Tag Archives: gay inclusion

Upon Return From Vatican, Mexican Bishop Vows To Continue Gay Outreach

“Raul Vera Lopez, the Catholic bishop of Saltillo, Mexico has vowed to continue his outreach to the gay community.
The Vatican had summoned the bishop to Rome to inquire about a gay-inclusive group of Catholics headed by Noe Ruiz.
Vera publicly affiliated his diocese with the group and sponsored its film festivals, which lead to harsh criticism from the Peru-based Catholic news agency ACI Prensa.
Vera told El Universal on Sunday that the Vatican had not reprimanded him.
“It is no surprise that the Church supports sexual diversity because there are at least 50 diocese in the United States serving gay communities,” Vera said.”
-read more at On Top magazine

‘via Blog this’

Texas Gays, lesbians find a home at Harlingen church

“HARLINGEN — Kaya Candia–Almanda says no one can truly understand what it’s like to be a gay or lesbian person living in a conservative community unless they are one.

Sometimes, in passing, negative whispers, jokes and ridicule about identity and sexual orientation are murmured by acquaintances, family members and friends, Almanda said.

The 18-year-old, who says she is a lesbian, doesn’t let that bother her.

The Harlingen High School senior says what really bothers her is being told by fellow Christians that she is going to hell for what they say is the unforgivable sin of homosexuality.

She says she is more concerned about the comments she gets from congregations across the Rio Grande Valley than comments in the classroom or out on the streets.

But, Almanda says, she has found a place of belonging. That place is a church in Harlingen tucked away in the city with a small congregation.”

– full report at TheMonitor.com

Those who deny Christian charity to gay minister need a reality check – Herald Scotland | Comment | Herald Letters

 “THE report by Geraldine McKelvie on the division between leading members of Newburgh Parish Church regarding their gay minister’s proposal to enter into a civil partnership makes sad reading (“Fresh Kirk row on same-sex unions”, The Herald, August 29.
From all accounts, the Rev Lynn Brady seems to be an asset to her community and a committed Christian who has worked extremely hard to help others. How many of us can say the same?
In the light of the Church of Scotland’s dwindling membership one wonders if those who now deny the hand of friendship and Christian charity to her are in need of an urgent reality check.”

-Read the full commentary at – Herald Scotland , Letters:

Australian clergy speak up for marriage equality

“A group of prominent Australian Christian clergy have put their support for same-sex marriage on the record a day before Christian opponents of marriage equality stage a rally in the Great Hall of Parliament in Canberra.
The Uniting Church, Baptist and Anglican clergy made their statements following the launch of a new Christian campaign for marriage equality, Christians For Gay Marriage, on Friday through which 9,400 Australian Christians have already sent letters to their MPs since its website (www.christians4equality.com.au) was launched.”

"We Are the Church": Sr Jeannine Gramick

“I think the best way we convey how we believe is not words; it’s the way we act,” Sr Gramick told students at Columbia Collegege Chicago April 1. Gramick said lay Catholics are far ahead of Catholic leaders on gay issues.
“This happens in a lot of religious traditions, where the people lead their religious leaders,” Gramick said. “The real people who matter are the people in these religious institutions who may not be the leaders, the people in the pews.” The Catholic Church would better fulfil its mission, Gramick said, by listening to those people and meeting them without judgment.
“When we say ‘church,’ most of us most of the time really mean ‘church leaders.’ I’d like to get back to the people. It’s really the people in the church,” Gramick said. “The church needs to have a little conversion, and we have to realize that we are the church.”

One of the tragedies of the modern Catholic Church is how fully many Catholics have fallen for the Vatican line that it is they qho control the Church, and that change is impossible unless it is authorized from above, This idea of absolute Vatican power is completely contradicted by the Gospels, and by the practice of the earliest Christians (as described in Acts, and in other early Christian writing). It is the result, rather of a continuous, gradual power grab over many centuries.

