Clerics clash in Bethlehem brawl at Jesus’ birthplace

An now for a spot of news that highlights the true spirit of Christmas.

A Christmas cleaning of the Church of the Nativity turned into scuffles on Wednesday between rival Christian clerics zealously guarding denominational turf at the holy site.

Brooms and fists flew inside the church marking the birthplace of Jesus as some 100 priests and monks of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches brawled.

Palestinian police, bending their heads to squeeze through the church’s low “door of humility,” rushed in with batons flailing to restore order.

“It was a trivial problem that … occurs every year,” said police Lieutenant-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi. “Everything is all right and things have returned to normal,” he said. “No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God.”

Administration of the 6th century Bethlehem church, the oldest in the Holy Land, is shared by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics.

Any perceived encroachment of jurisdictional boundaries within the church can set off a row, especially during the annual cleaning for Orthodox Christmas celebrations, which will be held next week.

Complete Article HERE!


Cardinal George, you’re wrong about Chicago Gay Pride

COMMENTARY — Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite

Chicago Gay Pride is a deeply spiritual event, combining a celebration of the diversity of humanity with a zest for life lived truthfully. Chicago Gay Pride is one of the largest such parades in the U.S., and it is listed on the city of Chicago’s official tourism Web site. Many, many Chicagoans are proud of their Pride Parade.

As a Chicagoan who is proud of Chicago Pride, therefore, I was very distressed to hear the Catholic Cardinal of Chicago, Francis George, make statementsto FOX Chicago Sunday, intimating that this wonderful Chicago event could become comparable to demonstrations by the Klu Klux Klan against Catholicism.

The presenting issue was that Chicago’s upcoming gay pride event had been rerouted past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and might logistically interfere with that Sunday’s services. But Cardinal George’s response was to fear-monger against LGBTQ Chicagoans and their allies who participate in Pride. The cardinal said, “You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”

Equally Blessed, an umbrella group of four pro-LGBTQ rights Catholic organizations, has issued a statement condemning such a comparison that has “demeaned and demoralized” Chicago’s Gay community, and doing so in a way that draws a comparison to the “murderous nightriders of the Ku Klux Klan.” A petition at change.org has called for Cardinal George to resign, and has started an online petition.

I have another idea. Today I have written a letter to Cardinal George’s office, asking him if he will be my guest and march with the Chicago Theological Seminary’s Pride group in the 2012 Chicago Gay Pride parade.

This is a serious invitation. First, I make it in full confidence that the cardinal would be welcome in the Seminary’s Pride group. The United Church of Christ, to which our school is related, has as it’s motto, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” We practice what we like to call a “radical welcome” and that includes the cardinal. We have had many fine Catholic students over the years.

Second, I would like to invite the cardinal because I have become an ally of the LGBTQ community and it has been an incredible spiritual and theological journey for me. I would like to share with him a small part of how important this journey can be for Christian leaders as well as parishioners.

I have learned so much from what a spirituality of truthfulness teaches, and how it can illumine a great deal about the Christian Gospel, as well as about theology, ethics, pastoral care, and worship. Over the years of teaching and learning with gay students, faculty, and staff colleagues, both at the seminary, around the nation and indeed around the world, I have gained from their courage in facing up to a world that is hostile to their very humanity, and challenging churches that claim they are not included in God’s love and care. Despite all the hurtful and harmful religious messages, many LGBT people nevertheless come to know God’s love and affirmation for exactly who they are. As title of the biography of Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches, says so well, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Know’s I’m Gay.

I have also learned that change is possible. For example, this year’s Pride Parade will now start at 12 noon, as the Chicago’s LGBT community has graciously agreed, following a meeting with representatives of Our Lady of Mount Carmel last week, to start later in order to accommodate those attending services at the church.

Change is also coming to the Catholic Church as more gay Catholics join groups working to change the church, and more straight Catholics come to know their fellow parishioners and respect them.

Cardinal George has now attempted to walk back his hurtful comments, indicating the comparison was only “parade-parade” not “people and people.” It’s a start, but it’s far from enough.

Thus, my invitation stands, because more change is needed in the Catholic church, and truly in all churches, so that the “people and people” comparison is not merely descriptive, but a positive and even spiritually enlightening one.

Join us in Chicago Theological Seminary group at Pride, 2012, Cardinal George. I promise you it will help with your ministry.

Complete Article HERE!


