Tag Archives: lgbt inclusion

Germany’s Largest Lay Group’s Call for Same – Sex Blessings

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, has “rebuked” the country’s largest lay group, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), for its call for a change in Church teaching.

Stefan Vesper, General Secretary of ZdK
Stefan Vesper, General Secretary of ZdK

It will be no surprise that the call has been criticized by the German bishops.   In addition to greater acceptance of divorced and remarried Catholics, the position paper calls for Church blessings for same – sex couples. What is notable, is that the call was made in the first place, that Cardinal Marx’s rebuke includes the conciliatory statement that ““necessary theological debate” and dialogue on both subjects would be helpful”, and that Marx praised the ZdK’s position paper for its many “theological and socially significant statements on the family”.

When the Family Synod was first announced and ever since, the Vatican and others have insisted that the intention was to debate and refine pastoral practice – not to change or even discuss doctrine. It’s becoming clearer than ever though, that there is a growing awareness that the need for doctrinal change will have to be seriously addresses, whether at the synod, or later. Cardinal Marx’s acknowledgement that theological dialogue with lay people is an impressive example of that.

For a report on Cardinal Marx’s response, see The Tablet News, (25th May), or for the full German text of the position paper, see the ZdK website

LGBT Pilgrims Get VIP Seats for Papal Audience

ABC News reports:

The Vatican did something it has never done before by giving a group of U.S. gay and lesbian Catholics VIP seats at Pope Francis’ weekly general audience Wednesday.But in a sign that the welcome wasn’t all it could have been, the New Ways Ministry pilgrims were only identified on the Vatican’s list of attendees as a “group of lay people accompanied by a Sister of Loretto.”And not even that got announced: When a Vatican monsignor read out the list of the different groups of pilgrims in attendance in St. Peter’s Square, he skipped over the group altogether. Francis didn’t mention them, either.Even without a papal shout-out, New Ways Ministry officials were nevertheless pleased that they had been invited to sit up front by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, the prefect of the papal household who dispenses the coveted reserved tickets for Francis’ audiences.

Gaenswein for years has also been the top aide to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. When Benedict headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he permanently prohibited the New Ways Ministry co-founders, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and the Rev. Robert Nugent, from ministering to gays after determining in 1999 that they didn’t sufficiently adhere to church teaching on the “intrinsic evil” of homosexual acts.

Nugent abided by the directive and died last year. Gramick has continued her ministry, changing religious orders to the Sisters of Loretto, and was on hand for Wednesday’s audience.

“Pope Francis gives me hope,” she told The Associated Press. “To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness he has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church.”

The group’s executive director, Francis DeBernardo, said New Ways Ministry had tried unsuccessfully under the previous two popes to get VIP seats for its Rome pilgrimages.

This time, the Vatican ambassador in Washington and the archbishop of San Francisco forwarded their requests onto Rome, a sign that Francis’ call for the church to be more welcoming to gays has filtered down to local church leaders.

via Gay Catholics Get Vatican Welcome, but No Papal Shout-Out – ABC News.

Gay Catholics find a new tone under Pope Francis, and from their own bishops – Religion News Service

LGBT Catholics from Westminster diocese received a parting greeting and blessing from their cardinal Archbishop, Vincent Nichols – and across the Atlantic, a similar but larger group of Americans have found their path this year substantially easier then in previous occasions, thanks to help from some senior prelates. (Help received from Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is particularly notable in this respect: he’s positioned himself as a leading opponent of marriage equality, and his record on gay inclusion in Church has previously been less than salutary). Continue reading Gay Catholics find a new tone under Pope Francis, and from their own bishops – Religion News Service

Archbishop on Synod "Lack of Will" to Say "Who Am I to Judge?"

In an interview with Elisabetta Piqué in the Argentine newspaper “La Nación”of October  21, Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, rector of the Catholic University of Buenos Aires, brought to the synod by Pope Francis to whom he is friend and confidant, and charged with writing the final message and “Relatio,” gave this answer to a question about the paragraph on homosexuality:

“The fact that this brief paragraph did not gain a two-thirds consensus is not explained only by a negative vote of the conservative sectors, but also by a negative vote of some bishops most sensitive to this issue, who were not satisfied by the little that was said. […] Probably there was a lack of will to say, with Pope Francis: ‘Who are we to judge the gays?'”

