Uganda’s Catholic Bishops Reverse Their Stance to Support Anti-Homosexual Bill

June 11, 2012

The Daily Monitor, a newspaper from Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, is reporting that the nation’s Catholic bishops have reversed their decision and now support an anti-homosexual bill, which at one point called for the death penalty for lesbian and gay people. Along with other religious leaders, they are now calling for the criminalization of homosexuality bill to be revived.

The article states:

“Speaking after their recent annual conference organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the bishops resolved that the parliamentary committee on Gender should be tasked to engage the House on the Bill which is now at committee level.

Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

“ ‘We also ask the Education committee to engage the Ministry of Education on the issue of incorporating a topic on human sexuality in the curricula of our schools and institutions of learning,’ the resolutions signed by archbishops Henry Luke Orombi [Anglican], Cyprian Kizito Lwanga [Roman Catholic] and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga [Eastern Orthodox], indicated.

“The clerics also appealed to all the churches in the country ‘to remain steadfast in opposing the phenomena of homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex union.’ ”

The website Care2.com carries an article which highlights the Catholic reversal on this bill, noting:

“The Catholic Church had previously been the sole major religion in Uganda in opposition to the bill. . . .

“The Vatican came out strongly and publicly against the bill and, Wikileaks revealed, even lobbied against it. Uganda watchers say that the change by the Ugandan Catholic church is ‘very serious’ and that the UJCC resolution was pushed by an Anglican Bishop.”

An earlier version of this posting, based on a report from an African news source, suggested that the bill contained the death penalty as punishment for homosexuality, as it originally had.  A later report indicated that the death penalty has been removed from this bill.

Five previous Bondings 2.0 posts have dealt with the situation of lesbian and gay people in Uganda:

December 23, 2011:  A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen

December 26, 2011: Breaking the Catholic Silence on LGBT Human Rights Violations

January 26, 2012: NEWS NOTES: January 26, 2012

March 4, 2012: When Will the Pope Speak Out, Too?

March 29, 2012: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s ‘Case for Gay Acceptance in the Catholic Church’

International outcry, starting with the Vatican, can help to sway Uganda from undertaking this gross human rights violation.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


New Film Explores Life of Pioneering Gay Catholic Theologian John McNeill

June 11, 2012

Taking a Chance on God, a new documentary on the life of pioneering Catholic gay theologian, John McNeill, will have its New York debut on Saturday, June 16th, 7:00 p.m., at the School of Visual Arts Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., Manhattan, NY.

The film’s screening, sponsored by Dignity/New York, in honor of their 40th anniversary, will feature a panel of distinguished speakers that includes: McNeill himself and his lifelong partner, Charles Chiarelli, Mary Hunt,  James Bernauer SJ,  Bishop Gene Robinson, Kate Clinton, Ginny Apuzzo, Andy Humm, Fr. Dan McCarthy, Fr. Bernard Lynch, Ken Gomolka, Rev. Nancy Wilson.  McNeill is one of the founders of Dignity/New York.  Tickets for the screening are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/246908

Brendan Fay and John McNeill

The film’s publicity materials describe the documentary as:

“An inspiring portrait of a pioneer gay priest, Taking a Chance on God follows the extraordinary life of 86-year-old John McNeill from his Buffalo boyhood through his experiences as a POW in Nazi Germany, Vietnam peace promoter, leading gay rights advocate, and loving partner of forty-six years to Charles Chiarelli. McNeill – the author of groundbreaking works of gay spirituality, a founder of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity/New York, and a gay community leader during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s – refused to be silenced by the Vatican on LGBT issues, which resulted in his expulsion from the Jesuit priesthood. Chronicling McNeill’s love for the Catholic Church, the LGBT community, his Jesuit brothers, and his partner, Taking a Chance on God is a powerful story of faith, love and perseverance in the face of oppression and rejection.”

Taking a Chance on God was produced by Brendan Fay, who is also the producer of  The Saint of 9/11, a documentary on Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, the gay NYC fire department chaplain who is died ministering to people in the attack on the World Trade Center.

In an interview with The Miami Herald, Mc Neill describes the film this way:

 “This film is about my partner Charlie and our 46-year love affair. . . . The message is that God loves gay lovers and approves of them. . . . I don’t want any part of the church’s homophobia. . . .I was bringing a message that God brought to me. God’s love is universal and includes both gay and straight people.”

In the same interview, Fay comments on why he made the film:

“John became a hero to me the way Harvey Milk and other pioneers of the gay liberation movement had. . . .John is often a hidden figure. An unknown pioneer. There are not many who are aware of the dramatic impact and significance he had on the movement for change in society and the church in the early ‘70s.”

McNeill is best known for his ground-breaking theological work, The Church and the Homosexual, published in 1976.  In 2008, New Ways Ministry presented him with the Bridge Building Award for his life-long contributions to scholarship and pastoral work with LGBT people. You can read his award acceptance speech, which sums up his mission and ministry, here.

Kingston, N.Y.’s Daily Freeman interviewed McNeill and Chiarelli when then documentary was screened in the Woodstock, N.Y. film festival in September 2011.  In that interview, McNeill sums up his life work this way:

“I wanted to take away the guilt and self-hatred of gay Catholics who believed the church’s position on homosexuality.”

For a full listing of upcoming screenings, visit the documentary’s website, www.takingachanceongod.com.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 

 

 


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