Saturday, 24 December 2011

Irish Broadcaster Leaves Church Over Its Refusal to Ordain Women

Broadcaster Olivia O'Leary has, very publicly, left the Catholic Church.
The Carlow-born journalist renounced Catholicism because of the church's refusal to ordain women, though the institutional cover-up of clerical child sex abuse was a "proximate factor".
This Christmas, Ms O'Leary, who was educated by Convent of Mercy nuns, will celebrate Christmas with carols and lessons at the Church of Ireland St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.
The former Today Tonight anchor used her regular and popular essay on RTE radio's Drivetime programme to explain why she left the church some two years ago.
The central reason was the continued refusal of the church to accept the equality of women, "in other words, to ordain us".

Weary O'Leary leaves church over its refusal to ordain women 

"No longer at my age can I accept a subordinate role; not for myself, not for my daughter, not for my sisters, my nieces or friends," the 61-year-old current affairs presenter declared.
She added that other women had walked out of the church a long time ago.
"Maybe I just kept hoping," she added.
"At this stage I don't feel rage so much as weariness -- that 'difference' is still latched onto as a reason to discriminate; weariness and, for me, relief, that it's all over now. I've moved on out."
She said it had taken her so long to leave because she knew, perhaps, how much she would miss the church, especially the Liturgy, which she described as "one of the the world's great art forms and "such a comfort at times of loss and pain".
And she was also mindful of what she called the "family connections" -- "beloved aunts who are nuns, beloved uncles who are priests and good kind friends who are nuns and priests".
"But it is their humanity that distinguishes them, not their role in an institution. And it is our humanity which distinguishes us, not the fact that we are women.
"So a church that does not recognise that. . . is in an ethical desert, like white-only churches in the American south or in apartheid South Africa."
She said that among the reasons she would celebrate Christmas in St Patrick's Cathedral was that she could stand tall there.
"I can stand tall because the Church of Ireland, whether I join it or not, accepts my full humanity. It ordains women.
"Otherwise I'll celebrate by simply being outside in the wind and the rain, outside in the sunshine walking the world that the creator made for us all equally.
"Not because we are male or female but because we are human," she concluded.
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Monday, 19 December 2011

"All we want for Christmas.....": Filipino Message to the Bishops.

In terms of sheer numbers, the Philippines is a major Catholic country one that doesn't often make the headlines in the Catholic press elsewhere, except at Easter (when many Catholics re-enact the Passion by volunteering to be crucified themselves).
Perhaps progressive Catholics should pay more attention. Filipinos have demonstrated remarkable imagination in finding ways t0 protest the actions of their politically powerful, conservative bishops. A few years ago, a group of women protested the bishops' active campaign against the government's proposed reproductive rights bill, by delivering to the bishops' conference, colourful baskets of blown up condoms. (My favourite placard carried the message "Bless our reproductive rights").
Now, in this advent season, a group of LGBT Catholics went carolling for the bishops - with significantly altered words.

LGBTs go caroling at CBCP to protest 'discrimination' 

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community on Thursday went caroling in front of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Manila to press for their rights against discrimination.
The protesters, led by political organization “Ang Ladlad,” trooped in front of the CBCP office in Intramuros clad in red and green, with some even wearing Santa hats, and carrying a banner which says “All We Want For Christmas is our Human Rights.”
LGBT members also sang Christmas carols such as “Pasko Na Naman” and “Jingle Bells” with edited lyrics to focus on human rights.
The protesters, for example, sang “All We Want for Christmas is our Human Rights” instead of the usual “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” an original composition by Don Gardner.

More information comes from the Philippine LGBT Hate Crimes Watch:

"We sing our carols not only for bishops and senators, but also we want the Filipino people to fill our socks and our hearts with blessings of equality by approving the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity, or SOGI, in the Senate Bill (SB) 2814 or the Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011," Bemz Benedito, Ladlad chairwoman, told the press.
The CBCP came out recently against the bill claiming that SOGI is a personal choice of LGBTs and do not need legal safeguards. The bishops have also traditionally maintained in the nine years that pro-gay bills have tried to pass in Congress that equality bills will lead to same-sex marriage.

LGBT groups however countered that SOGI is a deeply ingrained attribute and that many homosexuals and transgenders suffer lifelong violations of human rights from a bigoted majority, prompting them to campaign for legislative action.

The activists took turns singing medleys of traditional Filipino and English tunes rewritten with witty lyrics that sounded out their demands. Jingle Bells was rewritten this way:
We want you to know, that lesbians and gays
Transgenders and bi's, have equal human rights
Don't discriminate, we need more love, not hate
All we want for Christmas is our equal human rights!
Human rights, human rights, we want human rights!
Lesbian, gay, transgender, bi have equal human rights!

Comment at New Ways Ministry Bondings, where I first came across this story, notes:
Anger over the bishops’ conference position was inflamed when it was reported that a lawyer for the conference, Jo Imbong,  said that LGBT people  “should not be protected from discrimination”  because they had the power to choose their sexual orientation.
It sounds like the Filipino bishops are having the same problem that the U.S. bishops had recently when their adviser on marriage issues, Daniel Avila, suggested in a column in a Catholic newspaper that homosexuality was caused by the devil.  Under pressure, Mr. Avila resigned.
Let’s hope and pray that Jo Imbong either resigns or is dismissed.
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“O Come, ALL Ye Faithful”: Church of the Assumption and Saint Gregory. | Queering the Church

"Last Saturday evening, I joined with others from London’s Soho Masses for a Christmas Carol Service at the Church of the Assumption and Saint Gregory, Warwick Street, followed by a great Christmas Party. The closing hymn, the always popular “Adeste Fideles” (which we sang, to my disappointment, in English) was particularly suitable for the occasion.  It was written by John Wade, a choirmaster at that very church, where it was also first performed. As we sang, I began to reflect on just how appropriate it is that the regular Soho Masses for London’s LGBT Catholics take place in this particular church.

