Roman Catholic Church refuses survey request

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has turned down a request by members for the results of a sexual ethics survey to be made public.

 

The unprecedented worldwide poll was commissioned by Pope Francis.

Reformers said refusing to publish the results would suggest the Church was not sincere about sharing responsibility with lay people.

A Church spokesman said a senior Vatican official had expressly asked for summaries to remain confidential.

Sensitive subjects

FrancisThe survey was sent to Catholic bishops around the world last November, with instructions to consult as widely as possible.

It tackled sensitive subjects such as contraception, cohabitation and homosexuality.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the 39-question survey – designed to inform a Vatican conference on family life in October – had been enthusiastically greeted by rank-and-file Catholics.

Many Catholics saw the inclusion of such questions as a sign that Church teaching in such difficult areas might be reformed, and that lay people might be allowed a greater say in how the Church was governed, he added.

Father Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that the questionnaire was a “much broader consultation than just a survey”.

He said orders had come from the Pope, via Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, that the information should not be made public until after October.

Pope Francis is calling bishops to Rome to discuss possible reform that considers modern social realities.

The consultation is part of the preparation for the extraordinary meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the subject of family.

Fr Stock acknowledged there were “great expectations” of the process, but insisted bishops’ decisions should not be predetermined.

“The reflection of the bishops during the Synod must not be predetermined by individual groups or by the concerns of northern Europe alone,” he said.

“It’s a world-wide consultation.”

‘Dialogue and transparency’

A Call to Action, a group working for reform in the Church, said people who had completed this “challenging” questionnaire would be saddened and perplexed if the results were withheld.

Jean Riordan, chair of the group’s national leaders team, told the Today programme that “dialogue and transparency” would help the process – and not put pressure on bishops or predetermine their decisions.

“Groups within the Church are not necessarily pressure groups, we are not a pressure group, we are not a dissident group” she said.

“We are not actually disputing much of Church teaching. What we’re saying is Church teaching should be formed by consulting.”

Other Churches which have published summaries of the responses, including those in Germany and Austria, have described a wide gap between Church teaching and the behaviour of ordinary Catholics.

However, Fr Stock ruled out similar action in England and Wales.

The Pope has signalled greater openness, and has said the Catholic Church is too tied up in “small-minded rules”.

Complete Article HERE!

First gay clergyman to wed plunges Church into crisis:

Archbishop under pressure to sack canon who flouted ban on same sex marriage

  • Canon Jeremy Pemberton married Laurence Cunnington under new laws

  • New laws allowing same-sex marriages pushed through by PM last month

  • Now Canon Pemberton from Nottinghamshire faces disciplinary action

By JONATHAN PETRE

A senior Church of England clergyman yesterday became the first to enter into a gay marriage – in direct defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby – plunging the Church into a fresh crisis.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton tied the knot with Laurence Cunnington under new laws allowing same-sex marriages pushed through by David Cameron in the face of bitter opposition from backbench MPs and the Church.

But Canon Pemberton, 58, now faces disciplinary action from the Church and could be expelled from his work as a priest because the House of Bishops has barred clergy from entering such unions, saying they undermine its traditional teaching that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Canon Pemberton & hubby

Archbishop Welby defended the policy in a radio interview last week, saying that if the Church accepted gay marriage it could be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians in Africa, hundreds of whom had been killed by people who associated Christianity with homosexuality.

But the Oxford-educated Canon Pemberton, a hospital chaplain from Southwell, Nottinghamshire, said: ‘I love this man and I want to be married to him.

‘That’s what I want. It is the same as anyone who wants to get married.’

Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, he described the private ceremony in front of family and friends in a local hotel as ‘very joyous, very happy’.

He said he had told the Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson – in whose area he works as deputy senior chaplain of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust – of his intention to marry Mr Cunnington, 51.

But he refused to comment on the conversation, saying he was fully aware of the Church’s position. Asked how he expected to feel after the ceremony, he said: ‘We will feel married.’

