Reaction to Fiducia in US has revealed ‘enduring animus’ to ‘LGBT persons’, says key Pope ally

Newly elevated Cardinal, Monsignor Robert Walter McElroy gestures as he attends a courtesy visit of relatives following a consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals by the Pope, on August 27, 2022 in The Vatican.

By John L Allen Jr

One of Pope Francis’s most vocal allies in the Church hierarchy in the United States has criticised the reaction among some Catholics in the country to Fiducia Supplicans.

Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego has said that while it’s fine for a priest concerned about protecting the institution of marriage to refuse to offer blessings of persons in same-sex relationships, much of the opposition in the US to a Vatican document authorising the non-liturgical blessings of couples in irregular situations, including same-sex couples, is rooted not in doctrinal principle but what he called an “enduring animus” against gays and lesbians.

“It is wholly legitimate for a priest to personally decline to perform the blessings outlined in Fiducia because he believes that to do so would undermine the strength of marriage,” the cardinal said on 16 February.

But, he went on to say, “it is particularly distressing in our own country that the opposition to Fiducia focuses overwhelmingly on blessing those in same-sex relationships, rather than those many more men and women who are in heterosexual relationships that are not ecclesially valid.”

McElroy, who’s widely seen as a leader of the progressive wing of the US Church and a strong Francis supporter, added: “It is crucial to emphasise that Fiducia simply clarified questions about the permissibility of a priest pastorally blessing persons in irregular or gay unions in a non-liturgical setting and manner. No change in doctrine was made.”

McElory didn’t specify which sorts of non-ecclesially valid relationships he had in mind, but couples who live together outside of marriage would come under this.

“If the reason for opposing such blessings is really that the practice will blur and undermine the commitment to marriage, then the opposition should, one thinks, be focusing at least equally on blessings for these heterosexual relationships in our country,” he said.

“We all know why it is not,” McElroy said, attributing it to “an enduring animus among far too many toward LGBT persons”.

Noting that Fiducia Supplicans has stirred intense debate around the world, including a statement from the bishops of Africa to the effect that such blessings would be inappropriate in their cultural context, McElroy cited these “diverging pastoral paths” as a positive example of decentralisation.

“We have witnessed the reality that bishops in various parts of the world have made radically divergent decisions about the acceptability of such blessings in their countries, based substantially on cultural and pastoral factors as well as neo-colonialism,” he said.

“This is decentralisation in the life of the global Church,” McElory said, implying that such differences in principle can be positive, reflecting adaptation to local cultures.

Nonetheless, he insisted that decentralisation should not become an excuse for anti-gay prejudice.

“This decentralization must not obscure in any manner the religious obligation of every local church in justice and solidarity to protect LGBT persons in their lives and equal dignity,” he said.

McElroy, 70, was speaking during a session of the Religious Education Congress sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest annual Catholic gathering in North America, on the subject of Pope Francis’s ongoing Synod of Bishops on Synodality.

McElroy said that in the listening sessions which led up to last October’s month-long meeting of the synod in Rome, issues related to the LGBT+ community loomed large.

“The searing question of the Church’s treatment of LGBT+ persons was an immensely prominent facet of the synodal dialogues,” he said. “Anguished voices within the LGBT communities, in unison with their families, cried out against the perception that they are condemned by the Church and individual Catholics in a devastating way.”

McElroy conceded that among the bishops and other participants gathered in Rome, there was disagreement on the subject, listing it among what he called areas of “deep divide” in the assembly. The other areas included how to empower laity without undercutting the hierarchical nature of the Church, the extent and limits of inculturation and decentralisation, and the possible ordination of women deacons.

McElory also described areas of strong consensus in the meeting, such as the need to open up more roles in the Church to laity. He cited the example of how in his own diocese he was unable to name a veteran administrator to the role of “moderator of the curia” because, under existing church law, that role is restricted to priests.

As a result, McElroy told the crowd, he simply appointed the layman as “vice-moderator of the curia” and refused to select a moderator. He predicted that when the Synod of Bishops reaches its conclusion this October, reforms on such matters could come quickly.

“I think there will be a lot of progress on questions like this,” he said.

In terms of the single most powerful theme to emerge from last October’s summit, McElory said it was the sense that the time has come for a “paradigm shift” with regard to the inclusion of women in the Church.