The history of the parish goes back to 1724, a time when Roman Catholics were unable to worship openly in England, but as a chapel of the Portuguese Embassy (and later the Bavarian Embassy), the church had diplomatic privilege, and offered a place of refuge from persecution for London’s Catholics. Later, the building was attacked and damaged in the anti-Catholic Gordon riots, but survived and was duly restored.

For LGBT London Catholics of today who feel, rightly or wrongly, that they are prevented by their sexuality or gender identity from worshipping openly in other Catholic parishes, this church once again is a place of refuge. However, we continue to suffer “attack”, in the form of prayers levelled against us from across the street, by people opposed to our worship. Like the building itself, we will survive these attacks, and come through in the end, revitalized.

The name is also significant, combining two superficially unrelated patrons, both redolent of promise for those persecuted by the Church. “Saint Gregory” is the great papal reformer. As such, his name on the church where we meet may be taken as a symbol of the hope for reform of Catholic teaching on sexual ethics and pastoral approaches to sexual minorites which must surely come, and of which glimpses have been seen in recent years – not least, right here in the diocese of Westminster. Then there’s Our Lady of the Assumption, a particularly powerful symbol for me, as a South African.

Read more, at "Queering the Church"

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christian Support For LGBT Equality – From Africa.

There was a time when opponents of LGBT equality or inclusion could claim, without contradiction, that these were "obviously" and necessarily contrary to scripture. No more. Bible scholars, theologians, pastors and other people of faith, from all denominations, are increasingly visible with the counterpart arguments that Biblical values, and those of other faiths, are based primarily on love.
The arguments in favour of acceptance and inclusion have become familiar. What makes this voice fresh and new, is that it comes from Africa - specifically from Malawi.

Why the Church must embrace gays.

IT’s ironic that churches in Malawi are leading the charge against gays contrary to the fundamental basis of Christianity teaching which is love for all of God’s children.  Christianity was built on the premise of unconditional love; as such, a church should be a place where everyone can go for comfort and solace.  A place of refuge where everybody should feel accepted and loved.  Therein lays the tragedy when Malawian churches are at the forefront of the anti-gay movement.
Christians of every persuasion need to understand that the Bible isn’t anti-gay; particularly because of its ability to shape the hearts of people when legislation and social activism fail to do so.  There is no book, chapter or verse in the Bible that teaches Christians to hate anyone. In South Africa, Christians supported apartheid.  Eventually they withdrew their support for apartheid as they came to recognize that apartheid was a system fueled by the hatred of blacks and therefore contrary to Jesus’ teachings.
-Read the full article at Maravi Post
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Edit Post ‹ Queering the Church — WordPress

In an unseemly echo of last year's story from Boulder, Colorado, where a Catholic school refused to educate the children of two lesbian mothers, a school in Broken Hill, Australia, likewise attempted to refuse admission to the kindergarten class to a child with two moms. The local bishop intervened, instructing the school to reverse its decision - but too late. The damage has been done, and the parents have now refused to enrol the child at a school wish demonstrated homophobia in the first place.

This is how the saga began:
The girl's parents, one of whom was reportedly baptised Catholic, enrolled her into kindergarten at Sacred Heart Primary School in Broken Hill for next year, but their application was rejected.
One of the mothers told the ABC the principal had phoned her and said the women's relationship and living situation was the reason the application had been turned down.
Trevor Rynne, principal of the Sacred Heart school, yesterday confirmed the girl had been rejected because of her parents' relationship but declined to comment further.

Mr Rynne no doubt believed, in common with so many others who use their Catholic or other Christian allegiance as a cloak for their prejudice, that he was protecting the Catholic faith, but Bishop Kevin Manning put him smartly in his place, pointing out that he was misunderstanding the Catholic position.
Bishop Emertitus of Parramatta, Kevin Manning, who has responsibility for the Wilcannia-Forbes district covering Broken Hill, told The Australian this morning there was "no way in the world that we can persecute a child because of what their parents did".
"I've instructed (the school) to offer her the position," Bishop Manning said.
Bishop Manning said he was "absolutely appalled" by the girl's case, and that he had not been aware of it before it was reported in the media yesterday.
He said blaming a child for her parents' "sins" was not the attitude of the Catholic Church.
He described the girl's case as "most unusual" and said he would be raising the matter within the Catholic hierarchy.
"I will be taking this to the Australian bishops and asking them to make some pretty clear statements," he said.
He said the move by the school was out of step with Catholic teaching, and that something between the school's principal and priest must have got "twisted up or misinterpreted" for them to reach such a decision.

However, the latest reports are that the parents have turned down the offer of enrolment:
A SAME-SEX couple whose daughter was refused a place at a Catholic school because of their sexuality has turned down a subsequent offer of enrolment after a senior bishop intervened on their behalf.