Jerome Christenson: The church has sided with the bigots

By Jerome Christenson

Jesus didn’t come to found a Super PAC. So how do I explain the role of the Roman Catholic Church in this election?

How is it that we find an organization that styles itself “the Bride of Christ” whoring after votes like Tammany Hall with pews?

For months, Minnesota Catholic bishops have been behaving more like old-time, big-city political bosses than pastors of a troubled flock. As a Catholic, I am angered and embarrassed that the leaders of my church have chosen to devote more than half a million dollars to writing language into the Minnesota Constitution that would deny legal rights, protections and privileges to women and to men based solely upon their gender.

Of all the rituals of the church, there is none I find so challenging as the annual re-enactment of Jesus washing the feet of his Apostles, with the concluding admonition of “I have given you an example.”

And what is the example Jesus gives? To go beyond what is comfortable, what is easy, what has been done before. To reach out to the poor, the weak, the put down and oppressed. To those without power, to those who have been denied.

“Come unto me,” he said, with a door open in welcome.

But rather than stand with Jesus in welcome, the prelates are calling upon us to stand with those who would slam the door.

They would have us deny our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and relations recognition of the most intimate and profound human relationships — and they are so very wrong to do so.

To those who tell me this vote isn’t for or against discrimination, I just repeat what my dad told me: “You’re known by the company you keep.” On this ballot question, on which side do we find the bigots, the homophobes, the haters? And on which side do we find the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church?

The wrong side.

Clearly, the wrong side.

And I am embarrassed and ashamed.

I know, there are plenty of folks who will say, “If you don’t like it, leave.”


This is my church as much as it is the church of the hierarchy — ultimately all are equal before God. I go to Mass for prayer, not for a political rally, and prayer will continue long after the electioneering is over.

And if I claim it as my church, I also share responsibility for what the church does and what it stands for. And in this matter I take my example from the unlettered son of a Nazarene carpenter who dared say to the scribes, elders and pharisees, You are wrong.

And on this matter our bishops are wrong. How do we claim to live according to the great command, Love one another as I have loved you, and say with our words, our money, our votes that some of us are not worthy of — or capable of — what may be the most profound, selfless love humans may experience.

This is something I do know a bit about.

Had she lived, Gayle and I would have been married 35 years this July. If my mom were still living, she and Dad would be celebrating 62. Having lived better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health, lived it until parted by death, I know the love that sustained us in joy, anger and sorrow was rooted in our souls, not in our genitals.

To stand between any two people and deny them the expression of such a love is no less a sin than to stand between them and the very love of God.

Complete Article HERE!

The nun who became a sex therapist

Dr Fran Fisher’s latest book blows the lid off the repressed sexuality of convent life. And it’s a subject the former nun knows first hand

By Joanna Moorhead

From nun to sex therapist isn’t an obvious career path but, says the former Sister Jane Frances de Chantal, “when you’ve been starved for a while, you certainly appreciate the feast at the end of it”.

In the Name of God, Why?: Ex-Catholic Nuns Speak Out about Sexual Repression, Abuse & Ultimate Liberation  by Dr. Fran Fisher

Today, Sister Jane is Dr Fran Fisher, a California “sexologist” in US-speak. But she was born and raised in Yorkshire and entered a Franciscan convent in Derbyshire aged 18. She left two years later, met and married an academic, and moved to the US. It wasn’t until she was in her 40s, she says, that she began to understand how much her Catholic upbringing, and her experience of being a nun, had damaged her sexual instincts.

With her children growing up, she saw a course in sex therapy advertised and her interest was immediately piqued. “I enrolled, and what happened next blew my head off. One day the tutor said we were going to discuss our masturbation history and I thought, can I really do this? Somewhere inside I was still a nun even after all these years … I was still sexually naive. I realised that the legacy of my time in the convent was the cause of most of the problems in my marriage. It had been drummed into me as a novice that I didn’t really have ownership over anything, even my own body.”