McElroy said that while there were contrasting opinions on women deacons, a more “full-bodied” discussion ensued beyond a “binary” yes or no. For example, he said there was some discussion of perhaps ending the transitional diaconate, which would make ordination as a deacon the final step before priesthood.

Doing so, McElroy said, might sever the connection between the diaconate and the priesthood, which “could make it easier to have women deacons”.

In response to question about the perception that certain American bishops are anti-Francis, McElroy said the political dimension is less important than a bishop having a pastoral orientation.

“The ultimate criterion for a bishop is, is he pastoral? The question of whether he’s strongly pro-Francis, medium Pope Francis, Okay but not great with Pope Francis, leaning for or against, is secondary,” he said.

Going forward, he explained, a major practical challenge for the Church will be to find ways to make it more participatory and rooted in listening, but without replicating the cumbersome system of the synod itself.

“The process of discernment used in Rome is far too time-consuming to use with regularity in parish and diocesan life and decision-making,” he said. “It won’t work here.”

Instead, McElroy called for “analogical methods of discernment” which would be “practical for general use in our diocese and our parishes and groups of faith”.

With regard to Catholic doctrine, without offering specific examples McElroy suggested that in general it is time for change.

“It is becoming clear that on some issues, the understanding of human nature and moral reality upon which previous declarations of doctrine were made were in fact limited or defective,” McElroy said.

N.Y. Archdiocese Condemns Funeral of Transgender Activist at Cathedral

— In a statement, the pastor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan said the church was not aware of Ms. Gentili’s background, or her avowed atheism, when it agreed to host the Thursday service.

Cecilia Gentili, an activist and actress well known for her advocacy on behalf of sex workers, was celebrated at the funeral as “Saint Cecilia, the mother of all whores.”

By Liam Stack

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York condemned the funeral of a transgender community leader that was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday, calling the event an insult to the Catholic faith and saying it was unaware of the identity of the deceased — or her vocal atheism — when it agreed to host the service.

The funeral, which drew well over 1,000 people, celebrated the life of Cecilia Gentili, an activist and actress well known for her advocacy on behalf of sex workers, transgender people and people living with H.I.V. She was also a self-professed atheist, a topic around which she built a one-woman Off Broadway show.

The service on Thursday was an event that most likely had no precedent in Catholic history. The pews were packed with mourners, many of them transgender, who wore daring high-fashion outfits and cheered as eulogists led them in praying for transgender rights and access to gender-affirming health care.

People guide a coffin down the center aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Catholic liberals, including some parishioners at St. Patrick’s, said the church had done a good thing by hosting the funeral of a transgender person. Some conservative Catholics vehemently disagreed.

One eulogy, a video clip of which was widely shared online Friday, remembered Ms. Gentili as “Saint Cecilia, the mother of all whores,” to the thunderous cheers of a nearly full cathedral.

Catholic liberals, including some parishioners at St. Patrick’s, said that regardless of how some mourners behaved, the church had done a good thing by hosting the funeral of a transgender person. But the response from conservatives was fiery.

CatholicVote, a conservative group, called the funeral “unbelievable and sick” and said it was “a mockery of the Christian faith.” The Rev. Nicholas Gregoris, a co-founder of the Priestly Society of Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, called it “revolting,” a “blasphemous & sacrilegious fiasco” and “a deplorable desecration of America’s most famous Catholic Church.”

On Saturday, the archdiocese released a statement saying it shared the anger of conservative Catholics over what it called “the scandalous behavior” at Ms. Gentili’s funeral. The Rev. Enrique Salvo, the pastor of St. Patrick’s, said the church was not aware of Ms. Gentili’s background or beliefs when it agreed to host the service.

“The cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way,” the pastor said.

A priest stands and speaks at a pulpit. In front of the pulpit is a large photograph of Cecilia Gentili.
In its statement on Saturday, the archdiocese of New York said it shared the anger of conservative Catholics over what it called “the scandalous behavior” at Ms. Gentili’s funeral.

The funeral’s organizer, Ceyenne Doroshow, said on Thursday that Ms. Gentili’s family had kept her background “under wraps” because they feared the archdiocese would not host a funeral for a person it knew was transgender.

