Australian Bishops Face Discrimination Complaint Over Anti-Marriage Book

November 30, 2015

The cover of the Australian bishops’ document under review

Australia’s bishops are facing a discrimination complaint about an anti-marriage equality publication they published earlier this year, the latest incident in the nation’s debate over equal marriage rights.

Martine Delaney, a politician who is transgender, filed the complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission in mid-September. She is now seeking conciliation by the Commission rather than a hearing, reported The Catholic Leader.

The Commissioner accepted the complaint initially, affording Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart, and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, an opportunity to respond. There is no word on mediation, but Porteous affirmed his openness to such a process, which may include meeting Delaney. He rejected claims the bishops had offended anyone.

The publication in question, a booklet titled “Don’t Mess with Marriage,” was distributed by Porteous to Catholic school students in sealed envelopes. Copies were also provided for distribution to all Catholic institutions in the diocese, accompanying a nationwide release.

Explaining her objections to the bishops’ document to ABC News, Delaney said:

” ‘It makes several statements which suggest that children being raised in same-sex relationships are not healthy’ . . .

” ‘The church is entitled, as we all are, to freedom of speech but there’s an inherent responsibility with that, that you cannot do it in a manner which is offensive and insulting and humiliating.’ “

Criticisms were widespread when the document was released in June, particularly in dioceses like Hobart where schoolchildren were used as couriers to bring it to their parents. LGBT advocate Michael Bayly went as far as calling it a “new low” for the nation’s bishops.

Marriage equality’s status in Australia remains contested, and this complaint is part of larger political conversations. The federal Senate rejected a statement of support for the bishops, reported The Guardian, but the question of free speech remains prominent.

Concerns have been raised about this case by both anti-equality activists and Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, who is gay and supports marriage equality. Gay News Network quoted Wilson as saying the complaint gave him “chills” for its potential to suppress political speech as Australians prepare for a national referendum on marriage. He said further:

” ‘Understandably, the direction of the Tasmanian case could have a significant impact on the extent of the public debate around marriage for same-sex couples in the lead-up to a plebiscite.’ “

Delaney said her decision to file a complaint was not an attempt to freeze free speech, but rather ensure a balance as there is “an obligation for [bishops] to exercise those rights without causing harm.”

Bishops elsewhere in Australia have criticized the Tasmanian complaint, adding their criticism to their ongoing criticism of marriage equality. Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney called it “astonishing and truly alarming.” Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, who supported more pastoral language on homosexuality at the Synod on the Family, wondered on Twitter if marriage equality is a “new totalitarianism.

While there are speculations as to why Australia has yet to extend civil marriage equality, what is clear is that more and more Australians are on board with it. In September elections, the country replaced former prime minister Tony Abbot, an anti-equality Catholic, with Malcolm Turnbull, a pro-equality Catholic but who nonetheless has sustained Abbot’s proposed national referendum on the question.

Many issues are tied into this discrimination complaint and the larger milieu of marriage equality. Those involved will sort through political and legal considerations, but what needs to be recognized, too, is the pastoral aspect.

A bishop shepherds all the faithful in their diocese, not just the Catholics whose political leanings pair well with the current occupant’s ideology.  Whether or not Australian bishops violated Tasmanian law, their document does not mirror Pope Francis’ call for mercy and inclusion nor does it show a respect for LGBT people.

Hopefully, through mediation, the wrongs incurred by “Don’t Mess with Marriage” can be rectified and Catholics, like all Australians, will be able to debate freely the question of civil marriage equality ahead of the nation’s vote.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry



NEWS NOTES: November 28, 2015

November 28, 2015

News Notes

Here are some news items that you might find of interest:

1) Former Boy Scout leader Greg Bourke will not be allowed to return to his Louisville-based troop, barred by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz despite an appeal from Bourke and his supporters. Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, Patrick Whelan, the parent-leader of a Massachusetts Boy Scout troop said that when Catholic bishops respond negatively to the prospect of gay leaders, their reaction hurts youth rather than protecting them, as the bishops claim.

2) Bishop Vitus Huonder, the conservative head of the Chur diocese, Switzerland, has reinstated Fr. Wendelin Buchli as pastor, after he had originally dismissed the priest for blessing the union of a lesbian couple, according to Le News. The parishioners in the town of Burglen had protested the priest’s dismissal.  His reinstatement is conditional on making a promise never to bless a same-gender union again.

