Pope Francis tells gay man: ‘God made you like this’ 

A survivor of clerical sexual abuse has said Pope Francis told him that God had made him gay and loved him, in arguably the most strikingly accepting comments about homosexuality to be uttered by the leader of the Roman Catholic church.

Juan Carlos Cruz, who spoke privately with the pope two weeks ago about the abuse he suffered at the hands of one of Chile’s most notorious paedophiles, said the issue of his sexuality had arisen because some of the Latin American country’s bishops had sought to depict him as a pervert as they accused him of lying about the abuse.

Source: The Guardian

Synod of Bishop 2018 | Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

The path leading up to the Synod of Bishops is a long journey. The synodal process doesn’t simply begin when the Synod begins. Many steps are involved in bringing about a fruitful and productive discussion. In 2016, Pope Francis announced the theme for the 2018 Synod of Bishops: “Young people, the faith, and vocational discernment”. The following year, the Working Document was published, along with an online questionnaire to which young people could respond. The Church insisted she wanted the direct involvement of young people. Then, in October 2017, the Holy Father invited them to a week-long meeting to further the preparatory work of the Synod Fathers. From March 19-25, three hundred young people from around the world will be in Rome for a pre-synodal meeting. It is one more step in helping to pave the way for the upcoming Synod of Bishops (October 3-28, 2018).

More: Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

UK government claims ban on gay cure therapy could have ‘unintended consequences’ · PinkNews

It is disappointing that after earlier statements that they were preparing to ban so-called gay “conversion therapy”, the government has now backed off.

Ms Doyle-Price ruled out legislation, saying: “We remain of the view that a blunt legislative tool is not the right vehicle for achieving this goal.

Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price has now stated:

“Conversion therapy is a broad term for a range of techniques and practices: creating a criminal offence would be challenging at the most fundamental level, as it would be difficult to define holistically.

“In attempting to define therapy for people dealing with issues related to sexuality there is a real risk that there may an unintended, negative consequence for valid therapies.”
– Pink News

Once again, Tories are showing they just don’t have the balls to do the right thing, In New Jersey, a court described conversion therapy as “consumer fraud”, because

a) homosexuality is not a disease, so there can not be any “therapy”, and

b) it cannot be changed – sexual orientation is innate.

None of the many existing jurisdictions that have banned the practice have encountered “unintended consequences” – there is no need to fear any.
There is a case for therapy that is not based on attempted conversion (for example, to deal with the challenges of prejudice, discrimination and coming out in a hostile environment).
There could be a case for religious groups to offer counselling, to deal with any perceived conflict between one’s innate orientation and religious teaching.

There is no case for coupling these different issues under one umbrella. All that is required, and which really must be done, is to insist that any practitioners in this area avoid coupling the words “therapy” and “conversion”.

More: · PinkNews

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.”

More: – New Ways Ministry

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”.

More: Religion in Public

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’.”

More: M&G

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