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!

I’m Catholic. The Church should welcome everyone — gays too.

I’m a staunch Catholic. But I object when the Church rejects gays. Everyone should be celebrated regardless of their sexuality.

by

“Let’s go to church, people!” my mother shouts to us every Sunday morning.

My sleep is not essential because the enthusiasm I wake up with is astounding. I love my religion. I love Catholicism.

The older I get, the longer my prayers and the more I realize the importance of the foundation that my family and church have given me: a belief system with answers to all questions man hasn’t answered. This same belief system has shaped the calm person I am. Without it, I would be lost, without meaning.

I’m far from alone. The Roman Catholic Church is one of the largest faiths on the planet — and growing. The faith claims more than 1.3 billion followers worldwide. For most of these Catholics, religion is the foundation of their identity; however, for a significant minority, religion prevents them from embracing their identity. The more they discover who they are, the further their authentic selves are from the doctrines of their founding religion.

I am talking about gay Catholics.

You are either gay or Catholic.

While I’m not gay, for others, like Matthew LaBanca, being gay means having to choose between Catholicism and one’s identity, but never both. LaBanca’s story, one of many, about him as an LGBTQI+ member losing his job as music director in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn parish the moment he married his boyfriend, attests to the inexistence of a middle ground.

You are either gay or Catholic.

Logically, because of Catholic rules, he could not wed his boyfriend in the Catholic Church, which had witnessed his best and worst moments for 46 years. Why? If the Bible says that we, as humans, have to stick to the core principle and commandments of the Catholic faith — “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” — then why do individuals not accept everyone as they are? If you would love to be fired from your job because of your identity, then fire people for who they are.

I am Joseph — a name with a religious legacy that my great-grandfather trusted me to inherit. I have attended staunch Catholic schools in the formative and adolescent years of my life. I have assumed leadership roles that require me to go to the Basilica every morning to teach my peers how to perform Mass correctly. These positions often meant that I addressed questions about religion and why things are done differently in the Catholic Church. Although I rarely had solid answers — if anything, I had even more questions — one thing I knew for sure was that in Genesis 19, God destroyed Sodom and Gomora for their grave sins, specifically their acts of homosexuality, which implied that God opposed homosexuality.

But I believe that only God can make a final judgment on who lives or dies; therefore, I reject the prejudices and the othering of the LGBTQI+ community by the Catholic Church, and I will continue to hope, pray and speak out about my belief that the Church should do so as well.

It takes a staunch, straight Catholic to dismantle prejudices against gays.

I know that some might ask, “Why not just leave the Church and find one that is more open and liberal?” My response is that just as it takes a Ugandan to effect change in Uganda, it takes a staunch, straight Catholic to dismantle the prejudices against the LGBTQI+ community in the Catholic Church. Besides, no human is perfect; the Church leaders are also human. Thinking of them as flawless humans is a misleading mindset. This is a fact that Jesus recognized.

In Matthew 16:23, Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” From this Bible verse, Jesus rebukes the rock of the Church, Peter, indicating that the Church heads don’t have the right to judge what’s good or bad because they are not perfect beings themselves. The role of the Church leaders is to provide a safe space for everyone to grow and a belief system with answers to questions man hasn’t answered.

I believe that denying the existence of gay people is questioning God’s choice of creating a very diverse world. Everyone should be celebrated regardless of their sexuality.

It is my prayer that gay Catholics should keep their jobs, that the Catholic Church should welcome everyone and that only God should judge what is right and wrong. Amen.

Complete Article HERE!

Indigenous leaders tell pope of abuses at Canada residential schools

President of the Metis community, Cassidy Caron, speaks to the media in St. Peter’s Square after their meeting with Pope Francis at The Vatican, Monday, March 28, 2022.

By NICOLE WINFIELD

Indigenous leaders from Canada and survivors of the country’s notorious residential schools met with Pope Francis on Monday and told him of the abuses they suffered at the hands of Catholic priests and school workers. They came hoping to secure a papal apology and a commitment by the church to repair the harm done.

“While the time for acknowledgement, apology and atonement is long overdue, it is never too late to do the right thing,” Cassidy Caron, president of the Metis National Council, told reporters in St. Peter’s Square after the audience.

This week’s meetings, postponed from December because of the pandemic, are part of the Canadian church and government’s efforts to respond to Indigenous demands for justice, reconciliation and reparations — long-standing demands that gained traction last year after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves outside some of the schools.

More than 150,000 native children in Canada were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools from the 19th century until the 1970s in an effort to isolate them from the influence of their homes and culture, and Christianize and assimilate them into mainstream society, which previous Canadian governments considered superior.

Francis set aside several hours this week to meet privately with the delegations from the Metis and Inuit on Monday, and First Nations on Thursday, with a mental health counselor in the room for each session. The delegates then gather Friday as a group for a more formal audience, with Francis delivering an address.

The encounters Monday included prayers in the Metis and Inuit languages and other gestures of deep symbolic significance. The Inuit delegation brought a traditional oil lamp, or qulliq, that is lit whenever Inuit gather and stayed lit in the pope’s library throughout the meeting. The Inuit delegates presented Francis with a sealskin stole and a sealskin rosary case.

The Metis offered Francis a pair of red beaded moccasins, “a sign of the willingness of the Metis people to forgive if there is meaningful action from the church,” the group explained. The red dye “represents that even though Pope Francis does not wear the traditional red papal shoes, he walks with the legacy of those who came before him, the good, the great and the terrible.”

In a statement, the Vatican said each meeting lasted about an hour “and was characterized by desire on the part of the pope to listen and make space for the painful stories brought by the survivors.”

