I have been Catholic all my life. A new Milwaukee Archdiocese policy on transgender people has driven me from my church.

Archbishop Jerome Edward Listecki

By Anne Curley

As a cradle Catholic whose values were shaped by 12 years of Catholic education and 60-plus years of Mass attendance, I feel great gratitude for the countless caring sisters, priests and Catholic laypeople who have guided and inspired me through much of my life. I’ve been proud to be associated with the good done by Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations throughout the world.

So it’s with real sadness that I’ve joined the throng who have left the church.

The recently released policy of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on how to treat transgender individuals has made it impossible for me, in good conscience, to call myself a Catholic.

I didn’t come to this decision lightly. When friends would ask, “How can you be a Catholic despite (choose one or more) the clergy sex abuse scandal, the ban on women priests, the treatment of homosexuality as a disorder, the rules on birth control … I had three well-honed responses:

“A 2,000-year-old, global institution doesn’t change quickly,” “Show me a major human institution that isn’t a mixed bag of strengths and corruption,” and “It’s the good, grace-filled people that keep me hanging in there — not the policies.”

Still, I can’t say I relished the mental gymnastics required to justify why I continued to be a practicing Catholic.

The justifications ran out when I read “Catechesis and policy on questions concerning gender theory,” a stunningly harsh new directive from the archdiocese covering Catholic parishes, organizations and institutions.

In no uncertain terms, it spells out how all employees, volunteers and vendors at these institutions are to treat transgender individuals. Among other dictates, it includes, “Recognize only a person’s biological sex,” “No person may designate a ‘preferred pronoun’ in speech or in writing” and “All persons are to follow the dress code or uniform that accords with their biological sex.”

The document begins by saying, “’The truth will set you free.’ Christ’s words to his disciples call Christians in every age to embrace the truth of who we are as children of God, for only in embracing this truth can we be set free.”

I believe that truth is embedded in each of us — that God implanted a unique identity that is ours alone to experience, express and put to good use during our time on Earth.  The fact that society is becoming more accepting of differences in our identities — race, sexual orientation and gender expression being prime examples — strikes me as part of God’s unfolding plan to enable each of us to achieve our full potential.

I am not an expert on it, but I think it’s safe to say the subject of gender identity is complex, nuanced and not a good candidate for rigid rules. What I know for sure is that my Catholic education taught me Jesus identified with those whom the rule-makers rejected. I learned that he reserved his harshest criticism for religious leaders who piled heavy burdens on others. Thanks to my Catholic formation, I know that to be Christian means to uplift the dignity of others, especially those who most need uplifting.

So how can I be a committed Christian and go along with a policy that, instead of emphasizing compassionate care, institutionalizes the oppression of people because of who they are?

What would Jesus do?

Complete Article HERE!

Demonisation of LGBT people in state-funded Catholic schools is unlawful hypocrisy

Southwark Diocese recently cancelled a school visit from an author because he is gay

It is hard to know anymore how one should react to yet more pontification from the Catholic church regarding homosexuality.

Contemptuous silence? Outrage? A snort of derisory laughter because, after all, there is something almost comical about a bunch of lace-by-day-and-leather-by-night men, clutching their Grecian 2000 and swishing their surplices indignantly, while denouncing gay people from deep inside their clerical closets. More of which later.

This time, it’s Southwark Diocese, where John Fisher boys school is located. The headteacher and board of governors arranged a visit from author Simon James Green.

Green is gay and, as if that’s not enough to make him burn, has a book for young people with – Les Dawson whisper – an actual gay character in it and some sensitive handling of LGBT issues. The Diocese cancelled the visit, sacked some governors, promised retribution against the disobedient in the coming weeks, then claimed to be taking “a stand against tyranny”, which is a bit like Putin claiming to be on a peacekeeping mission.

The tyranny of what? The existence of gay people? The existence of equality legislation?

But the real dark humour behind all this is Southwark Diocese’s own past. Their seminarians attend St John’s, a troubled joint if ever there was one, according to students who have contacted me over the years.

The problem is hypocrisy, not homosexuality

In the 1990s, St John’s had a moral theologian who became quite renowned. He wrote philosophy books, had a liking for scarves by the luxury Italian designer Ferragamo, and was a fan of the singer Cher. (There’s a clue right there, dear reader.)

In 1998, he was a keynote speaker for the Catholic church at an event on human sexuality but, after that, you don’t find too many references to him. Maybe because he subsequently left and lived as a woman. And we wouldn’t want to talk about that, would we?

