Geraldine Roman addressed the House last Monday for over an hour about the “Anti-Discrimination Bill on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” Roman filed the Bill in June, but there has been little progress towards passing it for the highly Catholic nation. She appealed to legislators in a personal way, reported Inquirer.net, telling them:
” ‘I cannot turn my back at a group of people, who have long suffered discrimination, and have long been denied adequate legal protection. How can I turn a blind eye to the suffering that I myself have experienced at some point in my life?’
” ‘We are your brothers; we are your sisters; your sons and your daughters, and nieces and nephews. We are your family. We are your friends; your schoolmates; your colleagues at work. . .We are human beings.’
” ‘We love our families. We love our country. We are proud Filipinos, who just happen to be LGBT. The question is: do we, as members of the LGBT community, share the same rights as all other citizens? Does the State grant us equal protection under our laws?’ “
We have written before of Quest’s new emphasis on engagement and advocacy work with British bishops. One of the visible fruits of this is a forthcoming Mass for LGBT Catholics, to be held in St Barnabas’ Cathedral, Nottingham.
Earlier this year, Ruby Almeida as Quest chair, accompanied by Claire Jenkins of the East Midlands regional group, met with Bishop McKinney. Later, Claire and other members of East Midlands had further meetings with the bishops, culminating in agreement on the forthcoming Mass, as described in the poster pictured above. We hope that Quest members, their family and friends from East Midlands and other regions, wlll support this notable Mass.
In Nottingham diocese, we hope furthermore that this initiative will lead to further engagement with the diocese, and additional pastoral outreach to LGBT Catholics in the years ahead. Beyond Nottingham, engagement and advocacy with Catholic bishops and other groups will continue.
In Germany today, Catholics gathered in Leipzig for the start of a three-day major event, the “Catholic Conference Day”, which has been held every two years since 1848 (except for an interruption during the National Socialist period). With over 1000 different exhibitions and events, some 30 000 visitors are expected. Organized by the Central Committee of German Catholics, the event is so important and influential, that in attendance are not only the leading members of the German Catholic Church, but also senior politicians.
For the Church, the President of the German Catholic Bishops Conference Cardinal Reinhard Marx, is taking part, and also Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the lgbt supportive Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, and other notable prelates. Pope Francis sent a pre-recorded message for delivery to the assembly.
For the state, the German President delivered the opening day keynote address, while a cabinet minister, a state premier, and others from all major parties (except one) were also present.
Prominently in attendance, present by direct and explicit invitation to promote lgbt inclusion in church, are three countrywide LGBT advocacy groups: Netzwerk katholischer Lesben (the Catholic Lesbian Network), Arbeitsgruppe Homosexuelle und Kirche (HuK) (Workgroup Homosexuals and Church), and Initiative Kirche von unten, a progressive grass-roots organization that actively advocates for LGBT inclusion. Continue reading 3 LGBT Groups Invited to Major German Catholic Gathering.
Catholic teaching is unequivocal on lesbian and gay Catholics is clear: they should be treated with “respect, compassion and sensitivity”, and should be protected from unjust discrimination, and from any form of malice or violence Teaching on transgender people is not explicitly spelled out, but the same principles apply. In matters of employment, protection from discrimination and injustice is further entrenched in a series of solidly magisterial social justice encyclicals. In spite of that, recent years have seen an alarming number of reports of lgbt Catholics who have lost employment, excluded from ministry, or suffered other forms of discrimination, on the basis of their orientation or gender identity.
On the other hand, we should always remember that the stories that make the news, do so precisely because they are unusual. There are many more examples of people who do not suffer discrimination, and are fully accepted in their parishes, or places of Catholic employment – but because their situations are so ordinary, they are just not reported.
Occasionally, there are exceptions. One such is the example of a school in San Francisco, where the Mercy Sisters have written to parents of their decision to continue employment of a transgender man. This decision has been welcomed by New Ways Ministry as “Gospel based”. So it is – and also solidly based in authentic Catholic doctrine.
Francis DeBenardo, executive director of New Ways, writes in a press statement:
Catholic Ministry Thanks Mercy Sisters For Equal Employment of Transgender Teacher
MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland– New Ways Ministry congratulates and thanks the Sisters of Mercy and the administrators of Mercy H.S., San Francisco, for their Gospel-based decision to continue employment of one of their teachers who identifies as a transgender man. This decision stands as a beacon of hope in the midst of the terrible darkness of the recent trend of firing LGBT employees from Catholic institutions. The decision was announced in a letter to parents of students, which, after describing the teacher’s situation, stated:
“This afternoon, we informed students, faculty and staff about our resolve to support the dignity of each person—regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identification.”
We applaud, too, the courage of English Department chair and teacher Gabriel Stein-Bodenheimer for honoring his gender identity, as well to his commitment to educate students in the Mercy tradition. His personal example will be a most powerful lesson to all in the school’s community, especially because his decision involved a large degree of risk.
