Category Archives: 70 Sexuality and gender

From Africa and the Philippines, Signs of Hope for LGBT Catholics!

At the family synod 2014, some African bishops were prominent in opposition to the more welcoming tone towards lgbt Catholics, proposed by some of the Europeans, and included in the mid – synod interim relatio. From this it would be easy to read the struggle for lgbt inclusion as a contest between “progressives” of Europe (and North America), and conservatives  of the so-called “developing” world, in Africa, Asia and Latin America. That would be a mistake, as recent news reports illustrate:

Commonweal reports on a fascinating interview with the African Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, in the conservative website Aleteia, His responses should be warmly welcomed for the hope they imply for greater inclusion of both lgbt Catholics, and those who have been divorced and remarried. (There could also be some schadenfreude in noting how the responses clearly discomforted Aleteia’s interview, who did his best to get Palmer – Buckle to modify his words – to no avail).

In a wide-ranging, at points jaw-dropping interview with Aleteia, Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, signaled his openness to finding a way for remarried Catholics to be readmitted to Communion–and suggested the church might reinterpret Scripture to allow the “unbinding” of marriages. Palmer-Buckle, who is sixty-four years old, was selected by his brother bishops to represent Ghana at this October’s Synod on the Family. Early in the interview, the archbishop makes it clear that he takes seriously Pope Francis’s call for open discussion of the challenges facing Catholic families today.

via Commonweal Magazine.

In Asia, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has issued a statement in support of a government bill to prohibit anti-gay discrimination. At the Filipino blog Catholic LGBT (Catholic gay and blessed), there are two posts quoting sections of the statement, in which Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, sets out the bishops’ opposition to homophobia, and support for greater lgbt inclusion in the life of the church.

On homophobia, Villegas is forthright on condemning parents who inculcate homophobia in their children:

The Church has much to contribute towards the education of Catholics to be more accepting of others and to see through appearances the Lord present in each brother and sister There can be no more approval of parents who imbue in their children the loathing and disgust for persons with a different sexual orientation or with gender identity issues. In Catholic institutions, there should be zero – tolerance for the bullying and badgering of persons in such personal situations.

On lgbt inclusion, he is equally clear:

[We] call on all pastors throughout the country to be as solicitous of the pastoral welfare of all our brothers and sisters regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Their exclusion from the life of the Church, their treatment as outcasts, their relegation to the category of inferior members of the Church worthy only of derision and scorn certainly does not conform to Pope Francis’ vision of the Church as the sacrament of Divine mercy and compassion”

To be sure, it’s not all rosy in the garden.  A longer news report at Rappler also describes how Villegas, while opposing discrimination, reserved the right to contiue discriminating in its own hiring and selection procedures for the priesthood, and the Church’s firm opposition to both homosexual “acts”, and gender transitions. Like many other bishops, he has no desire to change Church teaching – but just like the 2014 Family synod, this signals a clear desire to adjust pastoral practice, in  a more sensitive, caring direction. That augers well for the 2015 synod, and in the longer run, that will undoubtedly lead to some modification of the core doctrine, itself.

LGBT Catholic Pilgrims Meet Head of Vatican Council for Justice & Peace

Cardinal  Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has met with two LGBT Catholic pilgrims in Rome – and “reaffirmed his opposition to the criminalisation of homosexuals for who they are”.

"Cardinal Tukson 987" by Haiducul - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Cardinal Tukson 987” by Haiducul – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –
When two groups of lgbt Catholic pilgrims visited Rome for a Lenten pilgrimage, it was widely reported by mainstream media around the world, that the group from the USA had been given “VIP seats” for the Ash Wednesday papal audience. More interesting to me, is that two members of the English group were able to meet privately with one of the most influential Vatican officials, Cardinal  Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and his personal assistant.
Cardinal Turkson has served as cardinal under three popes, is a member of several Vatican congregations and other bodies in addition to his work as head of the Council for Justice and Peace – and is also from Africa, where criminalization of homosexuals is a major cause for concern, and other bishops have supported it. In the last papal conclave, the betting included him as a viable papabile. In view of his relatively youthful age, it is probable that he will still be a contender in the next conclave. His opinion matters.

