La Salle Brothers in Philippines Start LGBT Group; Other International News

While much attention has been given to LGBT rights in the U.S following the election and the U.S. bishops’ meeting, there are several developments internationally to report. Today’s post includes four updates with links to news reports if you would like to read further.

Catholic School in Philippines Starts LGBT Group

A La Salle Brothers school in the Philippines approved BHIVE, an LGBT-oriented group at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, reported the Manila Standard. It is the first school in the Brothers system in that country to take such a step.

csb-facadeCarmelita Lazatin, the College’s Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission and Student Life explained that diversity “has always been one of its richest resources for learning and innovation,” and that BHIVE would help “explore the reach of the words ‘inclusive’ and ‘education.'”

John Carlo Lazo, a BHIVE leader, said this approval comes after a five-year process, but now hopes to open “new opportunities for conversation,” as well as providing a safe space for LGBT students.  The school is located on several campuses in Manila.

Fiji Archbishop Calls for Respect of LGBT People

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Suva in Fiji affirmed the need to respect communities marginalized for their sexual or gender identity, reported The Fiji Times. Chong cited Pope Francis for addressing LGBTI people himself, saying “everyone is the same” and should therefore be respected.

In 2015, Chong, while commenting on pornography, said that the church must provide a”proper positive education on human sexuality,” which teaches that “sexuality is for the purpose of relationships, the physical side of our sexuality is secondary to the emotional relationship.” Chong said further:

” ‘Each person has to develop to be a mature sexual person, whether it’s through masculine or feminine and even homosexuals, they have their own sexual orientation which is a gift from God and through their sexual orientation, they relate to people.’ “

Zambian Bishops Impede HIV/AIDS Prevention

LGBT advocates in Zambia criticized both the nation’s prison system and Catholic officials for the promotion of abstinence as a solution to the higher than average rates of HIV infection found among prisoners, reported AllAfrica.  Catholic officials stated that the distribution of condoms as a prevention measure would be considered as promoting homosexual activity.

Fr. Paul Samasumo, speaking for the Zambia Episcopal Conference, said the church supported  a policy of using only abstinence education as a prevention method, and the prisons have done so.

Prevention efforts have also been hampered due to the criminalization of homosexuality, a holdover from British colonial rule. Being convicted of same-sex activity carries a punishment of up to 14 years in prison.

English Bishop Cautions Against ‘Ideology of Gender’ in Schools

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, England wrote a letter to Catholic educators on how to handle gender identity questions in schools, framed by him as “the ideology of gender which underlies transgenderism.” He urged schools not to be “swayed or fall victim to the errors of our times.”  It appears that his own understanding of trans realities and questions of gender seems limited.

For all the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog using the provided “Follow” box in the upper right hand corner of this page. Contact info@newwaysministry.org with questions and news tips.

–Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 26, 2016

 

 

NEWS NOTES: September 6, 2016

News NotesHere are some news items that you might find of interest:

  1. Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, made headlines last month when he officiated at a same-gender wedding.  Several church officials criticized him for the action.  DelawareOnline.com reports that a small group of Catholics staged a protest at the Diocese of Wilmington’s (Delaware) chancery, calling on Bishop Francis Malooly to “repudiate Joe Biden or resign.”  Biden is from Delaware.
  2. Bondings 2.0 blog post by Cristina Traina about Pope Francis’ comments on the “ideological colonization” of gender was picked up and re-distributed by Religion News Service.  Traina revised the article for the new publication.
  3. Diane DeBernardo, who has participated in several New Ways Ministry pilgrimages, was the subject of a National Catholic Reporter personality profile that examined, among other things, her involvement in starting her parish’s LGBT outreach ministry.  She is also the sister of New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo.
  4. DignityUSA, an organization of LGBT Catholics, recently called on U.S. Senator Marco Rubio not to appear at an Orlando conference of anti-LGBT groups, which took place on the two-month anniversary of the Orlando nightclub massacre, reported Miami New Times.
  5. Fr. Mike Tegeder, a Minnesota priest who was a strong supporter of LGBT rights, has passed away from lung cancer.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said he was “a vocal critic of former Archbishop John Nienstedt and the church’s attempts to block gay marriage, opposition that threatened Tegeder’s status as priest at his two Minneapolis churches, St. Frances Cabrini and Gichitwaa Kateri. He kept his bus driver’s license up to date in case he was dismissed from the priesthood.”

Beyond Pope Francis, What Else Has Been Happening in Catholic LGBT News?

Tony Flannery
Fr. Tony Flannery

Pope Francis’ document Amoris Laetitia has dominated Catholic LGBT news since its publication on April 8th. Everyone, it seems, is weighing in about the 250+ page document. You can access Bonding 2.0’s coverage of the document and selected reactions here.

But there has been other news relevant to Catholic LGBT issues that should not be missed. Below, Bondings 2.0 offers a sampling of some of the more important items.