Priest at Midway chapel accused of sex abuse

A 77-year-old priest assigned to the chapel at Midway Airport was charged Saturday with sexual abuse after he allegedly tried to grab the crotch of a man who had attended services before boarding a flight to Kansas.

Father Bede R. Jagoe allegedly spoke to the 54-year-old victim after services on Dec. 11, Cook County prosecutors said.

As they boarded an elevator in the C Concourse, Jagoe allegedly told the man he was attracted to him and tried to kiss him on the mouth, then “grabbed (the victim’s) testicles,” prosecutors said.

Surveillance cameras near the elevator show Jagoe moving toward the victim as the elevator doors closed, prosecutors said.

The victim boarded his flight, and reported the incident to Chicago Police after he returned to his home in Kansas. He returned to Chicago on business last week and made a formal report Wednesday.

Jagoe was arrested Friday. On Saturday, he walked into Cook County Central Bond Court with the support of a cane. Jagoe was charged with criminal sexual abuse.

His attorney said Jagoe had been a priest for 51 years. Court records state Jagoe is a member of the Dominican Order and lives in River Forest.
A representative for the Dominican order’s Chicago province was traveling and not immediately available for comment.

Complete Article HERE!


Chicago Archbishop Denounced, Urged to Step Down

Cardinal Francis George, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago, is receiving intense criticism and calls for his resignation after comparing the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan.

The incident came after organizers of the Chicago gay pride parade moved next year’s start time up from the traditional noon to 10 a.m., meaning it would go past one of the city’s oldest Catholic churches when worshipers were attending Mass; the parade is always held the last Sunday in June. There had been problems at the 2011 parade because of overcrowding along the route, and organizers thought an earlier start would be a way to address it, but leaders of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church objected, saying they feared parishioners would be inconvenienced.

George discussed the controversy this week with a local television station, which Wednesday broadcast a clip of him saying, “You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.” Parade organizers agreed to move the start time back to noon, but outrage over George’s comment lingers.

“Cardinal George has gone too far, and he should graciously apologize, and step down from his post,” wrote Tracy Baim, editor of Chicago LGBT newspaper Windy City Times, in an editorial posted online Friday. She called the KKK comparison “vile,” and she noted that the hate group demonstrated against the pride parade in its early years.

The national LGBT group Truth Wins Out is circulating an online petition calling for George’s resignation and describing his statement as “backward and bigoted.” The pro-gay Catholic group Equally Blessed issued a statement saying, “In expressing fears that a joyful, celebratory gay pride parade could erupt into anti-Catholic violence, Cardinal Francis George has demeaned and demonized LGBT people in a manner unworthy of his office,” and Sharon Groves of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program said his “horrific comparison of the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan drives an unnecessary wedge between Catholics and the hierarchy.” Find more reactions here.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said critics of the cardinal should watch his interview, which will air in its entirety Christmas Day on Chicago’s Fox affiliate. “Whether it was the best choice of analogy I don’t know,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “Taken out of context the meaning can be misinterpreted. I would suggest people read the whole interview.”

Complete Article HERE!


An Open Apology to Amy Koch on Behalf of All Gay and Lesbian Minnesotans


Dear Ms. Koch,

On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage. We are ashamed of ourselves for causing you to have what the media refers to as an “illicit affair” with your staffer, and we also extend our deepest apologies to him and to his wife. These recent events have made it quite clear that our gay and lesbian tactics have gone too far, affecting even the most respectful of our society.

We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry. And we are doubly remorseful in knowing that many will see this as a form of sexual harassment of a subordinate.

It is now clear to us that if we were not so self-focused and myopic, we would have been able to see that the time you wasted diligently writing legislation that would forever seal the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, could have been more usefully spent reshaping the legal definition of “adultery.”

Forgive us. As you know, we are not church-going people, so we are unable to fully appreciate that “gay marriage” is incompatible with Christian values, despite the fact that those values carry a biblical tradition of adultery such as yours. We applaud you for keeping that tradition going.

And finally, shame on us for thinking that marriage is a private affair, and that our marriage would have little impact on anyone’s family. We now see that marriage is more than that. It is an agreement with society. We should listen to the Minnesota Family Council when it tells us that marriage is about being public, which explains why marriages are public ceremonies. Never did we realize that it is exactly because of this societal agreement that the entire world is looking at you in shame and disappointment instead of minding its own business.

From the bottom of our hearts, we ask that you please accept our apology.

Thank you.
John Medeiros
Minneapolis MN

Complete Article HERE!