Saturday 19 November 2011

Trouble in Adelaide over Anglican gay clergy.

For months, there have been simmering tensions in Adelaide's Anglican Church community over the unresolved matter of gay and lesbian clergy. A newly appointed bishop says that he has no problem with homosexual priests - as long as they don't engage in homosexual activity.

This is the formally proclaimed policy of his church, but it is untenable - it makes no more sense than to say "It's all right to be left-handed, just don't write left-handed". (Left-handedness is in fact a good analogy to homosexual orientation. Both are entirely natural, regularly occurring, non-pathological conditions affecting a small but significant minority of people).

ADELAIDE'S new Anglican Bishop supports homosexual clergy as long as they follow church guidelines that forbid gay sex.

The Venerable Dr Tim Harris will be ordained tomorrow as Bishop for Mission and Evangelism at St Peter's Cathedral.

His newly created role is essentially to help recruit and retain worshippers and establish new parishes in the Diocese of Adelaide.

The appointment comes in a period of unrest for the church. Reverend Ali Wurm, an openly gay priest from St Bede's parish at Semaphore, quit her post in June after ongoing "persecution" from within the church about her sexuality. Days earlier the first female Dean of Adelaide, Sarah Macneil, resigned less than two years after taking up the post.

The resignations came amid tensions in the diocese on how to respond to a global moratorium imposed by the church on same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy in same-sex relationships."

Earlier, two priests had resigned, with claims of harassment on the grounds of orientation.

The resignation of Semaphore's St Bede's Reverend Ali Wurm comes as the Dean of Adelaide, Sarah Macneil, also announced she would step down.

Tensions within the Diocese of Adelaide about how to respond to a global moratorium imposed by the church on same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy in same-sex relationships - as well as the handling of the turmoil by Archbishop Jeffrey Driver - are believed to be factors in the women's departures.

All Souls of St Peters' Reverend Andy Wurm, Ms Wurm's brother, confirmed pressure over many years about her former same-sex relationship was a key factor.

"A major reason for her resignation was the persecution she felt as a result of her living arrangements and sexual orientation," Rev Wurm said.

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Friday 18 November 2011

Gay Marriage: At London "Catholic Voices" Discussion, Gay Catholics NOT Welcome.

At a Catholic event in London next week,  specifically about Catholics and gay marriage, the people most directly affected - gay Catholics themselves- have been excluded.

In London next week,  "Catholic Voices" is hosting an event to discuss the public communication of the Catholic Church's stance on gay marriage. The advance material for this event made it clear that for security reasons , those wishing to attend needed to RSVP ahead of time, or they would be turned away.

Please note that, due to security policies at Notre Dame, nobody will be admitted who has not RSVP’d to the above email address by the date specified. If you are bringing a guest, you must give us their name and email by then.
-Catholic Voices mailer
However, when I tried to RSVP as instructed, I received a prompt response from the organizer, Austen Ivereigh, stating in effect that I was not welcome. Excluded (and not for security reasons). I have never met Mr Ivereigh, who was presumably responding simply to my name. I soon discovered that two other gay Catholics hoping to attend, had been similarly excluded.
Catholic Voices states that they "began with a single aim: to ensure that Catholics and the Church were well represented in the media when Pope Benedict came to the UK in September 2010". It is clear from this little kerfuffle that it is emphatically not all Catholics and the Church as a whole that they are aiming to represent, but purely and simply the bishops: not "Catholic" Voice, but "His Master's Voice".
And so, we have the curious position that, at a Catholic event specifically about Catholics and gay marriage, the people most directly affected - gay Catholics themselves- are excluded.
This morning, the Guardian has taken up the story:

New York’s gay Irish keep mass attendance alive | Irish News | IrishCentral

"The legalization of gay marriage in New York last June reignited the age-old struggle between faith and sexuality in the Catholic community. While figureheads such as Archbishop Timothy Dolan promote an increasingly conservative outlook on homosexuality in Catholicism, a small group of mostly Irish-American Catholics continues to provide a weekly place of worship for all, regardless of sexual orientation. 