– source Chiesa Espresso

Evangelical Campaigner to Lead "Accepting Evangelicals"

Yet more evidence that in all Christian denominations, LGBT people are making their presence felt, working for inclusion.  With her background, Jayne Ozanne will be a formidable campaigner for equality.

She once denied her sexuality, believing that being gay and Christian were incompatible. Like others in the ex – gay movement, she  tried to change her sexuality, even resorting to exorcism, but found that denial led to a mental breakdown, and that so – called “conversion therapy” is a charade. She has since come to terms with her sexuality, found that it is indeed possible to be openly both Christian and gay, and will now lead “Accepting Evangelicals”

The Independent has the story:

Jayne Ozanne: Evangelical campaigner comes out

One of the Church of England’s most influential evangelical campaigners, who for years believed it was impossible to be both gay  and a Christian, has declared that “God is a God of surprises” as she came out as a lesbian.

As a member of the Archbishops’ Council between 1999 and 2004, Jayne Ozanne held what she called “extremely black and white” views on sexuality and “did not believe it was compatible to be gay and a Christian”.

But yesterday she came out as gay, and was announced as the new director of Accepting Evangelicals, a Christian group aiming to promote “acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships”.

–  more at The Independent.

Senior Bishop: “Catholic Church Must Welcome ‘Unconventional Couples’

ROME — The Catholic Church should make “unconventional couples” feel at home instead of making them targets of “de facto discrimination,” the leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis said this week.

“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, an apparent reference to divorced and remarried Catholics.

“The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination,” he said Wednesday (Aug. 27) in an address to a national conference on liturgy in the Italian hill town of Orvieto.

– full report at  The Washington Post.

Bishop Galantino’s thoughts are important, as he is the head of the Italian bishops’ conference, a post for which he was hand picked by Pope Francis himself. It is inevitable that his voice will be influential at the October Family Synod in Rome. In this interview, he seems to have been referring specifically to divorced and remarried Catholics, or to unmarried couples, but his observations are equally applicable to same – sex couples, especially as this is not the first time he has spoken along these lines. Back in May, he was specific about the need for the Church to take up a more progressive path, including a stronger welcome for gay Catholics:

The Catholic Church should listen to all the arguments in favour of gay relationships, Communion for remarried divorcees, and ending mandatory celibacy for priests, a senior Italian bishops has insisted.

The secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI), Nunzio Galantino, bishop of the southern diocese of Cassano all’Jonio, told the Florence-based La Nazione newspaper yesterday that he wanted church leaders to open their mind to different views on these issues.

He said: “My wish for the Italian Church is that it is able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favour of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality.”

Tablet News, 13th May 2014

A few years ago, I reported that Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna had suggested that it was time for the Catholic Church to stop obsessing over the genital acts of gay people, and instead focus on the quality of their relationships, and also to consider welcoming those divorced people who want to remarry in church, at a time when so many other couples have no desire to marry at all. He was the first to voice such thoughts on same – sex couples, but when the expected reprimand from Pope Benedict, or a pushback from more conservative colleagues simply did not come, a handful of other bishops soon followed with similar sentiments. Later, this early handful became a trickle, then a steady stream. Just in the past month, for instance, Bondings 2.0 has reported on a call by yet another cardinal, said to be “close to the pope”,  for more openness in the Church to lesbians and gays, and also on a wish by an Indian lay leader for the October synod to “bring LGBT people in from the cold“. The gathering mood for reform is by no means limited to Europe and North America.

Meanwhile, the question of a welcome in church for divorced and remarried Catholics has become a major theme for the upcoming family synod. If indeed the synod finds a way, or prepares to find a way, to offer a more authentic welcome for such couples, sooner or later it must follow that a similar, more authentic welcome for LGBT Catholics must also be found. The issues after all, are similar.

