Just last week it was Cardinal Schonborn saying to an Irish conference in preparation for the World Meeting of Families, that all families need protecting – including queer families. Also last week, another senior cardinal effectively acknowledged in a newspaper interview, that gay marriage is not a major issue for the Catholic Church.
In a remarkable and groundbreaking statement, a prominent Catholic cardinal has acknowledged that protecting and strengthening “the family” can include protecting those headed by same-sex couples.
The Catholic Church is doing whatever it can to strengthen the family, including families often considered nontraditional, said Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, the theologian who reviewed Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family.
“Favoring the family does not mean disfavoring other forms of life — even those living in a same-sex partnership need their families,” the cardinal said during a visit to Ireland, which next year hosts the World Meeting of Families.
Catholicnews,com (emphasis added)
For lesbian and gay Catholics, this is immensely significant, for several reasons.
Cardinal Schonborn is clearly close to Pope Francis, and has his respect, as shown by his prominent role in presenting the pope’s Apostolic Exortation “Amoris Laetitia (The joy of Love)”, following the Catholic bishops’ synod assembly on marriage and family.
On lesbian and gay inclusion in church, he has often been among the first to articulate positions which later became commonplace. Several years ago, he was the first senior cardinal to suggest that the time had come to stop focusing on homosexual genital acts, and to look instead at the quality of the relationships. At the time, there was speculation that he would be promptly rebuked by Pope Benedict XVI. When that did not happen, a series of other bishops quickly echoed Schonborn’s thoughts on this. Later, he further developed his thinking, by extending to support for legal recognition of loving and committed same-sex relationships, in civil unions. This new statement takes it one step further, in implicit recognition that in some countries (eg Ireland, where he was speaking). these legally sanctioned unions could include civil marriage. Given his track record of anticipating Church thinking, we should expect more bishops to start talking about respect for different types of families – including those headed by same-sex couples.
“Today, everybody can get married,” he said, but acknowledged “so many choose not to get married.” He suggested that the number of so-called irregular situations has increased enormously because the “framework of society has changed so much.”
Schonborn was in Ireland to address a conference, “Let’s Talk Family: Let’s Be Family.” In his remarks, he also noted that there have been times when large sections of the population (servants, for example) where not permitted to marry. Against this background, the Irish slogan “marriage for all” is just the logical extension of a long-term historical trend. Next year, Ireland will host the World Meeting of Families. It can be expected that with the “framework of society” having changed so markedly in the country, much of the discussion at the World Meeting of Families will at least consider all families.
It’s been widely expected, and now it’s confirmed by the BBC: same-sex marriage is coming to Taiwan. Note though that this is “same-sex” marriage, and not necessarily full marriage equality. The court ruling has given the parliament two years to legislate for marriage between same-sex couples, but it’s possible that such legislation could provide only for marriage, but not for any of the contingent rights that normally come with heterosexual couples. It could also take two years or more, for this decision to take full effect. There will not be gay wedding bells in Taipei, just yet.
This is the first Asian country to approve gay marriage, in any form – but it won’t be the last. We now have same-sex marriage approved, at least in principle, on every continent. That surely deserves
Taiwan’s top judges have ruled in favour of gay marriage, paving the way for it to become the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions.
The highest court ruled that current laws preventing members of the same sex from marrying violated their right to equality and were unconstitutional.
It gave parliament two years to amend existing laws or pass new ones.
Wednesday’s landmark decision came as the LGBT community faces increasing persecution in the region.
In a press release following the ruling, the court said that “disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders” constituted a “different treatment” with “no rational basis.”
The court concluded that “such different treatment is incompatible with the spirit and meaning of the right to equality” as protected by Taiwan’s constitution.
More at: BBC News
Approval for gay marriage in church is continuing to spread across several denominations and regions, not only in civil law. The Lutheran Church in Norway is the latest example, giving overwhelming support in a church conference. (Formal change to the rules will come later). As time goes by, there will be more denominations giving formal approval, and more local groups and pastors conducting marriages or blessing services without approval. (And yes, that already includes some Catholic priests, in some regions). For LGBT Christians, especially the young coming to terms with their sexuality for the first time, this is of major importance. It will become increasingly difficult for some Christian pastors to sustain the traditional line that loving, committed same-sex relationships are inherently and obviously sinful, while others are giving public endorsements of those relationships in front of their local congregations. Instead, the opponents will have to start to come up with sound scriptural and theological evidence for their views – and will find that such evidence is much flimsier than they have supposed.