Continue reading LGBT Catholic Pilgrims Meet Head of Vatican Council for Justice & Peace

Cardinal Burke: Men must be men.

Cardinal Burke’s views on gender have been widely reported, including this:

Men’s behaviors and dress matter, for it affects how they relate to the world and it affects the culture. Men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children

To which, I concur with the following response at What Sister Never Knew and Father Never Told You 

Cardinal Burke

While I agree with the statement, given His Eminence’s sartorial preferences I can only surmise that Cardinal Burke is about to transgender.  I wish him the best of luck in his new life.

Can One Be Simultaneously "Happy, Catholic and Gay"?

One of the questions that most troubles gay and lesbian Catholics, is how to reconcile the apparent conflict between two important sides to our make – up. For some, the seeming contradiction leads them to reject the Church, for others, to reject or hide their natural sexuality. Yet others attempt to live openly as both Catholic and gay – but are constantly troubled by guilr or doubt. Yet the contradiction may be more apparent than real.  It is indeed possible, as many of us have found, to be simultaneously openly Catholic, lead lives of authenticity as gay or lesbian – and also free or guilt or shame about simply accepting the truth of our dual identities. At Quest Bulletin, the magazine of the British support group for gay and lesbian Catholics, there is a continuing series on “Real lives, real people”, as well as additional posts on “life stories”.

There are both practical and theological reasons why these life stories are important. One of these that caught my attention is by Ania Kowalski, at the time the women’s officer, and currently the youth offficer. What particularly attracted me was a section with an idea we don’t often see – her concluding sub-heading “The Beauty of Being Gay and Catholic”.

Here it is:

I am now at a point in my life where I am certain that how I am is good, because God made each of us in His image. I have a girlfriend who is not Catholic herself, but deeply understanding and supportive of my voluntary gay Catholic work. I see the divine in our relationship, and through expressing my love of another, and being loved back, I feel so much closer to God. I know God is in our relationship, and I know that our love is good, because God is in all love. These feelings make me feel  certain that God had a wonderful plan for me when He made me gay, and I feel fortunate to be this way, with all the opportunities this gives me. I believe that having a loving, committed same-sex relationship, which includes sexual intimacy as an expression of that love, is in complete concordance with being Catholic, and in complete agreement with my conscience. I recognise that other gay Catholics might reach a different conclusion in careful consideration of their conscience where they hear the inner voice of God, and I fully respect that. 

In being a gay Catholic, God has also made me question, explore my faith and inform my ideas, resulting in the situation where I think deeply about what I believe in and why. My faith is stronger now because of all of this, because I had to frantically dig around to find answers and then embed the foundations into my life. Many people can drift along, going to Church ‘out of duty’.

However, many gay Catholics bear beautiful testimony to their faith despite going through feelings of rejection or, sadly, homophobic incidents in Catholic communities. I believe I am also a more loving, tolerant and sensitive person, and these are all wonderful gifts I treasure. They make me a more compassionate human towards other humans, and I realise I am less quick to assume and make conclusions about others, because I know that despite external appearances, people often have desolate personal battles they are fighting. I also consider that gay Catholics have so much to contribute to the Church in terms of a broader view of human life and love, outside the traditional family structure. We show that we need to celebrate our differences, rather than feeling threatened by them, and to embrace others and love as much as we can, in all the ways we can.

Fundamentally, I see this as the crux of the Christian message. We are fortunate that we can bear witness to this in our own way.

For the rest of the post, under the sub-headings

  • Upbringing 
  • My faith journey
  •  Being visible as Catholic and gay

see the complete post at “Quest”

(At the time of writing the above story, Ania was Quest women’s officer. She has since passed on that responsibility, but continues to serve on the Quest national committee as “Young Adults” convenor.

Contact her at <ania.kowalski@questgaycatholic.org.uk>

 

On Manliness and Pluralistic Ignorance

Cardinal Burke has been in the news for his claim that the problems of the Church can be blamed on the “feminization” of boys – and allowing girls to serve on the altar.

