Category Archives: Marriage / family

Italian Bishops’ (de facto) Acceptance of Civil Unions.

For years, Italy has been a major, conspicuous anomaly on the Wikipedia map of same-sex unions in Europe: the only country of Western Europe to have neither same-sex marriage, nor any other legal recognition for same-sex couples. Up to now, this has come about with the implacable opposition of the Italian bishops to any form of legal recognition.

With the passage this week of a civil unions bill in the Italian senate, by a comfortable majority, that’s about to change. More remarkably, this has come about with the de facto acquiescence of the Italian bishops. This is a truly remarkable turnaround, in just a few years!

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Continue reading Italian Bishops’ (de facto) Acceptance of Civil Unions.

‘Crucial’ study of transgender children links mental health with family support 

Transgender children who are allowed to present their gender identity and change their names have good mental health outcomes, according to a study released on Friday and hailed as “crucially important”.

The study, published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics, shows the positive impact family support can have on the lives of transgender children, a group long hidden from public view.

Researchers found normal levels of depression and only slightly elevated anxiety levels in transgender children who were supported by their families.

Such support included the use of pronouns that matched the child’s gender identity, calling them by the name of their choosing and, often, and allowing them to change their hairstyle and clothing to reflect their identity. Such children are also known as “socially transitioned” children.

Source: ‘Crucial’ study of transgender children links mental health with family support | Society | The Guardian

 

Gender and the tyranny of the ‘normal’  , Guardian cif

Spanish Theologians Back Gay Marriage.

A few years ago, it was German speaking theologians from Europe who hit the headlines when they signed a letter asking for far-reaching reforms on Church teaching and structure.

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Now, a group of mostly Spanish  language from Latin America who have asked the Synod for far more radical reforms. They ask for full LGBT equality in Church (including equal marriage), an end to the absolute ban on abortion, admission to the priesthood for married men and women, and access to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

Here’s the groundbreaking opening section , on full LGBT inclusion: Continue reading Spanish Theologians Back Gay Marriage.

Rainbow Catholics’ Letter to Synod Fathers

At the conclusion of their founding conference, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics sent a “letter of greeting” to the synod fathers gathering in Rome.

From Thursday evening to Sunday evening 1st October to 4th October,  a group of LGBT Catholics from 31 countries, together with some friends and family members, gathered in Rome for the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.

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We shared our experiences as rainbow Catholics in a wide diversity of settings, we described our particular challenges, shared our greatest successes, and spoke of our special needs for support from the global network. We mapped out a direction and structure for our continuing work, then on Saturday afternoon we interrupted our own work to host a public meeting, “The Ways of Love”, to head about some notable achievements in pastoral practice from around the world. Resuming on Sunday, we elected a steering committee, with good gender balance and with representation from every continent, to take the work forward.

At the conclusion of the conference,  we sent to every member of the Synod, just starting a short distance away, this  letter:

Dear Sisters and Brothers at the Synod on the Family,

Greetings from the new-born Global Network of Rainbow Catholics!

We are a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics, and along with our loving families and friends, we have spent the last few days not far from you, in Rome, consolidating two years of work, which have advanced alongside your double Synod preparations.

We come from over thirty countries, both as individuals and as representatives of groups, who have been involved with the flourishing of people like ourselves in the lives of our local churches, (as well as with many other tasks). The last years have not been an easy ride! Many in our Church thought that they were serving God by hating us, and some still do, especially among the hierarchy; but we can tell you with joy, that we have kept alive our Confession of the Catholic faith! We have kept the faith under persecution, and are ready to join with you in the joyful announcement of the Gospel to which Pope Francis has called us.

Because God is wonderful, we have found that through this life as dregs among the people of God, the Holy Spirit has given us a surprising (at least to us) capacity to stand up and be counted, not to be frightened of those who fear us,not to be resentful of the incapacity for approval, and the bureaucratic meanness of spirit and dishonesty to which we have regularly been subjected. We have learned that it is not what the Church can do for us, but what we can do for the Church that matters.

We need to be better prepared to join you in your task of spreading the Gospel and building up the families in which(as we have so often experienced ourselves) God delights. We need to support each other, and others more vulnerable than ourselves, at a worldwide level,especially in countries which criminalize us, and even think they are honouring God by killing us. We need to be able to share information, counter falsehood, encourage each other in our needs, and strengthen our families, especially where civil law does not yet respect them. So we have decided to set up a Global network, to bring together groups of LGBTI Catholics, our families and friends, as well as other Christians and people of good will. This will enable us to be much better prepared to share experiences, life stories, examples of best-practice:little miracles of love.

We want to set up our network in such a way that we can even be useful to you, though we know from long experience\how frightened many of you are of communicating with us discreetly, even less talking to us on the record! Having learned, by living with Jesus, not to be dismayed by the falsehoods and calumnies concerning us to which some of you still seem wedded, and even pass off as “teaching of the Church”, you will find us resilient, because we know that we are loved. In the near-absence of visible shepherds, we have come to trust and love a Shepherd who was not ashamed to give himself to death for us, One whose voice we hear, with whom we are not in rivalry, and in whose light all others who call themselves shepherds can be tested for their fruits. Because of this, you may even be surprised to find us meek!

