Bishops in United Kingdom Attack Marriage Equality on Several Fronts

Comments calling same-sex marriage “morally defective” by retired Scottish Archbishop Mario Conti are the latest in month-long attacks by Catholic prelates responding to British and Scottish government plans to legalize marriage equality.

Writing in The Tablet against the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill during a period where Scottish officials gather public input, Archbishop Conti said:

“…it is unhelpful, unnecessary and indeed profoundly unwise for political action to do quite the opposite, namely to attempt through the law, by equating homosexual unions with heterosexual marriage, to render moral what is in itself morally defective.”

Previously, the English bishops have spoken forcefully against government plans to legalize marriage equality in England and Wales. Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell wrote a harshly-worded letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron in early December questioning Catholics’ ability to trust him and making a comparison that Cameron is equitable to the anti-Christian Roman emperor, Nero.

Other instances since then include:

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham’s warning that not adhering to traditional gender roles as a result of marriage equality laws would have unforeseen consequences for society;

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster declaring, in a letter read during Masses, the government’s move as undemocratic, “shambolic,” and something that would make George Orwell proud;

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury using his Christmas homily to compare the British government’s efforts on marriage equality to Communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes.

Such unwelcomed messages at Christmas time distort the holiday for many, evident in comments by Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, to The Guardian:

“’We do think it’s very sad that an archbishop should sully the day of the birth of Jesus by making what seem to be such uncharitable observations about other people. Some of us are mindful of Luke 2:14, which reminds us that Christmas Day is a day of peace and goodwill to all men. Perhaps Archbishop Nichols should have spent a little more time in bible study.’”

The pending legislation for England and Wales is expected to be voted on this coming spring, with Prime Minister David Cameron recently reiterating his support for full marriage equality while promising sufficient religious liberty safeguards.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.

Transgender Teacher Sues Catholic School Over Firing

A transgender teacher is suing a Catholic high school in Queens, New York, saying that he was fired after teaching there for more than 30 years because of deciding to begin to live out a female gender identity.

Mark Krolikowski, ABCNews.com reports:

“In a lawsuit, Mark Krolikowski, 59, alleges that after 32 years of teaching at St. Francis Prep in Queens, N.Y., and receiving numerous accolades for his work including leading students in a musical performance for Pope Benedict XVI, he was fired last year after the parents of a ninth grader complained about his appearance.

“Krolikowski remains anatomically male and routinely wore suits and neckties to school where he taught music, social studies and a class on human sexuality. He also wore earrings and manicured his nails in ‘a feminine style’ according to court documents.

“In 2011, Krolikowski was summoned to the office of the principal, Brother Leonard Conway, where he revealed that he was transgender and that he intended to start coming to work dressed as a woman. According to Krowlikowski’s lawsuit, Conway told the teacher that being transgender was ‘worse than gay’ and that he could no longer appear at public events if he planned to begin appearing as a woman.”

According to the New York Post, the controversy over the teacher’s gender identity arose when a parent complained to the principal about the teacher’s appearance:

“. . . a parent took issue with his look and reportedly went to school officials. The subsequent questions from his bosses forced Krolikowski to tell then-Principal Leonard Conway and assistant principal Patrick McLaughlin he was transgender, court papers state.”

The Post also reports that Krolikowski agreed

“. . . to tone down his appearance by losing the earrings and feminine nails, Krolikowski said he got stellar evaluations during the 2011-12 school year. Despite this, Krolikowski claims his bosses called him insubordinate in June 2012 for allegedly continuing to go ‘his own way,’ according to court papers.

ABCNews.com provided a comment from St. Francis’ Prep’s view of the case:

” ‘His employment was terminated for appropriate non-discriminatory reasons,’ said the school’s attorney, Phil Sempervivo.”

A group of current students and alumni have come to the defense of Krolilowski with a petition on Change.org, supporting the teacher and asking the school to offer an apology.  In part, the petition states:

” ‘Mr. K,’ as he was affectionately known by most of his students, had worked for SFP [St. Francis Prep] for over 30 years and was always himself: funny, eccentric, loving, and accepting. Ask anyone who had him and they will rave about his stellar teaching and friendly demeanor. In a school in which many of the faculty can often be bossy and tyrannical, Mr. K created a warm and welcoming environment for all his students and their peers.

