Discrimination and the Catholic Church: Nigeria

It’s not often that I agree with a Catholic Herald opinion piece on anything to do with LGBT issues and the Church, but here is one by Ed West, Deputy Editor, where I do. Catholic teaching is absolutely clear that discrimination, malice and violence against gay people is totally unacceptable, and should be strongly resisted. The obvious conclusion, as the writer points out, is that Catholics should be loudly protesting the anti – gay legislation in Nigeria. (What he doesn’t say, which i would add, is that we should also be loudly protesting against any discrimination, malice or verbal violence within or by the church and its institutions – as for, example, at Eastside Catholic High School, and other institutions that have unjustly fired excellent teachers, musicians and other staff).

Shouldn’t Catholics be protesting loudly against anti-gay persecution?

Nigeria’s new laws contravene Catholic teaching – and we should say so

Nigeria has become the latest country to impose extremely harsh measures on people in same-sex relationships. This is part of a trend towards a world morality gap and follows developments in Russia, Uganda and India.

The Catholic Church’s position on such laws are clear: they are are unjust. And it sometimes seems that the Catholic Church is standing atop two boats heading in opposite directions, with radical, illiberal anti-discrimination laws in the West and ultra-conservative morality laws in the developing world. Barbarism in one direction; decadence in the other.

Yet even educated people in Britain are hardly aware of the Church’s opposition to such laws (few noticed when the Church spoke out in India last month). They lump in the Catholic view on sexuality with that of the rabidly intolerant governments of Nigeria and Uganda. And Catholics don’t seem to be making much effort to dissuade them.

As one Catholic, Niall Gooch, wrote on Twitter: “Christians should be more vocal about laws & governments that encourage anti-gay hostility.” He has a point. Instead, it’s left overwhelmingly to secular, often anti-religious, campaigners.

Gooch points to Articles 2357 and 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which say that gay people “must be accepted w/ respect, compassion, & sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Catholics should see this as a matter of social justice. As Gooch has argued, as much as Catholics oppose discrimination laws that affect adoption agencies and B&Bs, and various other radical secularist measures, what’s happening in Nigeria is surely far, far worse than schools using the charity Stonewall’s material.

-read the full post at CatholicHerald.co.uk

(but be warned that reading the comments could seriously harm your blood pressure).

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Research Evidence: Same – Sex Partners Happier than Straight Ones.

Research shows that gay relationships are “happier and more positive” than straight ones.

The popular perception that gay relationships don’t last is not surprising, but it’s a myth. We all know that same – sex relationships face difficulties not encountered by our opposite – sex counterparts, arising from some measure of public disapproval, hostility or active discrimination or even violence, and from the greater difficulties in arranging the emotional and legal support of family and community in marriage ceremonies and contracts. So the misperception that our relationships are fragile, and the companion allegation often heard from our opponents that gay men are doomed to unhappiness, is not surprising – but is contradicted by the evidence.

The latest study to show this result comes from the UK Open University, widely reported this week in the British press. This research, based on a survey of 5000 people, including in-depth follow – up interviews with 50 of the participants, examined much more than just the sexuality of the couples, which explains the headline of the report in the Independent:

The key to a happy relationship? Be gay. Or childless. Or make tea

Joe and  Will

Gay couples are likely to be happier and more positive about their relationships than heterosexuals, according to a major study by the Open University published today

However, they are less likely to be openly affectionate towards each other – holding hands in public, for instance – because they still fear attracting disapproval.

The study of 5,000 people – 50 of whom were later followed up with in-depth interviews – aimed at finding out how modern couples keep their relationships on track through life’s difficulties.

It found that simple things – like making a cup of tea in the morning and taking it up to them in bed – were the most treasured by couples as examples of intimacy rather than more dramatic gestures such as declaring “I love you”.

It was on the relative happiness of people within different types of relationships that the survey threw up the most interesting insights into modern day life, however.

“LGBQ participants (lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer) are more generally positive about and happier with the quality of their relationship and the relationship which they have with their partner” the research concludes.

“Heterosexual parents are the group least likely to be there for each other, to make ‘couple time’, to pursue shared interests, to say ‘I love you’ and to talk openly to one another.”

Independent

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St Aelred of Rievaulx, Abbot and Patron of Same Sex Spiritual Love

St Aelred,  whose feast we celebrate today, is recognised in all sources as an important English saint, who lived in the north of England in the 12 C. As a young man, he joined the Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx, later returning there as Abbott.  He is remembered especially for his writings on friendship, some of which have led gay writers such as John Boswell to claim him as ‘homosexual’. For instances, Integrity USA, an Anglican LGBT organisation, have designated him as their patron. From the website of Integrity, this Collect for the feast of Aelred:

Continue reading St Aelred of Rievaulx, Abbot and Patron of Same Sex Spiritual Love

The Miracle that Created a Southern Baptist Straight Ally

If the coming out process can be difficult, and coming out in church even more so, those difficulties can be even more so deeply religious parents of lesbian or gay people.  Lance Bass was raised in Mississippi by a committed Southern Baptist family – not the easiest environment for any religious family to discover that their son is gay – and very publicly so, on the cover of tabloid magazines. At Huffington Post, Lance Bass describes what happened after he came out, how his mother prayed for a miracle – and how the miracle granted was not the one she expected.

