Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin asks forgiveness for homophobia in the Catholic Church

Homophobia was an «unholy line of tradition» in the Catholic Church, says Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin

Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin has asked forgiveness for the church’s discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.

Homophobia was an «unholy line of tradition» in the Catholic Church, Koch said May 17 during an ecumenical service in the Protestant Twelve Apostles Church in Berlin.

The German Catholic news agency KNA said he called for respect for the dignity of every human being, regardless of their sexual orientation, and announced that the Archdiocese of Berlin would take measures to ensure this, ucanews.com reports.

Complete Article HERE!

Why Queer Latinxs Aren’t Giving Up on the Catholic Church

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Latinxs make up 34 percent of all American Catholic adults. As of 2022, the Catholic Church still does not recognize gay marriages, and according to Pew Research, Latinx Catholics tend to be more aligned with the church than European American Catholics. They are also more likely than European American Catholics to view various behaviors, such as homosexuality, as sins. For many queer Catholic Latinxs, navigating faith, community, and emotional well-being within the church can be like walking a tightrope.

In the last few years, Pope Francis has been vocal about being more accepting of queer people in the church – or at least creating spaces for pastoral care. He declared early in his papacy, “If someone is gay, and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis even went so far as to openly thank the cofounder of New Ways Ministry, Sister Jeannine Gramick, who was barred from community work because she supported LGBTQ+ Catholics. However, the Pope has also upheld church doctrine that calls for LGBTQ+ chastity and refers to homosexual acts as “disordered.” Just last year, the Vatican’s doctrinal body declared that Catholic priests could not bless same-sex unions, much to the frustration of those who saw the Pope’s previous comments as a step in a more accepting direction.

With the Vatican refusing to change its stance on homosexuality being a sin, how do LGBTQ+ individuals fit into and navigate a religion that’s set not only on their expulsion, but on their destruction? The answer isn’t black or white, but queer Latinx Catholics who stick to their faith and parish do so for many reasons.

Family and Community Acceptance Versus Tolerance

When Andy Ruiz came out as trans, the first thing her mother did was find a parish that would be loving to and accepting of her children. “With my queer identities, that’s why my mom took a more active role to find a church that was supportive of [my siblings and me]” Ruiz tells POPSUGAR. “Coming out trans to my family, it was like, ‘Well, if the priest says you can come through, come through,'” she laughs. Ruiz’s family comes from a little pueblo in Guanajuato, Mexico, and her Catholicism was heavily mixed with Indigenous practices and more centered on local traditions and feminine deities. “I got to see another side of Catholicism,” she says. “We believed in spirits and other saints that are not recognized by the church . . . my mom always told me as a kid to not look at the Bible at face value or to take the Bible’s teachings directly from someone else,” Ruiz says.

Queer Latinas and Latinx Catholics are not a monolith, but for many, there tends to be a focus on the written word of Jesus over acceptance from the Church itself. Catholic Latina/xs who come from families or parishes that are affirming of their identity might also find it easier to stay in the Church regardless of what the Vatican mandates. “What matters to me is what Jesus said,” Victoria Jiminez, who identifies as gender nonbinary, says. “Jesus was a Black anarchist illegal immigrant who was undermining the state, who was anti-capitalist and emphasized community and loving your neighbor.”

Jimenez, who comes from a strict, non-accepting Cuban household, says that their personal spirituality is what got them through the hurtful things people say about LGBTQ+ individuals. “What else do you have when you’re gay except your internal monologue and your spirituality?” Jimenez says. “It’s not like you can rely on the community, because you see how they react to other people – kids internalize that. We grew up listening to that – some people have amazing families, but again, everyone’s interpretation [of the scripture] is really different.”

Everyone Picks and Chooses

According to Pew Research, 53 percent of US Catholics have never read the Bible or seldom read the Bible. That’s led some to think that the opinions of many US Catholics are based more on the biblical interpretations of priests than on their own understanding of the scripture. “It’s hard to separate culture from religion. The problem, in my opinion, [is that] a lot of people who are very religious discriminate against the LGBT community based on what they believe are religious tenets, but most people haven’t studied the Bible,” Yunuen Trujillo, a lesbian Catholic lay minister and author of “LGBTQ Catholics: A Guide to Inclusive Ministry,” says.

