Pope Francis flew to a rain-soaked Medellin on Saturday to console orphans, the poor and sick — and to demand priests and ordinary Colombians look beyond rigid church doctrine to care for sinners and welcome them in.
“My brothers, the church is not a customs post,” Francis said. “It wants its doors to be open.”
Cardinal Robert Sarah, a frequent defender of Catholicism’s teaching on human sexuality, rejected arguments presented in a book by a popular Jesuit writer that the church must be more respectful toward gay and lesbian Catholics. Instead, he said, Catholics have a duty to remind gays and lesbians that homosexual acts are sinful.
In comments to America, Father Martin called Cardinal Sarah’s column “a step forward,” noting that the cardinal used the term “‘L.G.B.T.,’ which a few traditionalist Catholics reject.” (Part of Father Martin’s book urges church leaders to use the more colloquial phrase “gay and lesbian” rather than antiquated phrases preferred by some Catholics, such as “persons with same-sex attraction.”)
But, Father Martin said, the essay “misses a few important points,” including a failure to acknowledge “the immense suffering that L.G.B.T. Catholics have felt at the hands of their church.”
The church must reconsider its treatment of LGBT persons, especially those who have been fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientations.
Pope Francis’ challenge to smell like sheep then hovers over the church: How can we effectively proclaim good news, much less be seen as credible, if church leadership refuses to smell like the flock? Can we become so familiar with the LGBT community’s lives, stories, struggles, and triumphs, even endure their flies, namely, the hostility of those who would ostracize them either out of ignorance or hatred?
UK press reports are currently replete with reports and obituaries for Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, who died this week. Inevitably, I’ve been reflecting on my own (indirect) connections with the man.
Before his appointment to Westminster, he was bishop of Arundel & Brighton – which just happens (now) to be my own diocese. That is personal to a degree, even though this was before I moved into the area. My partner though has been here a lot longer, and from him I have heard stories of Bishop O’Connors local actions (and inaction).
Hundreds of pro-gay church leaders crossed the Nashville Statement’s “line in the sand” by rejecting it as heresy, and issued counter-manifestos claiming homosexuality is holy.A group of over 300 pro-gay Christians and LGBT advocates have endorsed and published a counter manifesto called Christians United in direct response to the Nashville Statement.
For years, I cared what anti-gay Christians thought about me. Deeply. I spent countless hours arguing the finer points of scriptural history and interpretation with them – especially the “clobber passages” – those six or seven passages that they claim unequivocally condemn homosexuality. I cared so much that I created an Whosoever, an online magazine – back in 1996 with the mission of arguing against anti-gay Christians and equipping my fellow LGBT Christians to do the same. I even wrote a book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians, to help others who deeply cared about what anti-gay Christians believed and said cope with the ongoing battle for our right as LGBT Christians to actually exist.
Now, two decades after starting that magazine and nearly 10 years after the book’s publication, I have no more fucks left to give.
As one example of how Pope Francis’ emphasis in Amoris Laetitia on “accompanying” gay and lesbian Catholics, together with his example of a more sensitive tone in pastoral care, comes news of a new initiative from Bishop Terence Drainey in Middlesbrough diocese. This is described in an article in the diocesan newspaper, Middlesbrough Catholic Voice, written by Fr Tony Lester, O.Carm.
Fr Lester was well known to London lesbian and gay Catholics of what were the Soho Masses, as a firm supporter of the congregation, and from time to time was a celebrant at our Masses when he could get down from his regular work in York.
In his article, Fr Lester notes that this is a direct response to Pope Francis’ lead during the Year of Mercy and his writing in “The Joy of the Gospel”
Each year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops releases a statement for Labor Day. The bishops’ statement is strong this year, emanating from Pope Francis’ own strong calls for economic justice.This year’s statement is particularly strong in its defense of workers, migrants, and people of color.
But if the bishops’ statement also addressed the unjust firings of LGBT church workers (more than 60 of which have had their cases made public in the last decade), their claims would be even stronger. In today’s post, I highlight two sections of the Labor Day statement that are most relevant for LGBT church workers and the institutional church.
The 14-article Nashville Statement is a manifesto that clarified mainstream Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, as endorsed by over 150 interdenominational Christian leaders at a Southern Baptist Convention conference on Aug. 25.
The counter-manifesto, however, promotes homosexuality and transgender lifestyles as “fully blessed by God” and “without a need to conform to the heteronormative, patriarchal, binary sexuality and gender paradigm that Christianity has come to promote and embrace.”(Related: Nashville Mayor Condemns Christian Stance On Marriage)
A perspective on the Nashville Statement, from Integrity USA (the LGBT Episcopal group)
In Nashville in October of 2014, I joined about fifteen LGBTQ people who were invited to a closed-door, off-the-record conversation with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. I was disappointed, this week, to recognize the names of many from that meeting on the list of anti-LGBTQ evangelical leaders who drafted the “Nashville Statement,” a comprehensive fundamentalist Christian manifesto on sexuality and gender.
That 2014 meeting went late into the night, and the discussion was intense. What I remember most clearly were the pleas and tears of some of these men in attendance (all of them were men) begging us to understand that they didn’t hate LGBTQ people––saying how much it hurt them to have people call them “bigots” and “homophobes.”
We ended the evening having all promised more kindness, more listening, more respect, and more dialogue, and I, perhaps naively, hoped both sides were sincerely committed to those goals moving forward.