This Pride Month, Catholic Church shows clear, if subtle, shifts toward LGBTQ welcome

From welcoming trans women at the Vatican to promoting LGBTQ outreach around the world, some advocates say Pope Francis has created a space for inclusion without fear.

A rainbow shines over St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Jan. 31, 2021.

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During the characteristically bombastic celebrations for Pride Month in many countries all over the world this June, the Catholic Church, guided by Pope Francis, has quietly shown welcome to the LGBTQ community, while avoiding changes to doctrine.

“Catholic LGBTQ ministry has been expanding astronomically in the last decade,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director at New Ways Ministry, a Catholic outreach program aimed at promoting inclusion and justice for the LGBTQ community, in a comment to Religion News Service on Friday (June 24).

“Pope Francis’ welcoming statements and gestures are the main reason for this greater openness to LGBTQ people,” he added.

Six transgender women from different cultural and social backgrounds walked into the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday (June 22). The meeting was not announced on the pope’s daily schedule and was organized by Sister Genevieve Jeanningros, 79, known for her work with marginalized groups, including circus performers, the homeless and members of the trans community.

Jeanningros, who does her ministry from a chapel located in a small caravan parked next to a funfair in the Roman port town of Ostia, has known the pope since his election in 2013. She told the Italian online media outlet Fanpage that she asked Francis if she could bring more than one person to the Vatican, to which he allegedly answered: “Bring them all.”

One of the trans women who visited the pope, Alessia, said the meeting with Francis “was emotional” and “they felt welcomed.”

“On Pride Month I think this is an important message,” she said. “The best part of having spoken to Pope Francis is that it was simply a meeting among people and not focused on our differences.”

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sept. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sept. 5, 2021.

This isn’t the first time Pope Francis, who once worked as a nightclub bouncer in his native town of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has shown openness and interest in welcoming members of the LGBTQ community. During the pandemic, he asked papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski to support a group of trans sex workers who had found refuge in a parish on the outskirts of Rome. The pope has written letters of encouragement to Catholics who minister to the LGBTQ community all over the world, and on Easter of 2021 he invited a trans community in Rome to meet him at the Vatican and helped them get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Pope Francis “has given people courage, and his approach of dialogue and accompaniment has given people a Catholic explanation for how LGBTQ inclusion can be authentically Catholic,” DeBernardo said.

The Catholic Church has not made any changes to doctrine concerning LGBTQ people, and according to its catechism, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” But Pope Francis’ message of welcome and inclusion toward marginalized people has had ripple effects in the Catholic Church, effects that have become especially evident during this Pride Month.

One example, DeBernardo said, “is how many Catholic parishes now participate in pride parades and festivals.” New Ways Ministry, founded in 1977, was accustomed to only one such example a year. “Now, Catholic parishes’ participation in pride events is becoming a normal part of pride celebrations, and a normal part of Catholic parish life.”

On Father’s Day (June 19), Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka, a civilly married gay couple with two daughters, stood before congregants at Old Saint Patrick’s Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago to read a reflection on the homily.

“In all honesty, if you had told us as young boys who wasted countless hours of our lives in church trying to ‘pray the gay away’ that we someday would be standing in front of all of you in our Catholic Church talking about our family on Father’s Day, we would never have believed you,” they said in their reflection.

The Vatican City flag, left, and a pride flag. Images courtesy of Creative Commons
The Vatican City flag, left, and a pride flag.

Cardinal Blaze Cupich of Chicago has been an outspoken advocate for redoubling the Catholic Church’s effort to promote inclusivity and welcome of LGBTQ persons.

The Jesuit university of Fordham in New York City will be hosting a conference June 24–25 called “Outreach 2022: LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Conference,” which will address questions on how to minister to LGBTQ individuals in parishes, schools and at work. Bishop John Eric Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, which will also tackle questions on mental health, race and theology for LGBTQ Catholics.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, in Germany, the Catholic Church has undertaken a “Synodal Path,” a massive consultation among bishops and the laity, to address issues ranging from female ordination to sexuality.