To understand queer Catholics’ presence in the church, we have to look no further than the example set by non-queer Catholics in the church. “Everyone picks and chooses,” Trujillo tells POPSUGAR. “For the issue of queer identities, everybody will tell you, ‘Well, doctrine says this.’ But what does doctrine say about helping the poor? There are more quotes about that in the Bible than anything else.”

A Guttmacher Institute analysis of federal government data from 2012 found by their early 20s, 89 percent of never-married Catholic women had had sex, and virtually all of them were using some form of contraception: things strictly forbidden by the Church. A 2020 study found that among US Catholic women, 25 percent use sterilization, 15 percent use long-acting reversible contraceptives (such as IUDs), and 25 percent use hormonal methods (such as birth-control pills). It also found that 24 percent of women who obtained abortions in 2014 identified as Catholic.

Many queer Catholics ask: why fixate on this hateful interpretation of the scripture while turning a blind eye to other “sins” – such as the child abuse, discrimination against women, genocide, and colonization committed by and on behalf of the Vatican. Sodom and Gomorrah is the main scripture cited to justify homophobia, but even that, according to many, is open to interpretation.

“In college, one of the really fascinating things that my professor was teaching me was that the Hebrew translation of the Old Testament versus New Testament was really off,” Ruiz says. “The New Testament side says that it was sodomy and homosexuality that really smited [sic] [the city], but in the Torah, it’s focused on the act of rape itself. This simple mistranslation could have changed our world drastically. Rape was seen as such a vile thing that God decided to destroy a city over it? Imagine if that would have been our moral law now?”

“My Relationship With God Can Exist Without the Church”

Often, queer Catholic Latinxs must keep their sexuality a secret or consider “chastity” to stay in the church. But more often than not, they either find a more accepting parish or leave the Church altogether. “You want to keep your community, but you don’t want to not be yourself,” Trujillo says. “It shouldn’t be a trade-off. Just like parents shouldn’t have to choose between the church and their children, gay people shouldn’t have to choose between having a partner and living a happy and healthy life and continuing to have the community they were raised with. Why should they have to lose that community? It’s not fair.”

There are directories of accepting parishes, but these can be outdated, and the trial-and-error process of finding accepting priests can be too emotionally exhausting for some. LGBTQ+ Catholics may find it easier to leave or to practice “domestic church” – which is when people organize and get together to worship in their living rooms. Many queer Catholics stay and fight for their rights within the church, but Trujillo says that there is still a long way to go – both in the church and in Latinx culture.

Trujillo says that there is no shame in leaving if your mental and emotional health is suffering. “You don’t have to go to church to be Catholic. In Catholicism and Christianity, there is a lot of common theory, [but] the only thing that matters is what Jesus said,” she says. “When I go to the gospel, [Jesus] was eating with everyone who was discriminated against; he would talk to women and put women in positions of leadership. He would break all the rules: he did the opposite of whatever religious and social rules were at the time. You have to love yourself, and you have to love others – that’s what justifies staying in the Church. That’s the biggest teaching.”

What led to the historic papal apology?

How the Catholic Church has changed its tone

By Brittany Hobson

First Nations, Inuit and Metis residential school survivors, knowledge keepers, elders, and youth have wrapped up meetings with Pope Francis at the Vatican with an historic apology.

The delegation was there to renew calls for the Pope to apologize for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.

On Friday, the Pope said: “I am very sorry.” He also said he will come to Canada, but a date has not been set.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 calls to action in 2015. Among them was a request for an apology from the Pope and for the apology to take place in Canada within one year of the release of the report.

A number of individual Catholic organizations, parishes and bishops have apologized to Indigenous children and their families for the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse the church inflicted on youngsters forced to attend the schools. One of the most recent apologies was issued last September by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A previous pope expressed “sorrow”

A common argument for why it took so long for an apology is that the issue was already addressed, say some experts.

In 2009, a small delegation led by Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, met with former pope Benedict to discuss the abuse and trauma at residential schools with the hope of securing an apology. Benedict expressed “sorrow” for what happened but did not apologize.

Christopher Hrynkow, a professor in the department of religion and culture at St. Thomas Moore College in Saskatoon, says some in the Catholic community saw this as enough of an apology. But he says the TRC asked for something different.