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Indian Lay Leader: Synod Must Bring LGBT People ‘In From the Cold’

What does Virginia Saldanha want from this fall’s Synod concerning marriage and family life? Bringing LGBT people ‘in from the cold’ would be a good start.

Saldanha, who is former executive secretary of the Office of Laity for the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, recently wrote an op-ed in UCA News that expresses just that desire and shares her thoughts on what LGBT issues look like for Catholics in India.

She begins by noting that Synod questionnaire responses regarding whether one’s Catholic community accepted  same-gender marriage were overwhelmingly negative, prompting her to why her fellow Catholics are “so strongly homophobic.” Saldanha lays out some of the anti-gay beliefs present in Indian society:

– read more at Bondings 2.0.

40 Years In the Desert: Is the Promised Land in Sight? (Deuteronomy 8)

From the opening of the first reading for the feast of Corpus Christi, Year A (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14B-16A)

Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments. 

-V 2

desert-tracks

Queer readings of the Bible sometimes emphasise the story of Exodus, how the Israelites were led out of Egypt, the land of bondage, and into the promised land – just as the american civil rights movement did, years ago. However, it is perhaps more relevant, to recall that the Israelites’ deliverance was not an event, but a journey: the crossing of the Red Sea was followed by 40 years’ wandering in the desert, before the entry into the promised.

By a wonderful piece of timing, the US Presbyterians’ votes this week to permit same – sex weddings in at least some of their churches, and to support the global struggles against LGBT persecution, came on the same day that the Washington “March4Marriage” which was so strenuoulsy promoted by the religious right drew an response that was positively underwhelming. According to a facebook post at More Light Presbyterians on the day of the vote, General Assembly 221, which took these historic decisions, also marked a notable 40th anniversary of their own. It’s now 40 years since the first Presbyterian minister came out, very publicly, at a General Assembly

From the facebook post:

Today’s votes come 40 years after Rev. David Bailey Sindt showed up at G.A. with a sign, “Is anyone else out there Gay?” From that came PLGC / MLP. Today the hall was awash with rainbows, and the Spirit was at work. Thank you, David Sindt!

Actually, it’s 41 years. This was in fact in 1973, not 1974, but then biblical numbers are seldom meant to be taken precisely literally. GA 221 came also in the midst of Pride month, June – From a looser reading of “40 years”, we can also think back to Stonewall (1969, 45 years ago), or  to Rev James Stoll, the first ordained pastor to come out publicly as gay a few,moths after Stonewall, or to Rev Troy Perry, who founded the Metropolitan Community Church the year before that, or to Canon Derrick Sherwin Bailey, ,who in 1955 published “Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition”, the first notable book to challenge the traditional assumptions that the bible and homosexuality are in obvious conflict.

Whether we count it as 40 years, or half a century, it’s remarkable how far we’ve come, during these years of wandering in the desert of exclusion, in our journey of escape from the slavery of heteronormativity, and its attempts to force us to deny the truth of our sexual or gender natures, and our loves. Consider the fruits of these single pioneers:

  • Instead of a single pioneer at at General Assembly 1963, GA 2014 was “awash with rainbows”.
  • The year after James Stoll came out, the Unitarian Universalists passed the world’s first ever gay rights resolution, and later became the first church, anywhere, to conduct same – sex weddings – years before these could be recognized in law.
  • MCC, the church that Troy Perry founded with a small group in his living room, now has well – established congregations across the world.
  • Canon Bailey’s cautious book questioning the traditional Biblical interpretation on homosexuality, has been followed by what has become a flood of new titles, from every faith tradition, and moving from challenging the clobber texts, to celebrating LGBT figures in the Bible, to finding queer readings of a wide range of biblical texts (“The Queer Bible Commentary” devotes a chapter to every single book of the bible, except only the minor prophets, who share a chapter). 
  • From near invisibility in church, gay, lesbian and trans people are now serving openly as ministers in a wide range of denominations, in some cases even as bishops, moderators, and other leadership positions.

