NEWS NOTES: April 17, 2014

April 17, 2014

NewsHere are some items that you might find of interest:

1) The Catholic island nation of Malta passed legislation approving civil unions for same-gender couples, according to Gay Star News.  Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna, a Maltese Catholic bishop, who had at one time spoke favorably about same-gender relationships, was one of the prime spokesperson’s for the local Catholic hierarchy opposing the new law.

2) Catholics in Spain are strongly in support of that nation’s marriage equality law, which was enacted in 2005, according to a new survey.  West-Info.eu  reported on the survey which also noted that in two Catholic nations where same-gender marriage is not legal, the majority of believers oppose such a policy:  in Italy, 66%;  in Poland, 78%.

Mother Teresa

3) Mother Teresa is featured on the website for the United Nations’ Free and Equal program which supports non-discrimination for LGBT people around the globe.  When one clicks on her image on the homepage, one is brought to a photo of Mother Teresa under the headline “Mother Teresa Helps Us to Remember What’s Important.”   Superimposed over her photo is a quote from the universally-revered champion of the poor:  “What can you do to promote world peace?  Go home and love your family.”  The photo with the quotation can be shared on Facebook and other social media platforms.

4) The National Catholic Reporter noted that the Vatican has appointed a bishop to investigate the sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly the primate of Scotland, who resigned last year when he acknowledged sexual liaisons with men who became priests in his diocese.  O’Brien made headlines for speaking out strongly against marriage equality in Scotland.  The bishop who will be leading the investigation is Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna, mentioned in the first news note above.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


NEWS NOTES: May 17, 2013

May 17, 2013

News NotesHere are some items that you may find of interest:

1) Today, May 17th, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.  GayStarNews  reports that, for the first time, Catholic churches in Italy will be hosting prayer services to commemorate the day.

2) Peace Advocacy Network, a Philadelphia non-profit, will be protesting a “sports camp” for gay man, to be held on the grounds of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s seminary, St. Charles Borromeo, on May 23rd.  The sports program is sponsored by Courage, a group which promotes celibacy for lesbian and gay people, and which sometimes promotes the discredited “reparative therapy” to change a person’s orientation.  According to Metro.usthe sports camp “claims to help gay men repair their ‘sports wound’ and become ‘manlier’ – in so many words, performing ‘conversion therapy’ to ‘reform’ their homosexuality.” 

3) The Vatican is asking San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Archbishop Roberto Octavio González Nieves, to  step down from his position, but Gonzalez Nieves is refusing to leave.  According to Latin Timesthe Vatican’s action against the archbishop is prompted by “allegations of protecting pedophile priests, abusing his power, promoting Puerto Rican independence, and supporting a law that would allow gay couples living together, hereditary rights.”

4) In Zambia,  a Catholic priest who is running for the nation’s presidency, has stated that he will not arrest gay and lesbian people, and that he supports marriage equality.  According to The Times of Zambia“Father [Frank] Bwalya said he would respect homosexuals, claiming this was in line with the Catholic Church which prescribed respect for every individual.”

5) The Vatican has confirmed that Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned earlier this year when it was revealed that he had sexually molested several seminarians and priests,  would be leaving the British country for “spiritual renewal,” according to The Daily Mail Earlier, O’Brien had refused to leave the country though many Catholic leaders felt his presence was divisive. O’Brien had been an outspoken critic of LGBT equality and justice in the UK.

6)  QueeringTheChurch.com reports on a set of “gay mysteries” of the Rosary, developed by Stephen Lovatt.  The mysteries are:  the healing of the Centurion’s boy, the answering of the Rich Young Ruler, the raising from the dead of Lazarus, the Last Supper, and the Kiss of Judas.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


Hopes for the New (Gay?) Pope

March 11, 2013

As the Conclave to elect a new pope approaches, intensifying public speculation about the papabile is met with increasing silence from the cardinal electors themselves. The world will soon closely observe a chimney for white smoke, and while no one predicts a papacy that wildly diverges from that of Benedict XVI, many LGBT individuals and advocates in the Church remain hopeful.

Perhaps most hopeful is Don Andrea Gallo, a Catholic priest and LGBT rights advocate, who points to theresignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brienfor sexual misconduct with fellow priests and rumors from Andrew Sullivan that the former Pope Benedict XVI himself is gay, as evidence that homosexuality in the clergy is a pressing issue. Pink News reports that Gallo told Italian media:

“A homosexual pope would be a magnificent thing. The essence of the Gospel is that we are all God’s sons and daughters and we are all equal as God’s children…The homosexual priest must be free to express his identity and his sexuality…”

Others write more prgamatically of expectations for a pastoral pope, who, even if he does not change the teaching of the hierarchy, can most definitely change the tone and emphasis. The Los Angeles Times profiled notable Catholic voices about their desires for the coming papacy. Fr. Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, writes of a papacy ruled by love:

“We need a pope to oversee not simply a modernization of the church but its total transformation…We need a pope to usher in a new era of inclusion, the end of a sinful clericalism, and a strong sense of duty to those on society’s margins. The 1 billion faithful long for a leader who is fearless and driven, not by terror but by love.”

