Category Archives: Marriage / family

Catholic Campaigns for Marriage Equality in Maine and Maryland Intensify

Seventeen days remain until voters in four states will cast ballots regarding marriage equality’s future in their respective states. In Maine and Maryland, Catholic leaders on each side of the ballot questions are intensifying their efforts to turn Catholics out.  New Ways Ministry had public roles in the campaigns in both states this week.

Governor John Baldacci (center) with New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick.

In Maine, where a third of the population are Catholic, former Governor John Baldacci hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in conjunction with Catholics for Marriage Equality to urge Mainers to vote Yes on Question One.

Governor John Baldacci (center) with New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick.

Catholics for Marriage Equality, the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, and Catholics United invited New Ways Ministry co-founder, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, and Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, to speak at the dinner. The dinner also fundraised for a local homeless shelter defunded by the US bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development after the shelter came out in support for equality in 2009.

Sr. Gramick told those gathered:

“It is not just a vote for lesbian and gay couples and their right, because they do have the right to get married. It is a vote to support families. You can be a good Catholic and vote with your conscience and vote for marriage equality.”

You can watch a news video of the event, including interviews with Governor Baldacci and Sister Gramick by clicking here.

-more at  « Bondings 2.0.

 

Two Stories Beg the Question: What Would Jesus Do?

Two stories out of Minnesota this week, where the struggle over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is in full heat,  beg the proverbial question:  What Would Jesus Do?

Archbishop John Nienstedt

In the first case, it was revealed this week that Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul had earlier this year sent a letter to the mother of a gay son in which he stated his position that marriage be defined as only between a man and a woman.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the story as saying that Nienstedt’s warning was in response to the mother’s support of her gay son:

“To a mother who pleaded for acceptance for her gay child, he wrote: ‘I urge you to reconsider the position that you expressed. … Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on this topic.’ “

In all fairness, without a text of her original letter, it is difficult to say what it was Nienstedt was responding to.  Regardless of what she said, however, it makes one wonder if this is how Jesus would have responded to the woman.

Nienstedt makes it clear that he believes he is following Jesus’ example:

“Indeed some might find this a hard saying but many of Jesus’ teachings were likewise received as such.”

Fr. Michael Tegeder

The second story is about a St. Paul priest, Fr. Michael Tegeder, who has been an outspoken defender of marriage equality, even in the face of reprimands from Nienstedt.  In a Star Tribune column by Jon Tevlin, Tegeder described being ostracized at a seminar on marriage because of his known view on marriage equality:

“Like other priests, Tegeder had been invited to the [marriage seminar] event. Unlike other priests, he was given a warning: Sit where we tell you to. Don’t ask questions. Don’t disturb.

“The Catholic Conference ended the warning letter with the words ‘Best wishes,’ to which Tegeder responded: ‘You obviously do not mean to send me your best wishes. In fact, you want me to go quietly away with your demeaning E-mail.’

“Tegeder was not allowed to sit in the main part of the hall, but was relegated to a ‘detention pen’ where he could be seen but not heard.”

-continue reading at  « Bondings 2.0.

Former Catholic priests announce support for same-sex marriage

A group of 63 former Roman Catholic priests spoke out Thursday in support of Referendum 74, the November ballot measure that will ask voters to approve or reject Washington’s same-sex marriage law.

The former priests, some with as many of 43 years of service and all now married, are all members of local parishes.

Pat Callahan, a member of the group, said that for the last 27 years members have been a source of fellowship and support for each other. This is the first time the group has taken a public stance on an issue this important to the church. All but a handful of the group’s 120 or so members agreed to take this stance.

Catholic bishops in Washington state have been active in their opposition to gay marriage, encouraging in-pew donations in many of its parishes.

“A number of us became concerned by the way the church hierarchy is getting so massively  involved in what we feel is a civil matter and politicizing the whole thing,” Callahan said.

They wanted to take this position, he said, to “give witness to the good Catholics who are getting so barraged with this message from the bishops that we feel they are hungry for some voice of some authority and relevance.”

In nationwide polls, nearly 60 percent of lay Catholics say they support same-sex marriage, a departure from the church’s core teaching and the positions taken by their bishops.

