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.
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.
Catholic organizations have a particular responsibility to respect them, particularly by honoring their own gay staff members and clients. The credibility of Catholic organizations as Christian and as humane is at stake.
Debates about social issues tend to bring out blanket statements, sweeping claims, dire threats and feverish reporting. They usually carry historical baggage that needs to be unpacked and the contents tested against contemporary reality. This is true also of the coming plebiscite on gay marriage [in Australia: Editor].
A threat reportedly made, and later denied, by some church leaders was to dismiss from employment in Catholic organizations people who contract same-sex marriages. Regardless of what was said the threat will be featured in the coming debates. It may be helpful to set it in its broader contex
Evangelical leaders in the U.S. released “The Nashville Statement” earlier this week to make clear their opposition to LGBT equality. A prominent Catholic priest has responded by affirming the goodness of LGBT people. The contrast between these two statements reveals just how far Catholic LGBT issues have come.
“The Nashville Statement,” drafted by the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, issues a series of affirmations and denials about sexuality. These include rejecting marriage equality and denying that “adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.”
Frank Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times offered an interesting observation in an essay entitled “The Worst (and Best) Places to Be Gay in America” that was published in last Sunday’s edition. Noting the fact that equality for LGBT people varies widely across the vast and diverse 50 states of the U.S.A., Bruni notes:
“There’s no such thing as L.G.B.T. life in America, a country even more divided on this front than on others. There’s L.G.B.T. life in a group of essentially progressive places like New York, Maryland, Oregon and California, which bans government-funded travel to states it deems unduly discriminatory. Then there is L.G.B.T. life on that blacklist, which includes Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota.
How does this relate to the world of Catholic LGBT issues? I think Bruni’s analysis of the political sphere very accurately reflects the ecclesial sphere, as well. In other words, I think that Catholic LGBT people are more affected by local church attitudes and practices concerning sexual orientation and gender identity than they are by the same influences that are expressed or enacted by higher levels in the Church. In other words, what matters most for LGBT Catholics is not what the hierarchy says or does but what their local pastor and parishioners say or do.
This interview was conducted on August 4. It introduces our readers to Father Martin’s Building a Bridge, released earlier this year. The first part of his book expands upon a lecture that he delivered last year to New Ways Ministry in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.]
In publishing this interview the editors of Orthodoxy in Dialogue ask if such a conversation as Father Martin advocates is possible and necessary in the Orthodox Church.
GIACOMO: Father Jim, thanks so much for making the time to discuss your new book with me. You and I share a concern that our respective Churches adopt a more pastorally responsive approach to questions of same-sex love. (See my recent articles here, here, and here.)
FATHER JIM: It’s my pleasure to talk with you. Thanks for giving me the chance to speak more about this outreach to our LGBT Catholic brothers and sisters.
Much has changed for LGBT Catholics since I first began this site, nearly nine years ago. In the institutional church under Pope Francis’ leadership, there’s been a marked shift to a more pastoral tone, to replace the harsh rhetoric under Pope Benedict XVI. At the Bishops’ Synod on Marriage and Family, even some conservative bishops acknowledged that the time has come to discard the “disordered” language in official teaching, some others even expressed apologies for the past harsh treatment of our community. In many Catholic countries, laws have been enacted to recognise same-sex marriage or civil unions. In response, an increasing number of bishops have come to recognise the value of legal recognition and protection for same-sex couples, even if not yet for full marriage. Under the radar, a much smaller number of bishops and other clergy are coming to support church blessings for these couples, to celebrate their civil marriages or civil unions.