Yet, despite these welcoming signals, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement in March 2021 banning the blessing of gay couples, citing the concern that faithful might consider such unions equivalent to marriage between a man and a woman and stating that the Catholic Church “cannot bless sin.”

The decision was met with shock and dismay by many LGBTQ Catholics who hoped Pope Francis had ushered in a new era of acceptance within the church. Just weeks after the ban, German priests, in open defiance, blessed numerous gay couples in hundreds of ceremonies around the country.

LGBT activists and their supporters gather for the first-ever Pride parade in the central city of Plock, Poland, on Aug. 10, 2019. The parade comes as the country finds itself bitterly divided over the growing visibility of the LGBT community and as the government and powerful Catholic church denounce gay rights as a threat to society. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
LGBTQ activists and supporters gather for the first-ever pride parade in the central city of Plock, Poland, on Aug. 10, 2019.

Pietro Morotti and Giacomo Spagnoli, a gay couple in Bologna, Italy, were among those who voiced on social media their disappointment in the Vatican ban. And this year, on June 11, after being civilly married, the couple walked to their nearby church of San Lorenzo di Budrio for an intimate “Thanksgiving Mass” with friends and priests. News of the event led to indignation by some Catholics, who saw the ceremony as in direct violation of the Vatican’s doctrinal decision.

The Rev. Maurizio Mattarelli, who oversees a parish group for the accompaniment of LGBTQ faithful called “In Cammino” (On the Way) told local media that the couple participated in his program and had been part of his parish for 30 years.

“Just a word of advice, don’t make theoretical judgements,” he said. “Try to get to know these two people, or homosexual couples, who participate in our group, in person.”

“The church is called to unite, not divide,” he added.

In a statement June 19, the Archdiocese of Bologna clarified the Mass was not a blessing of the union, adding that the diocese stands in opposition to “all discrimination and violence based on sexuality.”

The head of the Archdiocese of Bologna, Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, was recently selected by Pope Francis to head the Italian Bishops Conference — a promotion viewed by some as the pope’s encouragement for a change of direction among the traditionally conservative episcopacy in Italy.

In 2018, Zuppi wrote the preface for the book “Building a Bridge” by the Rev. James Martin, promoting welcome and outreach to the LGBTQ community. In 2020, the cardinal wrote another preface for a book by Italian journalist Luciano di Moia, “The Church and Homosexuality,” offering pastoral guidelines to minister to gay Catholics.

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the new head of the Italian bishops conference, talks during a press conference in Rome, Friday, May 27, 2022. Pope Francis named a bishop in his own image, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, as the new head of the Italian bishops conference, as the Italian Catholic Church comes under mounting pressure to confront its legacy of clerical sexual abuse with an independent inquiry. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the new head of the Italian bishops conference, talks during a press conference in Rome, Friday, May 27, 2022.

“When our communities will begin to truly see people as God sees them, including homosexual people and everyone else, they will naturally begin to feel part of the ecclesial community, on the way,” Zuppi wrote in the preface to the book by di Moia.

Along with the promotion of Zuppi — considered ‘papabile’ by some, meaning eligible to be elected pope — Pope Francis has also been making moves to diminish the power of the Vatican’s doctrinal department this year. His Apostolic Constitution, “Praedicate Evangelium” or “Preach the Gospel,” published in March, stripped the department of some of its teeth, placing an emphasis on dialoguing with those who hold dissenting opinions, rather than imposing sentences.

And earlier, in January, the pope removed Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the No. 2 official at the doctrinal department, considered responsible for the document banning gay blessings, from his position.

LGBTQ outreach and ministry “used to be something that was done rather secretly, with pastoral leaders wanting to stay under the radar,” said DeBernardo, but thanks to the efforts of Francis and others, he believes this work can now be done without as much fear of controversy or reprimand.

“In more and more parishes, LGBTQ people are not only welcome, but are becoming ministry leaders in all kinds of activities and programs, not just LGBTQ outreach efforts,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

Lay ‘reflection’ raises doctrinal, liturgical questions in Chicago archdiocese

Old St. Patrick’s Church, Chicago, Il.