Good luck to her. The problem here is not homosexuality or transgender choices. It’s hypocrisy.

Photo of wooden pews
Richard Sipe estimated that 50% of priests were sexually active, and 30% or more were gay

The late Richard Sipe, an American ex-priest who spent years researching priestly celibacy globally, estimated that 50% of priests were sexually active at any one time, 6% were paedophiles, and up to half were gay. “A conservative estimate of gay Catholic clergy is 30%,” he wrote in an article in 2012, “[But] many Vatican insiders speculate that the accurate figure is closer to 50%.”

God loves you, brothers and sisters. You are made in His likeness. Unless you are gay, in which case he thinks you are intrinsically disordered. Hard to know why so many clergy parrot that line, given how many of them are homosexual.

What does banning a gay author achieve?

As a journalist, priests have told me about rent boys, sex in parks, gay saunas in Paris and “insider” gay parties attended by even senior clerics with trusted friends. Love and commitment were off limits, but stranger-danger thrills could be followed by confession and some pompous public pronouncements to cover the tracks.

Having attended a convent school, it’s the teenage boys at John Fisher School that I feel sorry for; those who struggle with shame and guilt and depression because they are told – even from those hiding in clergy closets – that they are sick and shameful.

What did they think Green would do in his book-related visit? Issue a gay sex manual?

As for Simon James Green, he didn’t even rate a mention in the church’s published comments. He was nothing, cancelled out of existence, ostracised like some biblical leper.

What did they think Green would do in his book-related visit? Issue a gay sex manual? And what would they achieve by banning him? The eradication of homosexuality? “Expecto patronum!” As Harry Potter would say. That should do it.

Breaching equality legislation

You might expect a little more Christ-like kindness. You would certainly expect more humility from a church riddled with sex scandals. Cardinal Keith O’Brien. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Countless paedophile scandals in every country where Catholicism exists.

But, no sooner are they knocked off their public soapboxes than they jump right back on again as if nothing has happened, trying to seize the old moral high ground while the trickles fall from their bloodied noses.

Photo of cardinal in church
Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned after multiple allegations of inappropriate and predatory sexual conduct

The church has nurtured a sense of being “other”, both legally and morally. The Vatican is legally an independent state, with its own leader. It has its own – corrupt – banking system, implicated in fraud yet again recently in the Swiss banking scandal. Even its own diplomatic corps.

But John Fisher is a voluntary-aided faith school: the state pays its running costs. If the church wants to ignore equality legislation, perhaps the appropriate reaction is to make clear that the state will no longer pay to allow a scandal-ridden organisation to breach its equality laws on the grounds of “faith”.

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!

Pope Francis promotes extremist homophobe Shelton Fabre to Archbishop

Progressive Catholics laud Fabre as anti-racist but ignore his extremist anti-LGBTQ track record

Bishop Shelton Fabre

By James Finn

The Catholic Church is one of the most powerful forces in the U.S. pushing back against civil rights for LGBTQ people. Just in the past three years, the Church has spent millions to defeat state and national laws protecting queer people from discrimination.

They’ve won critical court cases to exclude queer people from the protection of civil rights laws. Bishops have fired administrative LGBTQ staff in increasing waves of witch hunts and lobbied Congress to remove LGBTQ outreach from a federal suicide hotline.

Bishops are embracing conversion therapy, rejecting pro-LGBTQ Catholic groups like DignityUSA they had tacitly tolerated for decades, and in some cases even ordering priests to deny almost all sacramental and communal Church life to LGBTQ Catholics.

Pope Francis was supposed to change that

Francis took over the reins of the Church in March of 2013, and he electrified the world with his “Who am I to judge” remark in response to a question about a gay priest. His remarks since have been confusing and often contradictory, but progressive Catholics (most lay Catholics in the U.S.) have clung to the notion that Francis will make the Church more welcoming and more healthy.

—Liberal Catholic news sources are keeping mum about Fabre’s staunch opposition to LGBTQ civil equality —

Despite the Pope’s contradictory words, U.S. Catholics say he’s making future change possible by appointing progressive bishops.

But is he?

When Francis appointed Bishop John Doerfler to run the Church in Michigan’s upper peninsula despite an anti-LGBTQ track record, liberal Catholics waved the appointment away as a bureaucratic “mistake.” The consequences became dire for queer Catholics after Doerfler ordered his priests to withhold sacraments from transgender and gay people, but since the diocese is very small, the Pope’s “oopsie” only hurt a small number of people.

