Tag Archives: lgbt inclusion in church

Sr Jeannine Gramick, LGBT Ministry Pioneer, to Meet Pope Francis.

New Ways Ministry reports that Sr Jeannine Gramick, their founder and a pioneer in Catholic LGBT ministry, will be among the guests at the White House to meet Pope Francis.

I met St Gramick some years ago with the Soho Masses community, then at St Anne’s, after a screening of the documentary on her work, “In Good Conscience”. I’ve followed her progress attentively every since, and look forward to meeting up with her again at the founding conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in Rome, at the start of the family synod in October.

The text following is from New Ways:

Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Catholic nun who pioneered ministry, advocacy, and outreach to the LGBT community over 40 years ago in Philadelphia, will be back in her hometown this week for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love. A native of Philadelphia, and a tremendous fan of Pope Francis, she is excited to see how far the Catholic Church has progressed since she began her discussions with LGBT people back in 1971.

Jeannine Gramick

She will be attending the World Meeting of Families for most of next week, but will be taking a short side-trip to Washington, DC to greet Pope Francis at President Obama’s White House reception, and to take part in a Mass led by the pope at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Continue reading Sr Jeannine Gramick, LGBT Ministry Pioneer, to Meet Pope Francis.

German Synod Father Supports Same – Sex Blessings

One intriguing feature of the Synod on Marriage and Family next month, is that at least two bishops have gone on record as stating that they support the principle of church blessings for same – sex couples. Bishop Bonny of Belgium is one. Bishop Bode of Germany is another.

In an interview with the German Catholic News Agency KNA, Bishop Bode of Osterbruck discussed his expectations from the synod, in general terms, for those who are divorced and remarried – and for homosexuals, and especially those in stable same – sex relationships.
What I find particularly interesting about this interview, is that he does more than simply express support for the principle of church blessings for gay couples, he points to a way in which this might actually become feasible.
First, he points to the well- established but often ignored feature of Catholic teaching, that there should be no discrimination against homosexuals. Like many others, he repeats an insistence that gay unions cannot be treated as marriage, which can only be between a man and a woman, and open to procreation. That is differentiation, not discrimination.  However, he notes that there are other Catholics in sexual relationships that do not conform to Church teaching, such as those who are cohabiting without marriage. To treat same – sex couples differently to those, in pastoral practice he says, is discrimination, and therefore unacceptable. So, in responding to same – sex couples, pastors should look to the good in their relationships, not merely at what is out of step with teaching – just as they do with other Catholics in irregular situations.
Next, he notes that while any form of recognition comparable to marriage is impossible for the Catholic Church, it is possible to offer some form of prayer and informal blessing, where the pastor is able to judge the quality of the relationship to be suitable. Note the qualification though – these should be “private” blessings, which presumably means in a household setting, not actually in Church.
Third, he notes that although the strength of the Catholic Church is its universality, a community cutting across cultural boundaries, nevertheless we need to take account of geographic differences in social and political contexts. (Interestingly, some African bishops have made exactly the same point, from a different perspective).  That being so, he speculates that it is possible, for pastors in some areas to be granted a degree of autonomy in these decisions, so that where same – sex couples are socially commonplace and legally provided for, perhaps in these countries (including his own Germany), such blessings could be authorized – but not elsewhere.
Now recall that when Germany’s largest lay organization called for the introduction of church blessings for gay and lesbian couples, the response by Cardinal Marx was that their request could not be accepted “unreservedly” – implying a possible acceptance, with reservations. Perhaps Bishop Bode’s qualifications, are just such reservations. I also speculated along exactly these lines myself, when Cardinal Marx’s response became public.
I have published the full interview, covering divorce and general expectations, at The Queer Church Repository, in the original German, and in an English translation from the Duolingo community.
Below, I reproduce the relevant sections with specific reference to homosexuals, and their relationships:
d460f-gay-marriage
KNA: A big issue will be the dealings with homosexuals and a religious recognition of their stable partnerships.   Is there any indication of a solution for that?  

Continue reading German Synod Father Supports Same – Sex Blessings

Ignatian Spirituality and LGBT Inclusion

In referring to my own faith journey, I have often referred to the value that I have derived from my time exploring Ignatian spirituality, in a Jesuit parish, and in the Jesuit – sponsored lay movement, the Christian Life Community (CLC). It has given me a firm conviction that there simply is no contradiction between a life of integrity as an openly gay man, and my Catholic faith. This conviction, developed over many years, was based initially on extensive Ignatian prayer, spiritual direction, and an extraordinarily intense, genuinely mystical, Ignatian directed retreat.

