First female bishop named as the Reverend Libby Lane

Reverend Libby Lane has been announced as the first female bishop for the Church of England, just a month after a historic change to canon law.

She will become the new Bishop of Stockport, a post that has been vacant since May.reverend_libby_lane-first_female_bishop-chruch_of_england-good_housekeeping_uk

Mrs Lane has been the vicar at St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in the diocese of Chester, since 2007.

The general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July and formally adopted legislation on 17 November.

The appointment will end centuries of male leadership of the Church and comes 20 years after women became priests.

Mrs Lane was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire. Since 2010 she has also held the role of Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese of Chester.

Speaking at Stockport town hall the new bishop, whose role was approved by the Queen, said it was a “remarkable day for me and an historic day for the Church”.

“This is unexpected and very exciting,” she said.

“I’m honoured and thankful to be called to serve as the next Bishop of Stockport and not a little daunted to be entrusted with such a ministry.”

Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated Mrs Lane and said: “This is an historic appointment and an important step forward for the Church towards greater equality in its senior positions”.

Mrs Lane will be consecrated as the eighth bishop of the town at a ceremony at York Minster on 26 January.

church of englandThe first women priests were ordained in 1994, but to date women have not been able to take on the Church’s most senior roles.

Pope declines Dalai Lama meeting in Rome


Pope Francis will not meet the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama because of the “delicate situation” with China, the Vatican says.

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, who is visiting Rome, had requested a meeting.

A Vatican spokesman said that although the Pope held him “in very high regard”, the request had been declined “for obvious reasons”.

Correspondents say the Vatican does not want to jeopardise efforts to improve relations with China.

China describes the Dalai Lama as a separatist and reacts angrily when foreign dignitaries meet him.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet.

He now advocates a “middle way” with China, seeking autonomy but not independence for Tibet. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

“Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel laureates,” a Vatican spokesman said, adding that the pontiff would send a video message to the conference.

pope francis 002

The Dalai Lama told Italian media that he had approached the Vatican about a meeting but was told it could create inconveniences.

Analysts say the Vatican and China are at odds over control of the Catholic Church in China, which is believed to number about 12 million people.

The Church is divided into an official community, known as the Patriotic Association, which is answerable to the Communist Party, and an underground Church that swears allegiance only to the Pope in Rome.

A serious bone of contention between China and the Vatican is which side should have the final say in the appointment of bishops.

A Vatican official said the decision not to meet the Dalai Lama was “not taken out of fear but to avoid any suffering by those who have already suffered”.

The last time the Dalai Lama was granted a papal audience was in 2006 when he met former Pope Benedict XVI.

The Dalai Lama is in Rome for a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize winners. It was initially to be held in South Africa but was relocated to Rome after South Africa refused the Dalai Lama a visa.
Complete Article HERE!

Archdiocese hires criminal defense attorney in Nienstedt investigation

By Jean Hopfensperger

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has hired a prominent criminal defense attorney to continue its investigation into possible sexual misconduct by Archbishop John Nienstedt.

Nienstedt02Attorney Peter Wold has been retained to continue the investigation completed by the Greene Espel law firm in July, Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché confirmed Monday.

Wold has met with at least one man — previously unidentified in the media — who filed affidavits in the misconduct investigation earlier this year.

Joel Cycenas, a former archdiocese priest and former friend of Nienstedt’s, acknowledged he met with Wold last week. He had some concerns.

“I met with him [Wold] and they are trying to discredit my own affidavit,” wrote Cycenas in an e-mail. “I don’t get it.”

Cycenas would not provide details about the content of his affidavit or answer further questions.

Interviewed last summer, Nienstedt denied any sexual impropriety with Cycenas.

Wold was retained “to help with some remaining details” in the Nienstedt investigation, said Piché in a written statement. The results of the initial investigation were not made public. Details of the current investigation also were not forthcoming.

“It would be a disservice to those involved to discuss any more of the specifics of the investigation while it is ongoing,” said Piché.joel cycenas

About 10 men have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by Nien­stedt while they were seminarians or priests, said Jennifer Haselberger, an archdiocese whistleblower who was interviewed by Greene Espel.

She said the archbishop also was accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct. The allegations appear to stem as far back as the 1980s and 1990s, when Nienstedt was working in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Cycenas, a 47-year-old from the Forest Lake area, was among those interviewed by Greene Espel. Ordained in 2000, he became a parish priest at Holy Spirit Church in St. Paul several years later.

Nienstedt acknowledged last summer that the two were once good friends, and that they met while he was bishop of the New Ulm Diocese.

“We were very good friends at one point,” said Nienstedt. “We met at World Youth Day in Toronto [in 2002]. …

“We went to the State Fair together,” said Nienstedt. “Oftentimes I would stay at his rectory at Holy Spirit when I was coming up [from the New Ulm Diocese] to fly out the next morning.”

Jennifer HaselbergerThe friendship dissolved after Cycenas left the priesthood in 2009, Nienstedt said.

Cycenas now works as an outreach manager for a major Twin Cities nonprofit.

Haselberger said she was surprised the archdiocese has hired another lawyer to investigate the allegations.

“My impression was they [Greene Espel] were very consciously and diligently making efforts to get to the truth of the matter under very difficult circumstances,” she said.

“Why would they investigate again?” Haselberger asked. “I hope it won’t be an attempt to slander the victims, which would be a poor reward for coming forth.”