So we write to you to wish you encouragement for these days of your Synodal gathering, as well as for the months and years to come as we all begin to live the hints of the new that are coming to birth, discovering new ways of celebrating the family, rather than condemning wine that threatens to burst old wineskins. We are thrilled that you heard with us Pope Francis’ wonderful homily in Philadelphia last week, where he drew out the consequences of both Jesus’ and Moses’ rebuke to those who would hold back the Spirit.

We have prayed for you at every Mass at our meeting, and we ask you to pray for us, confident that we will soon be able to meet transparently, with joy. For we are amazed to have discovered that over the last few years, despite everything, and because nothing is impossible to God, we have become insiders with you in the life of the Gospel, and co-sharers in all your joyful tasks.

With warmest greetings from your rainbow sisters and brothers in Christ.

Rome,
Feast of St Francis of Assisi, 2015

Cardinal Sarah: Softening Christ’s teaching on marriage is ‘heresy’

Speaking to the World Meeting of Families, Cardinal Sarah has warned that softening Christ’s teaching on marriage is heresy.

“Even members of the Church can be tempted to soften Christ’s teaching on marriage and the family,” the cardinal said. “To varying degrees, the idea would consist in placing the Magisterium in a pretty box and separating it from pastoral practice, which could evolve according to such circumstances, fashions and emphases.”

Cardinal Sarah heads the Vatican Congregation for Sacred Worship. He should take his message to his colleague in the Vatican, Cardinal Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who mistakes Vatican doctrine for “God’s word”.

….. he (Cardinal Muller) said that “it’s not possible” for those who have violated church doctrine with regard to divorce, homosexuality or abortion to be fully welcomed back into the church: “It’s not an academic doctrine. It’s the word of God.”

Continue reading Cardinal Sarah: Softening Christ’s teaching on marriage is ‘heresy’

Canadian Anglicans Present Biblical, Theological Case for Same – Sex Marriage.

In common with many other Christian denominations, Canadian Anglicans have been engaged in programmes of serious study and dialogue, on appropriate responses to LGBT inclusion in church, including access to marriage. In 2013, the General Synod approved a motion “directing the drafting of a motion “to change Canon XXI on marriage to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples”. There followed the appointment of a commission to investigate and consult widely, and to prepare a report and suitable motion to present to General Synod. That commission has now published its report.

This report does not in any way promote, or oppose, the introduction of marriage equality in the Church. Its mandate was to prepare a suitable motion on which General Synod will vote, and either approve or reject. What is important in the report for now, not only for Canadian Anglicans but for all queer people of faith and their allies, is that a major part of the report includes an analysis of the biblical and theological understanding of marriage – and concludes that from both perspectives, a case can be made in favour of same – sex marriage, in church.

The full report may be accessed at http://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/Marriage_Canon_REPORT_15Sept22.pdf

Here follows the last two sections, the conclusion to the section on the Biblical and Theological case in favour, and the concluding chapter to the full report. Continue reading Canadian Anglicans Present Biblical, Theological Case for Same – Sex Marriage.

Cardinal Nichols on Synod Survey: Disagreements, Vigour in the English Church

News reports this morning are that Cardinal Vincent Nichols has released a report on responses to the survey conducted early this year, in preparation for the Family Synod 2015, on English views on marriage, family and the Catholic Church. I’ve not yet found a link to the full report, but the reports I’ve seen are worth noting.

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Extracts from the Telegraph:

The Roman Catholic Church is bigoted, misogynistic, controlling, judgmental, outdated and pharisaical – in the view of some its own most devoted members, according to an unprecedented official snapshot of opinion in the pews revealed by Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric.

Cardinal Nichols said it was vital to be open about the nature some of the comments, which he said showed the Church as a “lively, passionate family” which has its arguments rather than simply a “PR exercise”.

 And from Christian Today:
Members of the Catholic Church in England and Wales have issued a strong critique of the Church’s teaching on marriage and families.

The document describes the Church as “out of touch, unbending”, and “unrealistic” while offering a “lack of support for same-sex partnerships and contraception”.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Nichols, said a key response is a renewed focus on personal relationship to Jesus following the example set by the Pope.

 

German Synod Father Supports Same – Sex Blessings

One intriguing feature of the Synod on Marriage and Family next month, is that at least two bishops have gone on record as stating that they support the principle of church blessings for same – sex couples. Bishop Bonny of Belgium is one. Bishop Bode of Germany is another.

