Cardinal’s Lack of Clarity Raises Questions About Gender Identity in Catholic Education – New Ways Ministry

Unclear comments by the United Kingdom’s leading Catholic prelate have raised questions about just what he meant to say on the topic of gender identity in Catholic education.

At a conference for educators in the archdiocese, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster (London) gave an address in which he reiterated the importance of teaching children they are part of a common humanity while rejecting a harmful individualism which he said marked the present age.

In the course of his remarks, the cardinal referenced both shifting norms on sexual behavior and a fluidity in terms of gender identity that are being increasingly accepted in society. He said, in part:

“At a time of great confusion about the rules of sexual behaviour, about exploitation and abuse in every part of society, some firm points of reference, that are already built into our humanity at its best, are of vital importance. In an age of fluidity, even in gender identity, and at a time when the response to ‘difference’ is to become closed in a self-selecting world of the like-minded and reject that which is different, such foundations [of a common humanity] are so important. They affirm that there are ‘givens’ which come with birth and with solid identities and which project across generations. They help up [sic] keep hold of the reality that we are not single, self-determining individuals but members of a great family, with all its trials, diversities and struggles, and within that family, not alone, will we find our greatest joy.”

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The Scandal of Firing LGBT Catholics | Commonweal Magazine

Last week’s firing of a first-grade Catholic school teacher who married her same-sex partner again raises the question of whether Catholic institutions are selectively enforcing the church’s sexual ethics in ways that unfairly target gays and lesbians. As these firings become increasingly common, Catholic leaders must acknowledge the deep wounds they are causing to people who love and serve the church. A more prudent, and ultimately, more Christian, response is needed in these complex cases.

Jocelyn Morffi worked at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Miami for seven years, and ran a volunteer organization that takes students around the city on weekends to distribute meals to the homeless. “They treated her like a criminal,” Cintia Cini, a parent, told theMiami Herald. “They didn’t even let her get her things out of her classroom.” At least eighty  people have been fired from Catholic institutions in similar cases, according to New Ways Ministry, an organization that works to build bridges between LGBT Catholics and the church.

The response from school officials in these cases is usually framed simply. Teachers know the church’s teaching on marriage, and as employees of a Catholic institution they are expected to live in adherence to doctrine. When a teacher or other school employee publicly defies that teaching, the action causes—in the language of moral theology—“scandal” to the faithful. Let’s pause for a brief moment to reflect on that word. In this context, perhaps it’s not the best vocabulary for an institution that created its own scandal through its handling of the sexual abuse crisis. Scandal is also a more complicated theological concept, as Christopher Vogt, a professor of theology and religious studies, explains in a chapter he contributed to a new book, The Bible and Catholic Theological Ethics.

More:  Commonweal Magazine

World Meeting of Families Video Includes Voices of Lesbian Catholic, Catholic Mother of Gay Child – New Ways Ministry

Lesbian/gay stories were included in preparatory materials for the 2018 World Meeting of Families (WMF), a potential sign that this year’s gathering in Dublin may be more inclusive than past events, despite a previous story about deleting lesbian/gay references to printed preparatory material.

video included as part of the “Amoris: Let’s Talk Family, Let’s Be Family – The Joy of Love Six-Session Parish Conversation” catechetical materials featured the stories of Alison, a lesbian woman, and Gemma, the Catholic parent of a gay child. “God’s Mercy – No One Excluded,” the title of the specific session in which the video clip is included, was described as exploring:

“Pope Francis’ understanding of human fragility in the reality of family life, the importance of reaching out to all, regardless of their circumstances, and the priority of God’s mercy in how we approach that fragility. This challenges all pastoral agents and all families to reach out to people on the margins, which Pope Francis refers to as the peripheries. This session also explores the role of discernment in the concrete application of mercy.”

Source:  New Ways Ministry

LGBT Christians in Kenya Writing History – Religion in Public

This photo captures members of a Kenyan LGBT church making preparations for their weekly Sunday worship service. To safeguard their anonymity, the photo only shows their back.

The service takes place in a room in a commercial property, hired for a couple of hours every Sunday. The room is a rather plain space, and in order to create a more intimate sphere a curtain is carefully put on the wall in the front. Unsurprisingly, the curtain is in rainbow colours. The rainbow is, of course, the international symbol of LGBT pride. Yet it also is a biblical symbol referring to God’s covenant with humankind in all its diversity. Both meanings are naturally integrated in the context of these LGBT Christians worshipping. The colours symbolise that they belong to what Desmond Tutu has described as “the rainbow people of God”.

