Pope Francis tells LGBTQ+ Catholics to build a church ‘that excludes no one’

— Pope Francis reportedly encouraged an LGBTQ+ Catholic group to build a church “that excludes no one.”

Pope Francis leaves Assisi at the end of Economy of Francis, an international movement of young economists.

By Amelia Hansford

According to L’Avvenire, the pope met with Italian LGBTQ+ Catholic group The Tent of Jonathon in a Wednesday (21 September) conference to discuss the organisation’s plan to build a hospitable church that would cater to LGBTQ+ people.

The group, which was founded in 2018, works with various religious organisations to provide “sanctuaries of welcome and support for LGBT people and for every person affected by discrimination.”

In an effort to convince Pope Francis, organisation members gave him a collection of letters from the parents of LGBTQ+ children who have faced “isolation and suspicious within the Christian community.”

Having urged religious parents to “never condemn your children” in a 26 January address, adding that parents should “not hide behind an attitude of condemnation,” the conferences appeared to convince him as he told the organisation to continue with the church’s construction.

Despite upholding traditional church teachings that claim homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered,” the pontiff has been surprisingly forthcoming about introducing LGBTQ+ members into Catholic proceedings.

In 2013, he famously said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

But there is still a long way to go for LGBTQ+ acceptance in the Vatican. During the same address, he condemned what was cryptically described as lobbying by the LGBTQ+ community.

“The problem is not having this orientation,” he claimed. “We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.”

Pope Francis has also repeatedly shut down any hope of same-sex marriage in the Catholic Church, most recently in 2021 when he said he “doesn’t have the power to change sacraments.”

“I have spoken clearly about this, no? Marriage is a sacrament. Marriage is a sacrament. The church doesn’t have the power to change sacraments. It’s as our Lord established.”

Excommunications for LGBTQ+ positive paraphenalia is still incredibly common in local Catholic communities. In June, a middle school was kicked out of the Catholic fold after officials refused to remove Pride and Black Lives Matter flags from school grounds.

In a statement, Massachusetts bishop Robert J. McManus, who chose to excommunicate the Nativity School of Worcester, said: “I publicly stated in an open letter…that ‘these symbols (flags) embody specific agendas or ideologies (that) contradict Catholic social and moral teaching

“It is my contention that the ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle.”

In response, school president Thomas McKenney said that the flags “represent the inclusion and respect of all people” and that they simply state “that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching.”

Complete Article HERE!

Defying Vatican, Flemish bishops allow blessing same-sex unions

A rainbow flag is seen on the wall of a Catholic church as the building is open for same-sex couples to receive a blessing in Cologne, Germany, May 10, 2021.

By and

Flemish Roman Catholic bishops on Tuesday issued a document effectively allowing the blessing of same-sex unions, in direct defiance of a ruling against such practices by the Vatican’s doctrinal office.

The document published on the website of the Bishops’ Conference of Belgium suggested a ritual that included a prayer and a benediction for stable same-sex unions. But it stressed that it was not “what the Church understands by a sacramental marriage”.

It said the Church wanted to be “pastorally close to homosexual persons” and be a “welcoming Church that excludes no one.”

The ritual would start with prayers and includes a commitment by the two people in front of family and friends to be faithful to each other. It would end with more prayer and what the document called a “benediction”.

A Vatican spokesman had no immediate comment.

In March 2021, in response to formal questions from a number of Roman Catholic dioceses on whether the practice of blessing same-sex unions was allowed, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), ruled that it was not. read more

At the time, the CDF said its ruling was “not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite” of the sacrament of marriage and the blessing associated with it.

In response to that ruling, Bishop John Bonny of Antwerp said he felt “shame for my Church” and apologised to those he said had been hurt by the “painful and incomprehensible” decision.

POPE SUPPORTS CIVIL UNIONS BUT NOT MARRIAGE

Pope Francis has said he is opposed to same-sex marriage in the Church but supports civil union legislation to give same-sex couples legal protection and rights such as inheritance and shared health care.

A spokesman for the bishops, Geert De Kerpel, said their intention was not to defy the Vatican ruling.

“This is first and foremost a positive message,” he told Reuters, adding that it conformed with the pope’s calls for a more inclusive Church.

