Pope Francis has been declared The Times’ Person of the Year. In the nine months since the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope the newspaper said he has “changed the nature of the debate on religion and modernity”.
The Times’ leader of 26 December recalled that John XXIII, elected Pope in 1958, instituted the Second Vatican Council as a means of “opening the windows of the Church” whereas Pope Francis had done so by force of his personality. Quoting the Epistle of James’ observation that faith alone without good works is dead, The London-published newspaper went on: “Francis has exemplified concern for the poor and despised, not as a matter only of personal conduct but of theology. And in this respect, he gives every indication of making the Church a vital actor on the world stage.”
Alluding to Francis as the first Latin American Pope, the paper said that his emphasis on alleviating poverty had the weight of experience and concluded: “In making it the centrepiece of his papacy, Francis has placed the claims of faith at the heart of temporal affairs. The Catholic Church has been in need of an exceptional man and it appears to have found one”
Earlier this month, the American magazine, Time, named Pope Francis Person Of The Year. He recently won the same accolade from an American gay rights magazine, The Advocate, which quoted his remark to journalists on the papal plane in July: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” The magazine said the Pope is the “single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people.”
via The Tablet – News.
Let us never forget, that in Catholic (and other) theology, it is not the priest or minister that administers the sacrament of matrimony, but the two spouses, who administer it to each other, in the sight of God and the community. It is also not the state that makes a marriage, but the mutual commitment of the spouses: all that the state does, is recognize and register the marriage. Informal, unregistered marriages are common in many parts of Africa,
This lesbian wedding in Uganda is thus as valid as any other unregistered marriage – even if it will garner direct opposition and possible prosecution from the law, instead of the approval it deserves.
Lesbian wedding held in Uganda day after anti-gay bill passed
Kenyan activist reports a lesbian wedding the day after Ugandan parliament passes bill threatening life imprisonment for gay people
22 DECEMBER 2013 | BY ANNA LEACH
A brave lesbian couple in Uganda has held a wedding a day after parliament passed a bill that threatens gay people with life in prison if caught expressing their sexuality.
Kenya gay rights activist Denis Nzioka tweeted a photograph of a celebrant and two women in wedding garb and said that Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline had attended the marriage. ‘This is what I call guts,’ he said.
- African LGBT activists praise, mourn Nelson Mandela (76crimes.com)
- Living in Fear: Gay and Persecuted in Uganda (creativetimereports.org)
- Uganda: LGBT activists bravely stage pride parade in Kampala (sendson04.wordpress.com)
- Dispute over LGBTI clinics in Uganda (76crimes.com)
- Statement from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: Uganda’s New Draconian Anti-LGBT Legislation (dailyqueernews.wordpress.com)
Pope Francis has already been named as “Person of the Year” by Time magazine, and somewhat more surprisingly, by the gay magazine, The Advocate. Now he’s been named by another prestigious magazine, the New Yorker, in the number two position in their list of Gay Rights Heroes in 2013. (Number one position went to New York widow Edith Windsor, who was runner-up to Francis for the Advocate nomination).
The Top Ten Gay-Rights Heroes of 2013 : The New Yorker
1. Edith Windsor
A United Methodist minister who was suspended for officiating at his son’s gay marriage said on Monday he will not voluntarily surrender his religious credentials even though he cannot uphold his church’s doctrines on issues relating to same-sex marriage.
In what could be good news for LGBT Catholics, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has been appointed to the Congregation for Bishops, where he will be in a strong position to influence the appointments of future bishops of the Church.
(This is “good news”, because Nichols response to marriage equality in the UK has been notably more restrained than that of many other bishops, including a statement that there “could be value” in legal provision for civil unions).
In an interview with KQED News Fix, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone discusses (among other things) the value of “getting to know” gay Catholics. The full interview also covers Catholics and the excesses of capitalism, immigration, and the San Francisco Giants. (The report notes that “While Cordileone seemed a bit uneasy discussing the pope’s comments about homosexuality , he warmed up when asked how a San Diego native could root for the San Francisco Giants over his hometown Padres”).That discomfort is clearly visible in his body language. Watch.
Below the fold are the extracts of the report, which refer specifically to LGBT issues.
Indiana’s Catholic bishops issued a statement Thursday on the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — but they stopped short of taking a position on the hot-button topic.
