Back in October 2015, I was in Rome for the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, timed to coincide with the Synod of Bishops gathering on marriage and family. At that conference, a steering committee was elected to create a permanent foundation for the new body. That work has now been completed: the next conference will now take place in Germany, later this year. Read the details in this invitation letter, from the co-chairs Ruby Almeida and Michael Brinkschröder:
In it’s response to Amoris Laetitia, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics expresses disappointment with a number of features, but also sees reasons for hope. Although the document has not yet opened the door to full lgbt inclusion in the Catholic Church, this could be the start of a process that could lead us there. In a striking image, they suggest that “maybe the key to the door is under the mat”.
The difficulties that they find with Amor Laetitia have been pointed out also by others. Of possibly greater importance, certainly for the longer term, are the signs of hope that they see. They welcome the fact that Pope Francis has opened up new ways for the Church to engage pastorally with the reality of its members’ lives, including all its LGBTQI people of God, and the Exhortation’s reinforcing the priority of respect for the human dignity. Continue reading Rainbow Catholics Call for LGBT “Listening Process”
An international group of LGBT Catholics, their families and their allies, sees reason for hope in the final report from the Bishops’ Synod Assembly on Marriage and Family. Acknowledging that there are some disappointments in the text, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics nevertheless expects that the proceedings of this assembly will lead to a fresh, more sensitive approach to pastoral care.
Here at the Queer Church, restructuring continues – and we’re also expanding our ministry.
I began my activities in LGBT ministry by volunteering at the Soho Masses, and went on to begin writing about LGBT faith matters here at Queering the Church. I also became involved with Quest as conference speaker, webmaster and now Quest Bulletin editor, took on additional webmaster responsibilities for the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality, and for the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. I have also facilitated successful workshops for Quest, and on “Next Steps” in expanding LGBT ministry. During the build up to the introduction of UK equal marriage, I was a regular participant in radio and television programmes as an openly gay, Catholic advocate for equality.
I’m now expanding still further. Continue reading Ministry Expanding at Queering the Church
At the conclusion of their founding conference, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics sent a “letter of greeting” to the synod fathers gathering in Rome.
From Thursday evening to Sunday evening 1st October to 4th October, a group of LGBT Catholics from 31 countries, together with some friends and family members, gathered in Rome for the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.
We shared our experiences as rainbow Catholics in a wide diversity of settings, we described our particular challenges, shared our greatest successes, and spoke of our special needs for support from the global network. We mapped out a direction and structure for our continuing work, then on Saturday afternoon we interrupted our own work to host a public meeting, “The Ways of Love”, to head about some notable achievements in pastoral practice from around the world. Resuming on Sunday, we elected a steering committee, with good gender balance and with representation from every continent, to take the work forward.
At the conclusion of the conference, we sent to every member of the Synod, just starting a short distance away, this letter:
Dear Sisters and Brothers at the Synod on the Family,
Greetings from the new-born Global Network of Rainbow Catholics!
We are a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics, and along with our loving families and friends, we have spent the last few days not far from you, in Rome, consolidating two years of work, which have advanced alongside your double Synod preparations.
We come from over thirty countries, both as individuals and as representatives of groups, who have been involved with the flourishing of people like ourselves in the lives of our local churches, (as well as with many other tasks). The last years have not been an easy ride! Many in our Church thought that they were serving God by hating us, and some still do, especially among the hierarchy; but we can tell you with joy, that we have kept alive our Confession of the Catholic faith! We have kept the faith under persecution, and are ready to join with you in the joyful announcement of the Gospel to which Pope Francis has called us.
Because God is wonderful, we have found that through this life as dregs among the people of God, the Holy Spirit has given us a surprising (at least to us) capacity to stand up and be counted, not to be frightened of those who fear us,not to be resentful of the incapacity for approval, and the bureaucratic meanness of spirit and dishonesty to which we have regularly been subjected. We have learned that it is not what the Church can do for us, but what we can do for the Church that matters.
