Priest removed from Seton Hall breaks his silence, comes out publicly as gay


Warren Hall was recently removed from Seton Hall for the perception that he was supporting same-sex marriage.

Warren Hall was removed from his post at Seton Hall after he posted a Facebook message supporting the anti-bullying message of the NOH8 campaign. Now he opens up for the first time since his removal, coming out publicly as gay.

Just before graduation last year, campus priest Warren Hall was walking across Seton Hall’s grounds sipping some coffee when a student ran up to him. The student thanked Hall for his tutelage and posed a question he hadn’t heard before.

“Are you gay?”

Hall nearly dropped his coffee cup. She reminded him that he had always taught his students to be honest with themselves and others about who they are. But he had never been asked about his sexual orientation by anyone at Seton Hall. He couldn’t let slip away the opportunity to walk his talk. He nodded his head.

“That student was right,” Hall said. “I have to be myself. I can’t worry what other people think.”

It wasn’t because of his sexual orientation that Hall posted a Facebook message supporting the pro-LGBT NOH8 Campaign last autumn. It was in the middle of a growingly intense national conversation about race that he posted the message, focusing mostly on the idea of opposing race-based hate. A month later his boss asked for a meeting. In the meeting he was ordered to explain the Facebook post.

“Warren, we can’t have this.”

The church was against same-sex marriage, his superior explained, and they couldn’t have priests supporting an organization that was designed to promote marriage equality (the NOH8 campaign rose from the 2008 California vote ending same-sex marriage). Hall provided the context – that he posted it as a commentary on bullying and hate focusing on race and other demographics; Support for same-sex marriage wasn’t intended as part of his message. The next day the vicar general asked to meet with Hall, and again he explained the photo. That seemed to quell the furor.

It wasn’t until five months later – last Monday as he was administering an exam to his sports and spirituality class – that he received a note to call the Archbishop.

“None of us want bullying,” the Archbishop told him, “but you have a further agenda here, and I can’t have you at Seton Hall because of that.”

He was devastated. His position at Seton Hall had lifted him out of a bad situation when he was the president of a private high school years earlier. He had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and the local media and others in the community pushed him out of the job. The church had refused to abandon him despite his dangerous transgression. The Archbishop gave him a second chance at Seton Hall.

Yet the same Archdiocese that had stood by him after his DUI felt the possibility of simply being perceived as supporting same-sex marriage went too far.

This wasn’t the tradition of Christian universities he knew. For Hall, Catholic schools had for centuries signified a willingness to learn, places to exchange ideas and enhance intellect. Shutting down conversation because the Pope or Archbishop didn’t like the direction of the conversation? That is not Hall’s understanding of a Catholic university.

“Let’s discuss gay marriage as an anthropological and sociological issue. What’s wrong with that? Why can’t we talk about that? We’re a better place when we have people who have studied these issues. The idea that ‘we can’t talk about that’ makes no sense. If the students want to talk about that, let’s talk about it with them. When we say we can’t talk about something, that goes against he very nature of what a Catholic university is. That conversation should happen here with the students and the faculty, not firing somebody because of their view on an issue.”

His image of Seton Hall shattered, he took to social media. He had thought about staying quiet, sweeping under the vestments the real reason for his departure from the campus he had grown to appreciate and the students he had grown to love.

“I was going to to say I chose to leave, or that my time here was finished,” Hall said. “But that wasn’t true. It wasn’t. I’ve never lied to a student about anything. I couldn’t lie about this.”

It wasn’t 48 hours before Hall got wind of another move made by Seton Hall – the signing of openly gay shooting guard Derrick Gordon to the men’s basketball team. In his role as director of the campus ministry, Hall has ministered to various Pirates sports teams. He didn’t just sit on the bench during games or offer a pre-game prayer, he worked with the athletes creating retreats for them where he could engage them on a deeper spiritual level. He explored the ties between faith and athleticism, teaching classes on sports and Christianity like the one he was instructing when he got that fateful note two weeks ago.

Being removed from this role on campus has brought a sense of irony for Hall.

“I’ve been accused of being against he Catholic mission, and here I thought I was supporting it.”

Hall said he has spoken to many LGBT students at Seton Hall, and not one of them reports being mistreated by any of the students or faculty. He thinks Gordon will experience the same treatment from most of the campus.

“With Derrick Gordon going to Seton Hall as an openly gay athlete, I don’t think he’ll have trouble here with the student body or with the faculty,” Hall said. “How the administration handles that, I do not know. When he’s walking across campus holding hands with his boyfriend, what is the administration going to think of that? But the student body here is very open and welcoming.”

Hall isn’t sure what’s next for him. He has written to the Archbishop asking for a six-month sabbatical. He had no prior indication that a big change might be coming his way, so he would like some time to think about his next big move within the church before being reassigned. Whether he gets that time before another official assignment is entirely up to the Archbishop.

I ended my phone interview with Hall by circling back to his story about the student who asked him if he was gay. While he had professed and reiterated his commitments to the church (priests, after all, make a commitment to celibacy), He wasn’t “out” in a public sense. A select few knew, but telling me was very different from telling a student shortly before she embarked on her life’s journey.

“The best way to live is to live honestly. Honesty with oneself is the most important thing, but you have to be honest with other people.

“I’m not afraid of those questions anymore.”

Complete Article HERE!