Ms. Doroshow said the family wanted Ms. Gentili’s funeral to be at St. Patrick’s because “it is an icon, just like her.”

On Saturday, the Gentili family was incensed by the church’s criticism and accused the archdiocese of “hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred” in a statement.

The family said the L.G.B.T.Q. community would continue to celebrate Ms. Gentili for how she “ministered, mothered and loved all people.”

“Her heart and hands reached those the sanctimonious church continues to belittle, oppress and chastise,” the family said. “The only deception present at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is that it claims to be a welcoming place for all.”

Members of Ms. Gentili’s family stand in a line holding hands just outside a cathedral door.
The Gentili family accused the New York archdiocese of “hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred” in a statement on Saturday.

The day before the funeral, the archdiocese described the service as a routine event, even after it was informed by a reporter that Ms. Gentili was a transgender activist.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, said that “a funeral is one of the corporal works of mercy,” a part of Catholic teaching the church has described as “a model for how we should treat all others, as if they were Christ in disguise.”

But on Saturday, Father Salvo said in the statement that the cathedral had held a special Mass of Reparation to atone for the funeral. Mr. Zwilling said the event happened that day.

“That such a scandal occurred at ‘America’s parish church’ makes it worse,” Father Salvo said, referring to the funeral. “That it took place as Lent was beginning, the annual 40-day struggle with the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace and mercy to which this holy season invites us.”

New York City is home to roughly a dozen gay-friendly Catholic parishes that in many ways reflect the church’s softer tone on sexuality under the leadership of Pope Francis. But St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the seat of the powerful archdiocese, is not one of them.

Ms. Gentili, who died on Feb. 6 at age 52, had a complex relationship with religion, which she explored last year in her Off Broadway show, “Red Ink.”

After a religious upbringing, Ms. Gentili said in an interview last year, she came to identify as an atheist because she felt rejected by so many Christian denominations as a transgender woman.

“I used to go with my grandmother to the Baptist Church, and they didn’t want me there,” she said, adding: “I used to go to the Catholic Church, too, and both were such traumatic experiences for me as a queer person. So I came to identify as an atheist, but I know that so many trans people have been able to find a relationship with faith in spaces that include them.”

Complete Article HERE!

LGBTQ+ church bid

— ‘I was told being gay would send you to hell’

Betty Harper’s first attempts to talk about her sexuality with her family did not go well

By Natalie Grice

Betty Harper is so “sick and tired” of trying to find a church where she feels truly welcomed as a gay woman that she is planning to start her own.

The 21-year-old charity worker from Llanddulas, Conwy county, is engaged to her partner of two years. Both are Christians who want to find somewhere accepting to practise their faith but have so far not found what they are looking for locally.Betty has travelled a long road to accepting her sexuality. Raised in a “very, very strict” Christian household, the message she heard growing up was that same-sex relationships were sinful.But she knew from an early age that was what she wanted.

She explains: “When I was younger I felt different to my friends. I wasn’t attracted to the boys [but] I was attracted to the girls.

“My dad was a pastor of a church at this time and all I’ve known my entire life is ‘being gay is wrong, and being gay will send you to hell’.”

‘It didn’t go down very well’

Betty remembers first mentioning her ideas about her sexuality when she was in Year 8 and entering her teenage years.

“I told my dad, I think I like this girl at school, and it didn’t go down very well, and that’s when I kind of shut off conversations any further about that,” she said.

Betty Harper Betty Harper (right) and her fiancee Hannah
Betty and her fiancee Hannah first met through a church

“As a Christian, when you’ve been brought up to be taught it’s not OK to be gay or to be in a same-sex relationship, but you are. You can’t change how you feel.”

She even tried to use her faith to alter who she really was because of her conditioning.

“Believe me, I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed to try and change how I see boys and how I see girls,” she says.

“[But] I was made this way. God made me who I am.”

Betty’s life is intimately bound up with her religion. She works as centre manager for a Christian charity offering community support and aid to the people of Rhyl, Denbighshire, taking over from her mother who helped establish the charity out of a church during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her personal faith and relationship with Christianity is strong – it is clear to see it permeates every aspect of her life, and this remains the case despite some of the experiences she has had with churchgoers who disapprove of homosexuality, and have made that plain to her.

However, when she initially embarked on a relationship with a woman, she went through a crisis of belief.

