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Rainbow Socks at Graduation: A Sign of Catholic Students’ Victory

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2014 at 6:46 am

Bondings 2.0

Vanier Catholic students wearing rainbow socks during their graduation

When Liam Finnegan was 16, he challenged his Catholic high school about its use of pastorally damaging language about gay and lesbian people.  He  eventually succeeded in making changes. His message of acceptance has spread since then, and recently Finnegan’s peers donned rainbow socks for graduation to show their support for LGBT students.

Seniors at Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Canada’s Yukon province sported knee-high rainbow socks under their gowns in solidarity with the school’s gay-straight alliance which had been hotly contested. According to CBC, more than half the graduating class participated in the action, which was started by Kate Power, a friend of Finnegan’s. The socks represented a year’s worth of organizing, which resulted in the GSA’s formation and the removal of pastorally insensitive language in the Catholic school district’s written policy on homosexuality.

In April 2013, Finnegan, who is gay, successfully challenged Vanier Catholic’s…

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Catholics Debate Marriage Equality Bill in Illinois

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Illinois, which already has a civil union law, signed by Catholic Governor Pat Quinn, will be taking up the issue of marriage equality in the legislature this year.  Catholics have already entered the debate on this topic on both sides of the question.

 

Cardinal Francis George

At the beginning of this month, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George wrote a letter to priests asking them to urge parishioners to oppose the marriage bill.

The Chicago Sun-Times  quoted part of the letter:

“ ‘It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love,’ George writes in the letter, meant for inclusion in parish bulletins to be distributed this upcoming weekend. ‘Does this mean nature is cruel or that God is unfair? No, but it does mean that marriage is what nature tells us it is and that the state cannot change natural marriage.’ ”

In this quote, we see a new trend in statements by Catholic hierarchy: they are starting to acknowledge that the relationship between two people of the same gender can be defined as a love relationship.

Rick Garcia

The cardinal’s argument did not convince Rick Garcia, a longtime Chicago advocate for LGBT issues. The Sun-Times quotes his reaction:

“ ‘How the Church — or any faith — views marriage within its own institution is one thing, but secular society treats marriage as a civil right,’ said Garcia, who described himself as a practicing Catholic. ‘No individual or church, including Cardinal George and the Catholic Church is going to be forced to perform or recognize any marriages they would not find consistent with their own beliefs. . . . What also will not change is the fact that secular society views marriage as a fundamental civil right that should be afforded to all.’ ”

A Chicago Tribune article on George’s letter notes that two prominent Illinois Catholics support the marriage bill:  Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

Chris Pett

Dignity/Chicago President Chris Pett also criticized the cardinal’s statement. Pett noted that

“. . . the cardinal might have had pastoral intentions, but he missed an opportunity to call for dialogue and engage with the gay community. Instead, the cardinal made it clear that the church would fight marriage equality ‘until the bitter end.’ “

David Gibson, a long-time observer of the Catholic Church, notes in a USA Today article that George’s comments may not have the power to stop the bill from becoming law:

“It’s unclear what, if any, influence George may have. Similar attempts by influential cardinals to stop same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, New York, Washington, D.C., and Maryland have all failed.”

more at  « Bondings 2.0.

Extreme Protests from Both Sides of the Catholic Marriage Equality Debate

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Two protests occurred in Europe over the weekend regarding Catholic involvement in the question of marriage equality.  One protest was for marriage equality and one was against it. Both were extreme.

The pro-marriage equality protest took place in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City,  when four women went topless to demonstrate against the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to marriage for lesbian and gay couples and adoption of children by same-gender couples.

The New York Daily News reports

“While the pope was giving his weekly address on Sunday, four women from the Ukrainian Femen group who were in the crowd, pulled off their T-shirts to reveal the slogan ‘In Gay we Trust’ painted over their bodies.”

The same Femen group staged a protest appearing as topless nuns in Paris a few months ago, which erupted in a violent clash between two demonstrating groups.

An Italian court had recently issued a ruling allowing for a mother and her female partner to maintain custody of a son, depsite the father’s protest against such an arrangement:

“The Court of Cassation ruled it was ‘mere prejudice’ to assume that living with a homosexual couple could be detrimental for a child’s development

“While gay rights group Arcigay called it a ‘historic ruling’ for Italy, where it is illegal for gay couples to adopt, Catholic leaders were quick to defend the traditional family unit.”