“We respect the right of the bishops to make policy within the church, but we feel that they are overplaying their hand,” Callahan said

via  Seattle Times.

 

Archbishop Nichols reminds Marriage Care to follow Church teaching

The Archbishop of Westminster has warned Marriage Care that it must conform to Catholic teaching after it emerged that the charity is offering marriage preparation services to same-sex couples.

The charity, which receives money from the Catholic Church, states: “Our counselling service is open to and welcomes everybody over the age of 16, married or not, straight or not.” It also offers marriage preparation and “welcome all couples considering a committed relationship such as marriage”.

A spokesman for Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of Marriage Care, said his role was exercised “solely on the basis that the charitable objects… are to provide relationship counselling, marriage preparation and relationship education services to ‘promote and support marriage and family life in accordance with the Church’s vision of marriage as a vocation of life and love’.”

He added: “It is the legal and fiduciary responsibility of the directors of the company to ensure that the charitable objects of Catholic Marriage Care Limited are observed and fulfilled. The provision of services in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church is also a requirement for Catholic Marriage Care Limited to maintain its continued use of the title Catholic within its designation and to retain the patronage of one of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.”

– CatholicHerald.co.uk.

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English Bishop Backs Gay Marriage: Queer Ferment in the Anglican Church.

For years, the major focus of controversy in the Church of England has been over the appointment of women bishops. That debate has now been all but settled (even the opponents agree that change is inevitable). Issues around full LGBT inclusion in church will now move to centre stage.

One sign of this is a bishop who has spoken out publicly in favour of gay marriage:

 

The new Bishop of Salisbury, The Rt Revd Nick Holtam, has spoken out in support of gay marriage.

Bishop Holtam made the comments in an interview with the Times today ahead of the meeting of the General Synod next week, where civil partnerships in churches and equal marriage are to be discussed.

He said: “We are living in a different society. If there’s a gay couple in The Archers, if there’s that form of public recognition in popular soaps, we are dealing with something which has got common currency. All of us have friends, families, relatives, neighbours who are, or who know someone, in same-sex partnerships.”

He said he was “no longer convinced” marriage should be between a man and a woman.

He continued: “I think same-sex couples that I know who have formed a partnership have in many respects a relationship which is similar to a marriage and which I now think of as marriage.

Bishop of Salisbury Backs Gay Marriage – Pink News

He is not alone. The Times interview, in which he was speaking about full marriage, followed an earlier report that over 100 Anglican clergy from the diocese of London have signed a petition asking that the synod next week agree to allow local discretion on conducting civil partnership ceremonies on church. The background is that parliament last year changed the civil partnership legislation, which previously prohibited these from being conducted on religious premises, to permit such premises where church authorities give explicit approval. Up to now, the public stance of the Church of England has been that permission will not be granted. Next week’s synod will show that there is significant opposition to that stance.

A letter signed by 120 clergy is calling for the Church of England to reverse its ban on civil partnership ceremonies being held in churches.

The signatories, from the diocese of London, want discretion to uphold loving homosexual relationships.

It is the first sign of significant resistance within the Church to its refusal to permit civil partnership ceremonies in Anglican churches.

The law has allowed them in English and Welsh places of worship since December.

In their letter to the London diocese representatives on the General Synod, the signatories stopped short of calling for same-sex marriage.

However, they said they should be given the same discretion in deciding whether to hold civil partnerships in church as they currently have in deciding whether to remarry divorced people.

One of the signatories said they were dismayed at having to deny “the Church’s fullest ministry” to increasing numbers of gay couples with loving relationships, said BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott.

The public dissent over gay marriage / civil partnerships is part of a much wider ferment in the Church around matters of sexuality, including that of openly gay clergy, and the very fundamental matter of homoerotic relationships themselves.