Haselberger also was concerned about the financial implications for the archdiocese, which is laying off staff and floating the possibility of bankruptcy. “Maybe their insurance is paying for it, who knows?” she said. “I’d like to know, ‘What are they hoping to accomplish?’ ”

Piché did not respond to written questions about the exact nature of Wold’s work, including the difference between Wold’s investigation and the previous one. However, he did note that none of the allegations against Nien­stedt involved children or criminal activity with an adult.

Complete Article HERE!

Not So Fast, Salvation Army!

By Graham Gremore

Forget what you’ve heard in the very recent past, the Salvation Army wants everyone to know that it does not discriminate against gay people.salvation-army-bell

The website for the Salvation Army in Central Ohio currently features a video defending the charity’s past treatment of the LGBT community.

Under the headline “Salvation Army Open to All,” the video addresses what the Christian social-welfare organization calls “inaccurate claims.”

“Rumors have been leading some to believe that the Salvation Army does not serve members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community,” it says. “These accusations simply aren’t true.”

The only problem? The rumors aren’t rumors. The accusations are true. The Salvation Army has a very long and colorful history of opposing equal rights for LGBT people, and no amount of heart-wrenching YouTube videos are going to make us forget that.

Earlier this year, the organization denied shelter to a trans woman in Texas who was forced to flee her home after receiving death threats. And last winter, it included links to “ex-gay” organizations on its website. Then there was that incident in 2012 when the Andrew Craibe, the Salvation Army’s Media Director in Australia, said gay people should be “put to death.”

But, hey, all that is water under the bridge, right?

“For the past few years during the holiday season, a lot of chatter on social media was saying the Salvation Army was antigay and discriminates against people in the LGBT community,” said national spokesperson Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe. “I felt we needed to be proactive on this.”

He continued: “My concern is that we need to make sure that people aren’t reading things on the Internet or through social media and thinking that must be true.”

Like, for instance, Busroe’s comments.

Related stories:

Don’t Fall For the Salvation Army’s PR Spin! They’re Still Super Antigay

Berkeley Student Council Wants Anti-Gay Salvation Army Booted From Campus

Remember To Ignore The Salvation Army Bell Ringers This Holiday Season

Complete Article HERE!

Gay Catholic Music Director Files Discrimination Complaint Against Church For Unfair Termination

by Jack Jenkins

Colin Collette, a gay man, worked as the music director of Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Illinois for 17 years, preparing songs for worship and orchestrating liturgy for weekly services. When Illinois embraced marriage equality in June, Collete and William Nifong, his partner of five years, celebrated a month later by getting engaged in Rome “in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica” and quickly announcing their betrothal on Facebook.

Instead of congratulating the couple on their upcoming nuptials, however, the priest at Holy Family responded by immediately asking for Collette’s resignation, saying his homosexuality violated tenets of the Catholic Church. When Collette refused, he was promptly fired.Colin-Collette-x400

“’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the policy in the [Catholic] church,” Collette told ABC 7, a local news affiliate, in August. “I guess as long as you’re willing to live the lie, you’re safe.”

The church’s decision outraged many in the suburban parish, several of whom have held prayer vigils and voiced public support for their former music director. On Thursday, however, Collette took the matter to court, filing a federal discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Cook County Commission on Human Rights. The move is a preliminary step towards filing a formal lawsuit; if the EEOC agrees with Collete’s complaint, it can either grant him the right to sue his former employer or even sue the church on his behalf.

“It is with deep regret that I have had to pursue this course of action,” Collette said in a press conference on Thursday. “I have chosen to enter into a marriage, as is my right under Illinois law, and perhaps I can open the door to other men and women who the church has chosen to exclude from the community.”

Collette, who holds a Masters in Divinity, named Holy Family’s priest and a parish manager in his complaint, saying his firing amounted to discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and marital status. He also contended that his employer was well aware of both his homosexuality and his relationship with Nifong before he was let go, as the two were active members of the community.

“Our pastor knows both of us,“ Collette told the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve been to many social functions together, including the 20th anniversary of the parish.”

Collete’s complaint challenges the unusually broad power afforded to religious institutions to dictate who they hire. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that faith-based employers are allowed to hire and fire people for reasons that would otherwise be discriminatory because of a so-called “ministerial exception.” Although they are still technically subject to anti-discrimination policies, religious groups effectively have full control over “ministry” positions, a broadly-defined classification that extends beyond ordained clergy.

The case also poses a public test to the newly-appointed Archbishop of Chicago, Blasé Cupich. When Pope Francis tapped the former Bishop of Washington for the illustrious position in September, left-leaning progressives lauded the decision as a progressive step, citing Cupich’s passionate support for immigration reform and his willingness to condemn anti-gay bullying as “hateful and disrespectful” to “human dignity.” But while Cupich is far more progressive than Cardinal Francis George, his predecessor compared organizers of the Chicago Pride Parade to the Ku Klux Klan, he has not shown a willingness to break from traditional Catholic understandings of sexuality: Cupich openly opposed Washington state’s 2012 vote to embrace marriage equality, and has yet to respond to Collete’s complaint.

Collette’s filing is part of a growing number of LGBT people who are fighting back against the Catholic Church for firing people based on their sexuality. Colleen Simon, a Catholic food pantry worker in Kansas City, Missouri, who was fired in May for being gay, is suing the local diocese, saying they were aware of her orientation before her job was terminated. Meanwhile, several Catholic schoolteachers in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are refusing to sign a new contract that reclassifies teachers as ministers and asks them to “refrain from any conduct or lifestyle” that is “in contradiction to Catholic doctrine or morals.”

Complete Article HERE!