3) A Swedish priest who claimed that homosexuality was a “psychological disorder” capable of being “cured,” apologized after receiving intense criticism, according to

4) DignityUSA’s Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke penned a Huffington Post essay criticizing the recent U.S. bishops conference meeting, noting that the bishops revealed that they will continue a course that is negative towards the LGBT community, women, and the poor.

5) The prime minister of the small and predominantly Catholic European nation of Luxembourg will be legally marrying his partner, one year after marriage equality became legal there, according to EurActiv Xavier Bettel will marry Gauthier Destenay, a Belgian architect, becoming the first leader of a European Union nation to have a same-gender marriage, a sign, which some say, is indicative of the growing acceptance of the institution in European society.

6) The Catholic Theological Society of America honored theologian Patricia Beattie Jung during its annual conference this summer, according to the National Catholic Reporter. She received the Ann O’Hara Graff Memorial Award for her groundbreaking work on sexuality and heterosexism.  Jung was a plenary session speaker at New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, in Baltimore, March 2012.

7) Representatives from 22 international Catholic Church reform organizations have sent Pope Francis an open letter on parish life, calling for more inclusive pastoral practices and diversity of leaders in parish decision-making, according to Windy City Times. In their letter, the group told the pope about the wonderful diversity already present in some parishes:  “There are women and men, married couples, divorced and remarried, homosexual and heterosexual partners, young and old, those in the center and those who have been pushed to the side…By their personal dedication, by the strength of their baptismal calling, they assist in relieving the priests of their increasing responsibilities in order to continue offering vital services to the people.”   New Ways Ministry is a signer of the letter.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Play Starring Transgender Jesus Draws Catholic Protests

November 24, 2015

Jo Clifford as Jesus in the play

Catholics in Northern Ireland protested a play performed this month which portrays Jesus as a transgender woman, but the playwright defended it as an attempt to make audiences “think again” about faith and gender.

The play, titled “The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven,” was most recently performed at Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast just weeks after the nation’s legislature failed to advance marriage equality legislation.

Writer and actor Jo Clifford described it as a “very important, very intimate show,” explaining to BBC:

” ‘Obviously being a transgender woman myself it concerns me very greatly that religious people so often use Christianity as a weapon to attack us and justify the prejudices against us. . .

” ‘I wanted to see if we could move away from that and make people think again.’ “

Audience members are quite moved, said Clifford, including Christians. The writer has repeatedly reinterpreted biblical stories to generate new ideas, suggesting the overall message of this play is clear:

” ‘I think it’s very important to get across the message that Jesus of the gospels would not condone or want to promote prejudice and discrimination against anybody and to try to convey a message of compassion and love and understanding of everybody. . .No matter what their belief, no matter what their gender, orientation or sexuality.’

Not all welcome that message as a small Catholic group protested in Belfast, as has at previous performances. Former Glasglow Archbishop Mario Conti once said that it is hard to imagine “a more provocative and offensive abuse of Christian beliefs” than this play.

Clifford, however, said protesters have generally not seen the play and that it seeks neither to offend nor blaspheme because she is a Christian herself. Her point is rather to reflect on Jesus’ ministry through this “work of devotion”:

” ‘I simply want to assert very strongly, as strongly as I can that Jesus of the gospels would not in anyway wish to attack or denigrate people like myself.’ “

Clifford made a similar point in another interview, available on YouTube:

“He was talking to the victims of persecution, to the victims of prejudice and he would speak to them in a very accepting way, as one human being to another.”

In this, Clifford is correct. The Gospels reveal a Jesus who elevated people’s dignity and specifically sought out those who had been marginalized.

Catholic tradition has long embraced the arts as a means for spiritual nourishment and divine revelation, opening up the human person to themselves, to others, and to God. While I have not viewed Clifford’s play, her interviews suggest she is someone committed to creating art with devotional ends. The protesters would have benefited more by attending a show and seeing what came up in their inner life, instead of casting stones from afar.

For more information on The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, visit the play’s website here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


LGBT Africans Ask Pope Francis to Preach Tolerance

November 23, 2015

LGBT folks are asking Pope Francis to preach tolerance during his upcoming Apostolic Voyage to Uganda, Kenya, and Central African Republic beginning Wednesday.