Recent reports that Jeffrey Johns is considering legal action against the church over its twice passing him over for promotion to a bishopric, solely on grounds of his orientation, has highlighted glaring hypocrisy in the church. Technically, the regulations that the church may ordain priests who are openly gay or lesbian, provided that they are celibate. It is widely recognized that this is a mere fig – leaf: what goes one in one’s bedroom is private. What is really required is not that priests should be celibate, just that they should declare that they are. In other words, lie. (There is also a blatant double standard here.  Unmarried heterosexual candidates are not asked to declare that they are celibate, or facing the degree of intrusive question on past behaviour that lesbian and gay candidates are subjected to).

Once ordained, further gay priests have further barriers placed in the way of promotion, as the case of Dr Johns has shown. Although partnered, he has declared that the relationship is celibate, and so complies with the regulations for gay priests. Denying him further promotion puts him in exactly the same position that female priests have been in, up to now. Ordination to the priesthood and promotion  to the rank of dean is permitted, but no further. This is blatant discrimination, which diocesan votes on women bishops last year showed is no longer acceptable. The church also has to take account of secular legislation, and growing public pressure for honesty.

 Hardly anybody believes that the many unmarried Anglican priests,  or even the existing bishops, really are celibate. The Pink News report on Bishop Holtam’s support for gay marriage makes a further important point. Writing about John’s cancelled promotion to Bishop of Southwark, it notes

 

 The 58-year-old, was forced to give up his appointment as Bishop of Reading in 2003 due to his relationship with another priest and was blocked from the post Bishop of Southwark in 2010, a position Bishop Holtam was also considered for. It is now held by The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun.

A memo leaked by Colin Slee, the late Dean of Southwark Cathedral made the claim that there were already several gay bishops who had “been less than candid about their domestic arrangements and who, in a conspiracy of silence, have been appointed to senior positions”.

It added: “This situation cannot endure. Exposure of the reality would be nuclear.”

The extraordinary thing is that this memo was not an appeal for openness and honesty in the appointment of gay bishops, or an attempt to bar them completely, but an attempt to ensure that they simply remain more or less closeted, and removed from the public eye.   Pressures for greater honesty and consistency will grow. Already, there are ongoing discussions and investigations by church commissions, passing under the radar for now. Once the issue of women bishops has been resolved, public and synodal debates over LGBT clergy will begin in earnest.

In the background and informing these discussions, and those on marriage and civil partnerships, will be another set of formal investigations.     The church has recently appointed Two Groups to Advise on Sexuality .  Previously, a 1979 report  Homosexual Relationships: A con­tribu­tion to discussion, was published, but was considered by some to be too liberal. Subsequently, a working group set up in 1986 prepared a fresh report (the “Osborne Report“), which drew on the direct testimony of gay and lesbian Anglicans themselves.

The Osborne report was an advisory document for bishops, and it reminded them that they had an important part to play both in affirming “the catholicity and in­clusiveness of the Church”, and “in helping the Church live with un­resolved issues”.

 Crucially, and ironically — in the light of events that would unfold a decade-and-a-half later — the group reminded the Bishops that “The way to resolve the conflict and tensions between groups is not by the exclusion of one or more minority groups. We have been very conscious of the poor experience of the Church encountered by many homosexual people. . . The Bishops, as the chief pastors of the Church, have a particular responsibility to set a tone of welcome and acceptance in these matters.”

However, when the controversial report was leaked and met with fierce resistance in conservative quarters, the bishops responded with a much more cautious booklet, “Issues in Human Sexuality”, which was intended only as a discussion document, but came to be seen as the Church of England’s definitive statement on homosexuality. Its distinction between laity and clergy was considered of particular sig­nificance.

The new groups will update the Osborne report, and should lead to a fresh statement by the bishops. I would not presume to anticipate the commission’s findings, but its fair to expect that a quarter of a century after the Osborne commission, with the outpouring of queer affirmative biblical scholarship and theology that has followed it, and the increasing visibility and acceptance of openly queer clergy and bishop in many denominations and different geographic regions, the findings will be even substantially supportive than those of the Osborne Report.

The new commission will also have to consider one factor which simply did not exist in 1986.  The politicians have promised that by 2015 at the latest, and probably by 2013 in Scotland, full gender neutral equality will apply to civil marriage. Church commissioners will have to consider the implications for religious marriages, including the partnership positions of their own priests. (When equality came to New York last June, some Episcopal bishops wrote to their priests requiring that those in same-sex partnerships should marry).