The statement, signed by Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Indiana’s five bishops, emphasizes the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, but also the dignity of all people.
“The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, who ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,’” the statement says. “At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage, a natural institution established by God. By its very nature, marriage is a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”
Church officials said the statement isn’t intended to stake out a political position, but to inform people about Catholic teachings as they weigh the issue.
“People have the right to make their own decisions on these issues, but it needs to be done with an informed conscience,” said Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Archdiocese
-continue reading at Indianapolis Star
- Gay Catholic Group Lauds Indiana Bishops Marriage Statement (lezgetreal.com)
- IN Bishops Stay Neutral on Marriage Amendment (bilerico.com)
- Unnecessary roughing: Why Catholic bishops should be more accepting of gay marriage (suntimes.com)
Just as the Church of Ireland was consecrating its first female bishop, the Anglican Church in Canada was electing a woman bishop of its own.
(The Telegraph report of the Irish consecration of Bishop Pat Storey referred to her as the “first Anglican woman bishop”. This is not strictly correct. She is the first woman bishop in the UK or Ireland, but there have been several more in other provinces of the Anglican communion, including some recently appointed in South Africa and India, for example).
More women bishops
The Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada elected the Reverend Canon Melissa Skelton to be its ninth bishop on Saturday.
Press reports include:
Huffington Post Canada: Rev. Melissa Skelton Elected Bishop Of New Westminster
Douglas Todd Vancouver: Sun Rev. Melissa Skelton elected bishop of Vancouver-area Anglican diocese
Paul Sullivan Matro [Canada]: Anglican bishop brings branding skills
By coincidence the election took place on the same day as the Consecration Of The Revd Pat Storey As Bishop Of Meath & Kildare. Patrick Comerford, a Canon at Christ Church Cathedral, where the service took place, describes the occasion in detail: A Memorable Afternoon at the Consecration of Bishop Pat Storey in Christ Church Cathedral.
In the heated debates over sexuality, sin and the Christian response, is there a possibility that the churches find common ground? A new report by Savitri Hensman for the religious think tank Ekklesia thinks there is :
Think-tank proposes different approach to church sexuality row
Churches with different views in heated debates about sexuality actually share common ground and can move forward despite their differences, says a new paper from the Christian think-tank Ekklesia.
The research paper, ‘Church views on sexuality: recovering the middle ground’, by Savitri Hensman, rejects the popular idea that there are two warring blocks that may be labelled ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’. This is simplistic and can be misleading as well as unhelpful, it says.
In the new paper, Ekklesia identifies seven widely held viewpoints on sexuality within churches of different denominations and traditions. It shows that those with supposedly diametrically opposing positions often have more in common than they may at first think – even though they may presently disagree about same-sex relationships, for example.
Equally, it argues, coexistence among those sharing a ‘middle ground’ is not about weak compromise, but instead reflects an approach both deeply rooted in Bible and tradition and open to change as a living community led by the Spirit.
– full news release at Ekklesia.
The abstract for the published paper gives:
It is clear that Christians hold a spectrum of views on sexuality and marriage. However, the popular idea that there are two warring blocks that may be labelled ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’ is simplistic and can be misleading as well as unhelpful. Current tensions could be reduced and reframed significantly if more church leaders acknowledged the extent of common ground in the middle of this continuum, allowed limited flexibility of practice, and enabled their communities to develop practices of discernment oriented towards the “grace and truth” (John 1.13- 15) that lies at the heart of the Christian message. In this paper, Ekklesia associate Savitri Hensman identifies seven widely held positions on sexuality. She suggests that those with supposedly diametrically opposing views often have more in common than they may at first think. Equally, she argues, in Christian terms, that coexistence among those sharing a ‘middle ground’ is not about weak compromise, but instead reflects an approach both deeply rooted in Bible and tradition and open to change as a living community led by the Spirit.
- ‘Church views on sexuality: recovering the middle ground (Full paper)
- What is Ekklesia’s approach to the sexuality row in the churches?
- Anglican Blessings for Same – sex Unions? (queeringthechurch.com)
- Church of England report on human sexuality: Clergy should be able to bless same sex partnerships (christiantoday.com)
- Church of England considers ‘weddings in all but name’ for same-sex couples (telegraph.co.uk)