“I think that [the introduction of female altar servers] has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations. It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of [a] priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys. If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically.”
It’s all too easy to guffaw at the idea of Burke, of all people. claiming with a straight face that altar boys learn “manliness” by observing priests saying Mass.
Here’s a more thoughtful assessment of what’s wrong with the whole idea of attempting to force – feed boys with arbitrary conceptions of “manliness”.

Growing Support for Gay Marriage: BECAUSE We Are Christian

More thoughtful commentary on how the disputes around gay marriage are no longer between defenders of human rights and of religious belief, but about what it means to be truly Christian:

Gay_friendly_church

Antigay religion: How Catholics and evangelicals are coming to accept same-sex marriage.

Throughout history, religion has sanctioned and fueled the persecution of homosexuality. That dynamic may be drawing to an end. Polls, clerics, and denominations are shifting. Theology is adapting. Resistance to same-sex marriage is dwindling, and there’s no end in sight.

WILLIAM SALETAN

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right. Follow him on Twitter.

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For 15 years, the Ethics and Public Policy Center has hosted the Faith Angle Forum, a regular conference on religion and public life. Several weeks ago, the group met again to discuss current issues. Transcripts of the conference have just been posted on EPPC’s website. They underscore the extent of the anti-gay collapse.

The first session, led by papal biographer Paul Vallely and Boston Globe editor John Allen, focused on Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. Vallely, the author of Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, noted that before Francis became pope, he supported civil unions in Argentina. “I think he sees that as a human rights issue,” said Vallely. Allen pointed to the pope’s comment in a March 5 interview with Corriere della Sera:

Q: Many nations have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?

A: Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures … One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.

– full report at  Slate.

Iglesia Descalza: The Catholic "Moral Disconnect"

Iglesia Descalza assessed the Univision global survey on Catholic beliefs on sexual ethics, which it describes (appropriately) as a “moral disconnect”.

Another survey (raw data spreadsheet available here), this time by Spanish language media giant Univision, shows that the moral disconnect between Catholics and their Church is not confined to the United States. Last week, Univision polled over 12,000 Catholics in 12 different countries about some of the most controversial issues facing the Church today. The countries included the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and the Philippines.

While Pope Francis received an almost universal glowing endorsement from his global flock, with 87% rating his performance as good or excellent, the magisterium of the Church he heads up received substantially less unanimous support. Catholics, especially in Europe and the Americas, simply no longer believe many of the traditional teachings of the Church on many issues of sexual morality. There is more support in Africa and in the one Asian country surveyed. Eventually, the pope will receive all the results from the Vatican’s own survey on these issues administered through the dioceses but meanwhile, here is what Univision discovered:

– full analysis at  Iglesia Descalza

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Worldwide, Catholics Disagree with Vatican Sexual Doctrines.

There is an abundance of research evidence to show that US Catholics reject Vatican doctrines on almost all elements of sexual doctrines, from contraception through masturbation and cohabitation, to gay marriage. Conservative Catholics often respond to this evidence with the claim that outside North America and Europe, things are different. From a global perspective, they claim, most Catholics support church teaching. Findings of a new global survey show they are wrong.

Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of Catholics finds

Most Catholics worldwide disagree with church teachings on divorce, abortion and contraception and are split on whether women and married men should become priests, according to a large new poll released Sunday and commissioned by the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision.

Catholics worldwide approve of contraception (graphic - Washington Post)
Catholics worldwide approve of contraception (graphic – Washington Post)

On the topic of gay marriage, two-thirds of Catholics polled agree with church leaders.

Overall, however, the poll of more than 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries reveals a church dramatically divided: Between the developing world in Africa and Asia, which hews closely to doctrine on these issues, and Western countries in Europe, North America and parts of Latin America, which strongly support practices that the church teaches are immoral.

The widespread disagreement with Catholic doctrine on abortion and contraception and the hemispheric chasm lay bare the challenge for Pope Francis’s year-old papacy and the unity it has engendered.

 – The Washington Post.

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