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Trans victory in Africa opens the door | News | M&G

Thato Moletsi pauses for a while, mulling over my question: What ultimately led him, a transgender man, to take the Botswana government to court in a bid to have the gender marker on his ID changed from female to male?

“You know,” the 28-year-old teacher says, eventually, “I have been depressed before. I have tried committing suicide before. I eventually got to a point where I realised that, if I died, I would die in the eyes of the law as a woman. So, I told myself: ‘Either you die a woman or you live and fight for your recognition as a man.’ And there was no way I was going to continue living without fulfilling this dream. No way.”

It wasn’t easy. Moletsi (not his real name) initiated the court action in 2011. “Those seven years … it was a very, very tough road. There were times when I thought, ‘what will I do if this doesn’t swing my way?’ But I didn’t have an answer for that, so the only thing I kept thinking was, ‘this will go my way’.”

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Cardinal’s words on same-sex blessings show church’s broader dilemma | National Catholic Reporter

In a recent radio interview, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising said the Catholic Church needs to provide better pastoral support for lesbian or gay people but stopped short of endorsing blessings for same-sex couples as a general practice or policy.

At the same time, he appeared to leave open the possibility of such blessings in individual cases. Marx is the third German bishop, and the highest-ranking by far, to have raised the possibility of same-sex blessings in recent months.

Marx, the archbishop of Munich, is one of the most influential leaders in the Catholic Church. He serves on Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, heads the German Bishops’ Council, and is president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

In Midst of Debate, Austrian Parishes Bless Same-Gender Couples’ Love – New Ways Ministry

Amid debates in the German-speaking world over whether the Church should bless same-gender couples, two parishes in Austria have already begun doing so alongside the blessing heterosexual couples on Valentine’s Day.

Two parishes in the Diocese of Linz, Wels-St. Francis and the Ursuline Church, offered the blessings for all couples this week, as they have done for several years. Diocesan newspaper KirchenZeitung reported (the following is a computerized translation, so it is “rough” in a few places):

“I am glad that we can access the symbolic treasure chest of the church. The ritual has a tremendous power. We underline the importance of relationships,” says Irmgard Lehner, parish assistant in Wels-St. Francis. In Lehner’s parish, there have been blessings for Valentine’s Day for many years, the last one took place last Sunday. Dozens of lovers had their hands put on and make a sign of the cross on their foreheads. Whether couples in love or long-married couples, whether people in happy or momentarily troubled relationships. Everyone is welcome.

More: New Ways Ministry

German cardinal urges pastoral care of gay couples | America Magazine

Questions about whether a German cardinal and adviser to Pope Francis suggested he could envision church blessings for same-sex couples have led the German Bishops Conference to release a translation of his remarks, in which they seek to clarify that he was endorsing pastoral care for gay Catholics rather than recognition of relationships.

According to a transcript provided by the German Bishops Conference, when Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising is asked if he “can imagine that there might be a way to bless homosexual couples in the Catholic Church?” he responds by saying, “There are no general solutions and I think that would not be right, because we are talking about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies to other areas as well, which we cannot regulate, where we have no sets of rules.”

More:  America Magazine

Blessings for Same-Gender Couples Welcomed by Advisor to Pope Francis – New Ways Ministry

Blessings for same-gender couple may be permissible, said a leading German bishop and advisor to Pope Francis.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising made his remarks in an interview over the weekend, reported Crux. The cardinal said that pastoral care which accompanies people in their concrete circumstances is the “fundamental orientation,” one promoted by Pope Francis. Marx said such care must include lesbian and gay people. Asked whether he could imagine blessing a same-gender couple, Marx replied:

“Yes, however there are no general solutions. That would not be right, I think. It’s about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies in other areas as well, which we can not regulate, where we have no sets of rules. That does not mean that nothing happens.

Source: – New Ways Ministry

Vatican blocks McAleese from giving keynote speech ‘over views on gay rights’ –

An Irish Cardinal has forced a major international conference on women’s rights to move from the Vatican as he objected to former president Mary McAleese, who is the keynote speaker at the event.


Dublin-born Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who is overseeing the Vatican’s preparations for the World Meeting of Families in Ireland in August, attempted to block Dr McAleese from addressing the ‘2018 Voices of Faith’ conference, which will take place on International Women’s Day on March 8.

Correspondence seen by the Irish Independent reveals a stand-off occurred between the conference organisers and Cardinal Farrell over his withholding of approval not just for Dr McAleese but two other speakers as well.

The Irish Independent understands that Dr McAleese’s views on gay rights is the reason the prelate objected. She has previously spoken about how son Justin, as a devout young Catholic, was bullied because he was gay.