Bishop Lowson confirmed he had told Canon Pemberton of the House of Bishops’ statement but would not say if he was planning disciplinary action.Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham, is expected to be named the archbishop of Canterbury on Friday

Archbishop of Canterbury,The Most Rev Justin Welby, who is now under immense pressure from members of the church
Canon Pemberton, a former parish priest and a divorced father of five, held his wedding under new laws that came into force last month giving gay couples the same rights to marriages as heterosexuals.

Gay clergy can already enter into civil partnerships if they promise to remain celibate, but these are primarily legal arrangements while marriages include public vows.

Under guideline from bishops published in February, clergy are not only barred from gay marriages but they cannot conduct them for others or bless such unions in church.

The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage admitted there were disagreements even among the bishops, but said: ‘We are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.’

The guidance, signed by Archbishop Welby and his counterpart in York, John Sentamu, said the House of Bishops ‘considers it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same-sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives’.

The bishops will now come under huge pressure to crack down on Canon Pemberton, especially as there are other clergy lining up to enter into gay marriages.

One senior traditionalist cleric in the Church’s General Synod said: ‘This will become a crisis if no action is taken.
‘People are looking to the Church to enforce its teachings and discipline. The clergy have taken vows of obedience in public and they ought to live by that. Canon Pemberton should be stripped of his right to function as a clergyman.
‘This is a test of the authority of the bishops and a critical test for Archbishop Welby.’
But one leading liberal cleric said: ‘This is wonderful. I congratulate the couple and hope the Church will accept gay marriage very soon.’

Complete Article HERE!

Heard Around the World: An Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Brilliant stuff, this…

 

By Marcus Halley

Dear Most Reverend Sir,

I greet you in the loving name of our Courageous Lord and Reigning Savior, Jesus Christ. I hail from the Diocese of West Missouri of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. I write you this letter in response to your recent comments regarding marriage equality and its place in the Anglican Church (of which, as you know, the Episcopal Church is a part). More specifically, I write this letter in response to your comments regarding the effect that the American Church’s stance on marriage equality has had on Christians in Africa.Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham, is expected to be named the archbishop of Canterbury on Friday

In your recent LBC radio interview, a woman inquired as to why the issue of marriage equality wasn’t being left up to the “consciences” of individual clergy the same way that remarriage after divorce was a few decades ago. In response you made a statement that I want to use as the thesis of this letter. You said “what we say here is heard around the world.” Most Reverend Sir, there are some who will lambaste this comment as egocentric at best, or the dying vestige of a Church struggling to identify itself after the death of the British empire at worst. As a scholar of precolonial West African history, I could use this as the locus of my argument against your comments, but I will not.

Instead, I’ll actually agree with you, but from a different angle. I don’t believe that the majority of the world is waiting with baited breath to see what riveting spirituality is coming from Lambeth. Rome? Maybe. Lambeth? Probably not. Before becoming an Episcopalian, I couldn’t have even told you where Lambeth was.

But I do believe that when a group of people choose to act on courageous love and death-defying faith, that is heard around the world. I’m too much of a student of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Civil Rights Movement to think and believe otherwise. When Dr. King arrived in Montgomery, Alabama to organize the bus boycott, he was fully aware that his presence would cause hardship for those African Americans who lived there and throughout the South. But he still showed up. He still organized. He still marched. If he had let hardship and the “shadow of death” deter him, Most Reverend Sir, there’s a good chance that I, an African American, would still live in a nation where segregation is the law of the land. Dr. King, dared to love courageously.

I understand that being British, your cultural and spiritual ties to Dr. King don’t run as deeply as mine, so I’ll appeal to a common courageous lover that both you and I have an affinity for – Jesus Christ. He too arrived with a message that wasn’t very popular. “Love God,” he said, “and love your neighbor.” He went around Roman occupied Judea and dared to preach and teach about another kingdom where love and justice, not oppression and inequality, ruled the day. It was a message and a ministry that ultimately got he and his apostles killed. Yet, when faced with the reality of the pain of the cross, our Lord said “thy will be done.”