Frank Mugisha

Frank Mugisha

Frank Mugisha, who directs Sexual Minorities Uganda and is himself Catholic, understands Pope Francis may be constrained but said speaking out could do much good. He told Reuters:

” ‘If [Francis] starts talking about rights, then Ugandans are going to be very defensive. . .But I would think if the Pope was here and talking about love, compassion and equality for everyone, Ugandans will listen.’ “

Simply affirming that LGBT people should be “treated like any other children of God” would signal progress in nations where homosexuality is criminalized and the death penalty for those convicted has even been suggested in recent years.

David Kuria

Kenyan advocate David Kuria, who was raised Catholic, echoed those sentiments:

” ‘I hope the Pope would say, “Love everyone,” especially those who are still coming to church.’ “

Kuria is particularly concerned for Catholic parents of LGBT children who often face pressures in their local churches and communities. These social mores cause faithful parents to “doubt themselves as parents or as Christians,” noting his own mother’s expulsion from her village prayer group after Kuria came out.

Jackson Mukasa

Jackson Mukasa, also known as Princess Rihanna, was jailed in Uganda last year on “suspicion of committing homosexual acts,” though not convicted for lack of evidence, according to Reuters. Mukasa’s message for the pope is clear:

” ‘I would like the Pope to at least make people know that being LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) is not a curse. . .Being a gay in Uganda is a challenge. You expect mob justice, you expect to be killed, you expect to be arrested.’ “

Being openly LGBT in Uganda is dangerous, but equality advocates have made strides, Repeated attempts to pass “Kill the Gays” legislation have been suppressed. The situation in Kenya is better, though still oppressive. While homosexuality is illegal, wider tolerance means the law goes unenforced. Indeed, there are some 500 LGBT refugees from Uganda there.

What is significant is that both nations are highly Catholic, with 40% (Uganda) and 33% (Kenya) of their populations identifying as Roman Catholic. Much of the harshly anti-gay rhetoric comes from evangelical churches. Catholic leaders have been silent, vague, and sometimes supportive of oppressive measures, especially in Uganda. If Pope Francis leads and they follow, they could be critical voices for moderation and even tolerance.

The pope has called for bishops to be close their people, to be shepherds who smell of their sheep and who listen closely. Frank Mugisha, David Kuria, and Jackson Mukasa, on behalf of LGBT communities in their countries, make simple and direct appeals. Will Pope Francis listen?

Their appeals, affirmed by Catholics worldwide through the #PopeSpeakOut campaign, call the pope to the margins of his own church where sexual and gender identities remain marginalized. Will he choose to be close?

Exhorting Italy’s bishops a few weeks ago, Pope Francis asked them to begin “a creative movement” to put into practice the welcoming attitude of his apostolic exhortation,Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).  Clearly condemning anti-LGBTQI laws and violence is a prime opportunity for Pope Francis to be creative in making real the joy of the Gospel — and to save LGBT lives. Will he speak out and preach tolerance?

Pope Francis has an opportunity to condemn LGBTQI criminalization and clarify a sometimes ambivalent Catholic stance regarding violence against sexual and gender minorities. Catholics across the world are asking Francis to send a clear message with the #PopeSpeakOut campaign.

To send a message to Pope Francis and add your voice to the many Catholics openly critical of institutionalized homophobia, visit the campaign’s website by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Fired Gay Priest: “The Church Needs a Stonewall.”

November 22, 2015

CharamsaStonewall“I can’t follow Jesus from the closet,” said Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa, the former Vatican official fired after he publicly came out as gay in October. Charamsa added, “The church needs a Stonewall,” referring to the 1960’s protests outside a New York gay bar of that name which many people identify as the start of the modern gay liberation movement.

Though fired from his job at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now suspended as a priest by his home diocese in Poland, Charamsa was clear in a Religion News Service interview that he has no regrets:

” ‘I understood that [being closeted and being in a relationship] had nothing to do with reality. . .A moment arrived and I couldn’t do it anymore.”

That moment, just days before the Synod on the Family, arrived following the priest’s frustrated attempts to reform the church from within. Working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Charamsa said he “couldn’t cast doubt on the strategy of homophobia” and “could not even use the word ‘homophobia’. ”

New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director Francis DeBernardo commented in the article that gay priests who come out usually meet with support from parishioners and friends:

“Priests I know who have come out have often done it gradually and more privately. . .[Publicly] it’s always been received with great support.”