We need to be better prepared to join you in your task of spreading the Gospel and building up the families in which(as we have so often experienced ourselves) God delights. We need to support each other, and others more vulnerable than ourselves, at a worldwide level,especially in countries which criminalize us, and even think they are honouring God by killing us. We need to be able to share information, counter falsehood, encourage each other in our needs, and strengthen our families, especially where civil law does not yet respect them. So we have decided to set up a Global network, to bring together groups of LGBTI Catholics, our families and friends, as well as other Christians and people of good will. This will enable us to be much better prepared to share experiences, life stories, examples of best-practice:little miracles of love.
We want to set up our network in such a way that we can even be useful to you, though we know from long experience\how frightened many of you are of communicating with us discreetly, even less talking to us on the record! Having learned, by living with Jesus, not to be dismayed by the falsehoods and calumnies concerning us to which some of you still seem wedded, and even pass off as “teaching of the Church”, you will find us resilient, because we know that we are loved. In the near-absence of visible shepherds, we have come to trust and love a Shepherd who was not ashamed to give himself to death for us, One whose voice we hear, with whom we are not in rivalry, and in whose light all others who call themselves shepherds can be tested for their fruits. Because of this, you may even be surprised to find us meek!
So we write to you to wish you encouragement for these days of your Synodal gathering, as well as for the months and years to come as we all begin to live the hints of the new that are coming to birth, discovering new ways of celebrating the family, rather than condemning wine that threatens to burst old wineskins. We are thrilled that you heard with us Pope Francis’ wonderful homily in Philadelphia last week, where he drew out the consequences of both Jesus’ and Moses’ rebuke to those who would hold back the Spirit.
We have prayed for you at every Mass at our meeting, and we ask you to pray for us, confident that we will soon be able to meet transparently, with joy. For we are amazed to have discovered that over the last few years, despite everything, and because nothing is impossible to God, we have become insiders with you in the life of the Gospel, and co-sharers in all your joyful tasks.
With warmest greetings from your rainbow sisters and brothers in Christ.
Feast of St Francis of Assisi, 2015
It’s been a superb, inspirational day in Rome, at the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.
We began early with morning prayer (before breakfast), structured around some biblical texts on the importance of listening, followed by two reflections, and prayers of petition.
Following up on last night’s brief introductions, today our delegates introduced themselves, their countries and the groups they represent, speaking particularly to three topics:
- What are the challenges you are facing?
- What has been your greatest success?
- What support / help do you need?
After these group presentations, we were invited to reflect on, and digest what we had heard. Continue reading Inspiring First Day for LGBT Catholic Global Conference
Next week, for the first few days of October, LGBT Catholics and allies representing groups from more than 30 countries will take gather in Rome for the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, the first worldwide network of organisations and persons involved in the pastoral care of, and search for justice for, LGBT people and their families within the Catholic Church and wider society.
New Ways Ministry reports that Sr Jeannine Gramick, their founder and a pioneer in Catholic LGBT ministry, will be among the guests at the White House to meet Pope Francis.
I met St Gramick some years ago with the Soho Masses community, then at St Anne’s, after a screening of the documentary on her work, “In Good Conscience”. I’ve followed her progress attentively every since, and look forward to meeting up with her again at the founding conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in Rome, at the start of the family synod in October.
The text following is from New Ways:
Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Catholic nun who pioneered ministry, advocacy, and outreach to the LGBT community over 40 years ago in Philadelphia, will be back in her hometown this week for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love. A native of Philadelphia, and a tremendous fan of Pope Francis, she is excited to see how far the Catholic Church has progressed since she began her discussions with LGBT people back in 1971.
She will be attending the World Meeting of Families for most of next week, but will be taking a short side-trip to Washington, DC to greet Pope Francis at President Obama’s White House reception, and to take part in a Mass led by the pope at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Continue reading Sr Jeannine Gramick, LGBT Ministry Pioneer, to Meet Pope Francis.