It seems to me, Most Reverend Sir, that your most recent comments essentially blaming the American Church for the death of African Christians are couched in cowardice, not Christian courage. Rather than looking to our Lord as an exemplar of courage, it seems to me that you have chosen to allow terrorists to dictate the practice and ministry of the Church. If they can dictate this then what is next? Shall we go back to men only in Holy Orders because to ordain women would upset some sacrosanct cultural paradigm? Is the Church not supposed to be the group of people found guilty of “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) for the sake of the Gospel?

Perhaps the most telling part of your interview was where you stated that you had “hesitations” about whether marriage equality and scripture could coexist in the Church of England. Herein lies the crux of the whole argument. As with most well-meaning Christians, you appeal to scripture and the traditions of the Church when they suit your cause, but depart from them when you deem it necessary. For example, you hesitate when it comes to affirming marriage equality, but affirm female bishops within the Church of England, though the plain letter of scripture suggests in 1 Timothy 2:12 that women shouldn’t teach in Church nor hold authority over a man. Funny thing, that scripture.

Most Reverend Sir, I do believe you to be a pious and good Christian whose conscience is truly vexed by this situation. But, I also believe that in the face of evil and injustice, you have chosen to respond from a place of fear rather than faith. In a time where the world is starved for prophetic and loving actions, you have chosen to take the light of the Church and hide it under a basket. Might I suggest, Most Reverend Sir, another way forward.

I had a professor in seminary who told me that “real ministry leads ultimately to the cross.” Might I suggest that the way forward is through the cross. That thing that you wear around your neck isn’t a “good idea” or some ancient, twisted “marketing-strategy-gone-wrong.” It’s our calling. It’s our destiny. There is no Easter without Good Friday; no resurrection without death. Maybe years of “Christendom” and imperialistic Christianity have diluted this message. Maybe that’s the reason so many in our world today can so easily walk away from the faith – it promised them everything without asking them for anything in return. Faith that asks for nothing in return is not faith, but a phantasm or a fantasy. That, as I’m sure you know is not the faith of the martyrs; that is not the faith of our Lord. I believe that it is through courage that the Church shall be reborn. It will be because women and men were willing to lose their lives, not preserve their lives, for the Gospel’s sake that we will experience the resurrection that is going to accompany this protracted Calvary voyage. Was it not St. Ignatius who reported to have said while he was a waiting by is own martyrdom “My birth is imminent. Forgive me, brethren. Do not prevent me from coming to life”? The time has come for the Church to come to life.

What Jesus’ interaction with the cross teaches me is that courageous love is possible, and even necessary, in the face of such vehement hatred and evil. Moreover, his triumphant victory over the death of the cross teaches me that ultimately it is courageous love that wins in the end. I’m sorry that we live in a world where evil is still present, where we must choose daily to persevere against such evil, and where too often lives are lost at the hands of such evil; but, the lesson of the cross is this – evil may win the day, but the victory belongs to God.

If you are truly grief-stricken over the possibility that affirming marriage equality in England will bode negatively for Christians in Africa, I encourage you to look at this through the eyes of courage, not cowardice. Look injustice square in the face and dare to preach courageous love until “Justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Declare to Pharaoh “let my people go,” and if he rebuttals with “more bricks without straw,” still choose justice. Stand up for the least, the lost, and left out and let the God of the Oppressed, the same one who subjugated mighty Pharaoh, fight the battle.

But, if you are still unconvinced that marriage equality has a place in the Church [of England], then say that. Own the truth of your struggle without scapegoating and blaming others. Say that scripture teaches that marriage is between “a man and a woman” and, in addition to pointing out how you’re wrong, I will thank God that you have no canonical authority here.