In the United Kingdom, 1,054 Roman Catholic priests and 13 bishops and abbots signed a public letter protesting the move in that nation toward legalizing marriage equality.  The Daily Telegraph reports:

“More than 1,000 priests have signed a letter voicing alarm that same-sex marriage could threaten religious freedom in a way last seen during ‘centuries of persecution’ of Roman Catholics in England.

“They even liken David Cameron’s moves to redefine marriage to those of Henry VIII, whose efforts to secure a divorce from Katherine of Aragon triggered centuries of bloody upheaval between church and state.”

The news report notes that the signers account for one-quarter of  all the Catholic priests in England and Wales.  Of course, that means that three-quarters of the priests did not sign the statement.

Both cases illustrate a minority of the people who promote or oppose marriage equality, and their extreme actions and rhetoric add nothing to the debate, but simply inflame passions.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via « Bondings 2.0.

A Catholic Introduction to Transgender Issues « Bondings 2.0

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

As we close out the week that began with the celebration of the Epiphany, we do so by offering a reflection on transgender issues by James and Evelyn Whitehead which appeared in The National Catholic Reporter.  The authors, whose lifetime of work on sexuality and relationships has been a gift to the chruch,  reflect that in the past year they have had their own “epiphany” about transgender people:

transgender-triangle-symbol

The past year has brought us deeper appreciation of the experience of transgender members of the human community. Mentored by a Catholic sister who has dedicated her life to ministry among transgender persons, we have been instructed by the witness of these often vulnerable members of the body of Christ. Their life stories carry a common theme: an abiding sense of “disconnect” between their inner sense of self and the evidence of their body. In their deepest awareness, gender identity (who I know myself to be) has been in conflict with the social role their physical anatomy suggests (who others expect me to be).

Their essay is a good introduction to some of the issues that transgender people face, which are often remarkably similar to those that lesbian and gay people face because of the common thread of feeling pressure to conform to an identities which are not their true ones:

“In attempting to conform to the expectations of their parents, spouses and children, transgender persons often struggle to override this sense of disconnect. Some enter into marriage, hoping this will suppress the daily reminders that they are not as they appear. Many more put effort into presenting a ‘false self’ to the world, to protect against being discovered for who they really are. But the price of this unnatural effort is high. Alcohol and drugs offer false comfort along the way; suicide begins to appeal as an exit from this distress.”

And like many lesbian and gay people, many transgender people experience their transition to their true selves as a spiritual journey:

“. . . [M]any report a profound shift in their spiritual lives, as they turn from the condemnation of a judging God (‘You are going to hell’) to the embrace of a God of paradox and extravagant love. This harrowing transition leads many to a confident embrace, at last, of  ’the person God always intended me to be.’ “

The Whiteheads point out that unfortunately many church leaders do not have the knowledge–or the motivation to acquire knowledge–about transgender people:

“Many Catholics regret that official statements of the Catholic church continue to support rigid notions of human nature, especially in regard to male and female gender. Here church leaders, consciously or not, continue a strategy that distances them from the genuine experience of many active church members. Official statements often mention the extravagant conduct of sexual exhibitionists or drug-addicted sex workers as typical of transgender persons. Hiding in plain sight are the many mature transgender Catholics in our own parishes. To remain willfully ignorant of, or contemptuous toward, this part of the human community exhibits a startling lack of compassion.”

They close with a prayer that should be offered by all Catholics:

“Let us pray that in the months ahead each of us — whether transgender or otherwise — may experience the grace of epiphany. May we meet one another in shared humanity, ready to move beyond hesitancy and suspicion on all sides. In the grace of these encounters we are likely to be surprised; we may at first feel uncomfortable. But these, perhaps, are marks of an epiphany. And if we stay alert, we may soon recognize here the splendid diversity of the body of Christ.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.

Why Church Disdain for Gay Marriage is Dead Wrong

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Chicago Cardinal Francis George is leaving no stone unturned in his campaign to halt gay marriage as it sits on the runway awaiting clearance for takeoff by the Illinois legislature. This week, he devoted another lengthy, tortured column to the subject in the Catholic New World. I read this one very carefully, and though the cardinal deserves credit for perseverance, it seems to me he is clinging to both an outmoded concept of marriage that the church itself no longer holds and an understanding of homosexual relationships that is no longer valid.