Fisher decided to combine her new professional direction, running workshops and counselling, with her own past, and to find out whether other former nuns had had similar experiences: the result is a book in which she interviews 28 women who, like her, took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience only to later leave orders. She talked to them about their sexuality before, during and after their time in the convent and discovered many similarities. “Most of the women I interviewed had been raised in strict Catholic families. Many had an alcoholic father. Quite a few had a history of physical and/or sexual abuse. A lot of them described the convent as a safe place to go.”

Fisher, who is now in her early 60s, realised that some of the traits of her own childhood were typical – in particular the fact that both her Irish Catholic parents had wholly negative attitudes towards sex. Her father, she says, almost always described women in pejorative terms; her mother, meanwhile, thought sex was “dangerous, dirty, vile, nasty and filthy”. When Fisher, then aged 14, feared she was pregnant – after an episode of petting that didn’t involve intercourse – her mother fuelled her fears, leaving her with a sense of “never wanting to have anything to do with a man again”.

The convent had the allure of a place where women were pure and mysterious and – most importantly – safe. But once inside its walls, her sexuality began to surface. Fisher became increasingly unhappy, lost a lot of weight, and eventually left the convent one Saturday morning while all the other sisters were at mass. She was, she says, still as naive about sex as she was when she arrived. But that wasn’t the case with all the women she interviewed. “Those who spent decades in a convent had usually experienced a sexual awakening. Some had relationships with other nuns, some with priests, some with laypeople.”

Some of them, too, talked to Fisher about how they were aware of sexual abuse that was going on in the Catholic church – but most, she says, were unable or unwilling to do anything about it. “Very few nuns were whistle-blowers,” she says. “When you’re a nun, you give away your ability to judge a situation.” Obedience meant not taking the lead and not questioning those who were obviously in positions of authority – such as male priests.

Some of the women in the book describe exploitative and unequal sexual relationships with priests – relationships they later questioned but which, at the time, they accepted as “necessary” for the men. As for having a healthy, “normal” sexual relationship, some of the women Fisher interviewed were middle-aged before this happened for the first time. “One woman described having intercourse for the first time aged 52. Another told me that when she first got a boyfriend, aged 50, she had sex every night for the first two or three months. Her partner thought he was going out with an Amazonian – but she said to him: “I’ve waited half a century for this, just lie back and shut up!'”

Fisher, like some of those she interviewed, did eventually experience a happy and more typical sex life. But she is fiercely critical of the Catholic system that allows naive young women (these days, more usually they are from Africa or Asia rather than Europe or North America) to uproot themselves from their families and enter a convent.

“The practice of taking young women (or men) from a childhood of indoctrination and expecting them to make a lifelong commitment to celibacy in their early 20s is clearly wrong,” she says. “And it’s still going on. Not long ago, I saw some young nuns being interviewed on TV. I saw their faces, and I thought: it’s still happening. There are still young women in some parts of the world for whom a convent offers a sanctuary from difficult questions about sex, an education, opportunities. But it’s running away from life, and there’s a huge toll in terms of individual fallout down the line. The church shouldn’t allow it to happen.”

Complete Article HERE!

The Church hates the gays more than it loves its own.

File under the category: The Church hates the gays more than it loves its own. Churches are closing, schools are closing, food banks are underfunded, and shelters for homeless people are shuttered. More and more people are living on the edge of financial collapse…


Catholic Church Ponied Up More Than $1 Million To Fight Marriage Equality

Forget that vow of poverty: The Roman Catholic Church has shelled out more than $1 million to fight various marriage-equality initiatives, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

The study shows that the millennia-old institution has donated more than $1.1 million to anti-equality initiatives, including ones fighting gay-marriage measures in Washington, Maryland and Maine—and one supporting a gay-marriage ban in Minnesota, where it has given more than $608,000 to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. (That’s more than half the campaign’s budget.)

Today, the Church is now the top religious donor for anti-equality efforts, with more than $640,000 coming from the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus.

Fortunately it looks like gay-rights advocates have been able to raise considerably more funds overall than anti-equality cronies. (HRC has contributed $7.3 million to marriage-equality campaigns in the past 12 months.).

Given that a majority of everyday Catholics actually support gay marriage, HRC president Chad Griffin says “The Church hierarchy owes the laity an explanation as to why they are spending this much money on discrimination, and at what cost to other crucial Church programs.”