In my earliest encounter with the Jesuits and sexuality, I was told by a parish priest that “faith” is not a matter of the intellect, but of experience.  Based on that definition, I have the faith. Conversely, one definition of theology, is “faith seeking understanding”. I have the faith – what I have been doing these past dozen years or so, has been a search for understanding. All that I have learned, from explorations of the bible, of LGBT and church history, social anthropology, natural science, and theology, has left me more convinced than ever, that this is indeed so. “Gay Catholic” is not an oxymoron, but for those of us with a natural same – sex affectional orientation, a simple statement of personal integrity and honesty.

The notable Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner has written that it is possible for each of us to experience what he calls a “personal encounter with God”. Once experienced, he notes, nothing can stand between us and that experience: not the Church, not the Bible itself. It is my firm belief that in the retreat I referred to earlier, I was blessed with just such an experience – thus reinforcing even further my deep conviction that for gay Catholics, coming out and accepting that sexuality as part of our “sexual identity” is no more than adherence to an important Catechism command.  And so, I strongly advise anyone still struggling to reconcile sexuality and Catholic faith, to explore the riches of Ignatian spirituality.

There is no need to do this alone. My own experience was immeasurably helped by membership of a Jesuit parish, and a particularly strong CLC group, but there are other routes. The Jesuits have a well – deserved reputation as a gay – friendly order of priests, for which the evidence is clear. Of the explicitly gay welcoming parishes worldwide, a high proportion are Jesuit led.   In many countries, there are Jesuit priests who run spiritual retreats, specifically tailored to LGBT needs and concerns. One final indicator of the value of Jesuit support, is found in the program for the “Ways of Love” conference, to held in Rome this October, as part of the foundation meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. Of the 10 headline speakers for this conference, three are Jesuit priests, and two are religious women in orders shaped by the Ignatian tradition.

One of these, works directly with the CLC community. In a notable article earlier this year, he describes how openly acknowledging their sexuality, enabled a gay CLC group not merely to find acceptance by other CLC groups and the national CLC community, but also to break down prejudice, and even develop straight allies.

Read his full article in Spanish, or below, in an English translation, courtesy of Gionata.

A.M.D.G.

(“Ad maiorem Dei Gloriam”).

Continue reading Ignatian Spirituality and LGBT Inclusion

Germany Leads the Way, on Catholic Church LGBT Inclusion and Welcome.

For years now, some Catholic bishops’ obsession with opposing same – sex marriage has led to a vicious crackdown on Church employees who marry same – sex spouses, allegedly because they are in conflict with “Church teaching”. In the USA, there is little evidence of any progress being made, but in Germany, there’s been an important reversal. The German church used to have a firm policy in place which prevented people in same – sex relationships from being offered any Church employment. In Germany there is no legal provision for gay marriage, so this applied to any same – sex relationship, and in effect, was more stringent than most US practice: gay people in Church employment needed to stay carefully in the closet.

No more: in May, the German bishops formally, and overwhelmingly, approved the overturning of the regulation, which went into effect on August 1st, just weeks ago. Already, one lesbian who had been previously fired from her job, has been reinstated.

Bob Shine reports at Bondings 2.0 Continue reading Germany Leads the Way, on Catholic Church LGBT Inclusion and Welcome.

“Don’t Talk About Us, Unless You Talk With Us”: It’s Happening.

A major impediment which has historically restricted the ability of the Catholic Church to properly implement it’s own instruction to treat gay and lesbian people with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” has been that far too long, bishops have refused  even to meet with our people. There is abundant evidence that is now beginning to change.

The importance of this is that it is impossible to show genuine compassion or sensitivity for any people unless you understand the realities of their lives –  and it impossible to acquire that necessary understanding  unless you speak to them, or to people who share their experience.  Far too often in the past, we’ve read of embarrassing apologies from people insisting that words they may have said “were not intended to offend” – which immediately displays their lack of sensitivity, arising from ignorance of how the words would be heard.

Brendan Butler, from We are Church Ireland, Dr Richard O'Leary, from Faith in Marriage Equality, and Jim O'Crowley, from Gay Catholic, at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.
Brendan Butler, from We are Church Ireland, Dr Richard O’Leary, from Faith in Marriage Equality, and Jim O’Crowley, from Gay Catholic, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. (Picture Irish Central)

Fortunately, there have been numerous examples in recent years of lesbian and gay Catholics in many regions of the worlds having discussions with local bishops and cardinals, and even with some highly influential members of the Curia, and with at least two members of Pope Francis’ “inner cabinet” of nine cardinal advisors (Cardinal O’Malley of the USA, and Cardinal Gracias of India).

Some of these have been publicly reported, some have not. It is clear though, that the number of such meetings has been increasing, and are being held with increasingly influential figures. The latest of many such reports comes from Ireland, where the Primate of all Ireland, Archbishop Eamonn Martin, met with representatives of three different gay faith groups.   Continue reading “Don’t Talk About Us, Unless You Talk With Us”: It’s Happening.

