliary, Bishop Grzegorz Rys, would be in Krakow at the time, it was agreed he would meet with diocesan officials. He said: “A range of excuses for cancellation was offered but successively contradicted – Cardinal Nichols’ letter of introduction had not been received, nobody was available for such a meeting, and finally that I and my hosts had failed to arrive.”

via The Tablet – News.

Westminster LGBT Catholics Welcome Cardinal Nichols’ Mass Celebration

Cardinal Vincent Nichols was welcomed by a packed Farm Street Jesuit Church on Sunday, 10 May 2015, when he presided at the scheduled 18.15 Mass which welcomes LGBT Catholics, their parents and families. This was the first time that an Archbishop of Westminster had presided at such a Mass which was concelebrated by Monsignor Keith Barltrop, the Cardinal’s Liaison with the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, Farm Street’s Parish Priest, Fr. Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ, and Fr. John O’Leary, Cardinal Nichols’ Secretary.

Specially-composed music, including Live every day in my love, based on the day’s Gospel reading, and a new version of Psalm 97 were sung by the Beacon Music Group which accompanies Farm Street’s 2nd Sunday evening Masses. Members of the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council were among the readers at the Mass.

Continue reading Westminster LGBT Catholics Welcome Cardinal Nichols’ Mass Celebration

Cardinal’s Clear Welcome & Support to Westminster LGBT Catholics.

Celebrating Mass at the Jesuit parish of Farm Street London last night, Cardinal Vincent Nichols made abundantly and explicitly clear, his message of welcome and support for the inclusion of the LGBT Catholic group in the parish life.

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street (London)

Advance information about the Cardinal’s visit had been decidedly mixed. The LGBT group at the parish, which has been meeting regularly at the parish since the group was moved by the Cardinal from their previous base at Warwick Street two years ago, was enthusiastic, and actively promoted the event as a Mass which Cardinal Nichols would celebrate with the LGBT Catholic group in the parish.  The usual suspects of hostile rule – book Catholic bloggers and other commentators interpreted it in similar fashion, but in tones of horror, not delight. Meanwhile, the diocesan office tried to be more neutral, presenting it as simply a conventional “pastoral visit”, such as the cardinal regularly makes to parishes around the diocese. Continue reading Cardinal’s Clear Welcome & Support to Westminster LGBT Catholics.