Category Archives: Uncategorized

Amoris Laetitiae: Take Up the Key, and Open the Door?

First, a reminder from the GNRC response: “If the door is not yet opened, maybe the key is under the mat?”. Yes, there are obvious disappointments in their for LGBT people – but it’s not constructive to simply sit back and wait for the door to be opened. If the key is indeed under the mat, it’s up to us to pick it up, and use it. Amoris Laetitia in fact includes a great deal of useful material (some of it hidden, and waiting to be unpicked, especially in coded references in indirect support of LGBT relationships and queer families). We have work to do, in using these resources, and by engaging forcefully with bishops, clergy and others for greater LGBT inclusion and equality in church.

Furthermore, I suspect that LGBT disappointments are there, primarily when we read the text from a narrowly LGBT perspective. Our issues though, and the obvious flaws in conventional doctrine, are only a small part (and not a very important part) of teaching as a whole.The Catholic Church is very much bigger than a small lgbt community – and the problems with the Catholic Church and its doctrines are very much bigger than the problems with its disordered teaching on homosexuality. These problems are embedded in a much wider problem with the whole of its ignorance about human sexuality – and that in turn lies in the stupidity of compulsory clerical celibacy, unhealthy awe of an authoritarian hierarchy, the culture of clericalism – and an obsession with rigid doctrine itself. All these contribute to the caused of Catholic nonsense over lgbt prople and our relationhips – and in Amoris Laetitiae and elsewhere, Pope Francis is preparing to demolish them all. For that,we should be truly thankful.,




Related Posts:

LGBTI in Africa – Some Signs of Hope?

We all know about the horrors of outright persecution, too often with the collaboration of some Catholic bishops.  For many, there’s a strong feeling that “We must do something”. But, ill-considered interventions from outside can be dangerous and counter-productive. For those wanting to make a constructive contribution to change in Africa, a prudent course is to work with the indigenous LGBTI rights movement. In the view from outside the continent, there’s not nearly enough awareness of Africa’s own LGBTI movements, and the progress they are making.

This is true even in the Catholic Church. While far too many of Africa’s bishops have openly supported calls for criminalization or harsher penalties, a striking feature of the foundation conference for the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics was the number of groups and individuals from Africa either present in Rome, or who had attempted to attend, but were denied visas. (A case of discrimination applied by Italy, not by African governments?). Many LGBT responses to Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitiae” have expressed disappointment that its insistence on respect for gays and lesbians and its clearly stated opposition to discrimination and violence, were not accompanied with a direct condemnation of discrimination and violence in Africa. But a respected African theologian sees it differently. Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator S.J., a Nigerian theologian based in Kenya, believes that African bishops will read Pope Francis’ words, and realise the direct implications for the Church and LGBT people in Africa.

There is progress also in politics, and in law. Much of the reporting on LGBT rights in Africa has focussed on moves to criminalize homosexuality, or to increase the penalties. But getting much less attention has been moves in the opposite direction.

On May 22 2014, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights did something wholly unprecedented. It committed an emphatically gay- and lesbian-friendly act. It adopted Resolution 275. This condemned violence and other human rights violations against persons on the basis of real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity. The historic importance of this resolution cannot be overstated. It is the first time that an Africa-wide body has taken a stand for LGBTI rights and protection.

-Justice Edwin Cameron, in Mail and Guardian

Last year (2015), homosexuality was decriminalized in Mozambique – which introduced  protection against employment discrimination in 2007. Also in 2015, courts in both Botswana and Kenya gave some limited protection for LGBTI rights, requiring the governments of both countries to register LGBTI NGO’s.

We should also remember that for some African countries, decriminalization is not necessary – because homosexuality was never criminalized – unlike Europe, and the rest of the world in the colonial period. There is a popular but false claim by African opponents of LGBT equality, that homosexuality is foreign to African culture, and was a European import. The truth is the exact reverse. African and other historians have been compiling mounting and impressive evidence that same-sex relationships have always been part of African culture, just as they have been in every society and every geographic region. As awareness of the real African gay history spreads, we should expect further progress towards LGBTI rights in Africa.

 It remains a long, hard struggle ahead – but to help most effectively, outsiders should aim to work with Africans themselves.

Related Posts:

African LGBTI Pride is Unstoppable

Romans 1:24 – 27, Part Two – Historical, Cultural Context.