For George, marriage is the permanent union of one man and one woman for the purpose of procreating and raising children; to call it anything else is a misuse of abuse of a definition enshrined in natural law. In fact, the current concept of marriage is the outcome of a long evolution. Over many eons, varieties of marriage (polygamy, for example) were practiced and were once considered normal, natural and acceptable.

At least since the late Middle Ages, the Catholic church has presented marriage as having two ends or purposes: a primary purpose, the procreation and education of children; and a secondary purpose, the mutual love, care and support of the spouses. In Catholic moral teaching, this secondary purpose tended to be taken lightly. It even got obscured by an overpowering obsession with the primary purpose. The most exacting details concerning the proper and improper uses of sex seized much of the attention of the people who wrote the manuals about such things, celibate priests with degrees in moral theology. The obsession was passed on to bishops and pastors.

But in the mid-20th century, a younger generation of moral theologians began criticizing this narrow focus, suggesting that love and companionship were anything but secondary characteristics of marriage, that they were in fact primary purposes. Their point was not difficult to see. In the real world, it is first of all love and companionship that attracts people to one another and leads them to commitment. Increasing and multiplying the race is usually a secondary consideration at best.

more, by Robert McClory at  National Catholic Reporter.

Fr. James Martin Honors Passing of PFLAG Founder Jeanne Manford

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

In a Facebook post, Jesuit Fr. James Martin recently commemorated the passing of Jeanne Manford, the founder of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Accompanying a photo of the founder, Fr. James posted a reflection worth sharing about the positive impact that PFLAG has had which began because of the unconditional love Manford had for her gay son, Morty.

Jeanne Manford

In part, Fr. Martin stated:

“For she loved prophetically. That is, she publicly expressed her love for a group of marginalized people before it was safe to do so. That kind of love might remind you of another person who worked in and around Galilee, publicly loving all sorts of people–lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, Gentiles, Roman centurions–when it was not safe to do so, at all…

“There is a lot of talk about gays and lesbians these days. But in every thing we say and do, particularly for Christians, love must come first. And not the love that condemns first, or judges first, or labels first. But the love that loves first. Because God is love.”

Metro Weekly offered some details about Manford’s personal story, and how PFLAG originated:

“Hailed as one of the LGBT-rights movement’s first straight allies, Manford founded PFLAG after her son, Morty Manford, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1992, was among those patrons at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village when a police raid sparked the 1969 Stonewall riots. When Morty Manford was beaten during a Gay Activists Alliance demonstration in April 1972 and police failed to intervene, Jeanne Manford wrote a letter to the New York Post standing by her son.

“‘I have a homosexual son, and I love him,’ her letter read.”

From that moment, she began marching alongside her son, and in ensuing years, PFLAG grew to have over 350 chapters and 200,000 members in the U.S.

Catholic parents continue to be some of the best advocates for their LGBT sons and daughters.   Through their prayers, advocacy, and, most importantly, their example, they are teaching the Catholic church how to unconditionally accept LGBT people.  Their natural love for their children mirrors the love that God has for all people. Organizations like Fortunate Families support Catholic parents who have LGBT sons and daughters.

New Ways Ministry echoes Fr. James’ closing words of the reflection:

“May Jeanne Manford rest in peace, and may we always love prophetically, recklessly, prodigally, dangerously, eternally.”

–Bob Shine and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.

I Went to the Last Gay Catholic Mass at the UK’s Church of Our Lady of the Assumption

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Other than a few fauxhawks, better music, and the bishop wearing a rainbow-colored stole (the scarf thing that goes over their robes), gay Catholic mass in the UK is pretty much indistinguishable from normal Catholic mass. Being a gay Catholic may seem kind of contradictory to you—like being a Log Cabin Republican, a Muslim EDL members, or Skrillex’s new future garage track—but just because you like hooking up with guys doesn’t mean you can’t also like the Holy Spirit.

The “Soho Masses” at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption have provided a safe place for hundreds of LGBT Catholics to worship for six years, a service provided to the community ever since neo-Nazi David Copeland nail-bombed the Admiral Duncan pub on Old Compton Street in 1999. That was until last week, when Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, put an official end to the masses. After his recent fight against the introduction of gay marriage, it seemed to only add insult to injury, but it’s a story that has been widely misinterpreted by the media.

