Out in Church: Summer Progress Expected

Change is coming, of that there can be no doubt. (Sadly, in spite of the suggestion by Cardinal Schonborn, I am not here referring to the Catholic Church, but to others. Just how long Rome can lag behind, is another matter.)

First, consider the progress up to now. The Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ accepted full inclusion some time ago, and have many openly gay, lesbian and trans pastors.  Last year, in a blaze of publicity, the ELCA voted to approve the recognition of lesbian or gay partners in committed and faithful permanent relationships, without the expectation of celibacy, on exactly the same basis as heterosexual marriages. That decision was accompanied by many dire warnings of doom, and predictions that many congregations would secede in protest. There have been some withdrawals, but as far as I can tell, not too many. Meanwhile, life in the ELCA has continued as normal, and the decision came into practical effect earlier this year.

In the Episcopalian/ Anglican communion, things are more complex, with international ties and allegiances also coming into play. The US Episcopalians have now consecrated two openly gay or lesbian bishops, and have nominated but not approved a few others. In the UK, that decision has been highly controversial, but is closely tied up with controversy over women bishops, which (unlike the US) have hitherto not been permitted. British Quakers resolved last year bless same sex couples in church, and were influential in the recent change in the law to permit civil partnerships in religious premises. Meanwhile, the Swedish Lutheran church has also ordained a lesbian bishop, and has agreed to apply the new law on same sex marriage in church as well. The Danish and Icelandic Lutherans are considering following their Swedish counterparts in applying their own countries’ laws on gay marriage when they are approved by parliament.

In the US and Europe, therefore, progress to full inclusion in church is substantial, at least in American mainline Protestant denominations and their European counterparts. Where can we expect the next victories? With the summer assembly season approaching, these are the major things we should be looking for. Read the rest of this entry »

Catholics for Equality

There is something Catholic in the wind and it smells a bit like mutiny. It sounds like the early morning clarion call on the hushed day of battle, with a hint of frustration and a dollop of American liberty all tied up in larger issues of equality for women and minorities. It is laced with the strong conviction that the bishops no longer speak for the Catholic Church and that the voices of the bishops are no longer the voice of Jesus Christ. If yesterday’s planning session is any indication, it will probably be called “Catholics for Equality” and if all goes as tentatively planned, you may look for it in a diocese near you by Pentecost Sunday (which commemorates the Spirit inflaming the hearts of the disciples and sending them into the crowd they had previously feared to proclaim boldly everything they knew to be true.)

-Ft Tony, Bilerico Project.

This is now old news, but still important.  (I began to prepare something in draft weeks ago, put it aside, and forgot to get back to it.  Sorry.)   I came up against it again this week, going through some posts at Fr Geoffrey Farrow. This what he says on Catholics for Equality , referring to a panel discussion he  had participated in: Read the rest of this entry »