I wrote recently about interpretation of Paul’s letter to the Romans as it affects LGBT Christians, pointing out that if we approach it with due consideration for the context of the full Chapter 1 and opening of Chapter 2, and not just the frequently quoted verses of 1:24 – 27, the sense of the passage changes substantially. This is not after all a condemnation of same – sex relationships as sinful. Paul does however, describe them as “shameful”. To appreciate more precisely what he means by this, and what it should mean for gay Christians today, we need to pay attention to another of the principles recommended for biblical interpretation by the Pontifical Biblical Commission: the need to consider the historical and cultural context appertaining at the time of writing.

I made a start on this in a previous post, where I argued that when the cultural context is considered for this passage, the real meaning is hiding in plain site: Paul was writing to the Romans, for whom sex in all its variety, was an even bigger part of daily life than in modern Western cities, with no general hostility to same – gender sexual practices.

Ithyphallic Tintinnabulum in British Museum (Source: Wikipedia)




Continue reading Romans 1:24 – 27, Part Two – Historical, Cultural Context.

Scientists may have finally solved the puzzle of what makes a person gay, and how it is passed from parents to their children.


A group of scientists suggested Tuesday that homosexuals get that trait from their opposite-sex parents: A lesbian will almost always get the trait from her father, while a gay man will get the trait from his mother.

The hereditary link of homosexuality has long been established, but scientists knew it was not a strictly genetic link, because there are many pairs of identical twins who have differing sexualities. Scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis say homosexuality seems to have an epigenetic, not a genetic link.
Long thought to have some sort of hereditary link, a group of scientists suggested Tuesday that homosexuality is linked to epi-marks — extra layers of information that control how certain genes are expressed. These epi-marks are usually, but not always, “erased” between generations. In homosexuals, these epi-marks aren’t erased — they’re passed from father-to-daughter or mother-to-son, explains William Rice, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara and lead author of the study.
-more at US News

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Scotland refuses to ban ‘any church’ from providing same-sex marriages

All religious institutions – including the Church of Scotland – will be free to decide for themselves if they would like to provide marriages for gay couples, under plans announced today.

Church-of-Scotland-logo-1

The move comes after the UK Government yesterday unveiled its formal plans to allow gay couples to marry in England and Wales from 2013.

However, the Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages – a decision that has already been criticised by equality campaigners along with the Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan.

The Scottish Government has ruled out introducing similar conditions for the nation’s Presbyterian church, although SNP ministers insist that no churches would be forced to hold same-sex weddings.

Ministers have already decided they want to make the change, and now need to consult on proposed legislation to be put to the Scottish Parliament.

The consultation on its draft legislation – opposed by the Church of Scotland and the nation’s Catholic Church – will last until March.

 

– Pink News

 

 

Bishop Otis Charles

b. April 24, 1926

Bishop Charles was the first openly gay bishop in any Chrisitian denomination.

From LGBT Religious Archives:

Since 1979 he has been among a growing number of bishops who have spoken out for full and complete inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church without restriction, recognizing their calling to ministry and rejecting the notion that a baptized homosexual must live a celibate life. In 1980, he was the recipient of the national Integrity Award. He is represented in Out in the Workplace: Gay and Lesbian Professionals Tell Their Stories.
Upon his retirement in 1993, Charles publicly announced his homosexuality, becoming the first openly gay bishop of any Christian denomination. That September he sent an epistle to his colleagues in the House of Bishops that said, in part: “I have promised myself that I will not remain silent, invisible, unknown. After all is said and done, the choice for me is not whether or not I am a gay, but whether or not I am honest about who I am with myself and others. It is a choice to take down the wall of silence I have built around an important and vital part of my life, to end the separation and isolation I have imposed on myself all these years.”
John McNeil, former Jesuit and author of Freedom, Glorious Freedom speaks of Bishop Charles’ coming out as “an extraordinary example (of the) public exposure… required… to… provide an image… of what it is to be mature as Christian and as gay” (pp.82-83). In Last Watch of the Night, Paul Monette wrote of Bishop Charles’ coming out as “an important moment in gay and lesbian history, and a ringing challenge to the status quo of invisibility” (p. 304).
The Sunday edition of the New York Times (October 10, 1993) as well as both gay and straight press around the country reported the bishop’s action. Boston’s Bay Windows editorialized: “the news of a 67 year old bishop coming out of the closet is something at which to marvel. Charles puts it less grandly, however, saying simply that it was a matter of integrity.”
After making his public witness Bishop Charles, who appreciates being addressed by his baptismal name, Otis, has welcomed the opportunity to share his story. Whether in an informal gathering or the pulpit, he characteristically begins, “I am a gay man, an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop, a queer who only just mustered the courage to publicly acknowledge the truth of my life.”
Charles has continued as an active and voting member of the Episcopal House of Bishops taking many stands on behalf of his community. In 1995, Charles co-founded Oasis/California, the Bay Area Episcopal Lesbian and Gay ministry. In 1998, Charles was appointed Interim Dean of the School for Deacons serving northern California. During this time he also served as  Bishop-in-residence at the Church of St. John-the-Evangelist in San Francisco and a founding editor of Millennium3, an on-line and print publication distributed to all 13,600 Episcopal clergy. He was an Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of California until 2004.
Charles is currently working on his memoirs and editing a collection of personal reflections on the contribution of entheogens as an opening to mystical experience. Since 1993 he has been a resident of San Francisco where he lives with his partner, Felipe Sanchez Paris.