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: ‘I encourage everyone to vote and to reflect carefully’

 ‘My position is that of Pope Francis, who . . . made it very clear that he was against legalising same-sex marriage, yet he was consistent in telling people not to make judgments on any individual’

Diarmuid Martin

Colombian bishop floats idea of gay apostle, lesbian Mary Magdalene

Bishop Juan Vicente Córdoba says ‘no one chooses to be gay or straight’

By Inés San Martín

A Colombian bishop, insisting that being homosexual is not a sin, said Thursday it’s possible that one of the twelve apostles of Jesus was gay or that Mary Magdalene, another key New Testament figure, was a lesbian.

Bishop Juan Vicente Córdoba of Fontibón, Colombia, also said the Catholic Church does not oppose same-sex couples making a life together, but does not consider such arrangements to be a marriage or a family.

“No one chooses to be gay or straight,” Córdoba said. “One simply feels, loves, experiments, is attracted, and no attraction is bad.”

Córdoba was speaking at a conference about gay marriage and adoption hosted by the local University of Los Andes, at a time when Colombia is debating gay marriage and adoption rights.

Although Córdoba reiterated Church teaching when it comes to marriage – that it’s a union between a man and a woman, permanent, and open to children – he said that homosexuality isn’t a sin.

“Sin is something else. It’s not respecting the dignity of others. Not loving God and our neighbors as we love ourselves, not feeding the hungry, not giving water to the thirsty,” Córdoba said.

He added that he prefers “a thousand times over” for Colombians to have dignity, a proper health system and food for all, rather than talking about whether they’re gay or straight.

According to local reports, Córdoba said that in the Bible there’s no explicit rejection of homosexuality, suggesting there’s no basis for making a condemnation of homosexuality a Church doctrine.

“We don’t know if one of Jesus’ disciples” had a same-sex orientation, he said. “We don’t know either if Mary Magdalene was a lesbian.”

In the New Testament, there are hints that Mary Magdalene, a close follower of Jesus, was a prostitute. Córdoba said that may suggest she wasn’t actually a lesbian, but “we don’t know.”

Talking about same-sex adoption, the bishop, who heads the Commission on Life of the Colombian Episcopal Conference and was ordained bishop in 2004, said that children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father.

“We shouldn’t force minors to grow up under a gay couple, because when they become adolescents they’ll say they would have wanted to have a mom and a dad,” Córdoba said.

Córdoba said that the decision on gay marriage and adoption rights can’t be left “in the hands of a few,” adding that a referendum would be the right way to make the call.

He also asked for the debate not to be reduced to a political standoff.

“This is not a ‘genitals’ battle,” he said. Today the battles have to be in favor of the dignity of the poor, those that are not being heard,” Córdoba said.

If gay marriage is eventually legalized, Córdoba issued a challenge to homosexuals in Colombia.

“Gay brothers, when you get married, have nice homes, based in fidelity, and educate your children with love, preoccupied for the poor, the needy, so that there’s justice in Colombia,” he said.

Córdoba asked those in favor of the gay rights bill not to call the opposition “recalcitrant, dinosaurs, cavemen, retarded, because we also have the right to present our ideas and our emotions with respect.”

“There will come a time when the Catholic Church is a minority that will be crushed by the majority,” he warned. “Let us respect each other, without using adjectives or telling anyone they’re sick or disordered.”

“We can spare all the adjectives,” Córdoba said. “We have a noun, and it’s that we’re brothers and sisters.”
Complete Article HERE!

German Catholic Church opens labour law more to divorced and gays

By Tom Heneghan

(CURA Catholic hospital in Bad Honnef, Germany, February 2014/Leit)
CURA Catholic hospital in Bad Honnef, Germany

Germany’s Roman Catholic Church, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay Catholic employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs.

Catholic bishops have voted to adjust Church labour law “to the multiple changes in legal practice, legislation and society” so employee lifestyles should not affect their status in the country’s many Catholic schools, hospitals and social services.

The change came as the worldwide Catholic Church debates loosening its traditional rejection of remarriage after a divorce and of gay sex, reforms for which German bishops and theologians have become prominent spokesmen.

“The new rule opens the way for decisions that do justice to the situations people live in,” Alois Glueck, head of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, said after the decision on new labour guidelines was announced on Tuesday.

Over two-thirds of Germany’s 27 dioceses voted for the change, a Church spokesman said, indicating some opposition.

There is no worldwide Catholic policy on lay employees. German law allows churches to have their own labour rules that can override national guidelines.

But German courts have begun limiting the scope of Church labour laws and public opinion reacts badly when a Catholic hospital’s head doctor is fired for remarrying or a teacher is sacked after her lesbian union is discovered.

Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the bishops conference and a senior adviser to Pope Francis, has been a leading proponent of making the two-millennia-old Church more open to modern lifestyles that its doctrine officially rejects.

A worldwide synod of bishops at the Vatican last October was split on how flexible the Church should be in welcoming openly gay or divorced and remarried Catholics. A follow-up synod is due this October, with its result in doubt as debate continues.

Cologne Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the Francis-style pastor the pope appointed to Germany’s richest diocese, said the labour law did not negate official Church teaching that marriage is indissoluble, but brought it into line with actual practice.

“People who divorce and remarry are rarely fired,” he told the KNA news agency. “The point is to limit the consequences of remarriage or a same-sex union to the most serious cases (that would) compromise the Church’s integrity and credibility.”

Passages in the new version of Church labour law say that publicly advocating abortion or race hate, or officially quitting the Church, would be a “grave breach of loyalty” that could lead to an employee being fired.

Pope declines Dalai Lama meeting in Rome


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

The Dalai Lama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pope francis 002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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