Defective Theology From Colorado Springs Diocese.

The principle behind 12-step programmes has become familiar, made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, and since adapted for narcotics addictions, gambling addictions and other pathological behaviours, where it is widely agreed they can be extremely helpful in turning around self-destructive behaviour. Note carefully those qualifiers – they have worked in turning around addictive or otherwise self-destructive behaviour. Their use in attempting to modify behaviour which is totally natural and healthy (but possibly unpopular) is no more appropriate than using dangerous hydroquinine – based skin lighteners to “cure” dark skin – but this is what the Catholic diocese of Colorado Springs is trying to do, with a spurious 12-step programme that claims to offer support to those  suffering from same-sex attraction – by asking them to make amends for those whom they have hurt.

As Call to Action has noted in their response, this is plain bad theology.  Same-sex attraction is not a disease or addiction, but is totally natural. The only hurt that needs healing is not that done by gay men and lesbians on others, but that inflicted on them by misguided programmes such as this. What I find particularly offensive in the response by the programme organisers to the outraged reaction, is their pretence that the only orientation they are promoting is an orientation to Jesus Christ. They are not – Jesus, in his life and ministry said absolutely nothing against same sex relationships, and much in support. He most specifically promoted inclusion and welcome to all, including those otherwise marginalized by the social and religious elites of his day. If the diocese were to genuinely focus on an orientation to Jesus Christ, the only 12-step programme worth considering would not be aimed at those with same-sex attraction, but at those so burdened by homophobia that they are determined to impose their heterosexual agenda on everybody else. They are the ones who should be apologising for the hurt that they have caused to others, not the gay men and lesbians whose only “fault” has been to love.

This is a press statement from Equally Blessed: Read the rest of this entry »

Catholic School Admissions: Sanity in Boston

Last year, two US dioceses came under fire for decisions to exclude children of lesbian parents. In Boulder, Colorado the decision was widely condemned, but stayed in place. In Boston, the specific decision was rapidly revoked, with accompanying promises to formulate a new formal policy on admissions that would apply to Catholic schools in the diocese. That policy has just been unveiled – and is eminently sensible.  No school will be permitted to discriminate against any child – but prospective parents must understand that “Catholic teaching” is an essential part of the curriculum.

Well, great. “Catholic teaching” includes the well-known and disordered teaching on same sex relationships, but that really is a very small part of the totality of Church teaching. Far more prominent is a consistent emphasis on justice, inclusion of all, and standing up for the oppressed, as Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols pointed out last year.  Michael B. Reardon, executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, which gives millions in scholarships to low-income students, says much the same thing:

“From the perspective of the foundation, the key part of this is that it does not exclude any group of students, and it promotes what is essential to Catholic education, which is inclusivity,’’ he said.

In Boston Catholic Schools, All Now Welcome

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Advent: Prepare Ye A Way For Inclusion

Advent is a solemn time of anticipation, preparing for the festive celebration of the Nativity. Christmas though, is much more than just the infant Jesus that is the focus of so many family Christmases: it is much more a celebration of the incarnation of Christ, a constant making real His presence in the world. That presence is marked by a pronounced emphasis on love, justice, and inclusion of all – including sexual minorities as well as all manner of marginalized people of His day.

In our world, that same openness and inclusion for all does not exist, not in the secular sphere, and not in the Church. If we are truly to participate in preparing for the incarnation, to contribute to building God’s Kingdom on earth, it is appropriate for this season of advent that we should reflect on the ways in which we personally can participate in preparing for this inclusion in Church.

Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic ministries to LGBT Catholics, has released an Advent statement with some suggestions, specifically geared to ending the oppression of queer youth:

Equally Blessed Advent 2010 Statement

“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.

In Minnesota, Catholics Support Marriage Equality.

Despite the high profile opposition of many of our bishops, we know that Catholics as a group are firm supporters of legal recognition for same  – sex unions, and are more likely than most other Christians to support full equality in civil marriage regulations. Now, it seems that the bishops’ vigorous efforts to prevent marriage equality are spurring many Catholics to open disagreement in formal groups publicly supporting same-sex marriage. In Maine last year, Maine Catholics for Marriage Equality was the first such group, spurred into action by Providence Bishop       fund-raising for the Prop 1 campaign to overturn marriage equality in that state. “Catholics For Equality”  took that campaign to a national level earlier this year – “Equally Blessed” is another national initiative, a joint effort by New Ways Ministry, Dignity USA and others.  In Minnesota, just as in Maine, the efforts of Archbishop  Nienstedt to influence state elections to stall same-sex marriage have spurred another local group in support of justice for same sex couples.

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In Memoriam: Fr Robert Carter, Priest and Gay Activist

“Since Jesus had table fellowship with social outcasts and sinners, those rejected by the religious establishment of his time, I consider myself to have been most fully a Jesuit, a ‘companion of Jesus,’ when I came out publicly as a gay man, one of the social rejects of my time. It was only by our coming out that society’s negative stereotypes would be overcome and we would gain social acceptance.”

-Fr Robert Carter

There is no contradiction between being Catholic and gay or lesbian. Indeed, just as Robert Carter says he was most fully a Jesuit when he cane out publicly, so for many of us, we are most fully Catholic when we too come out in Church.  (I say deliberately “for many of us”, as coming out is always a deeply personal decision, which may not always be feasible for all.)

Robert Carter, Priest and Gay Activist, Dies at 82

The Rev. Robert Carter, who in the early 1970s was one of the first Roman Catholic priests in the country to declare publicly that he was gay and who helped found the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, died on Feb. 22 in the Bronx. He was 82.

Robert Carter, right, with Dan McCarthy, left, Bernard Lynch and John McNeill at a gay pride march in the early 1980s

 

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