Gay Wedding Was A Trial For The Reformed Church : NPR

After Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, Norman Kansfield’s daughter asked him to perform her wedding ceremony.

Kansfield, a respected pastor, scholar and lifelong member of the Reformed Church in America, agreed to marry Ann and her long-time girlfriend. He informed the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where he served as president, of his plans.

“I had thought that there would be a request for my resignation,” Kansfield says. “Nobody did that.”

It was a June wedding.

EnlargeLily Percy/NPR

Norman Kansfield and his wife, Mary, at their home in eastern Pennsylvania. Kansfield was put on trial by the Reformed Church after performing his daughter’s same-sex marriage.

“I’m a very emotional person, so I was quite pleased that I had not choked up or teared up throughout the service,” Kansfield says. “And then afterward, two women came to me and said that that was the first service in which they had felt genuinely part of church in years. They were a lesbian couple, and, at that point, I wept.”

The First Trial In Church History

Though no attempt was made to stop Kansfield from officiating his daughter’s wedding, the seminary’s board decided not to renew his contract the next year.

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, who served as general secretary of the Reformed Church for 17 years before retiring in 2011, says Kansfield left the church no other option.

“Up to that point, it had kind of been don’t-ask-don’t-tell,” Granberg-Michaelson says. “It was clear that while this certainly was a father’s love for his daughter, it also was an intentional statement that Norm was trying to make.”

via Gay Wedding Was A Trial For The Reformed Church : NPR.

Maryknoll: Vatican has dismissed Roy Bourgeois from order

Roy Bourgeois, a longtime peace activist and priest who had come under scrutiny for his support of women’s ordination, has been dismissed from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, which he served for 45 years, according to the congregation.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made the dismissal in October, according to a news release issued Monday afternoon by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Dominican Fr. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer acting on Bourgeois’ behalf, told NCR he was not aware of the move.

Doyle said he and Bourgeois met with Maryknoll’s superior general, Fr. Edward Dougherty, in June, and the issue of dismissal had not been discussed.

“The idea then was that things would continue and they would not dismiss Roy and they would continue to dialogue,” Doyle said. “And then this just happened, unilaterally. [Bourgeois] had no idea.”

Bourgeois was not available for comment Monday afternoon.

Mike Virgintino, the manager of communications for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, declined to answer any questions about the matter.

“I cannot answer any additional questions,” Virgintino said. “We have to stay with that statement. I can’t answer anything more.”

– full report at National Catholic Reporter.

Women Bishops: CoE Press Release; News Commentary

Following the defeat by General Synod of the women bishops legislation this afternoon the Church of England issued this press release.

General Synod Rejects Draft Legislation on Women Bishops

20 November 2012

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted to reject the draft legislation to allow women to become bishops.

Under the requirements of the Synod the legislation required a two-thirds majority in each of the three voting houses for final draft approval. Whilst more than two thirds voted for the legislation in both the House of Bishops (44-03) and the House of Clergy (148-45), the vote in favour of the legislation in the House of Laity was less than two-thirds (132-74). The vote in the House of Laity fell short of approval by six votes.

In total 324 members of the General Synod voted to approve the legislation and 122 voted to reject it.

The consequence of the “no” vote of terminating any further consideration of the draft legislation means that it will not be possible to introduce draft legislation in the same terms until a new General Synod comes into being in 2015, unless the ‘Group of Six’ (the Archbishops, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity) give permission and report to the Synod why they have done so.

