NEWS NOTES: March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014

News NotesHappy St. Joseph’s Day! Here are some items you may find of interest:

1) Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a former Maryknoll priest, expelled for supporting women’s ordination, published an ad in The Boston Globe recently which called on Pope Francis to advance the role of women and LGBT people in the Church. He wrote, in part:

“Let’s face it. Being gay is not a problem with our all-loving God who created everyone of equal worth and dignity. The problem is with Church leaders who view homosexuals as lesser than heterosexuals.”

Bourgeois also asked Catholics to write to the pope and local Church leaders asking them to reverse the teaching on homosexuality and recognize same-gender marriages. You can read the full letter here.

2) Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar of Spain, who was recently appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis, is being investigated by Spanish authorities for “inciting hate and discrimination.” The New Civil Rights Movement reports that Aguilar’s interview with a newspaper in which he stated “homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality” and  that it should be corrected as much as possible. There is no update on whether charges will be filed against the cardinal.

3) The Scottish Catholic Education Service, which oversees that country’s 366 parochial schools, is protesting new government guidelines about sexual education. The drafted guidelines would require religious schools to teach about homosexuality and contraception equivalent to what and how these topics are taught in public schools, reports the Scottish Express.

4) St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Washington, DC hosted the second annual memorial for Deoni JaParker Jones, a transgender women murdered nearby in 2012. More than 100 people, including the mayor and city council members, were in attendance at the event organized by Jones’ family. Washington Blade reports that a new foundation working to end anti-LGBT violence was announced that evening.

5) Catholic television network EWTN will boycott planned coverage of the Divine Mercy Conference in Dublin after Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, the former head of the Dominicans, was announced as a keynote speaker. EWTN has criticized Radcliffe’s pastoral outreach and vocal support of LGBT people, which one network host said was “at sharp variance to Catholic teaching.” The criticism included his participation in the Soho Masses sponsored by the London archdiocese, as well as Radcliffe’s view that same-gender committed relationships should “be cherished.” Last December, he also called for “new ways of being church.”  The full story is available at The Independent.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Kansas Catholic Lawmaker: LGBT Non-Discrimination Law is a “No-Brainer”

March 19, 2014

Representative Louis Ruiz

A Catholic lawmaker in Kansas introduced an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination bill last Tuesday. This bill is a response to the Kansas House’s passage of an anti-gay bill similar to Arizona’s failed SB 1062. This is only the latest legislative move in the struggle to ensure that both LGBT rights and religious liberty are protected under law.

Rep. Louis Ruiz’s bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing non-discrimination law, ending the ability of Kansans to fire LGBT people or refuse services to them. The Wichita Eagle reports the representative as saying:

” ‘What’s our message when we have these type of discriminatory bills that come out at either the federal or the state level? We’re defeating our own purpose as a country that wants to be inclusive. To me, this is a no-brainer’ “

“Ruiz, a practicing Catholic, said he feels his religious beliefs are already protected, but that gay and lesbian Kansans do not enjoy the same protection under current state law.

Ruiz’s Catholic voice counteracts the Kansas Catholic Conference (KCC), a leading proponent of that state’s anti-gay bill. The KCC executive director recently said there was no discrimination against gay and lesbian people. The debate in Kansas over LGBT rights and religious liberty mirrors debates occurring in a number of state capitals and on the national level, too.

In US Catholic, Richard Wolf writes of this ‘balancing act’ between LGBT equality and religious liberty as he tries to lay out the questions involved with expanded LGBT rights and religious objections:

“The answer isn’t simple. Congress and the states often carve out exceptions for religious beliefs. The Supreme Court has consistently made room for religious exercise. And unlike race and gender, sexual orientation is not a protected class — yet.

“However, for a religious liberty bill such as Arizona’s to pass the smell test, it must show a compelling interest on the part of those who want to flex their religious muscles, and it must not impose undue costs or burdens on others. That is where many such efforts collapse…

“Beyond assessing the burden on consumers or employees, the other relevant question in most cases is: What’s the compelling interest?”

This perceived conflict between religious freedom and the advancement of LGBT equality is, in reality, a false one. While the Catholic bishops have been ardently opposed to marriage equality, Catholics in America overwhelmingly support legal rights for gay and transgender people. In every state which has passed equal marriage rights, strong religious liberty protections have been included so that no religious institution will be forced to offer same-gender marriages.

Anti-LGBT activists’ latest round of legislation is not about defending religious liberty, but curtailing the ever-growing right of LGBT to be fully equal citizens. Rep. Ruiz is completely correct that support for LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws is a “no-brainer.”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


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