Not all have welcomed Charamsa’s  coming out, though, and a few LGBT Catholic advocates are among his critics according to The Washington Post. Andrea Rubera, an organizer of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics’ conference right before the Synod, criticized the priest’s timing and said further:
” ‘Our fear now is that his coming out, and the way he came out, will build a wall, not a bridge.’ “
 Michael Brinkschröder, who is a leader in the European Forum of Christian LGBT Groups, said pressure “is not the appropriate means to achieve change.”

Charamsa, however, was clear that his coming out was indeed a protest. Despite disagreements over the details, LGBT advocates with whom he consulted were overwhelmingly supportive of his decision. Like any protest, there have been tremendous costs and Charamsa reported that family members in Poland are suffering, too, including the bullying of his brother’s children by their peers at school.

Commenting on the Synod itself, Charamsa said Vatican staff “entered into panic” in response to the 2014 Extraordinary Synod’s more welcoming tone towards lesbian and gay people. Describing this year’s deliberations as “inhuman theater,” he added to his initial criticism of homophobic comments by Cardinal Robert Sarah:

” ‘Sarah should have been reported (to the police) for his statements, but the synod didn’t say anything. . .He’s only one expression of a mentality; they think like him, because they didn’t contradict him. It’s a mentality and a paranoid vision of homosexuals.’ “

Charamsa’s hope is in Pope Francis who can, in the priest’s words, “turn on a light in the hearts of bishops” to promote reform. He is clear, however, that Francis must act concretely for inclusion and not just speak merciful words. The gay priest’s own target for reform is quite clear: institutional homophobia.

In an extensive interview with The Washington Post, Charamsa describes growing up Catholic in Poland.  He said that coming to understand his own identity was “like hell,” asking God for years to cure him of this illness. He explained to AFP:

” ‘The Catholic Church doesn’t actually kill people, but it kills them psychologically. . .It kills them with its backward stance, with its reject, contempt and constant preaching against homosexuals.’ “

Charamsa said church teaching on homosexuality is “like saying Earth is flat” and that these teachings are similar to religious fundamentalism. Speaking specifically about church leaders’ silence when it comes to anti-LGBTQI laws, Charamsa claimed the church was pleased by criminalization as a confirmation of its own teachings. He said further:

” ‘As long as [the church] does not openly reject and condemn this criminalisation, it is an accomplice of anti-homosexual terror.’ “

Krzysztof Charamsa’s decision to come out as a gay priest was a personal one, and he should be applauded for having the integrity such an act entails, particularly with the consequences he has faced. Regardless of how one feels about Charama’s own coming out announcement and the detail that he has had a partner, his points about institutional homophobia ring true. For his decision to speak out publicly against this homophobia, all LGBT Catholics and their allies can be most grateful.

Next week, Pope Francis has an opportunity to condemn LGBTQI criminalization and clarify a sometimes ambivalent Catholic stance regarding violence against sexual and gender minorities. Catholics across the world are asking Francis to send a clear message with the #PopeSpeakOut campaign.

To send a message to Pope Francis and add your voice to the many Catholics openly critical of institutionalized homophobia, visit the campaign’s website by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


As Wedding Bells Ring in Ireland, Mary McAleese Calls Church to Do More for Equality

November 18, 2015

Mary McAleese

As wedding bells begin ringing for the first time for same-gender couples in Ireland this month, former Irish president Mary McAleese spoke with The Irish Catholic about her support for marriage equality in the referendum and, more broadly, the Catholic faith which drives her pursuit of LGBT rights.

McAleese, whose son is gay, explained her decision to publicly endorse marriage equality by saying:

“My views are founded emphatically in the Gospel. . .What infuses me, what is the essence of my being, is my faith in Christ. And it is the love of Christ and his offer of mercy to the world, the sense that every single person is a child of God, it is that which infuses me, gives me the outlook I have on the world. . .[That] is the outlook I have on our gay citizens.”

To not have spoken out “would have been an act of craven and unchristian cowardice,” McAleese added. She is “ashamed” that the church has not advocated LGBT rights and said it has been “a major conduit for homophobia which is toxic, a form of hatred that has nothing to do with Christ and is unchristian.”

