Polish Catholics against Homophobia and Transphobia 

Perhaps the tide is turning for lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Late last year, I made a 10-day visit to Poland, invited by the Campaign against Homophobia to give public addresses, interviews and a retreat for Faith and Rainbow, a group of LGBT Catholics.

I also had the opportunity to meet with Catholic opinion leaders like Catholic journalist Cezary Gawryś to get a sense of the state of affairs for Polish LGBT Catholics. Gawryś has been exploring the topic of LGBT people in the church.

Serving for two years as a volunteer counselor, he witnessed their efforts — spiritual, mental and also financial — to change their orientation. “I saw gay people who were not very affluent, taking loans to pay for their therapy,” he resumed. “The feeling of not being accepted by the church separated them from the community. They often isolated themselves from other people and carried on with their lonely struggle.”

Katarzyna Jabłońska, co-author with Gawryś of Challenging Love: Christians and Homosexuality, recounted an experience she had while working at home on the book. Her printer broke, and she asked her next-door neighbor, a good friend she had known for many years, to print it for her. Her friend returned, printout in hand, crying profusely, and told Jabłońska that one of her sons was gay. Although they had known each other for years, the neighbor had never spoken about her gay son until the printer incident.

Source: Global Sisters Report – National Catholic Reporter

Jesuit Video Series Asks, “Who Are We to Judge?”

A Jesuit production company is highlighting the experiences of LGBT Catholics in a YouTube series called Who Are We to Judge?, a reference Pope Francis’s response when asked about gay priests last summer.

 Rev. Eddie Siebert, president of Culver City, California-based Loyola Productions, said that the series creates a space for LGBT Catholics to share their faith stories.

jesuit video series, who are we to judge

“We didn’t want to get into church teaching, and dogma, and doctrine,” said Siebert. “We just wanted to talk to faithful people who are gay and ask them to tell their stories.”

He explained that the staff at Loyola Productions, which runs the YouTube channel Ignatius News Network where the videos are posted, came up with the idea to create the series:

“We asked, ‘What can we do to highlight this issue in terms of being Catholic and being gay, and what this means for people?’”

Though some conservative Catholic groups have criticized the project, Siebert said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

– full report at  Advocate.com.

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UN Advice to Vatican, on Child Abuse by the Catholic Church

The report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) on the Vatican submission to it, has received wide press coverage, for its scathing criticism of the Church’s response to the scandal of sexual abuse in the Church.  What has been by-passed by the mainstream press, is that child abuse is not simply a matter of sexual abuse, and the CRC report includes extensive commentary on a range of other forms of child abuse, and the ways in which the Catholic Church is either inflicting such abuse, or failing adequately to respond to it.

Bob Shine of New Ways Ministry has written (at Bondings 2.0) specifically about those sections of the report, referring to Catholic doctrinal or pastoral abuse of LGBT youth:

United Nations Report to Vatican Recommends More Robust LGBT Solidarity

The United Nations Committee on the Convention of the Rights of a Child, an organization which monitors children’s rights according to the groundbreaking 1989 Convention, released its report on the Vatican yesterday. Primarily concerned with the global scandals of sexual and physical abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and religious, the report also included recommendations for the Vatican on LGBT issues.

In a section concerning Non-Discrimination, the report states:

“While also noting as positive the progressive statement delivered in July 2013 by Pope Francis, the Committee is concerned about the Holy See’s past statements and declarations on homosexuality which contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples.

“The Committee also urges the Holy See to make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of their parents and to support efforts at international level for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.”

Elsewhere, in a section on Family Environment, the Committee writes:

“While welcoming the information provided by the delegation of the Holy See that it will proceed with a revision of family-related provisions of Canon Law in the near future, the Committee is concerned that the Holy See and Church run institutions do not recognize the existence of diverse forms of families and often discriminate children on the basis of their family situation.

“The Committee recommends that the Holy See ensure that Canon Law provisions recognise the diversity of family settings and do not discriminate children based on the type of family they live in.”

– continue reading Bob Shine’s full report at Bondings 2.0

(Or, read the full UN CRC response  to the Vatican submission).

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“They Hate Me In Vain – LGBT Christians in Russia”

From Gionata (be email):

They Hate Me In Vain – LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia” is the first docufilm to address the reality of LGBT Christians in Russia. It was made in 2013 by Yulia Matssiy, independent Russian director and filmmaker who resides in Milan, Italy.
The film is a trip through today’s Russia where life for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has become increasingly difficult following the 2013 law 6.21 prohibiting the so-called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
The law, which claims to “defend traditional Russian families and minors from homosexual propaganda,” has in reality legitimized violence against LGBT people, promoted bullying, stifled freedom of the press and deflected attention away from the country’s real social issues.
Interviews, original footage and testimony recorded live by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Russia tell the story currently unfolding in the country. The film spotlights the current situation of LGBT Christians who a minority in the minority in Russia. They are looked upon with discomfort by the majority of LGBT people and Russian churches single them out as sinners and excommunicate them.

The film features:
• the most well-known figures in the Russian LGBT movement: Andrew Obolensky, Nikolay Alexeyev, Valery Sozaev and Yury Maximov;  the Bishop of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church, Volodymyr Wilde; Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Pastor, Jim Mulcahy;

The film presents: footage of protest demonstrations held by LGBT people in Moscow; material from Russian language websites documenting violence against LGBT people; exclusive footage of the 6th Eastern European and Central Asian Forum of LGBT Christians held in Kiev (Ukraine); testimony from numerous Russian LGBT individuals.