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As the Archdiocese of Chicago calls for liturgical orthodoxy in its implementation of Traditiones custodes, at least one parish has permitted lay people to give a homiletic reflection, despite the Church’s requirements that a homily be given at Sunday Mass, and that homilies can be preached only by ordained ministers.

The Archdiocese of Chicago declined to comment on liturgical and doctrinal questions concerning a June 19 Mass at Chicago’s Old St. Patrick’s Church.

Instead of a homily after the Gospel, the celebrant invited two men to the ambo to offer a Father’s Day “Gospel reflection,” which the priest said was a custom in the parish.

The two men – identified as Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka – described as “miracles” their same-sex civil marriage and the adoption of two daughters, comparing those moments to the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in the Gospel reading.

“This week Chicago is celebrating Pride, and today is Father’s Day, and conveniently we tick both of those boxes,” one of the men said, to laughter from the congregation.

“Let’s be honest, there are probably not too many gay dads speaking on Father’s Day at many Catholic Churches on the planet today.”

Canon law stipulates that a homily is “reserved to a priest or deacon” and “must be given at all Masses on Sundays and holy days of obligation which are celebrated with a congregation.”

While the parish did not refer to the men’s reflection as a homily, it came after the Gospel reading -when the homily usually takes place – and immediately ahead of a blessing for fathers, and then the recitation of the Creed.

During their reflection, the men said they had felt unwelcome at other Catholic churches over the years, but were impressed by St. Patrick’s message of “radical inclusivity.”

They recalled attending an LGBT meeting when they first came to the parish, at which they recalled a priest saying that “that while other Catholic churches and their leaders may be tone deaf, Old St. Pat’s has figured it out.”

“Today we had the Gospel where Jesus fed the masses from five loaves and two fishes – clearly a miracle. Something that is unexplainable, unexpected, and truly marvelous, where something that started small became a huge blessing,” Shingleton said.

“Well, our journey to fatherhood has been marked by a series of events that started small, but became huge blessings. And while they may not meet the strict definitions of miracles – meaning no one will be gaining sainthood here today – they are unexplainable, unexpected, and truly marvelous nonetheless.”

The men said that they discussed wanting children on their first date, in 2004.

“The first miracle of our story came in 2007, when gay marriage – which was then called civil union – became legal in the United Kingdom, which is where I’m from,” Shingleton said.

They described their adoption of two baby girls as additional miracles, given that they took place at a time when many states did not allow same-sex couples to adopt.

“The final miracle in our story is here – Old St. Pat’s,” Duyka said.

The pair has lived in many different cities, and experienced many different Catholic parishes, Duyka added. In many of these churches they felt unwelcomed, he continued, citing a homily that described gay marriage as sinful and parishioners who would not shake their hands during the Sign of Peace.

“We wanted to raise our children in the Catholic Church…” he said. “On the other hand, we didn’t want to expose our children to bigotry and have them feel any shame or intolerance about their family.”

The men said they felt affirmed at Old St. Patrick’s, where they have now been members for 10 years.

“On this Father’s Day, during Pride, we pray that if you are ever given the opportunity to stand up for families like ours, that you will do so,” Duyka said. “Because our voices are very strong, but they are not nearly loud enough without yours.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that people who identify as LGBT “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

In 2021, Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich urged Catholics to “redouble our efforts to be creative and resilient in finding ways to welcome and encourage all LGBTQ people in our family of faith.”

In the same year, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith confirmed that “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage … as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”

“The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan,” the CDF added, in a text approved by Pope Francis.

Nevertheless, the CDF in 2003 said it would be unjust for civil governments to develop a definition of marriage that includes same-sex relationships.

And in 2006, the U.S. bishops’ conference explained that “the Church does not support the adoption of children by same-sex couples, since homosexual unions are contrary to the divine plan.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal explains that “the homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago was among the first U.S. dioceses to announce a comprehensive liturgical policy after the Congregation for Divine Worship issued instructions on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass last December. The instructions accompanied Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Traditionis custodes.