This Sunday, I went to one of their last masses before the dissolution, and the bishop assured his flock that they needn’t worry. “We may have been given an ‘Ite, Missa est,’” he said from behind the lectern, “but we can translate that, not as ‘The mass has ended,’ but as ‘Go forth, go forth and find God in your lives, however some people may describe those lives.’”

via VICE.

Bishops in United Kingdom Attack Marriage Equality on Several Fronts

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Comments calling same-sex marriage “morally defective” by retired Scottish Archbishop Mario Conti are the latest in month-long attacks by Catholic prelates responding to British and Scottish government plans to legalize marriage equality.

Writing in The Tablet against the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill during a period where Scottish officials gather public input, Archbishop Conti said:

“…it is unhelpful, unnecessary and indeed profoundly unwise for political action to do quite the opposite, namely to attempt through the law, by equating homosexual unions with heterosexual marriage, to render moral what is in itself morally defective.”

Previously, the English bishops have spoken forcefully against government plans to legalize marriage equality in England and Wales. Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell wrote a harshly-worded letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron in early December questioning Catholics’ ability to trust him and making a comparison that Cameron is equitable to the anti-Christian Roman emperor, Nero.

Other instances since then include:

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham’s warning that not adhering to traditional gender roles as a result of marriage equality laws would have unforeseen consequences for society;

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster declaring, in a letter read during Masses, the government’s move as undemocratic, “shambolic,” and something that would make George Orwell proud;

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury using his Christmas homily to compare the British government’s efforts on marriage equality to Communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes.

Such unwelcomed messages at Christmas time distort the holiday for many, evident in comments by Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, to The Guardian:

“’We do think it’s very sad that an archbishop should sully the day of the birth of Jesus by making what seem to be such uncharitable observations about other people. Some of us are mindful of Luke 2:14, which reminds us that Christmas Day is a day of peace and goodwill to all men. Perhaps Archbishop Nichols should have spent a little more time in bible study.’”

The pending legislation for England and Wales is expected to be voted on this coming spring, with Prime Minister David Cameron recently reiterating his support for full marriage equality while promising sufficient religious liberty safeguards.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.

Transgender Teacher Sues Catholic School Over Firing

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm

A transgender teacher is suing a Catholic high school in Queens, New York, saying that he was fired after teaching there for more than 30 years because of deciding to begin to live out a female gender identity.

Mark Krolikowski, ABCNews.com reports:

“In a lawsuit, Mark Krolikowski, 59, alleges that after 32 years of teaching at St. Francis Prep in Queens, N.Y., and receiving numerous accolades for his work including leading students in a musical performance for Pope Benedict XVI, he was fired last year after the parents of a ninth grader complained about his appearance.

“Krolikowski remains anatomically male and routinely wore suits and neckties to school where he taught music, social studies and a class on human sexuality. He also wore earrings and manicured his nails in ‘a feminine style’ according to court documents.

“In 2011, Krolikowski was summoned to the office of the principal, Brother Leonard Conway, where he revealed that he was transgender and that he intended to start coming to work dressed as a woman. According to Krowlikowski’s lawsuit, Conway told the teacher that being transgender was ‘worse than gay’ and that he could no longer appear at public events if he planned to begin appearing as a woman.”

According to the New York Post, the controversy over the teacher’s gender identity arose when a parent complained to the principal about the teacher’s appearance:

“. . . a parent took issue with his look and reportedly went to school officials. The subsequent questions from his bosses forced Krolikowski to tell then-Principal Leonard Conway and assistant principal Patrick McLaughlin he was transgender, court papers state.”

The Post also reports that Krolikowski agreed

“. . . to tone down his appearance by losing the earrings and feminine nails, Krolikowski said he got stellar evaluations during the 2011-12 school year. Despite this, Krolikowski claims his bosses called him insubordinate in June 2012 for allegedly continuing to go ‘his own way,’ according to court papers.

ABCNews.com provided a comment from St. Francis’ Prep’s view of the case:

” ‘His employment was terminated for appropriate non-discriminatory reasons,’ said the school’s attorney, Phil Sempervivo.”

A group of current students and alumni have come to the defense of Krolilowski with a petition on Change.org, supporting the teacher and asking the school to offer an apology.  In part, the petition states:

” ‘Mr. K,’ as he was affectionately known by most of his students, had worked for SFP [St. Francis Prep] for over 30 years and was always himself: funny, eccentric, loving, and accepting. Ask anyone who had him and they will rave about his stellar teaching and friendly demeanor. In a school in which many of the faculty can often be bossy and tyrannical, Mr. K created a warm and welcoming environment for all his students and their peers.

