Tag Archives: lgbt inclusion in church

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

"Fidelity to the Gospel" – and Catholic Morality Clauses.

In an attempt to justify the San Francisco diocese’ proposed morality clause for teachers in Catholic schools, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has claimed that

all teachers are expected to “contribute to an atmosphere of holiness, virtue and familiarity with the Gospel.

Archbishoo Salvatore Cordileone – in opposition to the Gospels.

Really? Continue reading "Fidelity to the Gospel" – and Catholic Morality Clauses.

Mary – the Annunciation and Visitation (Luke 1:26-56)

This passage, the third in the English bishops’ suggested texts for reflection on marriage as part of the consultation process for the Rome Family Synod 2015, is the familiar story of the Annunciation,  Mary’s subsequent visit to Elizabeth, and her song of praise, the “Magnificat”.  (The  text may be read  here, at Bible Gateway)

Fra Angeilico, “The Annunciation”

In my lectio divina practice, for the passage, I went through this as three distinct reflections. For each, I give the phrases that most struck me,  followed by my reasons. Continue reading Mary – the Annunciation and Visitation (Luke 1:26-56)

"From Synod to Synod": Join the Consultation!

At Roehampton University today, the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing hosted a study day on “The Family in Theological Perspectives: Challenges, Insights and Dialogues”. 

This was part of a series of events planned by the centre to promote Catholic discussion on family and marriage during the interval between the 2014 “Extraordinary” Synod, and the forthcoming “Ordinary” Synod which will be held later this year. The specific content included discussion on issues around Catholics and family planning, divorce and remarriage,  women in Catholic (papal) theology,  same – sex partnerships, HIV and family life in a context of poverty.

The underlying theme, however, and the purpose of the series, was to encourage and facilitate lay contributions to the continuing consultation on marriage and family, in the build up to the ordinary synod on marriage and family, to be held in October.  The 2014 so-called “consultation” was a (badly handled) attempt to gauge Catholic understanding of Church teaching on marriage and family The intention behind the current consultation, in the light of the 2014 synod, is to  learn from Catholic experience of marriage and family. This is a very different matter, and although still poorly handled, can be an opportunity for once, for Catholic bishops to learn from the rest of us. Continue reading "From Synod to Synod": Join the Consultation!

Why An Evangelical Tennessee Church Is Backing Gay Marriage: Part 1

In many Christian denominations and local congregations, the rights of same – sex couples to full inclusion in church is gaining acceptance. One recent example is Grace Pointe church, Tennessee. This series of three videos shows the sermon in which Pastor Stan Mitchell announced the decision:

Living Between Emmanuel & Epiphany Part 1 – GracePointe Church from GracePointe Church on Vimeo.

Why An Evangelical Tennessee Church Is Backing Gay Marriage: Part 2

Part two of the the sermon in which Pastor Stan Mitchell announced the decision by GracePointe church, Tennessee, to back full inclusion in church life for lgbt people,  including in church leadership and support for same – sex church weddings:

Living Between Emmanuel & Epiphany Part 2 – GracePointe Church from GracePointe Church on Vimeo.

Why An Evangelical Tennessee Church Is Backing Gay Marriage: Part 3

Part three of the the sermon in which Pastor Stan Mitchell announced the decision by GracePointe church, Tennessee, to back full inclusion in church life for lgbt people,  including in church leadership and support for same – sex church weddings:

Living Between Emmanuel & Epiphany Part 3 – GracePointe Church from GracePointe Church on Vimeo.

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>

 

Reforming Nineveh (Jeremiah 3:1 – 5)

1st Reading, 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B:

In today’s reading, we learn how Jonah was sent to preach to the people of Nineveh, and by reforming them, to save them from the Lord’s destruction:

The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.   God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour. And God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.
Well – great. Terrific. But what, if anything, does this say to queer Christians? The key lies in seeing the greater context, the prequel. Jonah had not wanted to go to Nineveh, at all. He tried to resist the Lord’s command, and boarded a boat to sail away, in the opposite direction.  But the Lord’s command is not so easily resisted, and after his familiar troubles at sea, he ended up washed ashore – on the coast of Nineveh. That is where today’s reading begins.

Continue reading Reforming Nineveh (Jeremiah 3:1 – 5)