Margaret Susan Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University, considers a humble and listening pope as what is needed:

“I dream of a pope who listens and appreciates that he still has a lot to learn, who trusts in the primacy of conscience and appreciates that the Holy Spirit empowers the whole body of believers, not just himself. I hope for someone who is collegial and consultative, not just with cardinals and clerics but with people in the pews (female and male) and with those outside the church.”

Faith in Public Life director John Gehring writes:

“Imagine a pope who held monthly dialogues with lay Catholics and overworked pastors who live out Gospel values from the barrios of East Los Angeles to rural villages in Kenya. Instead of silencing theologians and nuns, a pope could make it known that discussion and debate are signs of a vibrant faith…Gay and lesbian Catholics who love their church but often feel marginalized should be made to feel more welcome. Finally, a new pope might…take a cue from the simplicity of Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi. Neither had a princely residence or even a Popemobile, but their spirit and humility sparked a revolution that still lives today.”

The narrative of a Catholic hierarchy opposed to full LGBT equality and inclusion needs no illumination, and many wonder how Catholics hope for improvement given recent history under popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. A former Catholic priest from Brooklyn, John Lazar, identifies the source of any hope that a new papacy would progress on LGBT issues. In a piece in the Washington Blade, he writes:

“Yet for Catholics, there is a belief that the Holy Spirit can break through all of the Vatican politics and the sinful components from which even the leadership is not immune. Many yearn for the likes of a Pope John XXIII, who surprised the world by opening the windows of the church by convening the Second Vatican Council. Many of the teaching documents from that Council formed great pastoral leaders, like Chicago’s late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who promoted the “seamless garment” model of moral behavior promoting the total good of the individual and Brooklyn’s Bishop Francis Mugavero, whose letter on sexuality was a breath of fresh air for gay Catholics. The Holy Spirit’s work is cut out…

“The hope expressed by many LGBT Catholics, for the new leader that will be chosen by the College of Cardinals, may not have the best odds in their favor this time around. But Catholics do know that the Holy Spirit can pull some surprises, and perhaps, this Papal Conclave may result in just a few.”

As the Cardinals are sealed into the Sistine Chapel to deliberate and vote, LGBT Catholics and advocates must join with the them and Catholics worldwide in praying, “Come, holy Spirit!”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Cardinal O’Brien Apologizes for Sexual Misconduct

March 4, 2013
Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the former leading prelate in Great Britain who resigned from his position as Archbishop of  St. Andrews and  Edinburgh last week, has acknowledged that there is some truth to sexual misconduct allegations made about him.   He has also apologized for his behavior.

The Guardian reports:

In a short but far-reaching statement issued late on Sunday [March 3rd], the 74-year-old stated that ‘there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.’

“The former archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and until recently the most senior Catholic in Britain, apologised and asked for forgiveness from those he had ‘offended’ and from the entire church.

Last week,  three priests accused O’Brien of sexual misconduct, but at the time the cardinal denied the veracity of the allegations.

The Guardian noted how unusual it was for a prelate to make such an admission, and it also noted that his resignation may also have been caused by his call for a married priesthood:

“O’Brien’s resignation was remarkable in its speed; his apology is all but unprecedented in its frankness. Many sexual scandals or allegations of misconduct against individuals or the wider church have dragged on for years.

“The cardinal was forced out only three days before the pope retired last Thursday. There is growing speculation that the Vatican acted swiftly because O’Brien had challenged one of the church’s greatest orthodoxies – saying, in a BBC interview and only two days before the Observer story [the original article which broke the news of the sexual abuse accusations] was published, that priests ought to be allowed to marry and have children.”

The newspaper also quoted Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet, an influential Catholic periodical published in London:

“This is a shocking admission, but one that is in many ways welcome, not least because it seems Cardinal O’Brien must have been leading a double life, and that is now at an end.

“That must surely be a relief to him and a burden lifted. But it must also be a relief to Catholics in Scotland. The boil has been lanced, and it’s time to move on. Too many scandals in the Catholic church drag on and on, but this one has been dealt with speedily, and a line can be drawn.”