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, an international coalition that will be meeting in Rome at the start of the 2015 family synod, has expressed disappointment with the synod “Instrumentum Laboris” (or working document), that was released yesterday.
WORLDWIDE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANS CATHOLICS, & PARENTS
RESPOND TO SYNOD 2015 WORKING DOCUMENT
A number of organisations and advocates who focus on pastoral care and social justice for LGBT people and their families, working to form a Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, is disappointed by the 14th Ordinary Synod of Bishops’ Working Document ( Instrumentum Laboris) on “The Vocation & Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World”, published on 23 June 2015.
Although “suitable attention to the pastoral accompaniment of families in which live persons with homosexual tendencies, and families of these same persons” is recommended, Paragraphs 130-132 of the Working Document hardly reflect the rich discussions which have taken place, internationally and at all levels in the Church, on the welcome, respect, and value which should be afforded to lesbian and gay people in the Catholic community.
We strongly regret the inclusion of the unfounded statement that international organisations are pressurising poorer countries to introduce same-sex marriage as a condition of receiving financial aid Para. 132). Far better for the Church to show its commitment to social justice through the condemnation of global criminalisation of LGBT people, including torture and the death penalty.
The GNRC therefore offers the following reformulation of the Synod text referring to same-sex relationships,families & parents as a more positive contribution to further discussion and discernment:
Some families include homosexual members who, with their parents, families and children, have a right to informed pastoral care (The Code of Canon Law: Canons 208-231). As such, they ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of discrimination in their regard should be avoided. The language used by the Church in describing its pastoral ministry in this area of human concern should reflect its principles of the precious dignity of the person and its commitment to social justice so that the gifts and qualities of homosexual people may be welcomed, valued, and respected (Paragraphs 10 & 16, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, CDF, 1986). When people living in same-sex unions request a child’s baptism, the child must be received with the same care,tenderness and concern which is given to other children. Furthermore, the Church responds to the needs of children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.
This Synod proposes that a structured discernment process be introduced, to involve homosexual people, including those living in long-term, stable relationships as well as those who are single or celibate, their children and parents, experienced pastoral ministers, and theologians, as well as relevant dicasteries of the Holy See. Such a process, reflecting upon examples of positive pastoral experience and ongoing theological, anthropological and scientific study, should be conducted at both global and local levels of the Church for a period of three to five years.
The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge at all levels of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 2357-2358, 2395). It has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid constitutes a precious support in the life of same-sex partners.
Arising from the experience of positive pastoral ministry, this Synod encourages the whole Church to renew its theological reflections on human sexuality and gender identity, working towards the right integration of ortho-praxis and ortho-doxy .
At a global level, people with variant sexual orientation are unjustly criminalised, tortured, subjected to death penalties, and those offering pastoral and practical care in such circumstances are also often penalised. This Synod of Bishops unequivocally condemns such injustices perpetrated on people and firmly opposes such patterns of criminalisation. It urges governments and civil society to respect the human rights of each person regardless of their sexual orientation.
NOTE: The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics is an international network of organizations of/with LGBT Catholics which met for the first time during the Family Synod 2014 in Rome and has since worked together to initiate a global network of LGBTQI Catholics, their parents and families.
Founding groups include:
European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups,
Associació Cristiana de Gais i Lesbianes de Catalunya (ACGIL)(Catalonia),
Comitato promotore dell’associazione Cammini di Speranza – associazione nazionale cristiani lgbt (Italy),
Dette Resources Foundation (Zambia),
Drachma (Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Group)(Malta),
Ichthys christian@s lgtbh de Sevilla (Spain),
LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council (UK),
New Ways Ministry (USA),
Nuova Proposta (Italy),
Ökumenische Arbeitsgruppe Homosexuelle und Kirche (Germany),
Wiara i Tęcza (Poland)