This married lesbian couple have been hired to be co-pastors at a Baptist church

Same-sex couple chosen by church for their ‘gifts, talents and experience’

Married couple are now co-pastors at a church in DC

What’s better than having an LGBTI religious leader of faith at your progressive church? How about two?

A historic church in Washington DC has named a married lesbian couple, Sallay Sarratt and Maria Swearingen, as their newest co-pastors.

Calvary Baptist Church in northwest DC announced the hiring during morning worship on 8 January, where they were approved by the congregation.

‘We have found it so easy to fall in love with Calvary and its longstanding commitment to be a voice of justice and compassion for those who perpetually find the wholeness of their humanity disregarded and maligned,’ Sarratt and Swearingen said.

The progressive church, an affiliate of American Baptist Churches USA, severed its ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012 over the denomination’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.

Carol Blythe, chair of Calvary’s Ministerial Selection Committee, said: ‘As we met and talked with Sally and Maria about their vision for pastoral leadership at Calvary, we were struck by their deep faith and commitment to being part of a gospel community.

‘We were impressed with how their gifts, talents, and experience matched our ministry priorities — and we are thrilled about their upcoming pastorate and the versatility the co-pastor model will provide our congregation.’

The couple, who met and later ordained at First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina, take over as co-pastors on 26 February.

Complete Article HERE!

Fr Tony Flannery to ignore Vatican ban to celebrate Mass

Kenny took letter from priest, suspended for views on Catholic teachings, to pope during visit


By Patsy McGarry

A letter from a priest who was suspended from public ministry was taken to Pope Francis by Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he met the pontiff on November 28th last. A spokesman for the Taoiseach confirmed the letter was delivered as Fr Tony Flannery had requested.

Fr Flannery was disciplined by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for views he expressed on Catholic teachings in 2012, the year prior to Pope Francis’s election.

The priest has also announced that he will ignore this suspension from public ministry by celebrating Mass on Sunday 22nd of January next at 2.30pm in the Killimordaly Community Centre near where he lives in east Galway.
It will mark his 70th birthday on January 18th.

Announcing this decision to publicly break the Vatican directive, Fr Flannery said: “Having spent 40 years of my life ministering as a priest, I am now into my fifth year when I am forbidden by church authorities to minister publicly. I have decided to honour my age, and my lifetime, by ignoring the church censures, and celebrating a public Mass.

“Since I would not be allowed to do so either in a Catholic church or other Catholic controlled building, I have chosen, with the kind permission of the committee, to celebrate it in the local community hall in the village where I now live.”
He was not celebrating this Mass “for the sake of defying church authorities,” he said. But it was the case that “the Mass, the Eucharist, is not in the ownership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or indeed of the Vatican. It belongs to the believing communities,” he said.

‘Serious questions’
In his letter to Pope Francis, as delivered by the Taoiseach, Fr Flannery recalled how “since 1994, the credibility of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been severely damaged due to the clerical sexual abuse problems. This led to many people, even committed Catholics, asking serious questions about the structure and practices of our church, and the reasons why church authorities failed to deal properly with the emerging scandal.”

He continued that “six Irish priests who sought in their writings to examine these questions were censored by the CDF since 2006.” He himself was “most severely censored, as I am forbidden to minister publicly as a priest.”

The main concerns of the priests who were disciplined were that, in its dealings with them, the CDF had failed “to act in accordance with the principles of natural justice: We were accused and judged to be in error before we had any knowledge that a case was being prepared against us.”

Condemnations and punishments “were communicated to us indirectly, through our religious superiors. We were never given the dignity of being addressed directly. We were not given any opportunity to explain or defend our positions, or to put them into the context of the situation in which they were written. We were not informed as to the identity of the people who made complaints about us to the CDF. We did not have any opportunity to cross examine our accusers.”

When the Irish bishops or papal nuncio were questioned on the priests’ situation, “they say that they are helpless to intervene and that it is strictly a matter for our religious superiors, even though there is clear documentary evidence to show that our superiors acted always under orders from the CDF.”