Listen to Fr. Tony Flannery and Other Priests, Says Irish Bishop

Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry said Ireland’s church leaders need to dialogue with priests who are advocating for church reform. This outreach should include Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery, who faced Vatican persecution in 2012, and the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland which he co-founded. McKeown said the bishops “have to be constantly reaching out” and “willing to go way beyond our comfort zone,” reported the National Catholic Reporter. Citing Pope Francis, the bishop added:

” ‘It takes time to listen and to talk and to build bridges and to have an openness to hear their story.”

Fr. Flannery, who has been barred from public ministry since 2012, in part because of his openness on LGBT issues, said this support was a first for the Irish hierarchy. He commented on an important topic that such outreach by the bishops might focus upon:

“My answer to that is simple. All I have ever looked for in relation to myself and others who are accused of ‘dissent’ is a process that is fair, just and transparent. . .The present CDF process is a scandal, and brings shame on our church.”

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Bishops, Laity Remain Split Over Religious Freedom Bills

Virginia’s bishops expressed disappointment that Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Catholic, vetoed “license to discriminate” legislation passed by the legislature, reported the National Catholic Reporter.

According to a Virginia Catholic Conference statement, Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington and Bishop Francix DiLorenzo of Richmond said the law, which would have protected those who withheld  services from same-gender couples, was about religious freedom . Vetoing the bill on live radio, Governor McAuliffe, himself a Catholic, described the bill as “nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize.”

Meanwhile, Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, who is also Catholic, rescinded an executive order protecting those persons involved with state business who discriminate against LGBT people and replaced it with a non-discrimination order, reported Buzzfeed.

Church Worker Faces Financial Burden in Legal Battle

jan-buterman1
Jan Buterman

Fired Canadian educator Jan Buterman is facing financial difficulties in his legal battle against the Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, Edmonton, Alberta, reported Metro News.

Buterman sued the district for removing him as a substitute teacher after his gender transition more than eight years ago. He has been in court since, losing the latest round in appeals court, but Buterman has promised to press on and is exploring funding options. He explained why he will keep struggling:

“I’m not the only trans person who has lost a job in this province, far from it, but most people don’t have it in writing or don’t have access to legal council. . .Most trans people who run into this don’t have the means to address it.”

Bishop Says Same-Gender Marriages Can “Destroy Everything Christian”

In a recent interview, Bishop Emeritus Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska claimed that marriage equality would lead to efforts “to destroy everything Christian” and called the increasingly successful movement for LGBT rights “devastating,” reported the Lincoln Journal Star.

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Laurent Stefanini

Gay Ambassador Nixed by Vatican is Reassigned to the UN

Laurent Stefanini, France’s one-time nominee as Ambassador to the Holy See, will take up a position at the United Nations instead by representing his nation in UNESCO, reported France 24. Stefanini’s nomination was seen to be rejected by the Vatican because it was never approved after being submitted January 2015. Many speculate this rejection was due to Stefanini’s identity as an openly gay man.

For all the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog using the provided box in the upper right hand corner of this page. Contact info@newwaysministry.org with questions and news tips.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 

NEWS NOTES: March 22, 2016

News NotesHere are some news items that you might find of interest:

1. Seton Hall University’s Derrick Gordon will become the first openly gay college basketball player to participate in March Madness, the NCAA’s Division I tournament, reported The Huffington Post. Gordon’s decision to transfer to Seton Hall as an openly gay athlete made news last year, happening at the same time that the University fired chaplain Fr. Warren Hall for his support of the “NOH8” campaign.

2. Italian bishops sharply criticized the film “Weekend,” a gay romantic drama from director Andrew Haigh, which premiered in early March. The church owns a sizable number of theaters in Italy, meaning the episcopal condemnation cut down the number of screens the film could appear on and hurt sales initially, reported Variety

3. Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP, the former head of the Dominicans, said Catholics should be less concerned with what others are “doing in bed” and focus on being a help, not a hindrance to people finding God according to their own path. He firmly rejected marriage equality, however, reported Rappler. Radcliffe said in interview during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, hosted by the Philippines:

” ‘If you look at what I said, I never approved of gay marriage. I always said the community must be open to gay people, as Pope Francis said, as my own cardinal archbishop in England says. We must be open to welcome anybody. But I never said I believe in gay marriage.’ “

4. An advertisement for the Marian site at Lourdes welcomed couples for Valentine’s Day, including same-gender couples, reported La Depeche. The ad, sponsored by the Diocese of Tarbes and Lourdes, said the celebration is “open to all forms of couples, married, unmarried, homosexual. . .”, though same-gender couples will not receive a church blessing and none had pre-registered according to the report.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 

NEWS NOTES: March 3, 2016

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

1) A U.S. Marine was convicted of killing Jennifer Laude, a trans woman in the Philippines killed in 2014.  Joseph Scott Pemberton, received lessened charges due to a successful “trans panic” defense. Laude’s murder drew international attention, in part because of Catholic leaders spoke out strongly against the crime. The local bishop provided Laude a funeral respectful of her gender identity, and top religious leaders publicly advocated for justice in what they acknowledged was an anti-trans hate crime.

2) Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, a conservative U.S. prelate who is now the new Vatican nuncio to Switzerland, has said bishops were “only making themselves unpopular” by opposing marriage equality. While stating that the church could never change its teaching, Gullickson said this reality “doesn’t mean that one hates those who are of a different opinion,” according to the National Catholic Reporter.

3) Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, eulogized David Bowie in The Tablet. Ravasi, who tweeted Bowie lyrics when news of the musician’s death broke, said Bowie, made “the souls of all those with a restless conscience vibrate.”

4) Laurie Goodstein’s  New York Times July 2015 story about how LGBT Catholics to Pope Francis was nominated for a GLAAD Award for “Outstanding Newspaper Article.” Her piece featured quotations Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, Deb Word of Fortunate Families, Lui Masuo of Call to Action, and Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA.

5) The St. Vincent de Paul Society in Ireland folded a fund committee in Galway which incited controversy last year after granting €45,000 to Amach! LGBT Galway, a resource center in the city, reported The Irish Times.

6)  Gary Meier,  an openly gay Catholic priest, published an open letter on The Huffington Post to gay men in the Catholic priesthood after the question of gay priests rose to prominence via an article last month in The Washington Post. Meier said he lived in the same “culture of silence and shame” that gay priests may currently exist in, but called on them to come out despite the fear and risks. You can read his letter here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: Updates on Previous News Stories

News NotesWhile the Catholic world’s attention is focused on the Synod in Rome currently underway, here are several updates on news items about which Bondings 2.0 has previously reported:

1) France has withdrawn their nominee for ambassador to the Holy See, Laurent Stefanini, after the Vatican refused to accept his credentials for nearly ten months, reported The Guardian. Though unconfirmed, it has been speculated that the Vatican refused Stefanini because he is a married gay man while others criticized Pope Francis and the Vatican’s silence on the matter. For more information, click here.

2) A year after trans woman Jennifer Laude was murdered, mourners gathered in the Philippines and abroad to celebrate her life and demand justice, reported Inquirer.net. Joseph Scott Pemberton, the U.S. Marine charged with Laude’s murder, is using a “trans panic” defense, reported The Advocate. Catholic leaders, including the bishops’ conference and conference of religious superiors, have called for justice and granted Laude a Catholic burial respectful of her transgender identity. For more information, click here.

3) Archbishop Stanislav Zore of Ljubljana backed the movement for a popular referendum that seeks to remove Slovenia’s marriage equality law passed last March. The nation’s Constitutional Court is currently deciding whether a referendum is permissible, Gay Star News reported, and if not, equal marriage rights will remain in the majority Catholic nation.

4) Italian legislators introduced a civil unions bill to Parliament earlier this week, the latest attempt to grant legal rights to same-gender couples in the only Western nation yet to do so. Civil union benefits will not be equal to marriage benefits under Italian law. The bill could come up for a vote in early 2016, reported the Daily Mail. For more coverage on Catholic LGBT issues in Italy, click here.

5) Two Catholic school alumni, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan, involved pled guilty to attacking a gay couple in Philadelphia, but will receive no jail time, according to The Advocate.  Kathryn Knott, the third alleged assailant, refused the deal. Statements from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia regarding the 2014 attack were criticized for refusing to acknowledge this incident as a hate crime or reach out to the city’s LGBT community.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: Teacher, Cardinal, Pope, Transgender

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

1) Patricia Jannuzzi, the teacher at Immaculata Catholic high school, Sommerville, N.J., was reinstated to her job, after having been suspended for one month because of her anti-gay Facebook posts, according to a Religion News Service article.

2) Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland, who stepped down from archdiocesan leadership after it came to light that he had sexually harassed a number of priests and seminarians, has resigned the “rights and privileges” of a cardinal.  O’Brien had been a harsh critic of LGBT equality, having called homosexuality a “moral degradation” and saying that it “demonstrably harmful,”  according to a Religion News Service story. 

3) Three Catholic LGBT leaders spoke on “The State of LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” at a panel presentation sponsored by the Human Rights’ Campaign’s Religion and Faith program.  The presenters wer transgender Catholic activist, J. Nicholas Stevens, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Mary Hunt, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER); and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry. Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of HRC’s Latina/o and Catholic Initiatives, moderated the discussion.

4) J. Nicholas Stevens, one of the panelists mentioned in number 3 (above), has penned an essay about his faith journey and his transition for Time.com, entitled “I’m Proud To Be a Transgender Catholic.

–Francis DeBernardo