McAleese was equally clear in her criticism of current church teachings on homosexuality, about which she stated:

“I believe the Church’s teaching on homosexuality to be wrong. Period. I am not going to fudge my language just because somebody doesn’t like the language I am going to use. I am as entitled to stand up and state it to be wrong just as someone else is entitled to stand up and say that I am wrong. That is fine.”

Looking forward, McAleese envisioned a Catholic Church that is more affirming of LGBT justice and inclusion even if it avoids the marriage question. How would the church be a “champion of gay rights”? McAleese explained:

” ‘That would be very simple. It [the Church] wouldn’t necessarily have to be a champion of gay marriage. I’m quite happy for the Church to stay away from civil marriage and let the State provide for that – that is not the issue.’

“It would mean ‘not adhering to views from the Old Testament about homosexuality, which have long since been discredited by medical science’ and being ‘actively engaged in today’s world with all the information that it has [about homosexuality.]’

” ‘It would mean looking at the language that the Church uses to see whether that language is capable of hurt, and of conducing to homophobia, which it most certainly does.’ “

McAleese closely tied magisterial language about homosexuality to homophobia’s proliferation in the world, calling the church to “take responsibility for the extent to which its words and its language conduces to homophobia.”

Drawing historical comparisons to problematic language used in church teachings against the Jewish people or in Northern Ireland’s religious sectarianism, McAleese said:

“The target of such language is entitled to reply and say how they feel when they hear those words and if they say those words make them feel hated, belittled or instil fear in them then those who utter those words in the first place have to listen very carefully.”

McAleese also commented on Pope Francis, whom she described as “the most intriguing Pope of my lifetime” and praised him for inviting open discussion in the church. She said:

“[Francis’] wonderful gift to the Church is to welcome the debate that has been going on any way in all the quiet spaces where two or more were gathered, and festering in frustration, and he has just let it out and that is a joy. . .I think Francis is allowing the Church to breathe and that is a wonderful thing.”

In a related story, Archbishop Charles Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, also commented on the referendum, according to The Irish Times. He said the nation’s bishops “did an excellent job in presenting in a compassionate, convincing way the teaching of the church on this issue.” Brown’s assessment that the bishops were convincing seems off base, given the many same-sex weddings that took place last Monday, the first day such ceremonies were legal, thanks to the May 2015 referendum.

More convincing has been the witness of faithful Catholics like Mary McAleese, preaching joyfully a message of reconciliation and justice consistent with the Gospel.

McAleese’s interview reveals a lay Catholic thinking critically about her faith and how it relates to our world. She is highly attentive to church teaching (and history), yet remains foremost committed to her conscience. Thought-provoking and inspiring, her words are worth reading in full, which you can do here.

Want to celebrate marriage equality in Ireland? Consider “Ireland: Land of Rainbows and Wedding Bells,” an LGBT-friendly pilgrimage with Sr. Jeannine Gramick in April 2016. You can find more information here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Church Workers Speak Out, Backed by 1,000+ Catholics at Call To Action Meeting

November 17, 2015

Church workers present Declaration at Call to Action’s conference

At the Call To Action conference in Milwaukee earlier this month, more than 1,000 Catholics affirmed a Catholic Church Worker Declaration, standing with church workers who have lost their jobs in employment disputes, many of them centered on LGBT topics.

The Declaration, which you can read here, affirmed both the good work that LGBT church workers do, and it condemned the injustices they and the communities they serve experience when discrimination occurs.

The Declaration listed expectations of the church and its leaders when it comes to employment in Catholic institutions. These included:

“We expect that dealings with Church workers be conducted with transparency and due process in accordance with canon and civil law. . .

“We expect Church leaders to uphold non-discrimination policies and to treat all employees equitably, even if the employer is exempt from such laws. . .

“We expect Church leaders to respect the primacy of conscience. . .[and] to acknowledge that people are capable of forming virtuous consciences with the guidance of Holy Spirit.”

Catholics are now being invited by Call To Action, a national Catholic justice organization, to join terminated church workers and those who gathered at the Milwaukee conference by signing a petition to be sent to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and to Pope Francis. You can add your name by clicking here.

This Declaration is the latest step by Catholics and those affiliated with ecclesial institutions to respond to church worker discrimination. More than 50 employees have lost their jobs in LGBT-related disputes alone since 2008, according to New Ways Ministry.

