“Hold Your Heads High, Your Liberation Is Near at Hand” (Psalm 24).

2013 has been dubbed the “Year of gay marriage”. Pope Francis was named  “Person of the Yea” by gay magazine the Advocate, and as  number two “Gay Rights Hero of the Year” by New Yorker magazine.  The words of the Psalm for today’s Mass will theerefore have particular cogency for LGBT Christians, as we await the celebration of the incarnation of Christ, later this week.

In Minnesota, just a few months separated the need to resist a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and the passage of marriage equality legislation – with vocal support by many Catholic groups.

Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

Lord, make me know your ways.
  Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
  for you are God my saviour.
Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

The Lord is good and upright.
  He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
  He teaches his way to the poor.
Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

His ways are faithfulness and love
  for those who keep his covenant and law.
The Lord’s friendship is for those who revere him;
  to them he reveals his covenant.
Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.
Soon after I began this site over Christmastide five years ago, I wrote about Fr John McNeill’s belief that we were entering a “Kairos Moment”, or “an opportune time for change”, for LGBT Catholics (and other Christians, and for women).  Ever since, that evidence has been mounting – and this year, became a flood.
In the secular sphere, its become obvious that marriage equality is on its way and can no longer be stopped, as Cardinal Timothy Dolan has noted. In the US, the number of states where same – sex marriage is now legally recognized has doubled in the last twelve months, from nine to eighteen, and including even Utah.  Internationally, equality legislation has been passed in New Zealand, Uruguay, France, England and Wales.  As the political struggles have been waged, in all of these territories, there have been prominent church leaders and groups campaigning in favour, countering the religious and pseudo – religious arguments against.
In the Catholic Church, there has been a marked shift in tone. Even before the election of Pope Francis, a number of senior cardinals and bishops had begun to speak in favour of legal recognition for civil partnerships, if not yet full marriage. Since his election, Francis has dramatically stepped up the language of  inclusion and support for all – and has still said not a single word in condemnation of same – sex relationships.  He has reaffirmed the existing ban on the ordination of women to the priesthood, but has said that ways must be found to include more women in decision  – making structures of the Church.  There’s a long way yet to go – but there is now widespread constructive debate on these issues, which is a far cry from that under the two previous popes, when even discussion of women priests was formally forbidden.
Other denominations are continuing to move even further along the road to full inclusion. When the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America appointed an openly gay bishop in Los Angeles hardly anyone even noticed, let alone kicked up any kind of protest. The Church of England has confirmed that openly gay and partnered priests will now be eligible for election as bishops, while Anglicans in England  and in Wales have  approved in principle the ordination of women to the episcopate.  Other Anglican provinces have already installed their first women bishops in Ireland, South India South Africa and Swaziland. The ELCA also elected its first ever female presiding bishop.
These are just a few of the many hopeful signs now emerging for queer people of faith, in all denominations and in all regions of the world. Much needs still to be done, and we must not become complacent, but as we continue to work towards full inclusion and equality, let us cling to the words of the psalmist:
Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.
(Cross – posted at Queering the Church)

 

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