We cannot be sure of timing, but of three things I am certain:

  • Continuing study and discussion of sexuality in the Church of England will lead to an acknowledgement, at the very least, that there is room for disagreement on the validity of homoerotic relationships.
  • The church will face up to the dishonesty of the current practice of DADT, and the discrimination faced by its LGBT clergy. The current barriers will go, just as they have done in several other denominations, and other provinces of the Anglican communion.
  • Civil partnerships in church, and later full weddings, will come (initially perhaps in selected dioceses only),  just as they already take place in some Episcopal dioceses.

 The ferment in the Anglican Church is part of a much broader process at work in all Christian denominations in all regions of the world, as well as non-Christian faiths (even touching Islam). In the middle of the twentieth century, we were totally invisible in church. The sixty years since have already seen extraordinary change, and much more is to come.  Thinking specifically of the Catholic Church, John McNeill has written repeatedly of the work of the Holy Spirit, creating a Kairos moment for LGBT Catholics (and other Christians).  There’s a verse for it, in Scripture:

Behold, says the Lord. I am doing a new thing. Can you not see it? (Is 4:19)

This transformation over sixty years of Christian responses to homoeroticism is a subject that I will be discussing in an address to the Quest annual conference in September this year, under the title “Blessed are the Queer in Faith, for they shall inherit the Church“.  I shall be returning to the theme here, repeatedly, over the next few months.

 

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Religious Divides in Support for Same-Sex Marriage

It is often assumed, quite incorrectly, that the disputes over marriage equality are between those standing up for religious belief (especially Christian belief), and secularists on the side of human rights. The fallacy of this assumption is neatly illustrated by the graphic below, in a post at the Public Religion Research Institute, drawing on a comprehensive analysis of data from the Pew Research Institute. This clearly shows that the disagreement is not between religion and human rights, but between the different shades of religious affiliation. Two of the three groups with the strongest support for equality are from religious groups – but not Christian religion (Jews, and other non-Christian faith groups).

Even within the Christian faith, there is clear division between denominations. White and Hispanic Catholics, and White Mainline Protestants, all show clear majority support for equality. (The research does not break out Black Catholics):

    • White Catholics: 56% in favour, 39% opposed
    • Hispanic Catholics: 53% in favour, 37% opposed
    • White Mainline Protestants: 52% in favour, 40% opposed

The arguments from “religious freedom” against legal recognition for all marriages must surely also take into account the freedom of those people of faith that support same – sex marriage, both in other faith groups, and within their own denominations. (In

Of the groups broken out for analysis, only Black Protestants, Mormons and Evangelicals are opposed  – but, it must be said, very strongly.

 

Beyond Secular vs. Religious: Religious Divides in Support for Same-Sex Marriage


In 2011, majorities of most religious groups favored allowing gay and lesbian couple to marry legally, illustrating that the old narrative of battle lines between secular supporters and religious opponents no longer serves as an accurate characterization of the landscape of the same-sex marriage debate. In the general population, 2011 was also the first year on record in which supporting same-sex marriage was not a minority position. In May, several surveys (all asking slightly different versions of the same question) found that a majority of the public supported allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry. PRRI’s May survey found that 51% of Americans were in favor, and 43% were opposed.

-full analysis at   Public Religion Research Institute.

This strength of feeling from the opponents, and the rather milder feelings of supporters, must be assessed together with the evidence from several sources that opposition is dropping in degree, as well as in extent, while supporters are growing in both numbers and intensity of feeling.

The striking contrast between the views of younger people, including younger Evangelicals, and their older co-religionists shows clearly that this shift within the churches towards more widespread, and more intense, support for marriage equality will surely continue to grow:

There are large generational differences between Millennials (age 18-29) and older Americans on the issue of same-sex marriage. Sixty-four percent of Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, a rate that is more than 20 points higher than among those ages 30 and above (42%). This generational gap persists within every religious group, including more conservative religious groups. For example, 66% of Catholic Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, 15 points higher than Catholics ages 30 and above (51%). Even among white evangelical Protestants—the group most opposed to same-sex marriage—nearly 4-in-10 (39%) white evangelical Protestant Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, a rate that is more than 20 points higher than that of white evangelicals ages 30 and older (18%).