I agree with Pepinster. Cardinal O’Brien’s acknowledgement and apology show that he is on the road to acting with honesty and integrity, which is good both for himself and the entire church.

 Besides the abuse and harassment involved in this case, the real tragedy is that because of institutional Catholicism’s negative attitudes toward homosexuality, Cardinal O’Brien felt he could not have sought help to accept himself and to deal with his sexuality in mature, healthy, and holy ways.
I hope that Cardinal O’Brien’s steps toward honesty and integrity are the beginning of his personal healing and the beginning of healing for those he abused.  I hope that his public admission will be emulated by more church leaders.
If more church leaders were to acknowledge and accept their sexuality, the Catholic Church would be a much healthier, and much of the physical abuse caused by clerics’ behavior and emotional abuse caused by misguided teachings could be avoided.
Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


Cardinal O’Brien’s Resignation Highlights Increasing Problems for Anti-LGBT Hierarchy

February 26, 2013

Cardinal O’Brien greeting Pope Benedict XVI

Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leading Catholic prelate in the United Kingdom, announced on Monday that he was resigning as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and that he will not attend the upcoming papal conclave as an elector. The cardinal, one of the UK’s most visible opponents of LGBT equality, is accused of improper conduct by four priests dating back nearly three decades.

While O’Brien denies claims published in a British newspaper on Sunday that he initiated inappropriate contact, this controversial Catholic has quickly removed himself from the public eye. Andrew Brown writing at The Guardian sees the accelerated pace of Cardinal’s resignation as progress in handling sexual abuse claims, but mulls deeper over the issues of homosexuality and forced celibacy in this scandal:

“.  . . [T]he story illustrates the grotesque and humiliating difficulties that the Roman Catholic church has knotted itself into where sex and gay people are concerned…

“Of course, the real problem is that the Roman Catholic church expects an entirely unrealistic standard of continence from its priesthood. Some priests can manage celibacy. The evidence from all around the world is that most can’t…In countries where that isn’t an available alternative, the priesthood becomes a refuge for gay men – especially in societies where homophobia is the public norm.

“This fact adds irony to O’Brien’s denunciations of gay marriage. You can’t really expect better from a church that still hasn’t come to terms properly with heterosexual marriage…And a church that can’t treat women as equals is certainly not going to be realistic about marriage between two men.”

Cardinal O’Brien’s legacy will be multi-faceted, but decidedly anti-LGBT given his repeated assaults on both legal rights and pastoral concerns. Bondings 2.0 reported stories throughout last year about O’Brien, including being named ‘Bigot of the Year’ by UK-charity Stonewall.

In 2012 alone, he referred to same-gender marriage a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right,” claimed legalizing it would be similar to instituting slavery anew, and expressed concerns that school libraries might circulate “homosexual fairy stories” as a result. O’Brien has lead Catholic efforts to block legislation granting equal marriage, through sizeable financial commitments and a failed attempt to hold a referendum on the issue in Scotland.

The realities of gay priests were further elucidated by Peter Stanford at The Telegraph in an article titled, “Too many priests preach truth, but live a lie”:

“…I’ve met many clerics. Many are openly gay. Or so open when not saying Mass that it is easy to forget I’m not meant to remember it when they are.

“In general, such double standards don’t overly concern me. Like the rest of us, priests, monks, bishops and even cardinals are as God made them. Whatever inner tension they struggle with as leaders in a Church that teaches that to be gay is – and I am quoting a document sent out by the soon-to-retire Pope when he was Cardinal Ratzinger – ‘a strong tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil,’ that is a matter for their own conscience.

“Tolerance wears a bit thin, however, when they start attacking gay marriage in such strident terms from the pulpit, and even signing letters en masse in protest at the Government’s proposals. It is getting dangerously close to hypocrisy.”

Not all critics focus on the visceral efforts that Cardinal O’Brien led as one of many outwardly anti-LGBT clergymen who secretly struggle with their sexuality. Instead, LGBT advocates in some quarters express hope for change in this transitory period. Pink News reports on reactions from pro-LGBT organizations, including that of Tom French of Scotland’s Equality Network:

“‘It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the allegations made against Cardinal O’Brien. Of course we hope that the Catholic Church in Scotland will use the opportunity new leadership brings to reassess its opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.’

“‘The Catholic Church does a huge amount of good work on issues like poverty, and it’s a shame that this important work is so often overshadowed by its position on issues of sexuality.’”