A recent series in The Huffington Post features six such church workers telling their stories, specifically how they remained faithful despite being expelled. An introduction noted:

“Increasingly, American Catholics are finding it hard to believe that the options the church gives LGBT people are moral or just. . .Perhaps the most stunning aspect of these dismissals is the faith journey that begins after these LGBT Catholics have been turned away from their church.”

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, affirmed the commitment even fired church workers have to their faith and told The Huffington Post:

” ‘Lesbian and gay people involved in these issues have really had to come to a deeper understanding of their spirituality and their relationship with God. From the get go, these are very spiritual people.’ “

Indeed, these church workers are very spiritual people, and their stories reveal just how deeply faithful and committed to the Gospel they are. Below is a sampling, but I encourage you to click the provided links and read more.


Colleen Simon

Colleen Simon, fired from a Jesuit parish in Kansas City after her marriage to another woman inadvertently became public, wrote about a loving God, a God who is love itself, and a God who does not discriminate:

“The Catholic Church has left behind people like me, labelling [sic] us ‘intrinsically disordered.’. . .I should not have shame about who I am. I am made wondrously in God’s image. I should not feel guilty about who I love, as God loves everyone.”


Michael McMahon

Michael McMahon, fired as a parish music director for being married to another man, is now employed by the National City Christian Church. He affirmed that loving God is what is most important for ministers, wherever they do their work:

“After I left my job at my local Catholic Church, I thought my ministry career was over. But what’s happened since then has probably reaffirmed my ministerial calling more than ever before. . .

“I still feel the wounds of it. But I’ve picked myself up and I’m ready to go and do the work before me. My hope comes from my long career in ministry that’s taught me that in the end, the love of God is the most important thing.”

margie winters

Margie Winters

Margie Winters, fired from her religious education position at a Philadelphia-area Catholic school for marrying her wife, wrote about a freedom that comes with loving God and being loved by God openly:

“God created me, accepts me, and wants me to be a whole person, integrating my sexuality, just like my spirituality, into my person. This rejection comes from a Church hierarchy that clings to a teaching formed without the lens of current scholarship in scripture, psychology or sociology.

“Instead of feeling alienated from God, I recognize how much God has given me. Freedom is the greatest gift. Freedom to speak the truth that I have known for so long. My partner, Andrea and I, can be a married couple without fear.”


Kristen Ostendorf

Kristen Ostendorf, fired from a Catholic high school for her relationship with a woman, is unapologetic in being both gay and Catholic, but she is clear there can be consequences for those who openly claim both identities:

“I am done with bringing less than my full self to my work. Unfortunately, that means I am also done working for the Catholic Church and done being able to do the work to which I believe I am called.

“Some days, it is enough to know that I stood up for my authentic self. . .Some days I am flattened by the rejection from my Church — I am not welcome to be my full self and in a loving relationship if I want to be a member of the Church that has given me life, the Church I gladly served for 21 years.”


Sam Albano

Sam Albano, expelled from volunteer parish ministries for social media advocacy for LGBT equality, wrote about another vocation LGBT Catholics witness to:

“After 11 years of prayer and careful discernment, I experienced a moment of clarity in 2013. My primary vocation in this life is a simple one: to be a living witness to a gay life lived in Jesus Christ — and to carry that witness to the church and to the LGBT community. . .

“Whatever injustice I faced at the hands of church leaders, I had an early awareness that God was prepared to use this experience in a powerful and life-giving way.”


Colin Collette

Colin Collette, fired from his position as music director at a Chicago-area parish for being engaged to a man, wrote about being stuck in the back of the pews, even as Pope Francis seeks more inclusion:

“How I long for the opportunity to sit with the Holy Father and tell him about my life in the church, and ask him why I still sit in only the back pews of the church.”

Collette is one of two church workers (the other is Sandor Demkovich) who have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming discrimination against the Archdiocese of Chicago.

In her homily at Call to Action’s conference, theologian MT Dávila affirmed the idea that God’s Kin-dom (a less hierarchical term than “kingdom”) is on the move. When it comes to church worker justice, the Catholic Church Worker Declaration and LGBT church workers’ sharing of their faith stories are certainly signs of God’s radical presence in our movement for LGBT justice and equality. The Kin-dom is, indeed, on the move!

For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of this story, and other LGBT-related church worker disputes, click the ‘Employment Issues‘ category to the right or here. You can click here to find a full listing of the more than 50 incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their jobs over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equality.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

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