–   Public Religion Research Institute.

Pope Benedict’s Strong Argument for Gay Marriage, Queer Families.

Last Sunday, I picked up a little book at the Soho Masses bookstall called “Christians and Sexuality in the Time of AIDS“, a useful little book, which I bought at a ridiculously low bargain price. Some of the insights have little to do directly with the main theme, and it is one of these that is relevant here, an observation made by James Alison in his introduction, writing about Pope Benedict XVI and the nature of his theology.  James has frequently observed that when we respond too quickly or too superficially to the pope’s reported remarks, we often underestimate his thinking, which is substantially more nuanced than we usually recognize. In his position, he argues, Benedict cannot do other than repeat the well-worn, established magisterial positions on topical issues.

The really interesting questions surrounding what a pope is doing are never the politically immediate headline grabbers, but always the small, apparently insignificant tinkerings around the edges which are either going to make change possible over time, or try to block it.

When I read these words, they brought into focus for me the speech that Benedict  gave to a group of Italian politicians and public officials last Friday, which has been widely interpreted as an attack on gay marriage. This is not the way I interpreted the speech: instead, I wrote (in the post below) that the reference to “marriage between a man and a woman”, and to the forces undermining it, were curiously minor. The main thrust of the speech was more usefully seen as in praise of strong families – which could equally well apply to the families of same sex parents as to any other.   After reading James Alison, I thought how perfectly his warning applies to the present case: well, of course he made the obligatory noises about marriage between a man and a woman (how could he not?) – but the headline writers have missed the main points. With just a little “apparently insignificant tinkerings around the edges”, this attack on gay marriage can instead be read as a statement in praise of all families – including those which are queer.




Continue reading Pope Benedict’s Strong Argument for Gay Marriage, Queer Families.

Gay Marriage, Climate Change – and Clerical Abuse.

Do you remember Benedict XVI’s infamous Christmas Eve address to the Curia, in which (to judge from press reports), he seemed to argue that gay marriage and gender theory lead to climate change?  It now seems that Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady has been rereading those reports, and using them as a model for his own rhetoric.  After noting that in spite of the Ryan report on clerical abuse of children, there has been a sharp rise in yong men entering Irish seminary life, Ellis O’ Hanlon writes in the Irish Times:

Given all that’s happened, you’d think the hierarchy would say to one another: “Phew, lads, that was a close shave. Now let’s keep our heads down for a while till it all blows over.” Instead they immediately dive head first into yet another row — thanks to Cardinal Sean Brady’s homily last weekend in Limerick.

It all started out innocuously enough, this time as a sermon on climate change. Priests feel the need periodically to do this Save the Planet schtick. It’s embarrassing in a Kum Ba Yah sort of way, and, if left unchecked, has been known to lead to the nightmare of acoustic guitar playing on the altar, but probably harmless enough. The problem was what followed after Cardinal Brady had finished with the usual guff about how churches should measure their carbon footprints and offset the damage by helping baby polar bears to swim or something.

Tangential doesn’t even begin to describe the directions which one of Ireland’s premier churchmen took from his original starting point. Anybody who nodded off in St John’s Cathedral last weekend would have woken up to find that gay marriage was in the firing line, leaving them perhaps with the disorienting impression that homosexuals were responsible for global warming.

Plenty of what he had to say was also right on the money. Marriage and the raising of children in a loving two-parent environment as the cornerstone of a stable society? Nobody’s quarrelling there, not least the vast majority of people who already live in precisely that way — though the warning does invite a sarcastic response about what exactly the Church was doing to protect family life when it let its priests get away with molesting children.

This is familiar stuff:  just about any excuse is enough for some of our churchmen to leap into an attack on the degenerate “homosexua”  lifestyle.  But note O’Hanlon’s reference to the Ryan report.  I will return to this later.