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Eastside HS: “Mr Z” Reacts to the Resignation of Sr Mary Tracy

Ex-vice principal reacts to resignation at Wash. school

“I think it’s a shame that Eastside Catholic has lost another administrator,” Zmuda said Wednesday.

In a statement released Tuesday, Eastside Catholic said Tracy’s decision “was a difficult but necessary decision so that a new leader can be brought in to ensure the entire Eastside Catholic community is on a positive path forward.”

Zmuda acknowledged that families at the school have been unhappy since his departure.

“The school has been in some transition, and they want some more stability,” he said. “They would like some strong leadership to kinda help move the school forward.”

Students staged protests at the school and the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle in support of Zmuda. They also had a change.org petition that has 35,000 signatures.

“I would love to have my job back at Eastside Catholic,” Zmuda said. “I think that a lot of the students have stood up for me for this one particular reason and if they did decide to offer me my position back, I would definitely go back and work at Eastside Catholic.”

Zmuda is in the early stages of planning a foundation to be called Stand With Mr. Z. Foundation.

“We are just trying to stand up for what we believe in,” he said. “A lot of people have stood up for me and so now it’s time for me, and hopefully this foundation, to stand up for others. … We want to focus on tolerance; we want to focus on equal rights … whether it is religious or LGBTQ rights. We just want to stand up and possibly even stand up for change.”

– read more, watch video at  USA Today

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Rev. Chellew-Hodge’s New Year Advice: Keep Pressing “Play”

Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge has some sound New Year’s advice for LGBT Christians, taken from two principles stated by the instructor on an exercise workout CD: persevere, and do not be discouraged by setbacks.

The first of these is “keep hitting `play`”:

When we keep pressing play, we approach each new day as a brand new start, a clean slate. We can put yesterday’s failures, yesterday’s disappointments, yesterday’s disasters behind us and look forward. When we keep pressing play, we keep giving ourselves permission to hope, permission to look forward to what the new year — and every new day — holds. When we keep pressing play, we open ourselves to the Holy mystery that constantly occurs in, through and around us. Continue reading

LA Times: “Methodist minister won’t surrender credentials in gay-marriage dispute”

A United Methodist minister who was suspended for officiating at his son’s gay marriage said on Monday he will not voluntarily surrender his religious credentials even though he cannot uphold his church’s doctrines on issues relating to same-sex marriage.

A man places a hand on the shoulder of The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist clergyman convicted of breaking church law for officiating at his son's same-sex wedding, as he enters a news conference, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A man places a hand on the shoulder of The Rev. Frank Schaefer, as he enters a news conference at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Equal Marriage Opponent Gives Christians Credit for ‘Same Sex-Marriage Tsunami’

He doesn’t call it credit, but “blame” – but considering whence it comes, that counts as credit in my eyes. A prominent opponent of marriage equality is “blaming” Christian support for what he describes (accurately) as a same – sex marriage “tsunami”. Peter LaBarbera

The president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality made some shocking claims this week about practicing Christians who have decided to embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals: you’re doing the work of the devil. Appearing on “Crosstalk” yesterday for a show titled “Same-Sex Marriage Tsunami,” Peter LaBarbera informed host Vic Eliason that Christians embracing LGBT-identifying individuals are engaged in an “insidious lie… straight from Satan’s talking points.” Eliason also chimed in with an interesting perspective about the Internet slang “OMG,” telling listeners that using the phrase is not only a curse against God but contributing to the corruption of American youth.

via Huffington Post .

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LGBT Employment Protection in the Catholic Church

In principle, the Catholic Church’s social teaching includes strong support for workers’ rights, and protection from any form of injustice or unfair discrimination. Except, that is, where they are the employers, and the workers are LGBT. In such cases, the church insists on their own protection from the standard provisions of employment law.

Francis DeBenardo reports on one case where the judge clearly disagrees, which could have widespread implications for other cases around the US.


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Indian Priests Directed to “Speak More Sensitively” on LGBT Issues

In another important sign of how the tone of Catholic LGBT ministry is changing, Francis DeBenardo of New Ways Ministry reports on a notable development in India, where Cardinal Oswald Gracias has directed his priests to speak “more sensitively” on LGBT issues. Doctrine is unchanged, but the balance is clearly shifting.

In what is being described as another after-effect of Pope Francis’ seemingly more open approach to LGBT issues, the Archbishop of Mumbai (Bombay), India, directed his priests to “be more sensitive while referring to homosexuality during their sermons or in their public statements,” reports The Hindustan Times..

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

This directive from Cardinal Oswald Gracias was made in response to a letter by an LGBT equality organization, Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM) after they complained that a priest at St Thomas Church, Goregaon, gave a sermon opposing marriage equality in which he described homosexuality as “a great sin.”

In his response, Gracias stated:

“Going by the data in the letter, some of what the priest said is alright and some part is inappropriate. The Church does not accept gay marriage because the Bible teaches us that God willed marriage to be between man and woman. On the other hand, to say that those with other sexual orientations are sinners is wrong. I do think we must be sensitive in our homilies [sermons] and how we speak in public and I will so advise our priests.”

– continue reading at  Bondings 2.0.

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