The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant at the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages. That legacy of that abuse and isolation from family has been cited by Indigenous leaders as a root cause of the epidemic rates of alcohol and drug addiction on Canadian reservations.

Nearly three-quarters of the 130 residential schools were run by Catholic missionary congregations.

Last May, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation announced the discovery of 215 gravesites near Kamloops, British Columbia, that were found using ground-penetrating radar. It was Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school and the discovery of the graves was the first of numerous, similar grim sites across the country.

Caron said Francis listened intently Monday as three of the many Metis survivors told him their personal stories of abuse at residential schools. The pope showed sorrow but offered no immediate apology. Speaking in English, he repeated the words Caron said she had emphasized in her remarks: truth, justice and healing.

“I take that as a personal commitment,” Caron said, surrounded by Metis fiddlers who accompanied her into the square.

She said what needs to follow is an apology that acknowledges the harm done, the return of Indigenous artifacts, a commitment to facilitating prosecutions of abusive priests and access to church-held records of residential schools.

Canadian Bishop Raymond Poisson, who heads the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, insisted the Vatican holds no such records and said they more likely are held by individual religious orders in Canada or at their headquarters in Rome.

Even before the grave sites were discovered, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission specifically called for a papal apology to be delivered on Canadian soil for the church’s role in the abuses. Francis has committed to traveling to Canada, though no date for such a visit has been announced.

“Primarily, the reconciliation requires action. And we still are in need of very specific actions from the Catholic Church,” said Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, who led the Inuit delegation.

He cited the reparations the Canadian church has been ordered to pay, access to records to understand the scope of the unmarked graves, as well as Francis’ own help to find justice for victims of a Catholic Oblate priest, the Rev. Johannes Rivoire, accused of multiple cases of sexual abuse who is currently living in France.

“We often as Inuit have felt powerless over time to sometimes correct the wrongs that have been done to us,” Obed said. “We are incredibly resilient and we are great at forgiving … but we are still in search of lasting respect and the right to self-determination and the acknowledgement of that right by the institutions that harmed us.”

As part of a settlement of a lawsuit involving the government, churches and the approximately 90,000 surviving students, Canada paid reparations that amounted to billions of dollars being transferred to Indigenous communities.

The Catholic Church, for its part, has paid over $50 million and now intends to add $30 million more over the next five years.

The Metis delegation made clear to Francis that the church-run residential school system, and the forced removal of children from their homes, facilitated the ability of Canada authorities to take indigenous lands while also teaching Metis children “that they were not to love who they are as Metis people,” Caron said.

“Our children came home hating who they were, hating their language, hating their culture, hating their tradition,” Caron said. “They had no love. But our survivors are so resilient. They are learning to love.”

The Argentine pope is no stranger to offering apologies for his own errors and what he himself has termed the “crimes” of the institutional church.

During a 2015 visit to Bolivia, he apologized for the sins, crimes and offenses committed by the church against Indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas. In Dublin, Ireland, in 2018, he offered a sweeping apology to those sexually and physically abused over generations.

That same year, he met privately with three Chilean sex abuse survivors whom he had discredited by backing a bishop they accused of covering up their abuse. In a series of meetings that echo those now being held for the Canadian delegates, Francis listened, and apologized.

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!

In clergy abuse scandals, the Catholic Church still hasn’t reckoned with what it allowed

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2015 at a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica.

By Editorial Board

Reports of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church have become so routine — and the scale of victimization and coverup so vast — that the effect is to dull the impact of each new revelation. It appears that over the course of decades, practically every higher-up in the institution knew, or should have known, what was going on.

Yet even the apparent sameness of so many disclosures and admissions, over so many years, should not blunt the importance of a recent report that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as archbishop of the German cities of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982, failed to discipline abusive priests and enabled them to maintain their roles in ministry.

Similar allegations have been leveled, and often documented, regarding many bishops. But the German report, two years in the making, implicates a future pope, who at the time was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Even the ensnarement of a pope in the culture of coverup is not new. Pope John Paul II was blamed by a 2020 Vatican report for casting a blind eye at the culture of abuse generally, and of enabling the advancement of Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal of D.C., who was later condemned for sexual abuse and stripped of his status as a priest.

The new report, commissioned by the German Catholic church and conducted by a law firm, is based on the church’s own documents and accounts from witnesses. “In a total of four cases, we came to the conclusion that the then-archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger, can be accused of misconduct,” Martin Pusch, one of the authors, said in a news conference in January at the report’s unveiling.

In the course of the law firm’s inquiry, the former pope’s lawyers denied he had been at a meeting in 1980 in which the fate of a priest accused of pedophilia had been discussed. But when documents showed he had in fact attended the meeting, the former pontiff acknowledged through a spokesman that his previous assertion was “objectively false.”

Nearly two weeks after the report’s publication, Benedict finally came around to asking forgiveness for “abuses” and “errors” that happened on his watch — but not his own “abuses” and “errors.” He continues to deny any wrongdoing.

In the course of his papacy, from 2005 to his resignation in 2013, as the scope of abuse became increasingly obvious, Benedict did meet with abuse victims and moved to eject abusers from the church.

Yet even now, the scandal, the church’s most devastating in centuries, continues to swell. A massive French report last fall suggested there had been more than 200,000 victims of abuse in that country over the previous seven decades. Weeks later, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in an annual audit, documented more than 4,200 new allegations of sexual abuse of minors in the year ending in June. Most of them involved alleged incidents from decades earlier.

More than 1 billion Catholics worldwide remain faithful to a church that has delivered comfort, good works and education. Yet many are disillusioned by an institution that, even as it has made strides to reform its rules and culture, remains unable to fully face the extent of suffering it caused and allowed.

Complete Article HERE!