More than that, though, it was the faint undertone of menace which stuck in the craw. Cardinal Brady’s homily was addressed not to his small audience of listeners in the cathedral that evening, so much as over their heads towards the politicians in Dail Eireann who have to make a decision on legalising civil partnerships for gay people, allowing them to avail of the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual married couples. This was against the Constitution, Brady claimed. It was against the common good, he added.

Then the killer blow: those who supported the legislation, the Cardinal stated, would be making a choice to “depart” from God. That’s a heck of a sword to dangle on a thread over your opponents’ heads. Hilariously, Sean Brady then went on to insist that freedom of conscience must be respected.

So you respect your opponents’ right to disagree, but if they do disagree, then they’re to be denounced as having turned their backs on God Himself?

And now we get to the crunch issue:

That’s a strange kind of respect, to say that anybody whose understanding of their faith leads them to sincerely espouse a different view is to be banished from the tent and ejected into some kind of godless wilderness. God’s not big enough to make room for people who think gay couples should have legal rights? Impertinent as it may sound to chastise a cardinal on matters of theology, I really hope God would beg to differ on that one, especially since the alternative for Him is spending eternity with a tiny group of smug, self-satisfied know-it-alls who think their particular ideologies make them the chosen ones.

Brady’s whole tone was one of righteous entitlement. The choices for Ireland, he averred, were between “personal greed” or the “common good”, a “civilisation of selfishness” or a “civilisation of love”, a “culture of death” or a “culture of life”.

No chance of merging shades of grey in the middle then? No space for honest disagreement among fellow Christians?

Basically, what he seemed to be saying is that anyone who differed from his interpretation of Christian teaching wasn’t a proper Christian at all. And the last person I heard talk like that was the Reverend Ian Paisley. Some role model.

And now the key, absolutely crucial, real point:

It’s surely this arrogant air of proprietory rights regarding God’s mind which Fr Aidan Troy, formerly of North Belfast’s sectarian interface, now transferred to Paris, was referring to in a recent interview when he spoke of how the Catholic Church had thought simply saying sorry for the decades-long abuse scandal was sufficient, without facing up to the need to change its way. Fr Troy wants his superiors to “halt recruitment, reform and reorganise, then begin again”. Fat chance of that happening, as he well knows. To do that, they’d have to admit that they might be wrong, and Cardinal Brady’s homily made it abundantly clear last weekend that it’s only the hierarchy’s detractors who can ever be that.

It is absolutely appropriate that O’Hanlon, after beginning with a remider of the Ryan report into clerical abuse, should have ended by pointing out the Cardinal’s insistence that he and his colleagues in the Irish hierarchy have a monopoly on truth, and Fr Troy’s belief that the clerical abuse could be eliminating by agreeing to “halt recruitment(presumably, eliminating recruitment in particular of those dreadful queers), reform and reorganise, then begin again“.

Here is the fundamental problem:  by using every opportunity to turn discussion of any problem to an attack on “the gays”, what they are really doing is the age old trick of scapegoating the sexual “others”, so as to deflect attention from the real problem with clerical abuse: their own institutional culpability.

In my continuing series on the problem, I have repeatedly referred to Bishop Robinson’s conclusions that the root causes are deeply embedded in church’s institutional structure: the insistence on compulsory celibacy,  the excessive concentration and centralisation of ecclesiastical power, and individuals who are personally immature with poorly integrated sexuality.  (Note that the insistence on celibacy and exclusion of openly gay candidates ensures a disproportionate number of sexually immature candidates – both straight and gay- remaining). Investigating additional books on the topic for Sergius & Bacchus books, I quickly found that many other writers clearly agree with Robinson.  I have not yet had the chance to read these, but just the titles (see below) and the few snippets or commentaries available on-line make the general conclusions clear:

Boisvert & Goss, “Gay Catholic Priests and Clerical Abuse – Breaking the Silence” is a powerful collection of articles by a range of writers addressing the fallacious connection between the abuse and gay priests.  In doing so, they make some very important points, which come across clearly, even in only a limited on-line preview.  For me, the most startling was the observation (which I have since come across elsewhere) that something like two thirds of the victims were not boys, but girls – and hence that two thirds of the perpetrators were not gay, but  ”straight”.  Couple this with the widely accepted guesstimate that something like half of priests are gay, and an important conclusion follows.  If half the clergy (the straight half) are responsible for two thirds of the crimes, and the other half, the gay half, are responsible for just  one third, then simple arithmetic shows clearly that allegedly “straight” (but psychologically and morally twisted) clergy are twice as likely as gay clergy to be responsible for the child abuse.

