The Catholic Laity/Bishops Disconnect on Sexuality, Homosexuality

The evidence of a gulf in thinking on homosexuality (and sexuality more generally) between the formal position of Vatican orthodoxy and the  real beliefs of ordinary Catholics is clear. To make sense of this. we need to consider two key questions: the compelling, established evidence that such a gulf exists, and the more tentative evidence that the oligarchy is starting to catch up.

In this post, I simply present a summary of the main findings on the belief of real Catholics, with some commentary and supporting links. Later, I will report on commentary elsewhere, and expand on the signs of the change that must come from the bishops’ oligarchy – and is just starting to do so.

Read the rest of this entry »

100 000 (and 9)!

This site (at this domain) has just passed the 100 000 cumulative readers: 100 000 page loads in just over 26 months.

What makes this astonishing to me is that this domain was supposedly shut down at about this time last year, when I moved to a new domain name on a self-hosted WordPress platform. That move turned out disastrously, and readership at this domain dropped sharply for several months, until I changed tack and started double posting everything at both domains. The art of bilocation though, might have been a useful and remarkable achievement for some of the Catholic saints, but is not helpful to the internet search engines, and difficult to sustain. The time has come to end it.

Over the past two weeks, I have transferred my self-hosted site and domain name to a new, WordPress-friendly hosting company (thanks, Go Daddy), and to a better domain name – http://queeringthechurch.com , which is identical to this except for the omission of “wordpress”.  If you have not already done so, please update your bookmarks.

Unlike last year’s trauma, I am expecting this move to go much more smoothly: I have learned something from past mistakes, and have also benefited from some excellent professional help and guidance. The new domain is already up and running smoothly, and there will be an automatic redirect in place so that even if you do use the old URL, you should find yourself at the new site, which is much the same as this, except for a different colour scheme.

When you see the background colours change from blue to tab, you will know you are at the new site. See you there.

ABC – WaPo Poll Confirms, Yet Again: Catholics (Increasingly) Support Gay Marriage

Yet again, research has shown that a majority of Americans now support legal provision for gay marriage; that support is at a new high – and that support, and the increase in support, is particularly strong for US Catholics.

A new poll for ABC – Washington Post is just the latest in a run of recent polls to confirm: an absolute majority of Americans now support marriage recognition for same sex couples. This poll used question wording which is identical to previous polls over the past 10 years, so the results are strictly comparable with earlier years – and show a dramatic shift in the direction of support for equality. This shift in support is also reflected in several other reputable pollsters with comparable results to provide a discernible trend:

More than half of Americans say it should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry, a first in nearly a decade of polls by ABC News and The Washington Post.

This milestone result caps a dramatic, long-term shift in public attitudes. From a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, support for gay marriage has grown to 53 percent today. Forty-four percent are opposed, down 18 points from that 2004 survey.

-ABC

This dramatic shift in support in just 5 years is clearly shown in a simple graph:

Read the rest of this entry »

Queer Theology as “Radical Love”- Patrick Cheng

Gay and lesbian theology has been around as a distinctive sub-discipline of theology for several decades.  Later, Queer Theology developed with its own distinctive identity, as Stuart describes in “Gay & Lesbian Theologies: Repetitions With Critical Difference“, a book I have found immensely useful in its tracing of the development of the different branches of theology with explicit focus on the LGBT/ queer community. However, this book was published back in 2oo?  and does not offer much on queer theology specifically beyond discussing its origins, and its strengths compared with earlier approaches.

Gerald Loughlin’s “Queer Theology” is valuable for gathering together a collection of impressive monographs by a range of authors, but it seems that there has not yet been a full length, introductory text book on the subject. That is about to change, with the imminent publication of Patrick Chen’s “Radical Love”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Scotland Lead the Way on UK Marriage Equality?

There is clear evidence that in the UK as a whole, there is political momentum building in favour of providing for full civil marriage for same sex couples. Opinion polls show that the idea is supported by the majority of British voters, and is gaining support by key people in all the major parties. Of these, the Scottish National Party, who control the devolved Scottish Parliament, were the first to commit publicly to the principle of marriage equality, and have in the past raised at least the possibility of going ahead on this alone, if the national government prevaricates too long. Now, they are coming under pressure from an important quarter to do just that.

This, from Pink News:

Scottish government advised to legalise gay marriage

The Scottish government has been advised to give gay couples the right to marry.

A report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says that current law discriminates against gay people and is not supported by public polls.

In England and Wales, the UK government has announced plans to hold a consultation on the future of civil partnerships and marriage. As these are devolved issues, the consultation does not apply to Scotland.

However, polls of the Scottish public have shown rising support for allowing gay couples to marry. In 2006, a poll found that 53 per cent of people supported same-sex marriage. In 2009, this figure rose to 62 per cent.

This, the report says, means politicians should not fear a “backlash” from the public. The government is being urged to start looking at the issue after the May election

(Full report at Pink News)

Presbyterian Inclusion: Ratification Reflects the Bigger Transformation of Christian Response to Homoerotic Love

In the three weeks since I first noted that Presbyterian ratification for the ordination of partnered gay and lesbian clergy looked promising, the prospects have continued to improve.  There are now 13 regional presbyteries that have switched from No to Yes –  compared with just a single one which has switched the other way, from Yes to No. This makes a net gain of 12 – against just the 9 which are needed. It is likely that there will be others too, making the switch in the weeks ahead. Already, the number approving ratification (67) is more than two thirds of the way to the 87 required – just 20 more to go, with 58 votes to still to be held. The opposition, conversely, would need to win 39 of those remaining votes to prevail.

This process is clearly of fundamental importance to lesbigaytrans Presbyterians in the USA, but I believe it has far greater importance for the entire Christian church, worldwide: it is just one, local manifestation of a much bigger process. The ECLA took a similar decision in 2009, and recently 33 retired Methodist bishops called for that denomination to do the same. Three openly gay and partnered bishops have been ordained in the Episcopal and Swedish Lutheran churches, and the German Lutherans have no problem with pastors living with same sex partners. The process extends beyond the ordination of gay clergy. There is increasing willingness in many local churches and (some national denominations) to bless same sex partnerships or even celebrate gay weddings in Church. These are not, as the conservatives claim, simply opportunistic accomodation to secular trends in defiance of Scripture, but are prompted in large part precisely by careful attention to scholarly Biblical study, prayer and attentive listening process. Even Catholic professional theologians are now recognizing what lay Catholics already know – that homoerotic relationships in themselves are not immoral. What is presently unfolding in the PCUSA, why I find it so riveting, is nothing less than a wholesale transformation of Christian responses to homosexuality.

 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

St Patrick: A Gay Role Model?

So why should we see St Paddy as a gay icon?

In a notable book on Irish gay history (“Terrible Queer Creatures”) Brian Lacey presents some evidence that Patrick may have had a long term intimate relationship with a man:

“St. Patrick himself may have had a relationship tinged with homoeroticism. Tirechan, a late seventh century cleric who wrote about St. Patrick, tells the story of a man Patrick visited and converted to Christianity, who had a son to whom Patrick took a strong liking. Tirechan wrote that “he gave him the name Benignus, because he took Patrick’s feet between his hands and would not sleep with his father and mother, but wept unless he would be allowed to sleep with Patrick.” Patrick baptized the boy and made him his close lifelong companion, so much so that Benignus succeeded Patrick as bishop of Armagh.”

Going backwards in his life, I have seen elsewhere a report* that after his escape from slavery and return to Britain, he supported himself by working for a time as a prostitute  – yes, good old Patrick may have sold sexual favours.

Read the rest of this entry »