The Flemish bishops document said that some Catholic gays remained celibate and that the Church appreciated it. The Church teaches that while homosexual orientation is not sinful, homosexual acts are.

But the document added that “some prefer to live as a couple, in lasting and faithful union with a partner” and that such a relationship “can also be a source of peace and shared happiness”.

The bishops denounced “homophobic violence,” and said they wanted to “structurally anchor their pastoral commitment to homosexual persons.

They announced the appointment of Willy Bombeek, a gay Catholic, as an additional staff member to their department for pastoral care of families to oversee care of gay Catholics.

One with similar duties would be appointed to each diocese in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.

“I’m proud to belong to the Flemish Church,” Bombeek told Reuters. “I hope that religious people in other countries will also get to experience this, and hopefully, this is only the beginning”.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of U.S.-based Catholic LGBTQ group New Ways Ministry, said the move would be a blessing for both the couple and for the Church.

“These prelates recognise that love is love. Love is more important than sexual behaviour, and love is something that the Church should always bless,” he said in a statement.

Complete Article HERE!

The Catholic Church is increasingly diverse – and so are its controversies

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There is a lot of talk about “synodality” in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church.

In 2021, Pope Francis called for the “Synod on Synodality,” a worldwide discussion of issues that impact the church, which will culminate with a bishops’ meeting in Rome. A final report is scheduled for October 2023.

The Catholic Church in Germany has also moved forward with a national “synodal path” to restore trust after its own sexual abuse scandal.

The German synodal path has been controversial. On Sept. 8, 2022, a minority of German bishops blocked a motion to redefine Catholic teaching on homosexuality, bisexuality, gender identity and masturbation. In response, some proponents of these liberalizations warned they would “take it to Rome.”

Church leaders around the world and in the Vatican have closely watched the German meetings. There has been sharp debate over calls by German Catholics for priests to ordain women and bless same-sex unions. These proposals have been embraced by some German church bishops, but criticized by the Vatican as well as by an international group of 74 bishops.

As a scholar of global Catholicism, I believe this controversy reflects much wider tensions within Catholicism. In 1910, two-thirds of the world’s Catholics lived in Europe. Today, just one in four do. The church’s numbers have grown most quickly in Africa and Asia. As more power shifts to the global south, the church sometimes struggles to chart a path forward for all regions, each of which has its own distinct perspectives.

The German meeting spotlights particularly difficult topics about sexuality and women’s roles, where some Catholics in Europe, North America and Australia clash with Catholics elsewhere.

Continental divides

The Catholic Church is often assumed to look and feel the same everywhere. But Catholicism is culturally quite diverse.

The most public disagreement involves African Catholics and those in the United States and Europe. For example, Ghanaian Catholic bishops have criticized advocates for LGBTQ rights for imposing “their so-called values and beliefs.” Other African bishops have said they feel betrayed by liberal sentiments in European Catholicism, such as the push to allow Holy Communion for divorced church members.

People in white robes kneel near the altar in a brightly colored church with a teal and orange wall.
A bishop blesses worshippers during an early morning mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Yamumbi, Kenya.

Polygamy continues to be a pressing issue in some regions of Africa. While Catholic doctrine prohibits polygamy, polygamous unions are still common in many countries with significant Catholic communities.

A crucial question is how to welcome polygamous families into the church. Some African bishops have suggested that the church’s most important rites, called sacraments, should be available for at least some polygamous Catholics.

Tribalism also remains a challenge. For example, a Nigerian priest published a social media video asserting the superiority of the Igbo tribe. In rejecting such attitudes, other African priests have emphasized that African Catholics should draw on the philosophy of “ubuntu” that affirms collective belonging to humanity.

Looking East

Issues in Asia, home to 12% of Catholics, are diverse.

In Japan, for example, where Catholics make up less than 1% of the population, the main dilemma is how Catholics can maintain their community identity. In the Catholic-majority Philippines, recent meetings for the Synod on Synodality have focused on how poverty and corruption impact the Catholic community and the nation as a whole.

In India, where 20 million Catholics live, the Dalit Catholic community is especially important. Dalit means “oppressed” or “crushed” and refers to the marginalized groups once known as India’s “untouchables.” It was only recently that a Dalit, Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, was named a cardinal, even though Dalits have long made up a majority of India’s Catholics. Caste discrimination in the church is a reality that Dalit Catholics have joined together to protest.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in East Timor, where Catholics are 95% of the population, has experienced its own divisive sex abuse crisis connected with a highly regarded American priest.

