“Equally Blessed”: Statement on US Bishops’ Elections.

The US Bishops yesterday departed from their usual practice, and did not elect the serving vice-president to succeed the outgoing president. “Equally Blessed”, a coalition of Catholic agencies ministering to LGBT Catholics and their families, see this as an ominous sign for the future of gay and lesbian Americans.

Statement of Equally Blessed, November 16, 2010

The leaders of Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholics working for justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, have issued a statement expressing deep concern over the outcome of the election of new leaders for the US Catholic Bishops Conference.

“The election of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Louisville, Kentucky Archbishop Joseph Kurtz as President and Vice-President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sends an ominous message to LGBT Catholics and our families,” said Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry and an Equally Blessed member. “Both men have made strong statements against gay and transgender people. Indeed, for the past two years, Archbishop Kurtz has led the US Bishops’ nationwide campaign against marriage for gay couples.”

“It is ominous because the bishops broke with tradition and did not elect this past year’s vice-president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, as president, someone known to be more moderate on LGBT issues and signals that the bishops are targeting families with loved ones who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” said Nicole Sotelo, Program and Communications Director at Call To Action.

Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA, another Equally Blessed spokesperson added, “The selection of these two men as leaders of the US Bishops’ Conference means it is more important than ever for Catholics who want our Church and world to be more welcoming and just for LGBT people to speak out and to act for justice.  The majority of Catholics in the pews are supportive of LGBT people and issues, so this election is another example of how the hierarchy is out of step with the faith experience and ideas of Catholic people.”

“At a time when Catholics and the larger society have become so painfully aware of how anti-LGBT religious messages and personalities have contributed to youth suicide, we wish the bishops would have elected leaders whose records were not so damaging,” said Casey Lopata, Co-Founder of Fortunate Families. “As father of a gay son and as Catholics, we choose to tell our youth about Jesus’ unconditional love for them.”

Equally Blessed is a coalition of faithful Catholics who support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people both in the church and in civil society. Equally Blessed includes four organizations that have spent a combined 112 years working on behalf of LGBT people and their families: Call to Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.

Philippine Idiocy, Continued

In the Philippines, where the Catholic bishops are engaged in a foolhardy, Quixotic fight against the government’s plans to reform the national reproductive health system by easing access to contraception for low-income families, their latest salvo is a highly offensive attempt to justify their stance by invoking the memory of the church’s historic role on the side of the poor and for justice,during the remarkable display of people power which unseated former President Marcos and his wife Imelda (and her famous shoes). The two issues are not comparable.

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Yet Another Woman Bishop: Ho, Hum.

While the Vatican wrings its hands over the “grievous sin” of the attempted ordination of women, yet another woman, Rev. Teresa Snorton, has been ordained bishop, this time in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, in Mobile, Alabama. She is just the latest among many women formally recognized as bishop in modern times, including at least two lesbians:  Eva Brunne of the Swedish Lutheran Church, and Mary Glasspool, Episcopalian bishop in LA.

The Anglican communion has been ordaining women as bishop for over twenty years (the first was Barbara Clementine Harris, in Massachusetts, back in 1989). Since then there have been 17 more, including Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is now the first female primate of an Anglican region. There are also Anglican bishops in New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Cuba (yes, really!).  The Church of England has approved the principle of women bishops, to tale effect from 2012. Female bishops have also been approved, but not yet appointed, by Anglican churches in Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America,  Ireland,  Japan,  Mexico,  North India,  Philippines,  Scotland, Southern Africa,  and Sudan.

The United Methodist Church in the US was the first mainline Protestant denomination to appoint a woman as bishop, Marjorie Matthews in 1980. There have been 2o more since. In Germany, Rosemarie Wenner has been the leading bishop in the United Methodist Church since 2005. The Lutheran church in Germany also  has women bishops, as they do across Europe. In the UK, the Lutheran Church ordained their first woman bishop, Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, in January 2009.