Citing an opportunity for the priests of the archdiocese to promote unity within the Church, Cardinal Blase Cupich banned the celebration of Mass in the ad orientem posture – facing east, away from the congregation – without permission.

Priests who have permission to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass must also celebrate the Novus ordo one Sunday a month, as well as on Christmas, Triduum, and Pentecost under the Chicago policy, and readings must be proclaimed in the vernacular at Latin Masses.

In a January 5 letter announcing new norms, Cupich urged Chicago priests “to faithfully adhere to the liturgical norms, so that as the Body of Christ, our worship of God may always enrich and never diminish the faith of our people.”

Citing Benedict XVI, the cardinal encouraged Masses “being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this missal.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pride, prejudice, and the Pope

Irish American Michael O’Loughlin understands how far gay Catholics have come, and how far we all still have to go before something like real progress is made.

June is widely known as Pride Month, an effort to acknowledge the obstacles that gays, lesbians, and many others have had to overcome in America.

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To a group that calls itself CatholicVote, well, that’s precisely the problem. They seem to believe that shame is so much better. This despite all the evidence to the contrary painfully provided by many — though not all — within the church this group claims to follow.

“A controversial conservative Catholic organization is urging parents to ‘Hide the Pride’ during Pride Month — by checking out any LBGTQ-related books they see at their local libraries so that no children will see them,” TheHill.com reported last week, adding that CatholicVote cites “recent polls” which show “American moms and dads do not want their children exposed to sexual and ‘trans’ content as part of their education.”

I don’t know whether to howl with rage or yawn at the sheer boredom of all this.

Well, to paraphrase George Carlin, if there are still any books left after certain folks have burned the ones that really bother them, you should check out the one Michael O’Loughlin recently wrote.

O’Loughlin, after all, understands how far gay Catholics — yes, you read that right, Catholic voters — have come. And how far we all still have to go before something like real progress is made.

“In many ways,” O’Loughlin told the Irish Voice, sister publication to IrishCentral, recently, “knowing all this history makes it easier to weather the current onslaught of bigotry. Because I have a better sense now of how others endured it, fought it, and overcame it.”

O’Loughlin’s book “Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear,” begins with a central conflict in not just his own life, but in that of so many other Irish Catholics, on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I am gay and I am Catholic,” O’Loughlin writes. “And I struggle continuously to reconcile those two parts of my identity.”

Such a noble yet rare thing to do these days. To work to try and bring something together, even as so many others are shouting and ranting and raging. Or just walking away and bitterly giving up.

The folks at CatholicVote may not be impressed. But a fellow in the Vatican sure was.

Late last year, O’Loughlin wrote an op-ed essay in The New York Times, explaining that his extensive talks with people trying to reconcile their faith and sexuality — “the fellowship, gratitude and moments of revelation we exchanged…had a profound effect on my own faith.”

In fact, O’Loughlin, whose grandfather came to the US from Tuam, Co Galway, decided to write a letter to Pope Francis.

“To my surprise, he wrote back,” O’Loughlin writes.

Pope Francis responded, in part, “Thank you for shining a light on the lives and bearing witness to the many priests, religious sisters and lay people, who opted to accompany, support and help their brothers and sisters who were sick from HIV and AIDS at great risk to their profession and reputation.”

O’Loughlin had to admit that the Pope’s “words offer me encouragement that dialogue is possible between LGBT Catholics and church leaders, even at the highest levels.”

So, along the same lines, on June 24 and 25, Outreach 2022 will take place at Fordham University in New York City.

While the CatholicVote folks are content to divide in the hopes of conquering well, something, folks like Father James Martin, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, will gather to discuss what Catholics and the LGBTQ community have in common. They will work to make the world a better, not more hostile, place.

This should not be shocking.

Sadly, this is still kind of a big deal.

Either way, all involved should be very proud.

Complete Article HERE!