Church of Norway Officially Embraces Gay Marriage: ‘A Historic…Shift in the Church’s Teaching on Marriage’
The Church of Norway voted at its annual conference on Monday to allow gay marriage, with the Christian body joining the French Protestant Church, the U.S. Episcopal and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denominations, among others, in now supporting same-sex unions.
Same-sex marriages may now be conducted, in Church, across Scandinavia (at least, in the region’s national churches, the Lutherans).
Sweden paved the way in 2009. With the support of Swedish bishops, the same legislation that provided for same-sex marriage, included provision for gay marriage in Lutheran churches.
Iceland followed suit when it approved gay marriage the following year, in 2010. Again, this was by parliamentary legislation, but with the support of the country’s bishops.
By Nordic standards, Denmark was slow to legislate for full gay marriage – perhaps because as the first country to approve a form of civil partnerships that were popularly thought of as gay “marriage”, way back in 2009 they did not feel the need as keenly as their neighbours. Nevertheless, when they did finally approve full equal marriage in 2012, that also included provision for same-sex weddings in Lutheran churches.
For some years, Norway was the laggard. Gay civil marriage was approved back in 2009, but for years, a handful of Lutheran bishops resisted all attempts to extend that to church weddings. Now, in a vote by an overwhelming margin of 88 out of 115, a Norwegian Lutheran church conference has voted to extend marriage services to same-sex couples.
Norway’s Lutheran church votes in favour of same-sex marriage
Norway’s Lutheran Church voted on Monday in favour of allowing same-sex marriage, becoming the latest of a small but growing number of churches worldwide to do so.
Last year the French Protestant Church allowed gay marriage blessings, while the U.S. Presbyterian Church approved a change in the wording of its constitution to include same-sex marriage.
In a vote at the annual conference of the Norwegian Lutheran Church on Monday 88 delegates out of 115 in total backed same-sex marriage.
“Finally we can celebrate love independently of whom one falls in love with,” said Gard Sandaker-Nilsen, leader of the Open Public Church, a religious movement within the church that had campaigned to change the rules.
The German Evangelical Church in Rhineland has agreed in a landslide vote to allow same-sex weddings in their church. Speakers in the debate stated that there is “no legal or theological reason for a different treatment of married couples and those living in a civil partnership”
This is in stark contrast to this week’s Primates meeting of the Anglican communions, which culminated in a three year suspension of the American Episcopal Church for its approval of gay marriage and appointment of gay bishops. While the Anglican communion is divided, the German Evangelicals are not: of 211 synod attendees, only seven voted against.
Also notable, is that the Rhineland region, admittedly a more liberal region of Germany, is not the first to take this step. Earlier, the Evangelical Church of Hesse-Nassau was the first to adopt a similar change in church constitution.
Giles Fraser, in his response to the Primates meeting, noted that in the long run, this week’s decision is irrelevant, because marriage equality is the way of the future. He is right.
From Gay Star News:
A group of Evangelicals controlling 719 parishes in west Germany have said they will start marrying gay and lesbian couples.
The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, Germany’s second-biggest territorial church, voted on the decision during their synod today (15 January).
It is also the second territorial church area out of 20 to open marriage ceremonies to all couples; the Evangelical Church of Hesse-Nassau was first to adopt a similar change in church constitution.
Only seven out of 211 voting attendees voted against treating same-sex marriages the same as their straight counterparts and allowing all couples to sign the church register.
Until now, gay couples could only receive a consecration or blessing, which does not count as a religious ceremony. The new change in church constitution abolishes this separation.
‘I’m very happy about this decision, because it is inspired by what should be at the heart of marriage,’ North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of Emancipation, Barbara Steffens (Green Party), told queer.de.