It is true that we live in a community, Most Reverend Sir, and we are called to care for one another; and it precisely because we live in community that we are called to walk in courageous love. You stood by the graves of hundreds of martyrs who you say were killed because marriage equality is being embraced in America. You mentioned how that image has seared its way into your soul. I’m so deeply sorry that you have had that experience, but clergy throughout the world stand by while the souls of faithful LGBTQ Christians continue to be martyred by a Church who continues to pay only lip service to justice and mercy, a Church who keeps saying “wait” and “listen” and “discern” and with each passing day slips further and further past the point of irrelevancy. At some point the Church has to choose to be courageous or it shall cease to be the Church at all.

What we say here is heard around the world. We can either speak a word of fear or a word of faith. Frankly, Most Reverend Sir, the world has had enough fear. Choose faith.

Signed,
The Reverend Marcus Halley, a servant of Jesus Christ.

Complete Article HERE!

Anti-gay Charlotte Catholic High lecturer sparks controversy

Gay student and peers, parents and alumni want apology for lecturer who said gay parents abuse children, masturbation turns boys gay

by Matt Comer
Students and parents at Charlotte Catholic High School are speaking out after they say a campus lecturer forcefully condemned homosexuality with outdated statistics, prejudiced stereotypes and other extremist claims.

Sister-Jane-Dominic-LaurelAs of Friday morning, more than 2,100 people had signed onto a Change.org petition asking the school and its chaplain, Father Matthew Kauth, to apologize for the lecture led last Friday by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a professor at Nashville’s Aquinas College, whose other lectures and presentations posted online also contain wildly inaccurate accusations about gay people and sexuality.

In a separate action, 64 students and 86 alumni signed onto a letter with similar requests and sent directly to school officials.

EXTRA: Read the full alumni and student letter to the school

The letter and petition allege that Laurel said a variety of prejudiced comments about gay and lesbian people during her lecture on masculinity and femininity, including that masturbation or an absent father may make a boy more likely to be gay — two claims soundly rejected by all mainstream medical professionals and associations.

“Then she started talking about how gays [sic] people are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father,” reads one student’s account of the message. “Also a guy could be gay if he masterbates [sic] and so he thinks he is being turned on by other guys. And then she gave an example of one of her gay ‘friends’ who said he used to go to a shed with his friends and watch porn and thats why he was gay. … Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either over 500 or 1000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to been subject to that extremely offensive talk.”

A gay Charlotte Catholic student, who did not want to be publicly named because he is not fully out at school or home, said he was upset by the assembly, which was mandatory for all students to attend. He wants the school to apologize, too.

“I would like them to issue a formal apology to the students and to the parents and alumni,” the student told qnotes. “I want them to know how upset everyone is and for them to acknowledge that.”

The gay student corroborated the petition’s several claims about Laurel’s lecture.

“She brought up an abusive Australian couple that was gay and they abused their child, portraying to us that gay people are unfit parents,” he said. “She also said that gay people can become gay because of masturbation or pornography or because they don’t spend enough time with their father because their parents are divorced.”

David Hains, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, told qnotes a parent meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday. It will be held at 7 p.m. in the school’s gym.

qnotes asked Hains what the school or diocese would do to ensure that voices like that of the closeted gay student are considered at the meeting. He said he was certain the issues would be discussed at length.

“The parents of students who are gay and lesbian are obviously going to be welcomed at the meeting,” he said. “There are many of our families at Charlotte Catholic who have students, relatives or friends who are homosexual and that point of view, I’m certain, is going to be represented among the parents at the meeting.”

Hains also confirmed it wasn’t official church teaching that masturbation makes people gay. He said school officials, not the diocese, would have been in charge of approving Laurel’s lecture. Laurel, he said, has a doctorate’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and she will be invited back to speak at a diocesan youth conference in May.

“She talks on a broad range of subjects, so I don’t know that the content of the talk at Charlotte Catholic will be the subject of what she will be talking about in May,” said Hains.

Hains also reiterated official church doctrine on homosexuality and LGBT people.

“The Catholic Church believes people who are homosexual or have a same-sex attraction, whatever you want to call it, are people who deserve lives of peace and dignity and, at the same time, the Catholic Church teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong,” he said.