Lance Bass
Lance Bass

The bulk of the post is in his mom’s own words, the text of a speech she delivered to a local church congregation. These are the central paragraphs of that speech  (read the full text at Huffington Post Gay Voices).

The First Thing My Mom Did When She Learned I Was Gay… and the ‘Miracle’ That Occurred After

Seven years ago, we found out that Lance is gay. We were totally blindsided and devastated because never in a million years would we have guessed it. Also, because it was such a public thing, the situation was so much worse on the family. I do not want to go into the personal details of that revelation, but I will tell you that the first thing I did was fall to my knees and ask, “What would Jesus do?” I almost immediately knew the answer… love my son. And that is what I have done. Never once did I ever think about turning my back on him. Never once was I ashamed or embarrassed. My feelings were more of sadness and just sheer disappointment in life.

If you believe that being gay is a choice, then the rest of what I say will not matter. I do not know why, but even as a staunch Christian, I personally never believed that being gay was a choice. I never knew a lot of gay people, but the ones I did meet I felt compassion for because I could feel their pain of being rejected and my heart always went out to them. Even though I never did believe Lance chose to be gay, I did not accept it as quickly as my husband did. His attitude was “It is what it is.” My attitude was “Yes, it is what it is but my God can perform miracles so I’m going to beg for a miracle to zap Lance and change him to straight!” And I did just that. I continued to love my son, stand beside him, and defend him, but for several years I continued to pray relentlessly for a miracle.

Well, Lance is still gay. However, I did get a miracle. It is just not the miracle I prayed for. You are looking at the miracle tonight. The miracle is that I learned to have unconditional love and compassion for my son and others in the gay community. I haven’t marched in parades or spoken at conventions, but I do feel that God has led me to speak out concerning the church’s role. My son is a Christian and wants to be able to worship, but he does not feel that the church cares about him and has pretty much disowned him as a fellow believer. There is something terribly wrong with that and I have to speak up on behalf of my son and others who find themselves in the same situation. When I was a little girl, I went to a celebration with my grandparents on the courthouse lawn in Laurel. I was thirsty and ran to drink some water from one of the water fountains. My grandmother screamed at me to stop. When I looked at the fountain it had the word “Colored” on it and she told me I had to drink out of another one. I was only 6 years old but I knew something was just not right about that. Just as my heart told me something was wrong that day on the courthouse lawn, my heart is telling me that something is wrong with the way the church treats those who are gay.

I could tell you many stories that gay young people have told me about how so-called Christian people have treated them but I will only share one. One of the young men told me that he was searching for God and visited a large church one Easter Sunday. He was enjoying the beautiful service and feeling so drawn to what he was experiencing.

Everyone was standing singing a hymn and when he sat down there was a note in his chair. It said, “You know you are going to hell.” He told me that he never went to church again. I don’t blame him, but to my knowledge, he has not accepted Christ and is lost.

via Huffington Post –  Lance Bass.

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Indian Christians unite for LGBTI rights as others demand gay 'sinners' remain against law

Indian Christians have protested demanding the law making gay sex criminal in the country is kept – but other Christians have come out to fight for LGBTI rights. Sunday saw an alliance unite under the name of Christians Against Homophobia to condemn the anti-gay protest.

The founding members of Christians Against Homophobia announce their stand.
The founding members of Christians Against Homophobia announce their stand.

The alliance, comprised of pro-LGBTI activists, released a statement saying ‘we register our opposition to those who use our religion to spread bigotry and prejudice against those of different sexual orientations and gender identities.’

Vikranth Prasanna, a founding member of the alliance, told GSN: ‘We request our fellow Christians to support our friends who are lesbians and homosexuals and to not support this bigotry but to spread peace and love which is the basic principle of Christianity.’

– Gay Star News

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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.

Modern Martyr for LGBT Inclusion, Father Robert Nugent

At its most basic, “martyr” simply means “one who bears witness” – especially in the face of persecution. In a narrow, Christian sense, it is applied to those whose witness for the faith resulted in their execution, expecially in the great Roman persecutions in early Church history. The growth of the early Church, it is said, was watered by the blood of its martyrs.

But there are many forms of martyrdom. From an LGBT perspective, we could apply the term to those who suffered persecution not for the Church,  but by the Church or at its instigation, for their steadfast witness to the truth of their sexual or gender identity.. Examples here would include St  Joan of Arc, and the many thousands murdered as “sodomites” by the Inquisition, in the Nazi pink holocaust, or in hate crimes masquerading as religious acts. We could also include those who died by their own hands, driven to suicide as a result of bullying, family rejection, or internal conflicts resulting from religious guilt.

There are also varying forms of “death”, which this persecution can result in, not only physical death of the body.

Father Robert Nugent, New Ways Ministry’s Co-Founder, Passes Into Eternal Life

With confidence in the promise of the Resurrection, but also with hearts heavy with sorrow, New Ways Ministry reports the passing into eternal life of our co-founder, Father Robert Nugent, SDS.  Fr. Nugent’s three-month battle with brain cancer ended on Wednesday, January 1, 2014, at 2:10 pm, Central Time, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Present at his side at the time of his death were New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, and Brother John Hauenstein, SDS, a member of his religious congregation, the Salvatorians.

via Bondings 2.0.