From widespread assumptions that the only unions that deserved celebration in church were marriages of different – sex couples, there are now many denominations that conduct either gay weddings, or confer blessings on same – sex couples. Many of those that do not, are visibly moving in that direction, with formal study groups of church commissions investigating.

For just about every major church grouping, there are signs of movement, either actively towards full LGBT inclusion, or at least away from previously harsh rhetoric and clear exclusion. Just as the start of our Exodus journey cannot be dated precisely to a single event, PCUSA’s three decisions this week do no mark the end of 40 years’ wandering in the desert of exclusion. There are many, many staging posts still to reach. But if we have not yet entered the promised land of full inclusion in church, we can at least begin to see it, or imagine it, in the distance.

Let us now read, and reflect on, today’s full reading from Deuteronomy:

Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments. 
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

“Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers.”

Related posts:

Blessed Are the Queer in Faith – for They Shall Inherit the Earth

Jesuit Priest Endorses Students ‘Making a Mess’ in Seattle

From Bondings 2.0 (New Ways Minsitry):

#KeepMrZ2013 is a movement of high school students in Seattle organizing for their gay vice principal fired for marrying his husband.  Now one more voice is speaking out in support of these youth.

Father John Whitney, SJ, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Seattle, spoke about the students from Eastside Catholic High School in his homily earlier this week.  He begins by describing the conflict in early Christianity about whether to accept Gentiles as members or only Jews, and he reflects on how this controversy was resolved:

“We must imagine the scene: the Church, still subject to occasional bouts of persecution and yet growing feverishly among both Jews and Gentiles alike, faces a great conflict—how are Gentiles to be admitted into the community?…

“What is most amazing about this moment in the Church is how the community comes to decide, together, what is to be done. There is debate and disruption, but it is not seen as division; rather, it is the way the Holy Spirit is working within the community. Further, this debate is grounded on human experience, and not on tradition or on the power of office. Rather than beginning with Scripture—with the Torah or the Prophets—the community begins with the experience of the faithful: with the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas—none of whom claim special authority in the face of the communal discernment, but all of whom, instead, simply testify to the way in which they have seen the Gentiles touched and filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit….Here is diversity without division, complexity with separation, debate and dissent without the need for punishment or condemnation. In listening for the living Spirit of Christ Jesus, the Church begins by listening to the sinners and seekers who are his body in the world.

“I have thought often of this scene in Acts, over the last year, and especially as I have listened to Pope Francis speak of the need for “uproar” by religious, or call young people to make “a mess” in their dioceses. Like many, I have been refreshed and renewed not by some great doctrinal changes, but by the absence of fear expressed in the words of the Holy Father; by his trust in the workings of the Holy Spirit and his passion for courageous acts of faith—even acts that risk error or end in failure. For Francis, it seems, the timidity of tightly held borders, the safe-harbor of accepted opinion and doctrinal purity risks a greater sin—a greater loss to the Church—than the dangerous paths of love and welcome….

“In the last few weeks, the students of Eastside Catholic High School, and their companions from other schools in the area, have given us an example of the kind of passionate discernment, motivated by the Gospel, that characterizes an important dimension of Catholic education—and, indeed, should characterize our faith both in and out of school. Regardless of the particulars of this situation (and personnel issues may have complexities I do not know), these students have spoken up as products of Catholic education, as women and men motivated by the Spirit and by their own experience of grace. Though it is a painful time, their teachers and their parents should be proud of the Gospel spirit that has been planted in these young hearts. Likewise, we in the broader Church should be grateful for the mess these young people bring, and should listen with compassion and openness to the Spirit that moves within them. Their love, their gentleness, their quest to make of the Church “the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” demands more than the silence of authority; it demands communion and engagement with the Church—i.e., education, direction, dialogue—since their spirit is a sign of the Church and is life-blood for the Church. May we engage, with fearless love, at the side of our younger sisters and brothers; and may trust in the God whose Church we are all becoming.”

You can read the reflection in full by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

via Bondings 2.0.

 

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