In a statement, Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference replied, “Our marriage amendment activities, like our other activities, are aimed at fostering the common good.”
Thanks but no thanks, pal.

Complete Article HERE!

Bishop vs. Bishop: Lutheran calls out Catholic over marriage

The retired presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Rt. Rev. Herbert Chilstrom, has delivered a stinging, public critique of his former Roman Catholic counterpart in Minnesota for aggressively campaigning for an anti-same sex marriage amendment on the November ballot.

“I recognize your authority in formulating positions for your own flock in Minnesota: That is one thing,” Chilstrom said in a letter to Roman Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt, published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“But for you and others to campaign for an amendment that imposes your stance on all citizens in Minnesota — including other Christians, believers of other faith groups and unbelievers — it is overstepping your bounds.”

Minnesota is one of four states voting on marriage this November. Washington, Maryland and Maine will cast ballots on whether to approve marriage equality. In Minnesota, Nienstedt has put $650,000 in church money into promoting the state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.

Nienstedt has gone far beyond church leaders in Washington, where Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain allowed parishes to opt out of signature gathering for Referendum 74.

Nienstedt told St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan clergy that he would permit no “open dissension.” As the Star Tribune reported last week, “He wrote one outspoken priest, the Rev. Mike Tegeder, that if he persisted, ‘I . . . will remove you from your ministerial assignments’.”

Nienstedt is also notorious for responding to a Catholic mother’s plea that her gay son be accepted, “I urge you to reconsider the position that you expressed . . . Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversion of heart on this topic.”

Asked by the Star Tribune whether a loyal Catholic could vote No, Nienstedt said: “It would be difficult to comprehend how a person could not believe that marriage is anything but a union between one man and one woman. On this point, Catholic teaching is clear.”

Still, more than 80 former Catholic priests have signed a letter denouncing the amendment, and three retired Catholic priests have urged its defeat. Laity have placed “Another Catholic voting No” signs on their lawns. (Taking a cue from Minnesota, 63 former priests in the Seattle Archdiocese have endorsed marriage equality.)

“By word and action, you leave the impression that there is little room for dissent in your church,” Chilstrom wrote to Nienstedt. He cited the example of a former Catholic bishop in Minnesota, the Rt. Rev. Raymond Lucker, who questioned the church’s prohibition against married priests.

The Lutheran Bishop noted that in his denomination, “we engage in a wide spectrum of clergy and laity in developing statements and guidelines in our thinking about complex social issues.” If member disagree with stands taken in the church’s national assembly, the right of conscience is recognized.

“If there were a call from Roman Catholic members in Minnesota to vote on an issue of significance, would you allow such a vote?” Chilstrom asked Nienstedt. “And if a simple majority voted in favor, would you accept that vote as final? It’s clear that such a vote would not even be permitted in your church.

“There is evidence that many in your church will vote No on this amendment. I stand with them and with all who will vote No.”

Complete Article HERE!

Roman Catholic Priest Comes Out

A Catholic priest is now making the headlines in Italy after having decided to come out on Facebook on International Coming Out Day (11 October).

‘I am gay. Or, better, I am a happily gay priest,’ he stated.

Don Mario Bonfanti, 41, is a priest in Pagnano, near Lecco, in the Italian region of Lombardy. And his openness about his sexuality is something of a revolution.

Openly gay priests, in Italy, are a rarity. The Italian Catholic church is know for not being tolerant of LGBT people.

Bonfanti wrote on Facebook: ‘Truth makes us free, so Jesus said.

‘But, strangely, the Church denies this sentence. Catholic LGBT people must come out. They have to accept the truth.’

Last March, don Bonfanti was banned from another parish in Brianza, Lombardy, for having supported same-sex unions.

The local community defendend their priest, but the bishop did not change his mind and moved don Bonfanti to another church.

Now, a new group, with more than 1,200 followers, has been created on Facebook. ‘Io sto con don Mario’ (I support don Mario), is the name of the group.

Don Mario Bonfanti added: ‘I am happy in this way.’

Complete Article HERE!