“It was the first serious relationship I’d had with a woman and I really struggled.”

‘Disowned’

She and her current partner are now “unravelling” elements of past conditioning after “all those years of being drilled, ‘you’re going to hell, you’re going to hell'”.

It has led to a breach with her father’s side of the family. “We no longer speak. They’ve kind of disowned me because I’m with a woman,” she says.

She has been told by one family member they pray they can go to hell in her place so she can go to heaven.

Andrei Daniel Production Father Lee Taylor, Fabiano Da Silva Duarte and Right Rev Gregory Cameron
Fabiano Da Silva Duarte, left, and Father Lee Taylor were believed to be the first same-sex couples to receive an official Church in Wales blessing on their marriage in 2021, even though they could not wed in church

“That is so hard-hitting for me, because I believe there is a heaven and a hell. That’s really hard for me to hear and it made me doubt myself, and it’s that conditioning that needs to be unravelled,” she says.

Perhaps ironically, it was through a church that she and her partner Hannah first met, after Betty and her mother visited an old place of worship that her future partner attended.

Although Hannah had not come out at the time she became a Christian, she still experienced anti-gay sentiments through Sunday services.

Getty Images Two women getting married
Marriage between two same-sex people is still a “taboo” in some churches, in Betty’s experience

“She was preached at and told it was not OK to be gay just in a general Sunday service. She was like, ‘hang on that’s ridiculous, why can’t you be accepted for being gay?’,” she said.

Betty acknowledges steps have been taken in some Christian churches to welcome and accept LGBTQ+ members, but so far has not found somewhere she feels accepted.

“We’ve been to many, many churches around the area and a lot of them say ‘you’re welcome’. But if you’re married it’s a bit of a taboo subject,” she says.

At one church, initially welcoming to the couple, Betty says she was told after consultations with members of the congregation that she could attend choir rehearsals.

But she was also told not sing or perform on stage because “we wouldn’t want you to influence the younger people, and you couldn’t be a role model for them”.

After conditions were also put on her partner working with the Sunday school, Betty says she “walked away”.

“I said ‘we’ve been together two-and-a-half years and we need to find a church that is completely accepting, and I don’t think we’re going to find that. So I’m going to start something’,” she added.

“And that’s kind of how that snowballed.”

She says the “spur of the moment” decision is something she has run with “because it is so needed”.

‘Everyone is accepted for who they are’

She is now trying to find a wider group of people who are interested, locate a building and a “wholly accepting” pastor for the church, and has already had positive responses to the idea online.

“It’s not specifically for only LGBT people. Straight people are welcome. Everybody is welcome, even if you’re not a Christian,” she said.

Betty is looking for “anywhere in Wales” where there is a good building in a welcoming community, suggesting somewhere “youthful” and “modernised” such as Llandudno.

“I think of a church I would like it to look like – [such as] the churches that have very upbeat music. I suppose it would be mainly directed at younger-ish people, unless some of the older people love the music; they’d be more than welcome,” she grins.

She envisages a place where people can “do what they want” in worship.

“It shouldn’t be something you’re reading [from a leaflet] constantly. You should dance, express yourself how you best express yourself. That’s the kind of church I’d like to start.”

Getty Images St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh
The Scottish Episcopal Church is one of the religious groups in the UK which carries out same-sex weddings in its buildings

Betty and Hannah are hoping to marry in 2025, and if things go to plan hope they will be able to have a blessing in their own church after a civil service.

Currently, same-sex couples are unable to marry in Roman Catholic churches, the Anglican Church of England or the Church in Wales, although the Church of Scotland has voted in favour of the move.

Other denominations, such as the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church, Quakers and the Scottish Episcopal Church perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

After years of hearing her sexuality was sinful, Betty just wants to be in a place where she and other gay people are accepted.

As she says: “All you’re doing is loving somebody. It’s not like you’re murdering or anything like that.

“You’re just loving somebody, and God is love, so how can he discriminate [against] you for loving someone?”

Complete Article HERE!

Greece legalises gay marriage

— Becoming first Orthodox Christian country to allow same-sex unions

Members of the LGBTQ+ community and supporters celebrate in front of the Greek parliament.