“We are Catholics in exile,“ joked Brendan Fay, 50, an active member of the organization Dignity, a Catholic non-profit organization for homosexual and trans-gender persons."
“Most people are surprised that LGBT people care about being Catholic at all,” said Fay, “probably because Irish-American Catholics often get stereotyped as conservative.”

Each Sunday evening, roughly 100 Dignity members transform the Episcopal Church St John in Greenwich Village into an unusual Catholic sanctuary.

Eight openly gay priests volunteer to rotate through Dignity’s weekly mass, and once every month or so, a female pastor delivers the sermon. Last Sunday, a congregation of 60 joined the Rev. Jim Morris, an Irish-American priest, in singing the inaugural hymn “Halleluja”.

From: IrishCentral 

'via Blog this'

Saturday 12 November 2011

Catholic Bishops, Gay Marriage: "the Outer Fringes of Crazy Town"

Catholic mothers, like all others, delight in their offsprings' weddings - and those of other family members. They are not alone. Weddings are the occasions of major family gatherings, where we gather to celebrate with them, cement the family bonds and interrelationships that have been set up by earlier weddings when we catch up with news from those members we only see at weddings and funerals, and lubricate the family bonding with suitable refreshments, music and dance.

Such celebrations apply to all couples, opposite-sex or same-sex. A few months ago, a colleague told me that his son was preparing for a civil partnership with his then boyfriend - and my friend gave me a regular running commentary of the hoops his wife and son were making him jump through in the wedding preparations, from early visits to (gay) wedding shows and expos, to choosing the outfits, to planning the "wedding" reception. When my niece married her wife on a Cape Town beach a few years ago, my staunchly Catholic mother and the rest of the family gathered from across the country to celebrate with her, just as they regularly do for all family weddings.

All this is to do far, far more than simply "congratulate" the new spouses. Yet in New York, a report at Unicorn Booty claims that Archbishop Timothy Dolan has "forbidden" Catholics from even congratulating gay or lesbian newly-weds:

But then the decree takes a sharp right turn and steers right off a cliff into Even Crazier Town, the affluent suburb to the north of Crazy Town proper’s city limits.

Dolan, on behalf of the Catholic Church, forbids Catholics from even being happy for their newly married gay friends or offering congratulations. Failure to comply with this perversion of law from their all-knowing, all-loving god that hates some of the things he lovingly created in his own image will result in canonical sanctions – a fancy way of saying priest court.

Oh, and stay the F away from Catholic churches, homos.

- Unicorn Booty

Now, the writer of this has himself veered off into Crazy Town - there is not a word in the decree to prevent Catholics from congratulating or celebrating with lesbian or gay newly weds, just a ban on doing it on Church property, or by Church personnel. One of the tragic features of (some) bishops' crazed, irrational overreaction to gay marriage, has been the crazed, irrational overreaction to the Catholic Church from (some) secular gay activists.

There is, however, good reason nevertheless to conclude that Catholic bishops' reactions to gay marriage, in the US and in Scotland, have taken them to the outer fringes of crazy town - but not for the reasons  given by Kevin Farrell at Unicorn Booty.

Friday 11 November 2011

Anthony Alfano: Openly gay student president at Catholic university

Here's a refreshing sign of the times: De Paul university is the USA's largest Catholic university - and has a student president who is openly gay.

Anthony Alfano's story is instructive for all those who still see a contradiction or tension between their innate sexual orientation and their Catholic faith. In a report carried by the Windy City Times, he describes and contrasts his experience of living in the closet, and that of living openly and honestly as a gay man.  At Catholic High School, he simply accepted the Church teaching that homosexuality was immoral, and from that assumed that there was something wrong with himself. Raised in a very Catholic family, homosexuality was never a point of discussion. He remained strictly closeted, and even dated girls as a cover. There was a price - he was emotionally a wreck and suicidal: three times he attempted to suffocate himself.