Don’t forget either the bishops of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, South African Patricia Fresen, Austrian Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and German Gisela Forster, or the powerful abbesses of the medieval church, whose authority in some instances exceeded that of their local bishops.

So, without any disrespect to Rev. Snorton, her selection as a female bishop, is of consequence primarily to her local community, her denomination, and her family and friends.  The ordination of female bishops, let alone priests, is now old news. Will someone please tell the Vatican?

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Kentucky native becomes first woman bishop of her denomination

The Rev. Teresa Snorton, a Hopkinsville, Ky., native who earned degrees at both of Louisville’s seminaries and started her ministry here, has become the first woman bishop in the 140-year history of her denomination. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeffrey John: Reaction

One of the more outrageous elements of the fiasco over Rowan Williams’ support, then withdrawal of support, of Jeffrey John as the next bishop of Southwark was his  suggestion that he had withdrawn his support because he did not want to be “pressured” into support for or against a particular candidate. But if, as appears to be the case, the leak came from Johns’ opponents, that us precisely what he has done: he has allowed the evangelicals to influence him to derail the nomination of his own favoured candidate, the one who was clearly the most talented, and the most suitable for this specific diocese. Read the rest of this entry »

Gay Bishop for Church of England?

In a move that deserves close watching, an openly gay man has been approved for inclusion on the shortlist of candidates to be selected as the next Anglican Bishop of Southwark (South London), in a move which would make him the first openly gay bishop here in the UK. Back in 2003 he was selected as bishop of Reading – but in an embarrassing about-face by Archbishop Rowan Williams, was forced to withdraw in the face of the public outcry, and instead accepted appointment as dean of St Alban’s cathedral.

Archbishop Williams’ craven intervention has been widely seen as the nadir among many low points in his handling of the rift in the Anglican communion over LGBT inclusion. No doubt, he was hoping to placate the anger of the evangelical wing, especially in the African churches, and fend off the growing divisions. Instead, the conservatives have simply used it as a pretext for more muscle flexing and intransigence, on gay bishops and women bishops. The division can no longer be fended off – it is there already. The only question now, is the precise shape it will take.

Meanwhile, Dean Johns has gained many admirers in the execution of his duties at St Alban’s, and is well liked in the liberal leaning diocese, which includes in its area some notable concentrations of gay population:

Crucially, it is understood that many of the Commission believe that he is the best candidate. Articulate, pastorally sensitive as well as being an intellectual heavyweight, he is considered to have done an excellent job as dean of St Albans.

He knows the diocese well from his time as canon at Southwark cathedral, and would be a popular choice with its overwhelmingly liberal parishes. Read the rest of this entry »

Irish Bishops’ Humpty Dumpty Language

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you
can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
“They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass

In Ireland, the Catholic bishops are concerned about the imminent passing of legislation to allow civil partnerships. In voicing their opposition, they are using an argument used before in Washington DC, and in Boulder Colorado, to restrict the religious freedom of gay and lesbian Catholics. This time, though, the application of the argument is so breathtaking it would do Humpty Dumpty proud:

In a statement, Why Marriage Matters, released by the bishops yesterday, they describe provisions in the Civil Partnership Bill as “an extraordinary and far-reaching attack on freedom of conscience and the free practices of religion – which are guaranteed to every citizen under the Constitution”.

Irish Times

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Gay Bishops, Gay Marriage: Catholic Church Consecrates Openly Gay Bishop in France!

In  1098!

With all the current fuss about the decision of the US Episcopal Church to consecrate openly gay bishops, and the Catholic Church’s declared hostility to gay priests and to gay marriage or even civil unions, we forget that in the older history of the church, it is not gay priests and bishops that are new, or gay marriage, but the opposition to them.  Many medieval and classical scholars have produced abundant evidence of clearly homosexual clergy, bishops, and even saints, and of church recognition of same sex unions.

gay bishops

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