“However, his long track record of spectacular teaching seemed to carry no weight when a lone parent complained about his ‘feminine’ appearance back in 2011. Mr. K, for as long as we have known him, has always donned several gold hoop earrings, dyed hair, fashionable (but appropriate and professional) clothing, and well-manicured nails. This was never an issue amongst his students or their parents until that one student’s mother complained to the school.

“This is a disgusting display of discrimination and must be acted against and apologized for. While we do not expect Mr. K to return to Prep, we do expect the school to apologize for its behavior and its ultimate decision to expel such a valued member from their staff. In a school that preaches love, respect, and acceptance, we are appalled to see that their lessons come with hateful fine print.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via  Bondings 2.0.

Progressive Catholic Group Ordaining Transgender Priest

The North American Old Catholic Church is ordaining Shannon T.L. Kearns, a trans man, later this month. Kearns (right) will be responsible for starting a new parish in Minneapolis. Shannon-T.L.-Kearns

“The North American Old Catholic Church looks forward to establishing a presence in Minneapolis with the ordination of Father Kearns,” said Bishop Benjamin Evans, who is presiding over the ordination on January 19. “God’s Holy Spirit continues to bless us with growth.”

Founded in 2007, the North American Old Catholic Church has a mission of social justice, does not submit to the authority of the Pope, and is open to female and LGBT clergy.

“I am honored and humbled to have my calling to ministry affirmed by the North American Old Catholic Church,” says Kearns, who transitioned while studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York. “I look forward to many years serving as a priest.

via  Queerty.

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Progressive Catholic Group Ordaining Transgender Priest

The North American Old Catholic Church is ordaining Shannon T.L. Kearns, a trans man, later this month. Kearns (right) will be responsible for starting a new parish in Minneapolis.

Shannon-T.L.-Kearns

“The North American Old Catholic Church looks forward to establishing a presence in Minneapolis with the ordination of Father Kearns,” said Bishop Benjamin Evans, who is presiding over the ordination on January 19. “God’s Holy Spirit continues to bless us with growth.”

Founded in 2007, the North American Old Catholic Church has a mission of social justice, does not submit to the authority of the Pope, and is open to female and LGBT clergy.

“I am honored and humbled to have my calling to ministry affirmed by the North American Old Catholic Church,” says Kearns, who transitioned while studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York. “I look forward to many years serving as a priest.

via  Queerty.

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SS Polyeuct and Nearchos, Roman Soldiers, Lovers and Martyrs

The Roman soldiers, lovers and martyrs Sergius and Bacchus are well known examples of early queer saints. Polyeuct and Nearchos are not as familiar- but should be.  John Boswell (“Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe“) names the two as one of the three primary pairs of same sex lovers in the early church, their martyrdom coming about half a century after Felicity and Perpetua, and about another half century before  Sergius & Bacchus .

Like the later pair, Polyeuct and Nearchos were friends in the Roman army in Armenia. Nearchos was a Christian, Polyeuct was not. Polyeuct was married, to a woman whose father was a Roman official. When the father-in-law undertook as part of his duties to enforce a general persecution of the local Christians, he realized that this would endanger Polyeuct, whose close friendship with Nearchos could tempt him to side with the Christians.  The concern was fully justified: although Polyeuct was not himself a Christian, he refused to prove his loyalty to Rome by sacrificing to pagan gods. In terms of the regulations being enforced, this meant that he would sacrifice his chances of promotion, but (as a non-Christian) not his life. Christians who refused to sacrifice faced beheading. When Nearchos learned of this, he was distraught, not at the prospect of death in itself, but because in dying, he would enter Paradise without the company of his beloved Polyeuct. When Polyeuct learned the reasons for his friends anguish, he decided to become a Christian himself, so that he too could be killed, and enter eternity together with Nearchos.

Epiphany: Soho Masses Community Celebrate the Feast of Coming Out

On Sunday, January 6th, the Church celebrated the great Feast of the Epiphany – the feast where Jesus is shown to the world, revealed.

At the Church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, the Soho Masses community celebrated too, for the first time since Archbishop Nichols’ announcement of our move next month to Farm Street – and heard his letter to the congregation read.

Wise Men_Adoration2 (1)

 

From the liturgy, the homily, and the discussions which followed the Mass, I offer here some personal reflections. Continue reading Epiphany: Soho Masses Community Celebrate the Feast of Coming Out

‘De-baptism’ Is the Latest Dutch Trend

‘De-baptism’ Is the Latest Dutch Trend

The trend of Dutch Catholics ‘de-baptizing’ themselves is gaining traction after Pope Benedict XVI made remarks against marriage equality in his World Day of Prayer for Peace (January 1) address.