“Everybody understands the importance of the Pope in Catholic culture and what he represents,” Hrynkow says.

He adds some believe that because religious organizations had entered into a partnership with Canada, an apology rested with those specific groups and not with the corporate Catholic Church.

Click to play video: 'Maskwacis residential school survivor pleads for Pope Francis to apologize'
2:02 Maskwacis residential school survivor pleads for Pope Francis to apologize

Jeremy Bergen calls previous statements from the church “wishy-washy,” because they didn’t fully acknowledge the church’s role in the schools.

“They’re sorry bad things happen but they don’t say what everyone’s kind of thinking: the church did it,” says Bergen, an associate professor of religious studies and theological studies at Conrad Grebel University College in Ontario.

In 2019, Pope Francis convened a summit on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. At the time, church higher-ups from around the world apologized to survivors of clergy abuse.

Massimo Faggioli, professor of historical theology at Villanova University in Philadelphia, says he believes some in the Vatican perceived this “sealed the deal” for an apology.

The Church’s language

Apologies from the church are relatively new, says Faggioli. The decision to issue apologies started roughly 40 years ago when former pope John Paul II began his reign.

Bergen says apologetic language is not something churches are comfortable with.

In past years, church statements have used terms such as “repent, confess, or ask pardon or forgiveness,” says Bergen.

He says the Catholic Church needs to learn to speak a new language in order to better communicate with those who have been harmed by its actions. This includes words that make it clear what the wrong was, who did the wrong, and who’s responsible for it.

Support from bishops

Canadian bishops have been divided over the need for an apology from the Pope, says Joe Gunn, executive director for Centre Oblat – A Voice for Justice in Ottawa.

Pope Francis has led with the idea of a more consultative church. And Hrynkow says a commitment to visit Canada would have previously been met with hesitation from the Pope without a direct invitation from bishops.

The request from Canadian bishops had to be there and it wasn’t, says Gunn, who used to work with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

That changed last year with the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country.

Click to play video: 'PM announces more funding for residential school investigations & healing'
PM announces more funding for residential school investigations & healing

“Now all of the bishops of Canada are saying, ‘You know what? It’s a really good idea for him to come here. He should visit. This is what needs to be done,’” says Gunn.

Coming to Canada

Had the Pope waited to apologize in Canada, it would have been a first of its kind, says Faggioli.

Never before has a papal visit been built around the issue of abuse, he says. Previous apologies have been made during papal trips but those were done behind closed doors or last minute.

Delegates at the Vatican say they still expect a more fulsome apology will come from the Pope when he’s on Canadian soil.

“The Canadian case is a big test because it’s new,” says Faggioli. “It’s no longer the sexual abuse against minors itself. But it’s a history of abuse that is sexual, cultural, civilizational, national (and) it’s educational.

“It is much bigger.”

Click to play video: 'Why Pope Francis will have to come to Canada to make amends'
Why Pope Francis will have to come to Canada to make amends

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis apologizes for church role in Indigenous residential schools

This photo taken on March 31, 2022 shows Pope Francis posing with First Nations delegation members in The Vatican, as part of a series of meetings of Indigenous elders, leaders, survivors and youth at the Vatican.

By Stefano Pitrelli & Amanda Coletta

After years of resisting such calls, Pope Francis on Friday apologized for the “deplorable conduct” of some Catholics in Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous children, saying he was “deeply grieved” by the stories of “suffering, hardship, discrimination and various forms of abuse” from survivors.

Speaking to an audience that included an Indigenous delegation that traveled from Canada to the Vatican this week to press for an apology, Francis said he felt “shame” for the role Catholics have had “in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.”

“All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the pope said at the Apostolic Palace. “For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”

Francis also reiterated a pledge made last year to visit Canada, where he said he would be “better able” to show his “closeness.”

The pope has been under renewed pressure to apologize for the Church’s role in the residential school system after several Indigenous communities in Canada in the last year said that ground-penetrating radar had uncovered evidence of hundreds of unmarked graves at or near the sites of former schools.

Beginning in the 19th century, at least 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families — often by force — to attend the government-funded, church-run institutions, which were set up to assimilate them in what Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a 2015 report was “cultural genocide.”

