In Italy, the Catholic parties in the Senate are mounting a fierce battle to stave off the government’s introduction of civil unions for same – sex couples, but the Vatican appears to have decided not to back them – and allow the legislation to pass.
The report at Il Giornale notes that this is an apparent paradox, but shows how in fact, it is not. Some may find this news surprising, but it is not unexpected: I wrote about the possibility myself, in this post. To understand how this has come about, we need some clarification of key points.
First, it is not true (as Gay Star News has claimed) that the Vatican has decided to “back” civil unions. That would be unthinkable, for a deeply conservative curia, and a major synod on protecting marriage and family is imminent, and where the question of LGBT ministry is already shaping up to be a major hot potato. All that has happened (if the report is sound), is that the Vatican is facing some uncomfortable facts, and is beating a strategic retreat. If some form of legal protection is inevitable, it will not damage its reputation by fighting a losing battle. In stepping back, it hopes it will be left with the lesser of two evils. Continue reading Understanding the Vatican Surrender to Italian Civil Unions→
When the Episcopal Church of the USA agreed to provide for same – sex church weddings, few would have been surprised. This was the United States, where the modern gay liberation movement began, and the Episcopal Church, long known for its progressive stance on so many issues. But the Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa?
For the first 50 years of my life, I knew the DRC as a bastion of conservatism in (White) South African politics. Not only was it the National Party at prayer, providing spurious theological justification for apartheid and racial discrimination, it was also responsible for a wide range of other forms of socially conservative policies, forcing their puritanical view of Christianity on all others in the country. Not only was there no Sunday shopping, when I was growing up, there was also no Sunday entertainment of any kind (no cinemas, no paying spectator sports), and a harshly enforced system of censorship, to stamp out anything offensive to the moralists, or the governing politicians. We did not even get television until 1976 – well after the rest of the Western world.
Since then of course, the country has changed dramatically – and so has the Dutch Reformed Church. It has allowed its racial / political theology to catch up with the modern world (and other Reformed churches elsewhere), and has gradually begun to bring its sexual theology up to date, too. It has accepted openly gay and lesbian clergy since 2007.
A new opinion poll from Northern Ireland shows that the country strongly supports same – sex marriage, and that this support has surged in the past year (possibly influenced by the referendum in the Irish Republic. Support in 2014 was at just barely over 50%, That has now risen to 68%.
Of interest to Catholics, will be that they are far more likely to be in favour than Protestants, This is in keeping with results from elsewhere, but by an unusually large margin:
Meanwhile, those from a Catholic background are more inclined to voice support for gay marriage, with three quarters (75%) agreeing that homosexual couples should be able to get married, compared to 57% of those from a Protestant community background.
Attitudes appear to have changed significantly since a 2014 Belfast Telegraph/Lucid Talk poll. Then, 50.5% were found to be in support with 49.5% opposing gay marriage.
As the USA Supreme Court was handing down its ruling that institutes marriage equality across all 50 states, the bishops of the Episcopal Church were already gathered for their triennial General Convention from Thursday, June 25, until Friday, July 3. Sometime next week, they too will take a decision on whether to approve gay marriage.
Episcopalians have a strong progressive record on inclusion, so the chances are good. The Church has already approved a liturgical rite for use in same – sex blessing ceremonies. Even before the rite was formally approved in 2012, some bishops were already approving blessing services in their dioceses. Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, told Mlive that he did so three years before that. Ousley notes that in the three years since 2012, the landscape has changed dramatically. Many bishops have already allowed this rite to be used for marriage services, in states where the law allows. Even years before the rite was approved, two senior women priests where married in Boston’s cathedral. When New York state approved same – sex marriage legislation, some of their bishops instructed priest in same – sex partnerships to either get married, or end the relationships. When the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Defence of Marriage Act in Windsor, the Washington Cathedral rang its bells in celebration. It’s likely that across the USA, many churches will be celebrating the court’s ruling today.
The landscape has changed even more dramatically today, with same – sex marriage now approved in secular law, across the USA. We wait now, to see if the bishops’ decision next week is in step with the country, and the court.
Two couples have cleared the first legal hurdle in their bid to challenge a ban on gay marriage in Northern Ireland.
A judge in Belfast High Court granted them leave to judicially review the refusal to legalise same sex marriage in the region.
Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane are taking the joint action.
They were, respectively, the first and second couples in the UK to enter into a civil partnership after Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to make that option available to same-sex couples in December 2005.
However, the Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected a proposal calling for the introduction of gay marriage on four occasions since, with unionists opposed to the move using a contentious voting mechanism to effectively veto it.
Following the “Yes” vote in May’s referendum on same-sex marriage in the Republic, Northern Ireland is now set to be the only part of the UK or Ireland where civil marriage is denied to gay couples.
Earlier this month, about 20,000 campaigners marched in Belfast city centre demanding a change in the law.
First, it has to be said that same-sex oriented people have the right, in their lives – and that includes, too, the fact that like all people, they are sexual beings – to be recognized.
– moral theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff
Finally, an influential, mainstream Catholic theologian has faced the elephant in the room. More and more cardinals, bishops and others in the Catholic church have come to accept that same – sex couples deserve to have legal recognition of their relationships. Some have said so publicly, many more now agree, but are keeping their opinions firmly to themselves. Some have said they see positive value in such civil unions, others are more reluctant, seeing them merely as something to be accepted as a lesser evil than full marriage. But in all the many observations on the subject I have seen, there’s one crucial point no-one has yet dared mention publicly: can the Church accept that couples in such same – sex legal, committed and loving relationships, may express their love sexually?
The marriage equality referendum in Ireland is still making waves–and headlines–around the globe. Except for last October’s Vatican synod on marriage and family, I can’t think of any single story on Catholic LGBT issues which has generated so much commentary and analysis as the Ireland vote has. It’s been a challenge to keep up, and though we have presented a few posts already on the subject, we expect to do at least one more this week after this one.
Today, I’d like to focus on the ways that people have answered the question: “How did Catholic Ireland achieve such a definitive victory for marriage equality? ”
Probably the best answer that I read was one of the first published. A few days after the vote, Fr. Paul Morrissey, OSA, a priest of Irish descent who lives in the U.S., wrote an op-ed in USA Today, in which he asserted “Ireland is…