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Retired Anglican Bishop of Kingston, the Right Reverend Dr Robert Thompson has called for the buggery law to be repealed.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However, Reverend Thompson stressed that in addition to the law being repealed, people in society must be more open to each other, despite differences in sexual orientation.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!

Pope decries genital mutilation, sex trafficking of women

Pope Francis is decrying the genital mutilation of millions of girls and the trafficking of women for sex, including openly on city streets

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus noon prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022.

Pope Francis on Sunday decried the genital mutilation of millions of girls and the trafficking of women for sex, including openly on city streets, so others can make money off of them.

“This practice, unfortunately widespread in various regions of the world, humiliates the dignity of women and gravely attacks their physical integrity,” Francis said.

Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve changing or injuring female genitalia for non-medical reasons and violates the human rights, health and the integrity of girls and women, the United Nations says in championing an end to the practice.

The practice can cause severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as consequences for sexual and reproductive health. While mainly concentrated in some 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it is also a problem for girls and women living elsewhere, including among immigrant populations.

According to U.N. figures, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone the practice.

The pope also told the faithful that on Tuesday, there will be a day of prayer and reflection worldwide against human trafficking.

“This is a deep wound, inflicted by the shameful search of economic interests, without respect for the human person,” Francis said. ”So many girls — we see them on the streets — who aren’t free, they are slaves of the traffickers, who send them to work, and, if they don’t bring back money, they beat them,” the pope said. “This is happening today in our cities.”

“In the face of these plagues on humanity, I express my sorrow and I exhort all those who have responsibility to act in a decisive way to impede both the exploitation and the humiliating practices that afflict in particular women and girls,” Francis said.

Complete Article HERE!

New book explores being queer in German Catholic Church

A new collection of essays details the discrimination and exclusion experienced by queer people in the Catholic Church in Germany, adding to mounting pressure on the embattled institution to carry out reforms.

By Christoph Strack

Anyone who listens to folk and pop music in Germany will know Patrick Lindner. The 61-year-old has been in the music business for decades. He’s a well-known face on television and performs in German-speaking countries. Patrick Lindner is gay — and Catholic.

“In the fall of 2020, my husband and I got married,” Lindner writes in a book published earlier this week.

“It was important to us to also receive God’s blessing in church after the civil wedding. Contrary to his expectations, it was made possible without any problems.

A wish for the church

The artist talks about growing up in a Catholic environment, without having been “raised too strictly Catholic.” He describes his coming out in 1999 as a low point in his career, and the impact of fans’ outpouring support. He also writes about his mother’s wish: “I want you to be happy!” The same attitude, Lindner says, is what he would want from “Mother Church.”

Singer Patrick Linder with his husband Peter Schäfer
Singer Patrick Linder (left), with his husband Peter Schäfer

Lindner’s contribution is one of 68 texts compiled and published by the priest Wolfgang Rothe in the German book “Wanted. Loved. Blessed. Being queer in the Catholic Church.” Not all of the authors belong to this group. Some essays are by relatives or friends. And, every fourth contribution is published anonymously, under the initials “N.N.”

Huge pressure on queer people

“Queer” is an umbrella term used to describe people whose sexual orientation or gender identity does not conform to heterosexual or cisgender ideas. Until now, the Catholic Church has rejected as dangerous any sexual orientation that diverts from heterosexuality.

Queer people who work for the Catholic Church — whether in parishes, kindergartens or retirement homes — can be fired at any time.

Wolfgang Rothe, who published the book, told DW that he wants the manuscript to depict the reality of queer people in the Catholic Church “as comprehensively as possible” and thus “bring about a change of perspective in our church.” Rothe said he himself “burst into tears” when he first read many of the contributions.

He said he hoped readers will feel the same way and understand just how much queer people in the church suffer from discrimination and exclusion. “This suffering must come to an end,” he said.

Priest Wolfgang Rothe blesses a same-sex couple
Wolfgang Rothe, a priest who published the book, blesses a same-sex couple

Rothe is among Catholic clerics in Germany who blessed same-sex couples at church in May 2021, even though the Vatican had previously banned such celebrations.

Hurt, fear and frustrations

“The divide is widening, the need for reform is obvious,” wrote architect Ulrike Fasching in the book. She lives in a so-called “rainbow family” — two women with one son.

Stefan Thurner, a geriatric nurse, when referring to his experiences in everyday community life, wrote: “To act as if there are no queer people is simply out of touch with reality.”

Three of the anonymous contributions come from the clergy. “I am a priest. And I’m gay,” is how one begins, expressing hurt that homosexuals, even if celibate, are not allowed to become priests at all under Vatican rules.

A same-sex couple in front o a state of Maria
Church employees, who have come out as gay, can be fired

Film director and event manager Katrin Richthofer describes her tense relationship with the Catholic Church and comments on her lesbian daughter: “Don’t let a church ruin your faith! God created you just the way you are and loves you unconditionally!”

The collection is a catalog of hurts, fears and frustrations, as well as the hopes pinned on faith, and painful experiences surrounding the idea of home and identity.

Rothe explains why so many contributions are anonymous. “In this anonymity, the fear is expressed very clearly.” Among those who chose to publish anonymously, he says, are even some people “who are out of the closet in their everyday lives, but who were afraid to speak out in public.”

Need to accelerate reform

The book was published eight days after 125 queer church employees came out, causing a big stir in Germany. The timing was coincidental but it illustrates the growing calls for reform. As recently as last Sunday, the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, had welcomed the coming out of numerous queer employees of his church. “We have deeply hurt people and continue to do so today,” he said on German public television network ARD.