Sexual abuse claims laid against homophobic leadership detracts from the Church’s truest work of justice, and undermines the more progressive policies of those like Cardinal O’Brien, who just recently proposed a renewed discussion around married Catholic clergy. In this period of episcopal transitions worldwide, perhaps the hierarchy will critically address the sexual ethics it promotes instead of doubling-down on its anti-LGBT policies.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Related articles: BBC.co.uk:  “Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns as Archbishop”

                                      The Guardian:  “What lies behind religious homophobia”


International Round-up of Catholic LGBT News

November 18, 2012

Some brief news items from around the globe:

SCOTLAND:

Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien was named “bigot of the year” by Stonewall, an LGBT charity organization in the United Kingdom, reports MSN.com:

“The charity said the move was voted for by 10,000 supporters and came after the cardinal went ‘well beyond what any normal person would call a decent level of public discourse’ over the last year, which has seen heated debate over plans to introduce gay marriage in Scotland. “

In a Guardian news article, a Catholic spokesperson criticized Stonewall for the decision:

“A church spokesman said the award showed Stonewall was intolerant of its critics. ‘Stonewall and others have promoted terms like “bigot” and “homophobe” relentlessly, in order to intimidate and vilify anyone who dares oppose their agenda,’ he said.”

Stonewall’s director, Colin McFarlane, offered a defense:

 “We’ve never called anyone a bigot just because they don’t agree with us. But in just the past 12 months, the cardinal has gone well beyond what any normal person would call a decent level of public discourse.”

“The people that were nominated for bigot of the year have this year called gay people Nazis, they have compared them to bestialists and to paedophiles, and one of the nominees suggested that gay people should be put in front of a firing squad and shot dead.

“So I think what we are doing is highlighting the very cruel, very nasty, very pernicious language that is being used by some people – and in particular by the cardinal, who won.”

FRANCE:

The leader of France’s Catholic bishops has vowed to fight a proposed bill which would legalize marriage equality in that nation.   According to a news article in Catholic San Francisco, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, addressed a conference of France’s bishops, stating:

“Numerous initiatives are already being taken by citizens, believers or not, to oppose this government bill – many Catholics are engaging with people of other ways of thinking and other religions.

“Let this country’s Catholics know their bishops are encouraging them to speak, write, act and demonstrate. They have a right to testify to what, in the light of faith and the logic of reason and good sense, seems essential to them.”

ENGLAND:

A high court in England has determined that a Catholic adoption agency must consider same-gender couples as possible placements if it wants to maintain its status as a charity.

The BBC reports that the judge determined that Catholic Care, an agency in the Diocese of Leeds, failed to give convincing reasons why it should be exempt from the nation’s equality laws passed in 2007.

In a statement Catholic Care indicated that it may close down, rather than follow the law:

“Without the constitutional restriction for which it applied, Catholic Care will be forced to close its adoption service.

“The reason for this is that the service permitted by the current constitution is in conflict with the aims of the charity.

“It is Catholic Care’s view that this will reduce the number of adoptive parents available and the number of children left waiting for adoptive parents will continue to increase.

“Catholic Care will now take time to consider the decision in detail and decide on its next steps.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Scottish Priests Read Letter Denouncing Marriage Equality Legislation

August 28, 2012

 

Sunday, August 26th, was declared National Marriage Day by the Catholic hierarchy in Scotland, and a letter denouncing the country’s proposed marriage equality legislation was read aloud in the 500 Catholic parishes there.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail quoted the letter in part:

“The church’s teaching on marriage is unequivocal: It is uniquely the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that governments, politicians or parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality.”

The newspaper also reported the government’s response:

“The Scottish government later issued a statement reiterating its intentions to legalise same sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships – because ‘it is the right thing to do’.

“However it was quick to stress that no clergy would be forced to carry out the ceremonies in a church. The issue remains under consultation in England and Wales.

“A government spokesman said: ‘We are equally committed to protecting religious freedom and freedom of expression, and ensuring that religious celebrants opposed to same-sex marriage do not have to solemnise same-sex ceremonies.’ “

 

Cardinal Keith O’Brien

The Washington Post reports that Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien had strong words about marriage equality:

“Last week, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who heads the Catholic Church in Scotland, described same-sex marriage as a ‘grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.’ ”

“At the same time, O’Brien broke off talks over the issue with First Minister Alex Salmond, Scotland’s political chief.”

Tom French

The BBC carried reaction from a top gay leader in Scotland:

“The Equality Network, which is campaigning in support of same-sex marriage in Scotland, said politicians should stand firm over the plans.

“Tom French, the charity’s policy co-ordinator, said: ‘It is increasingly clear that the Church has an anti-gay agenda that it wants to impose on the rest of society.’

” ‘We urge the Scottish government to stand firm on plans to introduce equal marriage and not give in to demands that would discriminate against LGBT people.’ “

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


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