By Prisha

In a historic decision, the Greek parliament on Thursday (Feb 15) passed a law which legalised same-sex marriage and made it the first majority Orthodox Christian country where marriage equality for all has been established.

In spite of opposition from Orthodox Christian clergy and conservative segments of society, the decision received the support of 176 out of 300 lawmakers in the parliament. The bill introduced by the centre-right government was opposed by 76 lawmakers, after months of polarised political and public discourse.

The country’s LGBTQ+ couples welcomed the parliament’s decision as the onlookers in parliament cheered and dozens celebrated on the streets of Athens.

“This is a milestone for human rights, reflecting today’s Greece – a progressive, and democratic country, passionately committed to European values,” said Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in a post on X after the voting.

“People who have been invisible will finally be made visible around us, and with them, many children will finally find their rightful place,” said the prime minister in the parliament, ahead of the vote.

“The reform makes the lives of several of our fellow citizens better, without taking away anything from the lives of the many,” he added.

The historic law has given the right to wed and adopt children to same-sex couples, decades after the LGBT community campaigned for marriage equality in the socially conservative country.

Even though civil partnerships for gay couples were introduced by Greece nearly a decade ago under the left-wing Syriza government, the government recognised only the biological parents of children in those relationships as legal guardians.

However, as per the new law, same-sex parents can now be recognised as legal parents of the children.
<h2”>‘Proud to be Greek’: LGBT community celebrates on streets

“This is a historic moment,” said Stella Belia, the head of same-sex parents group Rainbow Families, while speaking to Reuters news agency. “This is a day of joy,” she added.

LGBT communities rallied outside parliament and one of the banners read: “Not a step back from real equality.”

“I’m very proud as a Greek citizen because Greece is actually – now – one of the most progressive countries,” said Ermina Papadima, who is a member of the Greek Transgender Support Association.

“I think the mindset is going to change… We have to wait, but I think the laws are going to help with that,” she added.

Celebrating the law, many people sang passages from the Bible, read prayers, held crosses and displayed banners in the capital’s Syntagma Square.

However, the head of the Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, said that the measure would “corrupt the homeland’s social cohesion”.

Complete Article HERE!

Victims advocacy group says Washington AG is investigating clergy abuse by Catholic bishops

The Catholic Accountability Project lined up pictures outside the Attorney General’s Office Tuesday of the 151 clergy members in Washington who have so far been convicted of sexual abuse. The organization said they believe the AGO opened an investigation in August 2023 of three other Bishops in the state.

by Shauna Sowersby

The state Attorney General’s Office may have subpoenaed three Catholic bishops in Washington state seeking “abuse-related documents and evidence,” the Catholic Accountability Project said at a news conference Tuesday.

The subpoenas were delivered in late August, according to the group who said they learned of the AGO’s involvement through a “highly credible source.”

“If this is true, (Attorney General) Bob Ferguson has joined 23 other state attorneys general, both Democrats and Republicans, in investigating sexual abuse in faith-based organizations since 2018,” said Tim Law, a Catholic Accountability Project (CAP) founding member.

Bellingham affordable housing units flood during January's record freeze

The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment or confirm whether or not an investigation has in fact been opened.

“As a longstanding policy, the Attorney General’s Office generally does not comment on ongoing investigations, including confirming or denying their existence,” said Brionna Aho, communications director for the office.

CAP is an advocacy and support group for survivors of clergy sexual assault and aims to hold perpetrators in churches accountable, their website says.

The group was told subpoenas were sent to bishops in Yakima, Spokane and Seattle, Law said. He said the investigation is occurring thanks to an organization called Heal Our Church that brought evidence forward to the AGO a few years ago.

Law said the accusations against some of the bishops date back as far as the 1960s.

Survivors of clergy abuse spoke at the news conference.

“The only way to get large organizations like this to change their policies to stop enabling abusers is through incentives,” said Marino Hardin, a former Jehovah’s Witness and abuse survivor. “If they face accountability from their victims and from society, they can change those policies.”

Advocates are also urging other victims, whistleblowers and concerned residents to contact the AGO.

“If you care about justice you need to know that it’s the church’s job to forgive — it’s the Attorney General’s job to ensure justice for our children,” Sharon Hurling said.

Members of CAP told reporters that the AGO and the state are the “only hope” because the Catholic church does not police itself.

Complete Article HERE!