But even Bätzing cannot guarantee that no church employee will be fired because of his or her sexual orientation. He refers to the ongoing reform of church labor law in Germany. That, however, has been going on for years — a fact Bätzing did not explicitly mention. The slow process has led to calls for lawmakers to raise pressure on the church.

A rainbow flag near a church spire
Many are pushing for the recognition of queer people in the church

The call for decisive action by bishops will become stronger again when the third plenary assembly of the “Synodal Way” of the Catholic Church in Germany meets in Frankfurt am Main at the end of the week.

The assembly, launched at the end of 2019, is intended to discuss — and advance — reforms.

Earlier in January, the publication of a new, damning report investigating historical sexual abuse at the Munich Archdiocese over several decades sparked renewed outrage. That has prompted many of the faithful to renew calls for swifter action, including recognizing queer people in the church.

Bishops go against the tide

One of those already taking action has his say in the book with the essay titled: “Encounters create change.” Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers, who is 69, describes his uncertainty before meeting with a group of queer Christians in Dresden.

“What they had to tell me touched me deeply,” Timmerevers writes. His diocese has now set up a counseling service for queer people. The Dresden bishop calls the Vatican’s refusal to bless same-sex partnerships “deeply devastating,” saying the church “cannot continue like this in the long run.”

Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden

Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers changed his stance on same-sex couples after meeting with Dresden’s queer community

Timmerevers is not alone. On March 13, Cardinal Reinhard Marx will celebrate a queer service in Munich’s Paulskirche. It also marks an anniversary. Since March 2002, queer people and their friends in the city have been celebrating “Roman Catholic services” once a month in Munich.

Marx’s presence will mark the first time that an archbishop will attend the anniversary — complete with champagne and a buffet.

Complete Article HERE!

Luxembourg cardinal calls for revised Catholic teaching on gays; German archbishop backs loosening of celibacy rules

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, (in mask) greets Pope Francis at the opening of the Synodal Path at the Vatican, on 9th October.

By PHILIP PULLELLA and ZUZANNA SZYMANSKA

A prominent liberal cardinal who leads a body representing European bishops has called for “fundamental revision” in Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and said it is wrong to fire Church workers for being gay.

The remarks by Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich to the German Catholic news agency KNA were among the most direct calls ever by a Roman Catholic leader for change in teaching on one of the most controversial issues in the church today.

Hollerich is president of the pan-European grouping of Catholic bishops’ conferences, known as COMECE.

In the KNA interview, Hollerich was asked for his assessment of a campaign in which about 125 Catholic Church employees in Germany, including some priests, came out as LGBTQ, and about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

“I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer true,” he said in interview that was published on Tuesday in Germany.

In another part Hollerich said: “I think it’s time we make a fundamental revision of the doctrine”.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that same-sex attraction is not a sin, but homosexual acts are.

Hollerich, who did not elaborate on what aspects of the teaching he felt needed revision, said: “I also believe that we are thinking ahead in terms of doctrine. The way the pope has expressed himself in the past can lead to a change in doctrine.”

Homosexuality is one of the most controversial issues in the 1.3 billion-member church, with conservatives accusing Pope Francis of giving mixed signals and confusing the faithful.

Francis has said that while the church cannot accept same-sex marriage, it can support civil union laws aimed at giving gay partners joint rights in areas of pensions, health care and inheritance.

He has sent notes of appreciation to priests and nuns who minister to gay Catholics and said parents of gay children should never condemn them, but under his watch the Vatican has also said priests cannot not bless same-sex couples.

In December, a Vatican department raised conservative ire when it apologised for “causing pain to the entire LGBTQ community” by removing from its website a link to resource material from a Catholic gay rights advocacy group in preparation for a Vatican meeting in 2023. It was later reposted.

In his interview with KNA, Hollerich also said gay church employees should not lose their jobs, something which has happened in some countries, particularly the United States.

“They know they have a home in the church. With us [the Luxembourg archdiocese] no-one is dismissed because they are homosexual,” he told KNA.

Complete Article HERE!

Support your children if they are gay, pope tells parents

By

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that parents of gay children should not condemn them but offer them support.

He spoke in unscripted comments at his weekly audience in reference to difficulties that parents can face in raising offspring.

Those issues included “parents who see different sexual orientations in their children and how to handle this, how to accompany their children, and not hide behind an attitude of condemnation,” Francis said.

He has previously said that gays have a right to be accepted by their families as children and siblings.

He has also said that while the Church cannot accept same-sex marriage it can support civil union laws aimed at giving gay partners joint rights in areas of pensions and health care and inheritance issues.

Last year, the Vatican’s doctrinal office issued a document saying that Catholic priests cannot bless same-sex unions, a ruling that greatly disappointed gay Catholics.

In some countries, such as the United States and Germany, parishes and ministers had begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage, and there have been calls for bishops to de facto institutionalise these.

Conservatives in the 1.3 billion-member Church have said the pope – who has sent notes of appreciation to priests and nuns who minister to gay Catholics – is giving mixed signals on homosexuality, confusing some of the faithful.

Last month, a Vatican department apologised for “causing pain to the entire LGBTQ community” by removing from its website a link to resource material from a Catholic gay rights advocacy group in preparation for a Vatican meeting in 2023 on the Church’s future direction. read more

The Church teaches that gays should be treated with respect and that, while same-sex acts are sinful, same-sex tendencies are not.