The decentralization of power seldom arises from a magnanimous change of heart by those who have it. More usually, it comes as a result of those who are nominally excluded demonstrating and exercising the de facto power that they hold by virtue of numbers. This has happened in the Church before: where there has been significant changes in Church teaching in the past, it has been the result of the Vatican following, not leading the people. On marriage, for instance, Fr Jospeh O’Leary has observed:
It is only since the 15th century or so that the Church itself has defined marriage as a sacrament. Such redefinitions come from the people in the first case, and are only later ratified by church and state. Today the Church has to face the growing reality of gay unions that resemble marriage, and when it buries its head in the stand, refuses to come up with an intelligent response, refuses dialogue and consultation, it is only making itself ridiculous.
Exactly the same process is currently unfolding in the Catholic church, across the whole field of sexual ethics. The Vatican approved doctrines have been demonstrably rejected by the Church as a whole. It is only a matter of time before the oligarchy in Rome catches up.

Gramick was talking here with the Columbia students after a screening of In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith, the award-winning 2004 documentary film by filmmaker Barbara Rick. Related Postsat QTC:

Fr Owen O’Sullivan Series on Gay Inclusion:

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Presbyterian Minister Repents – of Preaching Against Homosexuality

Queer Christians are familiar with being told by religious leaders that they must repent. Recently though, I have been seeing a number of stories of a different kind of repentance: of pastors, theologians and Biblical scholars who are beginning to repent for the error and harm done in their previous preaching against homoerotic love. One British pastor has engaged on an extended walk of repentance. At Salon, Murray Richmond has written of his  experience as a US Presbyterian pastor who fuelled prejudice from the pulpit, and of his journey to current repentance.
Richmond ‘s story has particular interest, as this personal journey neatly illustrates the wider journey of the Presbyterian Church of the USA towards the acceptance of openly gay or lesbian candidates for ordination.  As  he notes, this is a topic that Presbyterians have been discussing, studying and praying over for years. As they do so, many more are concluding, as he has done, that past teaching and practice was wrong. (The current raw voting figures show that support for opening the doors to LGBT ordination is now 5% stronger than it was just a year ago). The PCUSA process in turn, is indicative of the much broader movement transforming Christian responses to homoerotic love across the entire gamut of Christian denominations. From a position of near universal rejection a few decades ago, some degree of acceptance of openly gay and lesbian candidates for ordination, and same sex couples for church blessing or full weddings, is rapidly becoming the mainstream position.

Conservatives insist that making adjustments to church teaching on sexuality is simply bowing to secular pressure in a sex-obsessed society. Richmond shows an entirely different picture: that prayer and study were leading him to revise his views many years before he admitted the truth publicly, but that he was reluctant to speak up for truth, out of fear of losing financial contributions for the church.

Looking back, I see how much my own opinions had been formed by the fact that I was representing a split congregation. Our church, like so many, was divided. And while the people who believed it should be accepted were not going to leave if we maintained a position of non-acceptance, those who felt it was a sin would bolt in a heartbeat if we ever allowed gay clergy or gay marriage. If they bolted, half our budget would go out the door.
In large, conservative institutions like a major church, there is always a certain built-in inertia working against institutional change – which makes the movement in favour of ordination even more noteworthy. It is worth noting the specific factors behind this personal journey, as they are no doubt repeated in varying combinations for countless other individuals who are making the same journey.

Meeting with, and attentive listening to, Christian gay men and their families.

These included extensive on-line conversations with a young man who had made strenuous attempts to live within the conventional church teaching before concluding that “God was more concerned with his pride than with his sexuality”; with another who asked Richmond to perform an exorcism to rid him of his homosexuality – and Richmond recognized that what ever the morality of gay sexuality, this young man was not possessed by demons; and the wife of a fellow pastor who had come out as gay and left her for a man. Both she and Richmond knew that this man was a devout man of God, for whom coming out was not a matter of sin, but of living in honesty.

The experience of his own marital breakdown, leading to separation from his wife.