By the end of his senior year, he was still very unsure where he was headed, but had finally come out to himself -and to nobody else. That came later, after starting at De Paul. Significantly, the breakthrough event was on a retreat with other first-year students.  It was then, he says, that he truly understood the importance of coming out. 

Wednesday 9 November 2011

"Why good Catholics are challenging church line on homosexuality" – Patrick Hornbeck on "Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church"

Official Catholic teachings describe gay or lesbian orientation as “an objective disorder” and tell those who love their same-sex partners that they possess a “tendency… toward an intrinsic moral evil.”
Catholic bishops have been public advocates for laws banning same-sex marriage, and some have sought to prevent LGBT Catholics and their allies from fully participating in the Church’s rituals and activities
But neither formal teachings nor bishops’ statements tell the whole story.
A series of recent conferences at American colleges reveals the breadth of Catholic approaches to issues of sexual diversity.
The conferences, part of an effort called More than a Monologue, have happened at two Catholic universities and two non-denominational divinity schools
The events conclusively show that American Catholics are hardly of one mind, nor in lockstep with their bishops, when it comes to same-sex marriage; to rights for LGBT people at home, at work, and in church; or to the ongoing campaign against anti-gay bullying in schools."

full reflection at: CNN Belief Blog
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Saturday 5 November 2011

A Silver Lining to Avila’s Nonsense on “Satanic” Origins of Same-sex Orientation.

The extraordinary fiasco over comments by an advisor to the US bishops' anti-gay-marriage initiative would be the stuff of high comedy, if it were not so tragic. (Indeed, much of the commentary from the secular LGBT blogosphere has been hilarity at the nonsensical nature of his claim that homosexual orientation has a Satanic origin).

Max Zachs: Britain's first transgender rabbi?

A peace worker who wants to become Britain's first transgender rabbi is to feature in a new prime-time documentary.
Maxwell Zachs, who did not want to give his birth name, was born female but began the physical transition to become a man in 2009.
The 25-year-old features in Channel 4's My Transsexual Summer, a four-part series following seven transgender men and women who share a house as they experience the highs and lows of changing gender."

("My Transsexual Summer" begins on Channel 4 on Tuesday, November 8).
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Friday 4 November 2011

Episcopal Church in Minn. passes resolution opposing marriage amendment

In marked contrast to the Catholic bishops, who have thrown unprecedented resources into supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the Episcopal church in the state is opposed to the amendment.  Episcopal Bishop Brian N. Prior says this decision is grounded in the firm principle that the Church has always stood with the marginalized.

In theory, the Catholic Church shares this firm Biblical principle, and indeed the majority of Catholics agree with the Episcopal church in extending it also to the LGBT community. The exception,  in the case of homoerotic relationships, is Catholic bishops who are prepared to sacrifice authentic Catholic values and Catholic families, where they are in conflict with Vatican ideology.

Members of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, which held its annual convention over the weekend in Minneapolis, passed a resolution opposing the marriage amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.

 Episcopal Church in Minn. passes resolution opposing marriage amendment 

The church is joining other denominations and non-profit organizations in signing the “Resolution against the Constitutional Amendment to Ban Marriage for Same-Sex Couples” as prepared and presented by Minnesotans United for All Families.

That group is trying to defeat the amendment set for a vote on the November 2012 ballot, which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

 “The Episcopal Church in Minnesota has always stood with the marginalized,” said Bishop Brian N. Prior, IX Bishop of Minnesota, said in a released statement. “Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender orientation or immigrant status, Episcopalians in Minnesota have always embraced both the Gospel mandate of love of neighbor and the Baptismal Covenant imperative to respect the dignity of every human being.”

 Episcopalians (which number about 22,000 members in Minnesota) join other faith-based groups already gearing up for the heated political battle ahead this year.

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