Speaking after the vote the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said: “A clear majority of the General Synod today voted in favour of the legislation to consecrate women as Bishops. But the bar of approval is set very high in this Synod. Two-thirds of each house has to approve the legislation for it to pass. This ensures the majority is overwhelming. The majority in the house of laity was not quite enough. This leaves us with a problem. 42 out of 44 dioceses approved the legislation and more than three quarters of members of diocesan synods voted in favour. There will be many who wonder why the General Synod expressed its mind so differently.

“The House of Bishops recognises that the Church of England has expressed its mind that women should be consecrated as bishops. There is now an urgent task to find a fresh way forward to which so many of those who were opposed have pledged themselves.”

The House of Bishops of the Church of England will meet at 08.30am on Wednesday morning in emergency session to consider the consequences of the vote.

Exact voting figures will be found here.

via Thinking Anglicans.

Commentary added by Thinking Anglicans:

To clarify the statement “The vote in the House of Laity fell short of approval by six votes.”, if six members of the House of Laity had voted in favour instead of against, the vote would in that house would have reached the necessary two-thirds majority.

Also at Thinking Anglicans, is a series of useful posts summarizing the reactions from a wide range of sources:

Women Bishops Press Release (as above, with comments by TA readers)

More Responses to the Vote, Part 1, with responses to the vote by:

  • Affirming Catholicism
  • WATCH
  • Inclusive Church
  • GRAS

Press Coverage and Commentary updated Wednesday morning, with headlines from:

and a link to CofE Media Briefing for today.

More Responses to the Vote, Part 2, with commentary from:

  • Church of England Evangelical Council
  • Statement from Chairman of Reform on Today’s Synod Vote
  • Forward in Faith reacts to the defeat of the draft Measure
  • Catholic Group on General Synod

 *******

 More commentary:

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November 10: Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin, Pioneer Lesbian Activists

Del Martin 
 
b. May 5, 1921
d. August 27, 2008
 
Phyllis Lyon 
 
b. November 10, 1924

“Two extraordinary people … that have spent the greater part of a half century … fighting for their right to live the way so many of us, frankly, take for granted.

 – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom



Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon founded the first lesbian organization in the United States and have fought for more than 50 years for the rights of lesbians and gays. On June 16, 2008, Martin and Lyon became the first gay couple to be legally married in California.

Martin and Lyon both earned degrees in journalism. While working as journalists in Seattle, the two became romantically involved. The couple relocated to San Francisco and moved in together on Valentine’s Day 1953.

In 1955, finding it hard to develop a social network in San Francisco, Martin, Lyon and a small group of women founded the first lesbian organization, called the Daughters of Bilitis. The name was inspired by Pierre Louys’s “Songs of Bilitis,” a collection of poems celebrating lesbian sexuality.

Though it was intended to be a secret society, Martin and Lyon wanted to make the Daughters of Bilitis more visible. The group began publishing a monthly magazine, called The Ladder, which was the first-ever lesbian publication. As editors of the magazine, they capitalized the word “lesbian” every time it appeared.

In 1964, while fighting to change California sex laws criminalizing homosexuals, the couple joined religious and gay community leaders to form the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH). This organization was at the forefront of the movement to gain religious support on gay rights issues. Both women served on the founding CRH board of directors.

In 2004, when gay marriage was offered in San Francisco, Martin and Lyon were the first to wed. A California appellate court ruling subsequently invalidated their marriage. Then in May 2008, a California Supreme Court decision provided same-sex couples the right to marry. On June 16, 2008, they were the first same-sex couple married in California. The wedding was officiated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Martin and Lyon have published two books together, “Lesbian/Woman” (1972) and “Lesbian Love and Liberation” (1973). On their 50th anniversary, the documentary “No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon” premiered. In 2005, the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association inducted Martin and Lyon into the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame for their pioneering work on The Ladder. In 2007, they received the 2007 Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Pioneer Award.

Bibliography
Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon.” (The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network).

Kornblum, Janet. “Gay Activists Blaze Trail for half century.”  USA Today. March 4, 2004

Streitmatter, Rodger.  “Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin.”  National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association: LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame.  June 5, 2008

Articles
Gordon, Rachel. “Lesbian Pioneer Activists See Wish Fulfilled.” San Francisco Chronicle. June 16, 2008

Marshall, Carolyn. “Dozens of Gay Couples Marry in San Francisco Ceremonies.” The New York Times. February 13, 2004

McKinley, Jesse. “Same-Sex Marriages Begin in California.” The New York Times. June 17, 2008

Books

Lesbian love and liberation (The Yes book of sex) (1973)
Battered Wives (1976)

Other Resources

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