Hains said LGBT people and others sometimes have a “misunderstanding on the church’s stand on marriage and its welcoming of homosexual people into Catholic churches.”

Laurel, the Charlotte Catholic High lecturer, has a history of extremist, anti-gay views. She has partnered with the Ruth Institute to present lectures and conferences opposing same-sex marriage. The Ruth Institute was formerly funded by the National Organization for Marriage, a group which has pushed anti-LGBT constitutional amendments nationwide and whose founder has compared gays to pedophiles.

In one lecture posted online, Laurel claims that more young women are engaging in oral sex and says, “This is not a normal sexual act. It’s something that’s imported from the homosexual culture. It’s not part of the natural love between man and woman.”

In another lecture, Laurel speaks at length about the Folsom Street Fair, a San Francisco fetish event. In another video, she says that androgyny is a tool of Satan and that “devil-worshipers” have three goals: to continue abortions, to destroy traditional marriage and destroy the distinction between male and female.

Students and alumni have described the lecture as “teachings of hate and intolerance.”

“Last week’s presentation represents a betrayal of trust,” the student and alumni letter to school officials reads. “Your responsibility to provide nurturing and informative education to the students of Charlotte Catholic was shrugged off. Your mission to truthfully convey the teachings of the Church—the teachings of love, compassion, and humility—was replaced by teachings of hate and intolerance.”

A second Change.org petition, with nearly 500 signatures, asks students to “stand up for Catholic beliefs.” It also argues Laurel did not say masturbation makes boys gay, but, rather, describes her remarks as “partaking in masturbation will lessen your masculinity and that through the absence of a parent in the home will also make a greater risk for homosexuality.”

Complete Article HERE!

Atlanta archbishop apologizes over $2.2M mansion

File under: Follow the money

 

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta apologized Monday for building a $2.2 million mansion for himself, a decision criticized by local Catholics who cited the example of austerity set by the new pope.2008_08_09_Pistor_BoardInvestigating_ph_Gregory

Archbishop Wilton Gregory recently moved into a nearly 6,400-square-foot (595-square-meter) residence. Its construction was made possible by a large donation from the estate of Joseph Mitchell, nephew of Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With The Wind,” the Civil War epic that made his family wealthy. When Mitchell died in 2011, he left an estate worth more than $15 million to the archdiocese on the condition it be used for “general religious and charitable purposes.”

Gregory said that he has received criticism over the spending in letters, emails and telephone messages.

“I am disappointed that, while my advisors (sic) and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia,” Gregory said in a column posted on the website of the archdiocesan newspaper, The Georgia Bulletin.

“I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services,” he added.

The Catholic leader said he will discuss the situation with several diocesan councils, including a special meeting of its finance council. If church representatives want the bishop to sell the home, Gregory said he will do so and move elsewhere.

The purchase of the sprawling home was part of a real estate deal made possible by money from Joseph Mitchell’s estate.

In his will, Mitchell requested that primary consideration be given to the Cathedral of Christ The King, where he worshipped. The cathedral received $7.5 million for its capital fund and spent roughly $1.9 million to buy the archbishop’s old home, according to tax records. Cathedral officials are planning to spend an additional $292,000 to expand Gregory’s old home so its priests can live there, freeing up space on the cathedral’s cramped campus.

After selling his home, Gregory needed a new residence.

The archbishop said that he made a mistake while designing a home with large meeting spaces and rooms for receptions and gatherings.

“What we didn’t stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed,” Gregory said.

He demolished the one-story home on Mitchell’s property, which was donated to the church, and replaced it with a Tudor-style mansion. In January, a group of local Catholics met with the archbishop and asked that he sell the large home and return to his old residence. They cited the example of Pope Francis, who turned down living quarters in a Vatican palace and drives a simple car.

“The example of the Holy Father, and the way people of every sector of our society have responded to his message of gentle joy and compassion without pretense, has set the bar for every Catholic and even for many who don’t share our communion,” Gregory said.

Complete Article HERE!

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