Ontdopen.nl, the website that claims to provide automated ‘de-baptism,’ was begun as a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Netherlands. Now, the Catholic Church’s continued campaign against marriage equality leads to a leap in website views from ten daily to ten thousand.

Bondings 2.0 previously covered the Pope’s address which included a statement that same-gender marriages manipulate nature and destroy the ‘essence of the human creature.’

According to Gay Star News, the ‘de-baptism’ process entails a person entering personal information and receiving a “ resignation letter” that can then be sent to diocesan and parish officials as formal separation from the Catholic Church.

Website founder Tom Roes readily admits that ‘de-baptism’ is not exactly the function of Ontdopen.nl, telling LGBTQ Nation about its true function and limits:

“‘Of course it’s not possible to be ‘de-baptized’ because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics,’ Roes said, although he admits he has no way of verifying just how many visitors to his website actually follow through and leave the church.”

The growth of Ontdopen.nl in the Netherlands, the first nation to legalize marriage equality and one where 44% of citizens claim no religious affiliation, should be troubling for Catholic leadership. Until now, most adherents passively separated themselves by not participating in Mass or parish activities, but generally when asked by pollsters still claimed “Catholic” as their religious affiliation. Actively separating oneself from Catholicism is a new and further step.

With the United States emerging more like the Netherlands in providing greater LGBT equality and also declining in people who religiously affiliate, this Dutch trend is perhaps a troubling vision into American Catholicism’s future if the bishops continue their anti-equality efforts.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.

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Three Queers from the East: Thoughts for the Epiphany

Earlier in the week, I wrote that some Bible stories are so familiar, we do not stop to consider their significance. I could also add, that some others are so familiar, we do not stop to ask if they are accurate. A case in point is that of today’s feast of the Epiphany, which we routinely celebrate as the visit of the three kings of the East to the infant Jesus – but the Gospel text does not specify that there were three, nor that they were kings.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
 

It is the term “magi” that has been traditionally adapted to “wise men”, or corrupted in popular imagination to “kings”. Astrologer-magicians, in the Zoroastrian religion, would be a more accurate translation. (Note the obvious linguistic connection between “magus” and “magic”). Kittredge quotes Nancy Wilson and Virginia Mollenkott, to suggest that the Magi were probably either eunuchs, or trans.

5th January: Apollinaria/Dorotheos, Cross – dressing Monk (and Saint ?)

According to the LGBT Catholic Handbook, this week sees the feast day of St.  Apollinaria /Dorotheos of Egypt (5th, 6th January). She is said to have been one of a group of transvestite saints – women who took on men’s clothing  in order to live as monks.
For the specific story of Apollinaria, we turn to the Orthodox church, who take these female monks rather more serioulsy than the western church.

This is from the Orthodox website, “God is Wonderful in His Saints” Continue reading 5th January: Apollinaria/Dorotheos, Cross – dressing Monk (and Saint ?)

Pope’s Peace Day Statement Is Countered by Catholic Parents

As we reported at the end of last month, Pope Benedict’s statement for the World Day of Prayer for Peace, January 1st, contained a reference that same-gender married couples are a threat to world peace.  But on January 1, 2013,  the pope’s message was countered by a pair of married heterosexual Catholic parents who have a long history of working for LGBT justice and equality.

In his statement the pope said that allowing gay and lesbian people to marry is

“. . . an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.”

Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata

In a Washington Post “On Faith” essay, Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata,  who are the founders of Fortunate Families, a national network of Catholic parents of LGBT people, countered the pope’s rhetoric by describing the lives of  lesbian and gay friends of theirs:

“We are fortunate enough to be able to contrast the pope’s rhetoric with the reality of Bob’s life, and those of many other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people whom we know. They don’t seem like threats to world peace or the future of humanity. They are men and women trying to earn a living, love their spouses, raise their children and contribute a little something to their churches and their communities.”

Additionally, they contrast the pope’s point of view with that of the majority of U.S. Catholics:

“The pope is losing the fight against marriage equality because Catholics weigh his abstract definitions of what it means to be human, what it means to be male and what it means to be female, against the evidence of their own experience. They understand instinctively that human beings are too complex to be captured in such arid taxonomies, that categories devised by celibate philosophers no longer make much sense in a world in which traditional gender roles were abandoned long ago. Rather, what they know, what they believe, is the evidence of their own experience. Like John the Evangelist, they testify to what they have seen and heard.”

more at « Bondings 2.0.

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