A woman in a pink shirt and green sari touches a statue of the Virgin Mary covered with garlands of flowers.
Catholics offer prayers in front of a statue of Virgin Mary in Hyderabad, India.

Catholic churches in China face unresolved disputes over who has final say in the appointment of bishops – the Vatican, or the Chinese government. Also, there are continuing issues about the status of the underground Catholic churches, which worship outside the purview of the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

In parts of Oceania, climate change is an existential concern. The spread of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea remains an important issue as well.

Stronghold no longer?

Latin America is home to almost 40% of the world’s Catholics. But the rise of Protestantism has concerned many priests and laity. Many new Protestants in Latin America believe that evangelical and Pentecostal communities are more sensitive to their needs, prompting soul-searching for Catholics.

Another crucial question in Latin America is whether to ordain married men in regions where priests are scarce, like the Amazon. The Catholic church in Latin America still struggles with its colonial past and calls to apologize for that violent history. This legacy makes it particularly important to hear the voices of Indigenous peoples.

A global conversation

The worldwide Synod on Synodality is focused, in Pope Francis’ words, on creating a church that “walks together on the same road.”

It would be a mistake to see this “walking together” from an exclusively Western perspective. The debate in Germany reflects how ideologically divided Catholicism has become in the Western world alone. And it is not as though churches elsewhere are simply areas of potential problems or disagreements; their faith and rich theological traditions are an important resource for Catholics worldwide.

Still, given the cultural diversity of Catholicism, there are many potential flash points as the Synod on Synodality moves forward: poverty, adapting to local culture, sexuality and gender, church governance and the continuing sexual abuse crisis – just to name a few.

This has left some commentators wondering if anything meaningful can be discussed or achieved. In my view, whether Synod conversations turn into controversies will ultimately depend on how Catholics see themselves as part of a church that is truly global.

Complete Article HERE!

German Bishops Fail To Pass Document Radically Altering Church Teaching On Sex

By John Rigolizzo

Liberal Catholic bishops in Germany failed to approve a document changing the Church’s teachings on sex and sexuality.

The 30-page document, entitled “Life in succeeding relationships – The principles of renewed sexual ethics,” was brought to a vote at a meeting of the German Bishops’ Conference’s “Synodal Way” in Frankfurt Thursday. The resolution to approve needed a two-thirds majority to be adopted, but it did not meet that threshold. The document would have radically reformed the Church’s teachings around same-sex relationships, gender identity, and masturbation, among others.

“We are convinced that it will not be possible to re-orientate pastoral care without re-defining the emphasis of the Church’s sexual teaching to a significant degree,” the preamble to the document stated. “This is why we are suggesting such a major re-emphasis, as we consider it urgently necessary to overcome some of the restrictions in questions of sexuality, for reasons of sexual science as well as theology. In particular, the teaching that sexual intercourse is only ethically legitimate in the context of a lawful marriage, and only with a permanent openness to the transmission of life, has caused a wide rift to open up between the Magisterium and the faithful. This threatens to completely obscure other important aspects of God’s Good News which could have a liberating effect on shaping dignified sexuality.”

A total of 33 bishops voted to approve the document; 21 voted against it. Three bishops abstained from voting, The Pillar reported.

The leaders of the conference expressed outrage at the result. Delegates took the floor for two hours after the vote concluded, blasting those who voted to disapprove, and claiming that the move would foment division in the Church.

Bishop Georg Bätzing, the president of the bishops’ conference, threatened to take the document to Pope Francis’ worldwide bishops’ synod in 2023, despite failing to approve it. “We will take it to the level of the universal church when we are in Rome in November for the ad limina visit when we go about preparing the World Synod with the continental bishops’ conferences in January,” he said, via Fox News.

The first reform the German bishops pushed was for the Church to honor all forms of personal sexual identity, including gender identity. The German bishops’ document also affirms non-binary and so-called “intersex” identities: “[b]iological gender cannot be clearly determined in binary terms in some cases,” the document states, noting that intersex people have physical and chromosomal variance, while transgender people have a difference of “gender perception” from their biological sex. “As a Church, we must respect the individual self-perception of the sexual identity of any person as an inviolable part of their uniqueness as made in God’s image,” the document says.