“However, his long track record of spectacular teaching seemed to carry no weight when a lone parent complained about his ‘feminine’ appearance back in 2011. Mr. K, for as long as we have known him, has always donned several gold hoop earrings, dyed hair, fashionable (but appropriate and professional) clothing, and well-manicured nails. This was never an issue amongst his students or their parents until that one student’s mother complained to the school.

“This is a disgusting display of discrimination and must be acted against and apologized for. While we do not expect Mr. K to return to Prep, we do expect the school to apologize for its behavior and its ultimate decision to expel such a valued member from their staff. In a school that preaches love, respect, and acceptance, we are appalled to see that their lessons come with hateful fine print.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via  Bondings 2.0.

CAMPUS CHRONICLES: Responses to LGBT Decisions at UND and CUA

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Administrators at the University of Notre Dame (UND) and The Catholic University of America (CUA) arrived at opposite decisions in December about  supporting LGBT students on their campuses:  UND accepted a student-run gay-straight alliance as part of a comprehensive pastoral plan, while CUA rjected a proposal for a gay-straight alliance.  Bondings 2.0 previously covered the decisions here for CUA and here for Notre Dame.

Members of Notre Dame’s 4 to 5 Movement

Notre Dame’s release of the pastoral plan, Beloved Friends and Allies, received widespread praise from students and Catholics nationwide alike. Alex Coccia, student leader of the 4 to 5 Movement that had spearheaded the push for an LGBT group, wrote in the University’s student newspaper, The Observer:

“This plan is an enormous accomplishment for the entire Notre Dame family. We would like to thank the students, faculty, staff and administrators who have been an integral part of the 4 to 5 Movement through their involvement and support. Now, as students, we have the responsibility to remain dedicated through the implementation process in order to utilize the full potential of this pastoral plan. Though we remain fully committed to these efforts, today we celebrate this achievement for our community.”

National Catholic Reporter editorialized its support of the decision to recognize and support LGBT students, saying:

“Indeed, what is most noteworthy about the announcement is that it properly recognized that it is not contrary to Catholic teaching to engage in pastoral ministry to any group or to teach and promote tolerance, love and respect for the dignity of every individual. Yes, we all know what the church teaches about same-sex activity. But the church also teaches that all human beings have innate dignity and worth, that they are loved by God and are to be treated with respect. The church teaches that any human community, and any Catholic community worthy of the name, must enflesh this respect for human dignity in the way it treats all of its members.”

Student leaders of CUAllies with Fr. Peter Daly

In contrast, The Catholic University of America denied an application for CUAllies, an LGBTQ and Ally student organization, after nearly ten months of dialogue under claims it could too easily become an advocacy group for the “homosexual lifestyle.” In a column in National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Peter Daly described just how troubling  the situation for LGBTQ students is at CUA:

“I had been asked to speak to them because of an article I wrote for Catholic News Service recounting my experiences in dealing with gay young people who were suicidal. I concluded the article with the simple observation that no one should ever feel excluded from God’s love and no one should be driven to despair. Evidently, they were surprised to hear that from a Catholic priest, so they asked me to speak to their group.

“CUAllies is not an officially recognized student group at Catholic University…Lack of university recognition means the group cannot reserve rooms, publicize their meetings, receive student funds or be listed in the student directory. They still manage to meet, however. Students use social media, like Twitter, to communicate, just like the pope.”

Bondings 2.o spoke with the student leadership of CUAllies, who stated their re-commitment to establishing a “safe, welcoming, and affirming” campus and identified 2013 as a crucial year for their movement. On January 14th, the first day of classes, students will be launching a 30 Days of Action campaign to build support as further dialogue begins with the administration in the wake of a harsh denial.

Additionally, concerned alumni, parents, and Catholic LGBT supporters nationwide began organizing under the title “Friends of CUAllies” with a solidarity pledge campaign that has gained nearly 650 signatures in an effort to pressure the administration to listen to students.

New Ways Ministry encourages all to assist these students at CUA in their ongoing struggle to provide a safe and welcoming campus for LGBTQ students by signing the pledge here and ‘Liking’ their Facebook group here.

-Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.