What did San Diegan Aaron Bianco, once chased out of his church for his LGBTQ ministry, tell Pope Francis?

‘I work with LGBT Catholics in the United States, and I want to thank you for speaking up that all people should feel welcome in the church,’ he tells the pontiff

Aaron Bianco, a professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, meets Pope Francis at the Vatican while attending an international conference exploring Pope Francis’ 2016 treatise on marriage and family, “Amoris Laetitia.”

By sandi dolbee

As he approached Pope Francis, who was seated in a wheelchair because of a painful knee and clothed in his familiar white cassock and cap, Aaron Bianco already had been coached on what not to do. Don’t bow or genuflect; he doesn’t like that. Don’t kiss his ring; it makes him angry. But do take off your mask; he wants to see your face.

Bending over to get closer to him, Bianco gave him a handwritten letter, which staff members promptly snatched. Then Francis reached up and clasped Bianco’s hands as his visitor began to speak.

“Your holiness, my name is Aaron Bianco. I’m a professor at the University of San Diego.” At the mention of San Diego, the pontiff noticeably brightened and they spent a couple moments sharing their mutual admiration for Robert McElroy, local bishop of this diocese who would be named a cardinal two weeks later.

Bianco pressed on. “I work with LGBT Catholics in the United States, and I want to thank you for speaking up that all people should feel welcome in the church.”

Francis squeezed Bianco’s hand. “He said, ‘You need to continue that work because they need to feel welcome in the church, and we need more people like you.’ ”

As Bianco walked back to his seat, tears filled his eyes.

What a difference four years can make.

In October 2018, Bianco’s tears were of another kind. He was stepping down from his lay ministry to gays and lesbians at St. John the Evangelist Church in Hillcrest, chased out by a vitriolic campaign mounted by anti-gay factions who published invasive diatribes on websites, vandalized his car, scrawled a homophobic slur on a church wall and even threatened his life.

It was, in short, a living hell.

But there he was last month at the Vatican as an invited guest, communing with the leader of 1.3 billion Catholics — the largest Christian church on the planet. And that leader had just told him to keep up the good work.

It was a long way from hell.

“Ineffable” is how he describes the experience — one of those precious moments that is beyond words.

Bianco, who teaches in USD’s theology and religious studies department, was in Rome to deliver a paper on the plight of LGBT Catholics at an international conference exploring Pope Francis’ 2016 treatise on marriage and family, “Amoris Laetitia.” The document, which called for better integration of divorced, remarried and LGBT Catholics, had gained widespread attention when it was released and the pope now wanted the church to explore the ideas more deeply. Held May 11 to 14, the conference drew more than 150 participants.

Pope Francis with attendees of an international conference exploring his 2016 treatise on marriage and family, “Amoris Laetitia.”

Sharing their stories

He began his presentation by introducing himself as a gay man living in a committed relationship for 17 years, but then segued into a slide show that told four stories of other gay Catholics and their feelings of exclusion and condemnation as they struggle to live authentic lives. Among them: An older gay man who, with his partner of 35 years, raised a niece who is now a nun, and a lesbian couple who watched Mass on TV for years rather than risk the pain of being denied the Eucharist because of who they are.

“I didn’t want the talk to be about me,” Bianco says. “I really do this for other people. I think I’m at a place where I understand the church and I know how the church works and I don’t get too flustered when I hear things that I don’t like. I know what it means to be a Catholic. But what’s sad to me is people who aren’t at that place and they leave because they’re unhappy.”

He was nervous when he stood to deliver his address, which was held in a breakout session. But as soon as he began to show the slides and tell their stories, he saw by the concentration on people’s faces that it was working. “There was one sister who teaches at a university in Nairobi. I do believe I saw tears starting to come down her eyes.”

Emily Reimer-Barry, an associate professor of Christian ethics at USD, sat in on Bianco’s talk. Most of the seats in the room were taken — and there was a line of people waiting afterward to speak to him.