This confirmed for Richmond  a view he had been forming when listening to these personal stories, that there was a double standard being applied. Gay men who were seen to be transgressing the rules were automatically condemned and rejected – but heterosexuals who failed to meet the required standards of marital fidelity were treated with understanding and compassion.

Study of the Bible.

At one point he was directly asked by a group of five parishioners to preach against homosexuality “as the Bible teaches”. (Ironically, all five had divorced and remarried). When he studied the Bible though, he found the evidence much more nuanced than he had expected it to be, with the generally accepted case against very far from clear.

Distance from the institutional church, after leaving active parish ministry.

With hindsight, Richmond could see that inside the framework of ministering to a congregation, he was caught up in the politics of the situation, aiming to keep the peace and avoid a split.  After he began to work more independently as a hospital chaplain, he began to see more clearly the reasons for the strong resistance to change – and they were not, as claimed, about fidelity to Biblical teaching:
With distance, I could see the mean-spirited nature of the anti-gay movement, and the naked way large Christian organizations used the “gay threat” to raise money. Free from the constraints of a congregation, I could spend more time actually looking at the biblical texts that deal with homosexuality, and I was surprised to find they were not as clear as I had supposed they were. At this point, I have done a 180 on the topic. And I believe it’s a change for the good.
So why had we singled out homosexuality as a litmus test for True Christianity in the first place? Why had it become such a lightning rod for self-righteousness?
One reason, I think, is that it’s easy to condemn homosexuality if you are not gay. It is much harder than condemning pride, or lust or greed, things that most practicing Christians have struggled with. It is all too easy to make homosexuality about “those people,” and not me. If I were to judge someone for their inflated sense of pride, or their tendency to worship various cultural idols, I would feel some personal stake, some cringe of self-judgment. Not so with homosexuality.
Now I am wondering why, if two gay people want to commit their lives to one another, they should ever be denied that chance.
Murray Richmond’s story is much more than just another person changing his mind to fit in with popular trends. In his reflection on his personal journey and observations on his congregation, he has highlighted important trends that have been widely repeated elsewhere with the churches and individuals that are reconsidering their previous stances. On the one hand, the movement in favour of change is frequently emerging from extensive engagement in study of Scripture, prayer and careful listening to those affected. On the other, at least a major part of the opposition is rooted in double standards, scapegoating “the other”, to deflect attention from the transgressions of the majority.
But the most important part of this story is that this journey did not come out of finding that he is gay himself (he is not), or from support for a family member, or from long-held liberal views on sexuality. This is a man who once once implacably and automatically opposed to what he assumed was the “sin” of homosexuality, who has been led by the Holy Spirit through study and reflection to transform his previous views. There are countless more like him. This is most conspicuously so in the Protestant churches of Europe and the US Mainline Protestants, but is also starting to become evident in other denominations, including Catholics, Mormons and Evangelicals. With the continued help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the process will continue.
Before too many more decades are out, the Christian Church as a whole will be repenting of past sin: not the sin of homosexuality, but, like Murray Richmond, of the sin of past homophobia.


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Queer Inclusion in Church: Evangelicals Ask, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Church debate on full inclusion for lesbian, gay and trans Christians has become commonplace in the US mainline Protestant denominations, and in some European churches. A few denominations already ordain openly gay or lesbian pastors in commited, monogamous relationships, or are engaged in regular debates on moving towards that goal. Others already provide for either full church weddings for same-sex couples (where local laws allow it), or accept church blessings.  Among these denominations, it is becoming ever clearer that full inclusion, for both marriage and ordination regulations, will soon become widely accepted, if not (yet) universal.

It is less well-known, but is slowly becoming evident, that a similar process has also begun in other more surprising denominations.

Toby Huckaby’s address on gay inclusion to a Catholic college is just one sign of the increasing debate in the Catholic Church, as is the number of bishops who have followed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna in quietly asking for a rethink, or at least a more compassionate approach – and are not being repudiated.  A recent panel discussion in Utah is another indicator that churchmen and women are questioning the old assumption across a wide front. A report on this broadly based rethink at CNN has drawn my attention to yet more evidence that this new open-mindedness is also having an impact elsewhere, in some evangelical circles:

In Denver, an evangelical Christian pastor has split with his former church and started his own evangelical church that fully welcomes gays as worshipers and leaders.