The report said children were punished for practicing their traditions or speaking their languages, and that many suffered various forms of abuse. It identified thousands of children who died at the schools, including from disease, malnourishment, by suicide or while trying to escape. Some were buried in unmarked graves.

The last school closed in the 1990s. Most were run by Catholic entities. The Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches of Canada, which ran some schools, have apologized for their roles. But while some Catholic entities and local church leaders had apologized, Francis and his predecessors had not done so before Friday.

A papal apology on Canadian soil was among the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.

In his remarks, Francis said it was “chilling to think of determined efforts to instill a sense of inferiority, to rob people of their cultural identity, to sever their roots and to consider all the social and personal efforts that this continues to entail: unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas.”

Francis met separately this week with Métis, Inuit and First Nations delegates. The delegation, whose visit was delayed by the pandemic, was made up of Indigenous leaders, elders, youth and residential school survivors, who shared stories of their residential school experiences and the effects that still ripple in their communities.

The delegates also pressed Francis to release records that could shed light on the identities of the children who died at the schools or went missing. Some have also criticized the Church for failing to meet its obligations under a class-action settlement with residential school survivors from 2006.

Others have called on the Vatican to revoke papal bulls of the 15th century that enshrined what’s known as the doctrine of discovery, which were used to justify colonization in the Americas.

As he often does, Francis on Friday lamented “the many forms of political, ideological and economic colonization” that “still exist in the world, driven by greed and thirst for profit, with little concern for peoples, their histories and traditions, and the common home of creation.” He did not revoke the papal bulls.

During a visit this week to an Indigenous community in British Columbia that last year said it had uncovered evidence of 93 possible unmarked graves, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who personally appealed to Francis for an apology in 2017 — said dealing with this “terrible” chapter of history required a response from the pope.

The federal government issued an official apology for its role in the residential school system in 2006.

Francis did not provide a date for his visit to Canada, but joked that it would probably not be in winter. He said he derived “joy” from the veneration of the delegates for St. Anne and “hoped” to be with them on her feast day. It’s in July.

Complete Article HERE!

Jamaican bishop calls for repeal of sodomy law

The retired Anglican bishop of Kingston, Jamaica, the Right Rev. Dr. Robert Thompson, has called for the repeal of Jamaica’s anti-gay “buggery law”.

Retired Bishop Robert Thompson

by Colin Stewart

Retired clergyman says sexuality and gender in all of its forms are gifts from God

Retired Anglican Bishop of Kingston, the Right Reverend Dr Robert Thompson has called for the buggery law to be repealed.

And he has urged persons interested in that becoming a reality to agitate for that to be done.

He made the calls at Wednesday’s launch of Intimate Conviction 2, hosted by the HIV Legal Network, Anglicans for Decriminalisation and its Caribbean partners, in Jamaica.

However, Reverend Thompson stressed that in addition to the law being repealed, people in society must be more open to each other, despite differences in sexual orientation.

“Our sexuality and gender in all its diverse forms are gifts from God that should be celebrated rather than classed as sinful or shameful things that distract from our holiness or our spiritual growth,” he contended.

“Instead of seeing LGBTQ individuals pejoratively . . . as sexual deviants, we can experience them as equally loved by God and capable of [enriching] lives in communion with the divine in all its forms. Christian sexual ethics fails badly when it ignores the body’s grace as the authentic medium for intimacy.

“You cannot have intimate conviction or even a conversation about intimacy, and exclude the body,” he added.

The retired Bishop also suggested that it was not for the authorities to pronounce on sexuality.

“We assume that there is an area of human experience called sexuality which is of immense importance, something which needs to be sorted out before anyone can claim to be leading a mature and fulfilled human life. And isn’t this part of the problem where, in fact, people in authority feel that they have a right to sort out others who may or may not be having conflicts about their own sexuality?” he questioned.

“The world of Jesus and Paul would not have recognised such a task as being central to their message of the Gospel. They knew about marriage as complicated bundles of family arrangements, they knew that young males were most likely to resist promptings towards sexual involvement and generally did their best to stop it. However, they would have been puzzled to see all this brought together under a single heading or to be asked about their sexuality.”

Laws that criminalise consensual same-sex intimacy still exist in more than 60 countries, including in the Caribbean.

Complete Article HERE!