Surely Pope Francis had not intended this harm, commented U.S. Catholics, and surely he would be cautious not to repeat such a mistake.

In a decision with far broader consequences.

Francis just appointed an extremist homophobe to one of the most powerful positions in the U.S. Church

Tuesday, the Catholic press announced that Pope Francis chose Bishop Shelton Fabre, currently of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, to be the new archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky. He will serve as only the second Black archbishop in the U.S. Church. Catholic journalists praised Fabre’s work on an anti-racism Church panel as they celebrated his promotion. Some journalists wrote that his appointment would bolster Francis’s “kinder” more “pastoral” vision of Church leadership.

So far, nobody has reported Fabre’s extremist anti-LGBTQ track record, not even publications that had reported on it explicitly in the past. Wire services are running the same bland reports about an “anti-racist” Black archbishop, and even liberal Catholic news sources are keeping mum about Fabre’s staunch opposition to LGBTQ civil equality.

Fabre aligns with a hardcore group of extremist anti-LGBTQ clergy

Last January, nine U.S. Catholic bishops, two of them retired, issued a statement titled, “God Is on Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth.”

This tiny group of bishops issued the statement shortly after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) lobbied Congress to kill a federal suicide hotline because it offers services specifically to LGBTQ people. The statement appeared to offer support for the LGBTQ Equality Act, which the House of Representatives was about to take up. The statement read in part:

The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you. Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.

Marianne Duddy-Burke of the pro-LGBTQ DignityUSA said in a statement she hoped more bishops would sign the pro-LGBTQ statement: “Given that this statement asks for nothing more than human dignity, I would hope that more bishops would add their names.”

Fabre signed a dueling, mean-spirited endorsement of homophobia instead

In what became a battle of dueling statements, a much larger group of bishops issued a harsh statement opposing LGBTQ equality in the name of the USCCB, doubling down on opposition to the Equality Act, reaffirming the Church’s right to discriminate against LGBTQ people when delivering state-contracted services, reaffirming opposition to civil same-sex marriage, and support for health care workers to deny medical care to LGBTQ people on religious grounds.

Bishop Fabre signed the harsh homophobic statement in his capacity as chairman of of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, sending an implicit message — Don’t be racist, don’t discriminate against Black people, who are fully deserving of human dignity. DO DISCRIMINATE against LGBTQ people, who are NOT fully deserving of human dignity.

When Fabre signed that statement, he joined a short list of some of the most notorious homophobes in the U.S. Church — like Cardinal Timothy Dolan, an outspoken enemy of LGBTQ Catholics. Another signatory, Archbishop Paul Coakley, bemoans the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage a “tragic error,” insisting that Catholic doctrine should play a role in denying equal marriage even to people of other faiths or no faith.

This hardcore faction is largely seen as fighting against Pope Francis’s perceived progressive spirit.

Fabre issued a hypocritical statement on Tuesday

In a press conference, Fabre told reporters his work in anti-racism is framed in “a call to respect the human life and human dignity of each and every person.” He did not explain how his opposition to equal human and civil rights for LGBTQ people fits into that framing. Apparently, “each and every person” actually means each and every cisgender, straight person.

So far the Catholic press is silent on the question of why Pope Francis promoted an extremist homophobe to one of the most powerful leadership positions in the U.S. Church. Is this just another “oopsie,” a bureaucratic blunder?

That’s what many progressive Catholics claimed when Francis promoted Doerfler and when he personally signed off on a document forbidding priests from blessing LGBTQ people in committed relationships or marriages, saying, “God can’t bless sin.” Some claim Francis didn’t pay close attention to the document and didn’t realize what it said, even though a Papal signature on such a document is an extraordinary breach of custom.

Maybe Doerfler’s appointment was really a mistake, maybe barring priests from blessing gay people, which the German Catholic clergy are rebelling over, was really a mistake.

But now Fabre, a notorious homophobic hardliner? The mistake hypothesis is wearing increasingly thin.

It’s commendable that the Pope promoted a Black man and an anti-racist to a powerful position, but I have a question. Is it not possible to identify a U.S. Catholic leader who is Black and anti-racist but is NOT a hardcore homophobic bigot?

Two LGBTQ Catholic advocacy leaders I contacted told me “on background” that such an appointment would indeed be possible, and that they are bitterly disappointed Pope Francis elevated Fabre instead.

So, here we go again with the Papal rollercoaster, with contradictory statements and actions from a man who can’t seem to decide where he wants to lead the Church, and can’t get real about treating queer people with dignity and equality.

Will the real Pope Francis please stand up?

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!