The Rev. Mark Tidd says he does not see a discrepancy between the Bible and accepting members of the homosexual community.

“There’s times when we change how we approach scripture because we observe how God is making God’s self known in creation,” he said.  “We don’t consider it a sin to be gay and we don’t consider it a sin if you are gay and seek a relationship which is the only natural one you can have which would be someone of the same gender.”

Video: Colorado candidates debate same-sex marriage issue

Lisa Crane and her husband Ryan left their more traditional evangelical church for Tidd’s church, and have no plans to go back.

“Do we ever worry like, ‘Oh God am I wrong about this?’ and ‘Am I going to get to heaven and God is going to be like – No, you weren’t supposed to let the gays serve communion!'” Lisa said.

“You know, I don’t think so. That doesn’t jibe with the Jesus that we learned about from the Bible”

-Read the full report

My answer to the “WWJD” question is simple: there is no need to consider what Jesus “would” have done. Just look at what in fact he did do.  His ministry was deeply characterised by His conspicuous outreach to the oppressed and marginalized of all kinds, whom he accepted on fully equal terms with all other disciples. He also quite deliberately agreed to cure the Centurion’s “servant”, and even to enter the Centurion’s home, even though there would have been at the very least a popular assumption that in keeping with common Roman military custom, the Centurion would have had a sexual relationship with this servant.


Gay Marriage, in Church: Denmark Next?

Last year, Sweden approved full marriage equality, including church weddings if desired, for gay and lesbian couples. Up to now, this has been the only country where it has been possible for same sex couples to have a full religious wedding in a major denomination, and have it recognized by the state. (The other countries which recognize gay marriage, do so only for civil marriages.) However, support for full religious marriage has been building steadily, among voters and in some of the churches themselves. It now seems likely that Denmark will soon follow Sweden’s example. This is not surprising – they have similar religious traditions, and similar social outlooks. Denmark was the first country in the world to approve civil unions, but has been slow to convert to full marriage. However, 1997 the bishops approved church “blessings” of civil unions, as long as the words “husband” and “wife” were omitted, so there’s not a long way to go.
Now the government is considering a proposal to go the whole way, and allow full religious weddings. With almost two thirds of voters expressing support for the measure, and six out of ten bishops also ready to agree, it looks like an open goal just waiting for the final push.

Apart from the obvious impact for the Danes themselves, there are two important implications for the rest of us. It provides further evidence of steady growth in support by voters, thus increasing the pressure on the remaining countries of the EU to folllow suit; and it shows that even religious leaders are accepting that there is at least room for dissenting interpretations of the old clobber texts in Scripture. The more we see major religious groups like the ECLA, Episcopalians, Swedish and Danish Lutherans conducting gay marriages, the more difficult it becomes for the religious right to persuade moderate voters that religion “demands” gay exclusion
From AFP:

Two thirds of Danes back gay Church weddings

Nearly two thirds of Danes support a call to allow gay and lesbian couples to be married by the Church, a poll showed Wednesday.
Denmark was the world’s first country to allow a civil union for homosexuals, in 1989, but its parliament is now split over a move by the centre-left opposition to amend the law to allow religious weddings too.
The minister for religion Birthe Roenn Hornbech has urged lawmakers to think the question through in-depth before reaching any decision.
But according to a poll published by the Christian daily Kristelig Dagbladet on Wednesday, 63 percent of the Danish population would be happy to see gay couples married at the altar.
A quarter of respondents said they would oppose the move, while 12 percent gave no opinion, according to the Capacent Research poll of 1,304 people carried out of March 5.
Separately, the Berlingske Tidende daily found that six out of 10 bishops with the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church would agree to see gay couples make their vows in Church.
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