Clearly, my calculations are deeply flawed: both figures are based on crude estimates. Combine them , and they become even less reliable.  There are other problems as well, but one thing is clear – the figures we have cannnot support the idea that gay priests are the ones primarily responsible for the scandal.

The second important observation in this book is that the widespread public focus on abuse of boys has completly obscured the bigger problem: the abuse of girls.  This is sexism at its worst – belittling the experience of the girls to highlight that of  the boys, as well as scapegoating of gay clergy to deflect attention from the real issue:  the completely unwarranted attempts by the institutional church to usurp all control, under the pretence of a monopoly of truth, and the completely unscriptural, unhistoric and completely unnecessary insistence on comoplusory celibacy.

As long as we in the broader church community allow the church authorities to get away with these lies, we are all complicit in the problem of sexual abuse. Until we root out the fundamental causes, this problem cannot go away.

This logo, which I previously posted under the title of the “worst logo ever”, now seems uncannily apposite and symbolic:

“Via Afrojacks, One imagines that this 1973 design for the Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Youth Commission would not make the cut today. “

Inappropriatelogo

NOTE:  the excerpts quoted above I took directly from the on-line edition of the Irish Times early this morning, Aug 30th.  Since then the story appears to have been removed: I can no longer find it in searches under the topic, or directly on the Irish Times website, so I am unable to  provide a  link.  The sections I have quoted are presented verbatim, except only some minor excisions to reduce the overall length.  For those  who might like to consult the full original report, I copied it in its entirety to a Word file, which I have since saved as a page under Catholic Church, Power & Abuse.  he headline I have given it may not be authentic – I have taken it from memory.

A small sample follows of some widely cited and commended titles on the problem that I came across in just an hour or two of on-line browsing:

Cozzens, D:                  The Changing Face of the Catholic Priesthood.

Crosby:                         Rethinking Celibacy, Reclaiming the Church

DOYLE & SIPE:          Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes- The Catholic Church’s 2000 Year Trail of Sexual Abuse

FRAWLEY–O’DEA:  Perversion of Power

MITCHELL, T:            Betrayal of the Innocents

RIGERT, Joe:              An Irish Tragedy

SIPE, A.W.R:               Sex, Priests and Power

You might also like:
James Alison’s Message to Gay Catholics: Be the Best …
In Politics and in Business, Homophobia Becoming Toxic. …
Sex and Catholics 4: More Weaknesses in Natural Law

 

Anglicans in South Africa Join the push for LGBT Inclusion

Anglicans in the Archdioces of Cape Town have joined the movement for ecclesiastical support for gay relationships.  Coming hot on the heels of important decisions by the US Episcopalians and Evangelical Lutherans, it adds to the momentum for  acceptance in church for sexual minorities. From Episcopal Life Online:

“The Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, meeting in synod August 22, supported a resolution asking the bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to provide pastoral guidelines for gay and lesbian members living in “covenanted partnerships,” whilst “taking due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion.”

The synod also resolved to ask Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to appoint a working group, representing church members of varying perspectives, to engage in a “process of dialogue and listening” on issues of human sexuality.”

On the face of it, the actual resolution from St George’s Cathedral is cautious, possibly disappointing.: but one has to understand the context.  The Archdiocese here is much more than just the city of Cape Town, and takes in Anglican commuinities also from the broader Southern African region.  Although South Africa itself has  a proud record in recognising LGBT rights, the neighbouring countries are far less accepting, with many of them still treating any form of homosexual expression as a criminal act.

The Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, which includes Anglican bishops from South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Angola, passed a resolution at the weekend asking the church’s bishops to provide pastoral guidelines for gay parishioners living in “covenanted partnerships”.