‘Loving devotion, which all humans can experience, no matter their sexual orientation.’
During a debate, members said there was ‘no legal or theological reason for a different treatment of married couples and those living in a civil partnership’ according to German public broadcaster SWR.
A few years ago, it was German speaking theologians from Europe who hit the headlines when they signed a letter asking for far-reaching reforms on Church teaching and structure.
Now, a group of mostly Spanish language from Latin America who have asked the Synod for far more radical reforms. They ask for full LGBT equality in Church (including equal marriage), an end to the absolute ban on abortion, admission to the priesthood for married men and women, and access to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Here’s the groundbreaking opening section , on full LGBT inclusion: Continue reading Spanish Theologians Back Gay Marriage.
In common with many other Christian denominations, Canadian Anglicans have been engaged in programmes of serious study and dialogue, on appropriate responses to LGBT inclusion in church, including access to marriage. In 2013, the General Synod approved a motion “directing the drafting of a motion “to change Canon XXI on marriage to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples”. There followed the appointment of a commission to investigate and consult widely, and to prepare a report and suitable motion to present to General Synod. That commission has now published its report.
This report does not in any way promote, or oppose, the introduction of marriage equality in the Church. Its mandate was to prepare a suitable motion on which General Synod will vote, and either approve or reject. What is important in the report for now, not only for Canadian Anglicans but for all queer people of faith and their allies, is that a major part of the report includes an analysis of the biblical and theological understanding of marriage – and concludes that from both perspectives, a case can be made in favour of same – sex marriage, in church.
The full report may be accessed at http://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/Marriage_Canon_REPORT_15Sept22.pdf
Here follows the last two sections, the conclusion to the section on the Biblical and Theological case in favour, and the concluding chapter to the full report. Continue reading Canadian Anglicans Present Biblical, Theological Case for Same – Sex Marriage.
In Italy, the Catholic parties in the Senate are mounting a fierce battle to stave off the government’s introduction of civil unions for same – sex couples, but the Vatican appears to have decided not to back them – and allow the legislation to pass.
The report at Il Giornale notes that this is an apparent paradox, but shows how in fact, it is not. Some may find this news surprising, but it is not unexpected: I wrote about the possibility myself, in this post. To understand how this has come about, we need some clarification of key points.
First, it is not true (as Gay Star News has claimed) that the Vatican has decided to “back” civil unions. That would be unthinkable, for a deeply conservative curia, and a major synod on protecting marriage and family is imminent, and where the question of LGBT ministry is already shaping up to be a major hot potato. All that has happened (if the report is sound), is that the Vatican is facing some uncomfortable facts, and is beating a strategic retreat. If some form of legal protection is inevitable, it will not damage its reputation by fighting a losing battle. In stepping back, it hopes it will be left with the lesser of two evils. Continue reading Understanding the Vatican Surrender to Italian Civil Unions
When the Episcopal Church of the USA agreed to provide for same – sex church weddings, few would have been surprised. This was the United States, where the modern gay liberation movement began, and the Episcopal Church, long known for its progressive stance on so many issues. But the Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa?
For the first 50 years of my life, I knew the DRC as a bastion of conservatism in (White) South African politics. Not only was it the National Party at prayer, providing spurious theological justification for apartheid and racial discrimination, it was also responsible for a wide range of other forms of socially conservative policies, forcing their puritanical view of Christianity on all others in the country. Not only was there no Sunday shopping, when I was growing up, there was also no Sunday entertainment of any kind (no cinemas, no paying spectator sports), and a harshly enforced system of censorship, to stamp out anything offensive to the moralists, or the governing politicians. We did not even get television until 1976 – well after the rest of the Western world.
Since then of course, the country has changed dramatically – and so has the Dutch Reformed Church. It has allowed its racial / political theology to catch up with the modern world (and other Reformed churches elsewhere), and has gradually begun to bring its sexual theology up to date, too. It has accepted openly gay and lesbian clergy since 2007.
Now, the Moderator of the Church has made a personal plea for full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians, including access to gay marriage, in Church. Continue reading Gay Marriage, in Church – in Africa?