“Speaking the Truth” on Catholic LGBT Inclusion

Regular readers here will know that the infamous CDF document on “homosexuals”, Homosexualitatis Problema (better known as then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Hallowe’en letter), is not my favourite Church document.  Nevertheless, it does include some important features, which many people in the Catholic Church too easily forget.

In its closing paragraphs, the document reminds us of the words of Scripture: “Speak the truth in love”, and “The truth shall set you free”. It is disgraceful that the document itself ignores its own advice here, but no matter: the advice itself is sound, and there are an increasing number of Catholics, lay and clerical, who are making up for the CDF omission, by speaking the truth in love on LGBT inclusion in church. The latest to do so is  Jody Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), in an address October 21 at King’s University-College, a Catholic institution based at the University of Western Ontario. In doing so, he reminded us of the other neglected portion of the CDF letter – the exhortation to treat “homosexual” persons with dignity, compassion and respect.

I regret that the only report I have been able to find of Huckaby’s address is from Lifesite News (but see the update below*), which is not usually renowned for its sympathy with progressive causes in general, or LGBT Catholics in particular. Nevertheless, they quote some sections verbatim, which are worth taking on board:

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New twist in Belgian Catholic abuse legal row

After the Belgian police controversially raided the bishops’ offices and Cardinal Daneels’ home, confiscating truckloads of material relating to allegations of church sexual abuse, two lower courts ruled that the raid had been inaoppropriate, and ordered that the material would be inadmissable as evidence. However, this is not over yet.  “Expatica” yesterday reported from Belgium that there has been a

New twist in Belgian Catholic abuse legal row

BRUSSELS: Belgium’s highest court ordered magistrates on Tuesday to re-examine evidence seized by police relating to decades of child abuse and alleged Roman Catholic Church cover-ups.

The court overturned two previous decisions by lower courts that rendered inadmissible evidence taken from church headquarters, the home of a former archbishop and a church-backed commission investigating sex crimes perpetrated by priests.

Responding to lawyers acting for alleged victims who lodged appeals, the judges said the lower courts were wrong not to hear civil parties and therefore magistrates should look again at the evidence in a new light.

It means that truckloads of material gathered by police in spectacular raids in June that drew the ire of Pope Benedict XVI himself could potentially be used to relaunch state prosecutions for abuse.

However, it does not automatically mean a prosecution case will be launched, because the lower judges could reach the same decisions as before, saying they have done so this time while considering aggrieved parties’ accusations.The raids on June 24, conducted as a Vatican ambassador was meeting with church leaders, opened the eyes of the world to the scale of the scandal within the Belgian Catholic Church, but the church and retired archbishop, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, asked that the material seized be declared out of bounds.

Read more:

Child psychologist Peter Adriaenssens then unleashed nationwide controversy with the release on September 10 of a report by a commission he led which revealed nearly 500 people reported abuses by priests since the 1950s and 13 victims committed suicide.

Adriaenssens subsequently called on the pope to resign.

“Out of the Shadows, Into the Light”:Blessed John Henry Newman, Soho “Gay” Masses

Last Sunday I went up to London for one of the regular LGBT – oriented “Soho Masses”. Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict had conducted the beatification service for Cardinal John Henry Newman. Cardinal Newman is now officially Blessed John Henry – and so the liturgy used for our Mass was, quite appropriately, the newly minted liturgy for his festal day.

Portrait of Cardinal Newman by John Millais

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What British Catholics Believe, vs Vatican Doctrine.

Once again, two opinion polls (for ITV, and for the BBC) have demonstrated what we all know, but pay insufficient attention to: the enormous chasm that divides Catholic belief as is is, and what Vatican doctrine proclaims it ought to be.

 

On the ministry itself, whether it is priestly celibacy or women’s ministry, and especially on all matters of sexual ethics, what British Catholics in fact believe is very different from what the Vatican functionaries proclaim it ought to be. This is no surprise – exactly the same pattern is found the world over – only the detailed numbers change, not the basic fact of divergence. Read the rest of this entry »

On Pope Benedict’s “Boyfriend”.