Family Synod Working Document Disappoints Global Rainbow Catholics

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, an international coalition that will be meeting in Rome at the start of the 2015 family synod, has expressed disappointment with the synod “Instrumentum Laboris” (or working document), that was released yesterday.

GNRC logo

WORLDWIDE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANS CATHOLICS, & PARENTS

RESPOND TO SYNOD 2015 WORKING DOCUMENT

A number of organisations and advocates who focus on pastoral care and social justice for LGBT people and their families, working to form a Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, is disappointed by the 14th Ordinary Synod of Bishops’ Working Document ( Instrumentum Laboris) on “The Vocation & Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World”, published on 23 June 2015.

Although “suitable attention to the pastoral accompaniment of families in which live persons with homosexual tendencies, and families of these same persons” is recommended, Paragraphs 130-132 of the Working Document hardly reflect the rich discussions which have taken place, internationally and at all levels in the Church, on the welcome, respect, and value which should be afforded to lesbian and gay people in the Catholic community.

We strongly regret the inclusion of the unfounded statement that international organisations are pressurising poorer countries to introduce same-sex marriage as a condition of receiving financial aid Para. 132). Far better for the Church to show its commitment to social justice through the condemnation of global criminalisation of LGBT people, including torture and the death penalty.

The GNRC therefore offers the following reformulation of the Synod text referring to same-sex relationships,families & parents as a more positive contribution to further discussion and discernment:

Some families include homosexual members who, with their parents, families and children, have a right to informed pastoral care (The Code of Canon Law: Canons 208-231). As such, they ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of discrimination in their regard should be avoided. The language used by the Church in describing its pastoral ministry in this area of human concern should reflect its principles of the precious dignity of the person and its commitment to social justice so that the gifts and qualities of homosexual people may be welcomed, valued, and respected (Paragraphs 10 & 16, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, CDF, 1986). When people living in same-sex unions request a child’s baptism, the child must be received with the same care,tenderness and concern which is given to other children. Furthermore, the Church responds to the needs of children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

This Synod proposes that a structured discernment process be introduced, to involve homosexual people, including those living in long-term, stable relationships as well as those who are single or celibate, their children and parents, experienced pastoral ministers, and theologians, as well as relevant dicasteries of the Holy See. Such a process, reflecting upon examples of positive pastoral experience and ongoing theological, anthropological and scientific study, should be conducted at both global and local levels of the Church for a period of three to five years.

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge at all levels of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 2357-2358, 2395). It has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid constitutes a precious support in the life of same-sex partners.

Arising from the experience of positive pastoral ministry, this Synod encourages the whole Church to renew its theological reflections on human sexuality and gender identity, working towards the right integration of ortho-praxis and ortho-doxy .

At a global level, people with variant sexual orientation are unjustly criminalised, tortured, subjected to death penalties, and those offering pastoral and practical care in such circumstances are also often penalised. This Synod of Bishops unequivocally condemns such injustices perpetrated on people and firmly opposes such patterns of criminalisation. It urges governments and civil society to respect the human rights of each person regardless of their sexual orientation.

NOTE: The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics is an international network of organizations of/with LGBT Catholics which met for the first time during the Family Synod 2014 in Rome and has since worked together to initiate a global network of LGBTQI Catholics, their parents and families.

Founding groups include:

European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups,
Associació Cristiana de Gais i Lesbianes de Catalunya (ACGIL)(Catalonia),
Comitato promotore dell’associazione Cammini di Speranza – associazione nazionale cristiani lgbt (Italy),
Dette Resources Foundation (Zambia),
DignityUSA (USA),
Drachma (Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Group)(Malta),
Ichthys christian@s lgtbh de Sevilla (Spain),
LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council (UK),
New Ways Ministry (USA),
Nuova Proposta (Italy),
Ökumenische Arbeitsgruppe Homosexuelle und Kirche (Germany),
Wiara i Tęcza (Poland)

Also see:

LGBT Catholics Find Little Encouragement in Family Synod Document. (Adcocate.com)

Evangelical Leader Comes Out – in Support of Full LGBT Inclusion in Church”

It’s now well established that while Catholic leaders remain  hostile to gay marriage (and on balance, hostile to full inclusion in Church), a majority of ordinary Catholics are supportive . For evangelical Protestants, most people remain firmly opposed to any form of accommodation to LGBT people, in secular law, or in Church.

However, that is changing, rapidly. Millenial evangelicals, the youngest age group, already support gay marriage. A steadily increasing number of evangelical church leaders are similarly coming around.  Tony Campolo is just one example. In this opening statement, he sets our his evangelical, Bible – respecting credentials – and also his new support for “for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church”. (For the reasoning that led to this change of heart, follow the link).

Gay_friendly_church

Continue reading Evangelical Leader Comes Out – in Support of Full LGBT Inclusion in Church”