In an interview with the German Catholic News Agency KNA, Bishop Bode of Osterbruck discussed his expectations from the synod, in general terms, for those who are divorced and remarried – and for homosexuals, and especially those in stable same – sex relationships.
What I find particularly interesting about this interview, is that he does more than simply express support for the principle of church blessings for gay couples, he points to a way in which this might actually become feasible.
First, he points to the well- established but often ignored feature of Catholic teaching, that there should be no discrimination against homosexuals. Like many others, he repeats an insistence that gay unions cannot be treated as marriage, which can only be between a man and a woman, and open to procreation. That is differentiation, not discrimination.  However, he notes that there are other Catholics in sexual relationships that do not conform to Church teaching, such as those who are cohabiting without marriage. To treat same – sex couples differently to those, in pastoral practice he says, is discrimination, and therefore unacceptable. So, in responding to same – sex couples, pastors should look to the good in their relationships, not merely at what is out of step with teaching – just as they do with other Catholics in irregular situations.
Next, he notes that while any form of recognition comparable to marriage is impossible for the Catholic Church, it is possible to offer some form of prayer and informal blessing, where the pastor is able to judge the quality of the relationship to be suitable. Note the qualification though – these should be “private” blessings, which presumably means in a household setting, not actually in Church.
Third, he notes that although the strength of the Catholic Church is its universality, a community cutting across cultural boundaries, nevertheless we need to take account of geographic differences in social and political contexts. (Interestingly, some African bishops have made exactly the same point, from a different perspective).  That being so, he speculates that it is possible, for pastors in some areas to be granted a degree of autonomy in these decisions, so that where same – sex couples are socially commonplace and legally provided for, perhaps in these countries (including his own Germany), such blessings could be authorized – but not elsewhere.
Now recall that when Germany’s largest lay organization called for the introduction of church blessings for gay and lesbian couples, the response by Cardinal Marx was that their request could not be accepted “unreservedly” – implying a possible acceptance, with reservations. Perhaps Bishop Bode’s qualifications, are just such reservations. I also speculated along exactly these lines myself, when Cardinal Marx’s response became public.
I have published the full interview, covering divorce and general expectations, at The Queer Church Repository, in the original German, and in an English translation from the Duolingo community.
Below, I reproduce the relevant sections with specific reference to homosexuals, and their relationships:
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KNA: A big issue will be the dealings with homosexuals and a religious recognition of their stable partnerships.   Is there any indication of a solution for that?  

Continue reading German Synod Father Supports Same – Sex Blessings

Swiss Theologians, on Blessing Same – Sex Couples

Could the Family Synod next month give approval to church blessings for same – sex couples? Even the most optimistic Catholic might think that a stretch, but some Swiss theologians seem to think otherwise.  We should remember though, that many Protestant churches in Europe and North America have already accepted either church blessings, or full equal marriage for all couples, or are considering these as serious options. In the Catholic Church, the largest lay organization in Germany has explicitly asked for approval for such church blessings – and the request was not rejected out of hand by the senior cardinal.

Even if it is unlikely to happen at the synod, it is worth noting that there is serious thought being given to it, and to the specific arguments being advanced. (Recall that just a few years ago, Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna hit the news for saying, almost as an aside, that it was time for the Church to move away from obsessing over homosexual genital acts, and focus instead on the quality of the relationships. That sentiment has now become almost commonplace among notable bishops and theologians, and underlies the points made in this article.

If it does not happen just yet, it is surely the shape of things to come.

Read in the original French at  Cath.ch , or read my very free translation below:

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Same-sex couples: towards a blessing? – cath.ch

Switzerland  
A clear answer about same-sex couples is expected from the next Synod on the family  
Lausanne, 16 March 2015.

Continue reading Swiss Theologians, on Blessing Same – Sex Couples

Philippine Bishops Attempt to Square the Circle on Gay Unions!

Philippine Catholics are urged to respect the dignity of homosexuals – but to stay away from even attending any ceremony, legal or religious, to celebrate gay unions. Politicians especially, but also all Catholics, are urged to strongly resist all unjust laws – for example, legal recognition of civil unions.

The bishops’ pastoral letter is titled “The Dignity and Vocation of Homosexual Persons,” Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

The last time these bishops took on the politicians, on a law to expand family planning access to the poor as well as the rich, they lost badly. It may take a while, but they will lose this one too – just like the bishops of most of Western Europe, North America, and much of South America.

(The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines head) urged Catholics to oppose all gravely unjust laws – including all laws that legalize homosexual unions.

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“They are at the same time called, perhaps even more so in societies that legally recognize homosexual unions, to be charitable to every single homosexual person they know,”

BUT —–:

…. in situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. ……..  “Concretely, this means that Catholics cannot participate in any way or even attend religious or legal ceremonies that celebrate and legitimize homosexual unions.”

The Church, he says, must reach out “in compassion” to families whose loved ones have entered such unions – and this episcopal compassion includes instructing Filipino mothers to stay away from their sons’ and daughters’ weddings, if they are marrying same – sex partners!

Understandably, this will be a particularly heavy cross for families that have been touched by homosexuality but Villegas said the Church reaches out with compassion to these families whose loved ones have entered into such unions.

Full report at   Tempo