The stories resonated with the audience, says Reimer-Barry, who delivered a paper on women in the church at the conference. “People see the humanity. Even I as a cisgender, heterosexual female can hear those stories and be moved. It’s not because I share their sexual orientation. It’s because I see their humanity. I see their struggle. He was able to bring those stories to light and that’s just such a gift.”

It was Reimer-Barry who urged Bianco to submit a proposal to speak at the conference. “I really thought that Aaron’s expertise and voice would contribute significantly to the conversation in Rome. I was not surprised when it did.”

While Bianco’s talk praised the pontiff for taking steps toward inclusion, he also pointed out where his treatise fell short. He especially took umbrage at Francis referring to gay relationships as “irregular.”

He also criticized priests and bishops who deny the Eucharist to LGBT Catholics. “Eucharist is the pinnacle of God’s love and dwelling within us,” he told the conference. “Should we not find ways to bring all those in ‘irregular’ situations back to the Lord?”

The letter Bianco wrote to the pope included two of the stories.

Wait — and see

What impact this conference might have remains uncertain. While Pope Francis himself seems open to change, his words have had little impact on official church policy, which continues to teach that “under no circumstances” are homosexual acts condoned.

Bianco acknowledges the challenge of balancing centuries of teaching with an evolving awareness of sexuality. And he is walking proof of the deeply held resistance on the part of many conservatives and traditionalists who are convinced this is a sin too great to overcome.

And this isn’t the only issue before the church. What about the debate over women priests and married priests?

“I think (Pope Francis) often thinks to himself, ‘If I move too fast, what’s going to happen?’ So how do we move at a rate that is not going to cause some kind of schism inside the church?”

Bianco remains convinced that he can do more good working for change within the church than leaving and going somewhere else.

“For me, I truly believe that at my baptism it became my home,” says Bianco, a cradle Catholic from New York.

He praises the pope’s decision to elevate Bishop McElroy, who is considered a progressive, to the College of Cardinals, leapfrogging over higher-ranking, but more conservative, archbishops.

“There are parts of the church that I disagree with. I make no bones about that,” Bianco tells me. “But I also in the church have found some of the most kind, loving, gospel-oriented people that I have ever met who love me just the way I am.”

Complete Article HERE!

No Surprise in That Southern Baptist Sex Scandal Report

— Religion Has a History of Covering Sexual Dysfunction

President Jimmy Carter addressing the SBC in Atlanta in 1978 (in 2009, Carter broke with the SBC over its position on the status of women).

By Gay Today

The recent release of that 300-page report of widespread sexual abuse and its cover-up by leaders and ministers in the Southern Baptist Convention (America’s largest Protestant denomination) is only a surprise to people who’ve been in denial about the millennia-long history of the relationship of religions to sexual obsession. Allegations of sexual abuse and this denomination’s handling of them in particular have been news for decades.

Of course, the anti-Catholic stand of these Baptists and most Evangelicals has kept them condemning the same thing in Roman Catholicism for a century. And widespread sexual abuse is a factor in Evangelicalism beyond this denomination.

But this is not about hypocrisy, which is actually not considered such a bad thing in right-wing religion. It’s about something inherent in its doctrinal structure.

As I wrote in the chapter “Not So Strange Bedfellows: Sexual Addiction* and Religious Addiction:” “The existence of widespread sexual abuse by the clergy beyond the Catholic Church remains another societal secret. Though, as best we can tell, it occurs in similar proportions, it’s widely swept under the rug by denominations and local churches.”

The real history of religions throughout the world shows how its leaders and institutions have been concerned with controlling human sexuality through almost any means, especially when controlling that sexuality supports the culture’s political and economic powers. At the same time, history is replete with sexual harassment and abuse.

Obsession with sexual control is due to religions having been useful to political rulers to promote their power – kings, emperors, and politicians who funded the religious institutions and were often treated as exempt from the religious sexual prohibitions that were enforced on the commoners. Religious leaders and institutions relied on economic and political patronage and protection from governments just as the religious right-wing wants it to be today.

Sexual control of populations is vastly common to, but doesn’t have to be something inherent in, religion itself. There’s as much sexual abuse in non-religious corporations as in any denomination.