(from Independent Online)

So the resolution adopted necessarily had to take account of widely differing sensibilities across the region.  Still, it is a move forward. who can doubt that it will end in full support for lesbian & gay unions? The full text:

“This Synod,

Affirming a pastoral response to same-sex partnerships of faithful commitment in our parish families;

Gives thanks to God for:

  • The leadership of our Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and his witness in seeking to handle these issues in a loving and caring manner; and
  • The Bishops of our Province for their commitment to the unity of our Communion and Province, working together seeking God’s way of truth and reconciliation;

Notes the positive statements of previous Provincial Synods that gay and lesbian members of our church share in full membership as baptized members of the Body of Christ, and are affirmed and welcomed as such;

Affirms our commitment to prayerful and respectful dialogue around these issues, mindful of the exhortations of previous Lambeth Conferences to engage with those most affected;

Asks the Archbishop to request the Synod of Bishops to provide pastoral guidelines for those of our members who are in covenanted partnerships, taking due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion.”

(From Episcopal Life Online)

This warms the cockles of my heart.  I have very fond personal memories of  St George’s Cathedral, where this decision was taken.  For many years under apartheid, St George’s was known in Cae Town as a bastion of support for the anti-apartheid forces, serving often as a locus for protest, or as a haven and refuge for those seeking sanctuary from the forces of oppression.  I remember many ocassions in my youth when I stood with other students on the steps of the cathedral, ssoter in hand, in silent protest – while security police took photographs.

In later years, after I had started working, I remember a famous ocassion when police fired  tear gas canisters int a group of protesters on the steps.  With wonderful presence of mind, on of those students calmly picked up the canister before it released its fumes, and tossed it right back at the police – who were promptly overcome by their own tear gas.

Much later, St George’s became a focal point for the celebrations of the tiumph of democracy in the years following the unbanning of  the ANC, and the release of Nelson Mandela.

I have often noted that I see a strong parallel between the  struggle for justice and equality in apartheid South Africa.    This decision from St George’s Cathedral Cape Town, for so long a sacred space in the struggle against  apartheid, simply reinforces those parallels.

“The resolution was proposed by St George’s Cathedral clergy, as they said the parish had come to be seen as a “safe space” for gay Christians in Cape Town.”

(from Independent online)

One by one, denomination by denomination, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, the traditional barriers are being eroded.  The fundie arguments are losing credibility.  Gay marraige: coming soon, to a church near you.

St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

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Gay Weddings Begin in Argentina

The first gay weddings under Argentina’s new family equality law have begun. (These are not the first gay marriages- a handful of couples were able to sneak in by earlier court challenges and sympathetic magistrates, but these at the first to be arranged routinely under national marriage laws.  As you see, this was neither a traditional white wedding, nor a quiet affair in the registry office – there were too many reporters and photographers for that description. The couple are an actor and his agent – they will be used to the press, and wont’ object to the publicity.

CNN reports:

Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNN) — Two men who have been together for 34 years have become the first couple to obtain a same-sex marriage since it became legal in Argentina on July 15.

Artistic representative Alejandro Vanelli and actor Ernesto Larrese were married in a civil ceremony Friday morning in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital.

They wore dark suits and striped blue ties and were surrounded by well-wishers and a throng of reporters, photographers and videographers.

Larrese spoke to his partner — but also to the nation at large.

“To all those who are afraid … those who are homophobic … I tell them, don’t worry; this doesn’t affect you,” Larrese said. “You have nothing to fear. Fear is the opposite of love. Any phobia can be cured with love. There is nothing love cannot cure.

However, the BBC says a different couple got in first, just an hour earlier, in a northern town.  Who cares? There will be many, many more.

An architect and a retired office administrator have become the first gay couple to marry in Argentina under a new law legalising same-sex marriages.

Miguel Angel Calefato, 65, and Jose Luis Navarro, 54, have lived together for 27 years.

Argentina is the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage.

The law was passed after a long and often bitter campaign and it still faces opposition, most notably from the Roman Catholic Church.

After the early-morning ceremony in the northern town of Frias, Mr Calefato and Mr Navarro promised to hold a big party to thank all who had supported the passage of the law.

The couple have been together for 27 years