This story reflects a true Catholic commitment to respecting the dignity of LGBT people—a principle which is shared by millions of Catholics across the U.S. The experience of this school will help our Church to heal from the pain of too many past negative decisions regarding LGBT people. Our Catholic Church will only be strengthened by this decision.
The Sisters of Mercy offer a courageous example of inclusion and equality that could be replicated by so many other Catholic schools, parishes, and social service agencies when they learn of an employee’s gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status. This example can be a turning point in what has been a dark chapter of the U.S. Catholic Church, when over 60 faithful employees have lost their church jobs because of LGBT issues.
Their process included wide consultation, reflection, and prayer. As the letter described:
“. . . we collaborated with the Board Chair Diane Lawrence and a team of key administrators while we studied how to respond in a manner consistent with Mercy and Gospel values and your School’s Catholic Identity. We prayed for guidance. We also consulted trusted advisors as we applied these principles to this circumstance.”
Furthermore, the Sisters showed their commitment to caring for the entire school community by having counselors available for anyone–student, parent, staff–to discuss their questions and concerns.
The Sisters of Mercy grounded their decision in the principles of Mercy which form the charism of their community. These same principles of mercy are promoted by Pope Francis, particularly in this year which he declared as a Jubilee of Mercy. Pope Francis’ message of acceptance and encounter with the LGBT community have been given flesh and blood by the Sisters’ decision to continue the teacher’s employment.
New Ways Ministry calls on other Catholic religious communities of Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters–and indeed, all Catholic administrators—to rejoice in the Sisters of Mercy’s example, and to honor it by following it as a way to end employment discrimination against LGBT church employees.
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!
An openly gay Anglican priest has been elected to an influential post in the church’s General Synod.
Canon Simon Butler was in the news last February, when he came out as openly gay and not celibate, during a debate at the Anglican General Synod on the Pilling Report on human sexuality, proclaiming publicly Continue reading Anglican Gay Priest Elected to General Synod Senior Post
Continuing with my free translation of gay theologian Monsignor Charamsa’s interview in Religion Digital.
Will you remain a priest, will you ask for secularization or will they impose a penalty?
I am and I remain a priest. I’m a better priest than I was before today. Conversely, it is I who will ask Church to open eyes.
Do you plan to write a book about his experiences in the Vatican?
Yes, I believe it my duty to further explain my experience in the Church, and do it for the good of the Church itself, which must become and apologize for their institutional scandals, for its delays, its irrational paranoia of homophobia. Anyone who sees and experiences it has a duty to awaken the Church, which has already exceeded all tolerable limit.
If the pope asked you personally, would you leave your partner and return to the Vatican?
No, I would not leave my partner because I love him and because there is no doctrinal reason to. For a priest having a partner, whether male or female, is not against the faith, it is not against the doctrine of our faith. Conversely, it is the Church and the Pope who should start thinking seriously about the inhuman discipline of mandatory celibacy and the Church’s obsession with homosexuality and human sexuality in general.
Go back to the Vatican? No, never. I would be a masochist, a person who seeks suffering and offennds against their own identity. I’m not a masochist. The Vatican is one of the least holy places I’ve ever met in my life. I want to live happy, I want to be holy, what it means to be happy and live in the light of God and the dignity of man. In the Vatican most people are not happy. It is a place that needs a spiritual and mental conversion. It needs the air of God. air that is lacking there.
See also the full series:
“Gay Priest’s Revelation Is an Important Step for Himself and for the Catholic Church”
Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry
MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland—Monsignor Krzystof Charamsa’s announcement of his gay sexual orientation is an important step for him personally and an important step for the Catholic Church. This Vatican official, who worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, exhibited courage and honesty in making his orientation public.
His revelation is an acknowledgement of the truth of the way God has made him, and, like millions of other LGBT Catholics, his self-acceptance and self-affirmation will help him better understand God’s love for him. For the Catholic Church, his news is another step in our growing process of coming to better terms with our LGBT brothers and sisters.
It is sadly disappointing that the Vatican fired him when they learned of his announcement. He now joins the long list of LGBT people and allies who have been fired from jobs in Catholic institutions because of LGBT issues. It is unfortunate that Church leaders did not see Charamsa’s announcement as an opportunity for further dialogue with someone they have known and trusted.
We hope that his news will help the bishops of the world gathering in Rome this weekend for three weeks of synod discussions which will include pastoral outreach to families with LGBT members. His witness to the holiness of the lives of LGBT people and the goodness of their relational lives could help these church leaders discern more appropriate and accepting forms of pastoral care. His testimony of struggle and overcoming fear should help these bishops see the challenges and joys that many LGBT people and their families face.’
The decision to come out is a highly personal one, and one which only the individual can make. Only the individual can decide when it is safe and responsible to do so, taking into account the possible negative repercussions that can occur in terms of employment, housing, and relationships. Only the individual can decide when the pressures of the closet have become too difficult for their emotional and spiritual lives. New Ways Ministry continues to support all LGBT people–including priests, nuns, brothers, deacons, bishops–as they discern when is the appropriate time for them to make such a revelation about themselves.
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.