For years there has been some sotte voce speculation about the relationship between Pope Benedict and his secretary, Georg Gänswein – speculation which has ratchetted up several notches since the publication of the book, “The Pope Is Not Gay!“. (For a stunning reflection on this, see the essay by Colm Toibin at the London Review of Books)

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James Alison Book Launch: "Broken Hearts and New Creation"

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the launch of theologian James Alison’s new book “Broken Hearts and New Creation”. I have known James since I first starting attending the London Soho gay Masses, where he was then a regular, and have read and admired all his his previous books, which have significantly influenced my own thinking, so I looked forward to this with anticipation. I was not disappointed – the evening even exceeded my expectations.

For those unfamiliar with his work, I offer some brief background. James is a priest, who was formerly a Dominican and teacher of theology. He was forced to leave the order some years ago for his insistence on speaking honestly about homosexuality, and since then has forged a new career as an independent theologian, writing, lecturing and leading workshops around the world. He is openly gay, but refuses to identify as a “gay theologian” – rather, he says he is a theologian who writes from a gay perspective. This shows, as his work is admired not only by gay Catholics, but also in the wider theological fraternity. (He was introduced at the launch as “every theologian’s second favourite theologian – after themselves”.)

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Pope Benedict, and “Homosexual Orgies in the Lateran Palace”.

A few days ago, there were several breathless reports that Mel Gibson’s father had claimed that Pope Benedict XVI, along with half the Vatican, were “homosexuals”. It turned out though, that these were old claims, made in a January radio interview which were totally unsupported by any evidence.

Allegations of widespread homosexuality among high ranking Vatican officials are not new though, nor are they surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

A Looming Ecclesiastical Revolution? A Child Abuse Tsunami?

After the flood of revelations over child abuse earlier this year, emerging in country after country to ever greater outrage over abuse, cover-up, and claims of inadequate institutional response, the flow of big, really scandalous news stories has pretty well dried up. There’s a limit to just how long the press can continue discussing the precise degree of personal culpability of then Archbishop Ratzinger in Munich, or of Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF- and a limit to how long readers or television viewers will continue to pay any attention.

Sure, there continues to be a steady trickle of local news stories concerning one or other clergyman being accused or coming to trial, and we now have fresh complaints that the newly released revised guidelines don’t do enough, and will be ineffective. I don’t believe thought that most Catholics will pay enough attention to these details to be seriously bothered. So does this mean that the whole affair will slowly die a death, with bygones allowed to be bygones, and the present dealt with means that while not perfect, will at least ensure that it is never again quite as bad as it was?

 

Not a bit of it. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pope and Cameron’s Big Society

In the run-up to the UK general election, David Cameron’s big idea was the “Big Society” – the idea that he would encourage community groups to initiate projects themselves, rather than waiting for the state to do everything for them. However, for “big society” to develop projects, they must be allowed to promote ideas. It has now become clear that he is only prepared to allow the ideas, and hence “big society” projects, that he approves of.

A recent dramatic news story here concerned a recently released prisoner who immediately shot an ex-girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend.  This was then followed by a protracted manhunt, tracked daily on national TV news, culminating in a distasteful scene where, under heavy police guard, he ended by shooting himself, all in front of the TV cameras. This was then followed by the stupidity of a Facebook page mourning his death, and treating him, a  clear murderer, as an innocent victim.  Pretty stupid, but any sane person would know that Facebook can produce some idiocies.  The best thing is simply to ignore them. Not Mr Cameron -he used his authority as PM to pressure Facebook into shutting down the page.

 

Peter Tatchell

A more serious example concerns the upcoming papal visit.

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Background to the “War on the Church” in Belgium.

Monseigneur Rauber, Cardinal Danneels, Monseig...

MONSEIGNEUR RAUBER, CARDINAL DANNEELS, MONSEIGNEUR VANGHELUWE AND MONSEIGNEUR JOZEF DE KESEL

The Vatican, and many Catholic apologists around the world, have reacted with shock and anger to the Belgian police raids on the bishops’ headquarters and the residences of leading churchmen. Two useful background pieces at NCR offer some  perspective on why, in a supposedly strongly Catholic country, the authorities should have acted so forcefully against the Church.

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