Fr Flannery hoped, in light of Pope Francis’s proposed visit to Ireland, “ that our situations might be looked at in a new and more just fashion.” He concluded by expressing “great respect, and appreciation for all you are doing to renew our church. ”
Complete Article HERE!

Hundreds of church sex abuse victims continue to come forward

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian (right) comforted Bassam Haddad (center), who said he was abused by a priest, at a press conference Thursday.


Fifteen years after the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston broke into public view, hundreds of victims around the world continue to come forward, including some who say they were attacked as recently as 2001, advocates said Thursday.

Two victims’ support groups and a lawyer who has represented more than 2,000 survivors worldwide denounced church officials for doing too little to help those who were abused and to protect children from harm, despite ongoing revelations about the scope of the crisis.

“You have reportedly the most moral institution in the world acting the most immoral,” attorney Mitchell Garabedian said at a news conference Thursday in downtown Boston. “There is no excuse for it.”

The event coincided with the anniversary of The Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s 2002 reports about former priest John J. Geoghan, who was shuffled from parish to parish despite evidence of his predatory sexual habits.

Since the 2015 release of “Spotlight,” a movie about the Globe’s investigation into the abuse scandal, Garabedian said he has heard from hundreds of new victims, including “dozens upon dozens” who accuse priests or employees of the Boston Archdiocese of attacking them.

“No bishop has been punished for protecting pedophile priests,” said Ann Hagan Webb, the Rhode Island coordinator for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who says she was abused by a clergy member. “As far as I can tell, the pope’s commission about child abuse has done absolutely nothing over the last few years of its existence.”

A spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, Terrence C. Donilon, said safeguarding children is paramount.

“The church continues to hold the protection of children as a priority while at the same time providing support to survivors and all people who have suffered as a result of clergy sexual abuse,” Donilon said in a statement. “We are grateful for the efforts of all of those who join us in this important ministry.”

The archdiocese reports that its Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach has met with more than 1,000 survivors since 2002.

At any given time, the office provides pastoral, therapeutic, and medical assistance to an average of 300 people, Donilon said. Some people came forward as recently as last year, but Donilon said he couldn’t say exactly how many.

Over the past 12 years, the archdiocese has spent nearly $35 million on counseling, psychiatric medications, and other services for survivors. Since 2003, it has paid about $215 million to settle legal claims, church officials say.

After the abuse scandal became public, the archdiocese began reporting all allegations of clergy sex abuse to law enforcement, notifying child welfare officials if the victim was younger than 18, and telling the public when a clergy member was removed from active ministry for investigatory reasons, officials said.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, was appointed by Pope Francis to serve on an advisory panel on sexual abuse and has personally apologized to hundreds of survivors and their relatives, the archdiocese said.

In a letter made public Monday, Francis told bishops worldwide they must have zero tolerance for clergy who sexually abuse children.

But Bassam Haddad, 43, of North Andover, said he received no help from church or civil authorities after he came forward in 2012 to say he had been abused in Lawrence by the Rev. Ross S. Frey from when he was 13 until he was nearly 18.

“I can’t get over the pain,” said Haddad, who said he’s attempted suicide six times. “It’s not fair that people like me . . . have to live our lives knowing that these people got away with what they did.”

Frey was a priest with the Basilian Salvatorian Order and the Melkite Catholic Church. He died in 2014 after moving to Lebanon, where he couldn’t be returned to the United States for prosecution, Garabedian said.

Another man who spoke with reporters at the news conference said he was sexually abused by Ricardo Gonzalez, who held an administrative post at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in East Boston. He and two others sued the archdiocese in September.

“They’re saying he was a volunteer and they’re not taking responsibility,” said the man, who asked that his name be withheld. “My damages are like endless.”

Gonzalez pleaded guilty in 2015 to sexually assaulting three children during the 1980s and was sentenced to four years in jail, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office.

Garabedian said some clergy sex abuse victims now coming forward are in their late 20s or early 30s, meaning they were abused in the 1980s or 1990s.

“The clergy sexual abuse crisis is endless,” he said. “They’ve enabled the sexual abuse to continue for decades, and it’s not going to end in my lifetime.”

Complete Article HERE!