The document went on to call for a radical reform of the teaching on homosexuality. Church doctrine declares homosexual acts as a mortal sin that completely separates the individual from God. The document called on the Church to reject that. “Same-sex sexuality – also expressed in sexual acts – is therefore not a sin that causes separation from God, and it is not to be judged as intrinsically bad,” the document declared.

The document would also have radically altered Church teachings on masturbation, which is also a mortal sin under Church doctrine. “Experiencing one’s own body through self-stimulation in a pleasurable way can be an important building block of self-acceptance for everyone,” the document declares instead.

Complete Article HERE!

Nunavut Inuit headed to France to seek extradition of former Oblate priest

Tanya Tungilik says she wants to meet face to face with the former French Oblate priest her late father alleged sexually abused him as a child.

MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who is not part of an upcoming delegation to France, holds a photo of Fr. Johannes Rivoire during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, July 8, 2021. The former priest has long been accused of abusing children in Nunavut.

By Emily Blake

Tanya Tungilik says she wants to meet face to face with the former French Oblate priest her late father alleged sexually abused him as a child.

Tanya Tungilik says she wants to meet face to face with the former French Oblate priest her late father alleged sexually abused him as a child.

She is to join a delegation of Inuit planning to travel from Nunavut to Paris and Lyon, France, next week to seek the extradition of Father Johannes Rivoire to Canada. The trip, led by Nunavut Tunnagavik Inc., a group representing Nunavut Inuit, is to also include Tungilik’s brother, Jesse Tungilik, and Steve Mapsalak, who has also accused Rivoire of abuse.

Tungilik says her father, Marius Tungilik, who died in 2012, alleged he was sexually abused by Rivoire when he was 13 years old while working at the Co-op store in Naujaat, Nvt. Those accusations have never been heard in court.

“I want to see Rivoire himself in Lyon and tell him what he did to my dad and to our family,” Tungilik said. “I want him to know how it affected us and that my dad died because of him from all the trauma he had gone through.”

Marius Tungilik had said he was also sexually abused as a child by an Oblate brother at Sir Joseph Bernier Federal Day School and its student residence Turquetil Hall in Chesterfield Inlet, Nvt. His disclosure played a role in prompting an apology from Roman Catholic Bishop Renald Rouleau in 1996, which he helped to write.

Tanya Tungilik shared her family’s story with Pope Francis when he visited Iqaluit earlier this summer, when he apologized for the role the Roman Catholic Church played in the residential school system.

Rivoire, who is now 91 years old and lives in Lyon, has long been accused of sexually abusing Inuit children when he was an Oblate priest in Nunavut from the 1960s until 1993, when he returned to France.

A Canadian warrant was issued for his arrest in 1998 but four criminal charges were stayed in 2017.

Following a new complaint to the Nunavut RCMP in 2021, Rivoire was charged in February with one count of indecent assault of a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979. A fresh Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest and Canadian judicial authorities sent an extradition request to France.

Although Canada and France share an extradition treaty, it does not require either country to extradite its own citizens.

Rivoire denied the allegations against him in an interview with APTN from his retirement home this summer, and said he does not plan to return to Canada.

Kilikvak Kabloona, CEO of Nunavut Tunnagavik Inc., said the Oblates have told the group that Rivoire refuses to surrender and it has no other course of action. She said while the Oblates have expressed their support for the request to have Rivoire extradited, she is concerned they continue to pay for his living costs in France and his lawyer.

The group’s president, Aluki Kotierk, said she’s hoping to raise awareness about the case in France and believes the French public will support Rivoire’s extradition, particularly since a report released in October 2021 detailed the widespread sexual abuse of children by clerics in the French Catholic Church over the past 70 years.

The delegation has requested to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti while they are in Paris, but have not received a response.

Kotierk said Rivoire, through his lawyer, declined to meet with delegation members while they are in Lyon, but she is hoping he will change his mind.

Tungilik said if Rivoire refuses to meet, she plans to protest outside his residence.

During their time in France, the delegation also plans to meet with Sister Veronique Margron, president of the Conference of Religious in France, Antoine Garrapon, head of the commission responsible for compensating victims of abuse from the French Catholic Church, and Father Vincent Gruber, who leads France’s Oblates.

Complete Article HERE!