Healthy religion could be used to promote so much else, but that would mean giving up much institutional power. Instead, religious leaders would have to become comfortable with promoting freedom and personal choice.

But sexual obsession and control represent a familiar way religion has been used by its leaders, institutions, and allies to control the populace – adding eternal damnation, other condemnations, and threats to sanctify worldly power plays.

Sex has been good for stoking religion because it’s universal and, in Capitalism, it sells. Thus, at the same time it can be both promoted for profit and useful to raise guilt when it’s ever practiced.

For millennia, then, religious leaders have been preaching that their divines want all kinds of controls on human sexuality.

You’ve noticed that that kind of preaching has mostly failed, right? If you listen to controlling religious leaders who continue to repeat these failed tactics talk, they’re shouting today as much as ever, if not more, that sexual license – being out of (their) control – is worse today than ever.

Of course, this is combined with right-wing religious leaders’ claims that it’s those other religions or denominations that have the problem – proof that they have the Truth and those others don’t.

The Southern Baptist Convention, like the Roman Catholic Church, has shown that it can act like a major international bureaucracy that has institutionalized sexual addictions and covered them up with religion addiction.

And all through this, these institutions continue to act as if LGBTQ people or homosexuality is the societal problem. No, no look over there!

That trope was debunked decades ago. The majority of members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, for example, are women. And reports of sexual abuse to SNAP have regularly come from Evangelicals.

The reality of right-wing religion’s sexual sickness is that repression leads to obsession. And sexual addiction* and dysfunction and their cover-up with sexual and religious righteousness are widespread cultural phenomena that our sexually sick culture doesn’t want to face.

“As long as we can pin addiction on dysfunctional families and make them the primary cause of sexual addiction,” Anne Wilson Schaef asks in Escape from Intimacy, “can we then hold onto the illusion of ‘normal,’ refuse to look at the role of our institutions (especially church and school), and avoid completely the role of addictive society?”

As I discuss in When Religion Is an Addiction, the relationship between sexual addiction and religious addiction has a long history as cross-addictions in the Church, back at least as far as influential Church Father St. Augustine whose own Confessions show that he’s a classic example of a sexual addict covering it up by becoming a religion addict.

Augustine’s theological cover-up concluded that original sin was actually passed down through the sex act he could never reconcile in his personal life. Hence the Church would become a place for sexual anorexia and bulimia.

Even more today, though, it’s multiplied by that economic sexualization of our culture through conservative corporate, “free market” consumerism. Sex, the ad industry still believes, sells. It’s portrayed as something everyone can “have” better if they buy, buy, and buy more.

Sex is sold as proof you’re a real man or woman. It proves you’re finally close to another human being.

Everyone else has the stuff that ensures that they’re having the great sex you aren’t, you should fear. And if you aren’t compulsive about sex, you’re told there’s something wrong with you. Even some “science” colludes with the idea.

This is an ideal environment for religious institutions to recruit followers by convincing them that they’re guilty for having, or even thinking about, sex or the wrong kind of sex.

This tried and true method for getting people to relieve their guilt would lose much of its power if society weren’t selling things this way. No wonder right-wing religion is in cahoots with big business and its consumerism.

Correcting the societally encouraged sexually dysfunctional thinking and resulting guilt would require institutional and personal healing and learning how sexuality can be holistic and healthy. It would require recognizing the variety of sexual orientations and expressions.

But the popular method is to try to relieve the guilt and shame with a cover-up – the religious addiction to the feeling of being righteous.

Enter anti-sex politics and right-wing Christianity with its fear of anything it can’t control. Hide in the high of feeling righteous and identifying with each righteous cause, cling to the righteous feelings of right-wing Christianity’s exclusivism, and you have crossed into religion addiction.

It’s easier than coming to terms with what one hates or fears about themself and rejecting the institutions that promote fear and hate. It’s easier than learning to find one’s healthy sexual self.

Instead, this righteousness high works, until the addicts fall off the wagon.

Complete Article HERE!