School flying BLM, LGBTQ flags can’t call itself Catholic, bishop says

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An LGBTQ pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag fly alongside the American flag above Nativity School of Worcester in Worcester, Mass.

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The stark, dual-colored letters of the Black Lives Matter flag and the bright rainbow stripes of the Pride flag had flown above the Massachusetts Catholic school for more than a year before the local bishop registered his opposition.

The Black Lives Matter flag, Bishop Robert McManus said in April, has been “co-opted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police.” And the LGBTQ flag could be used to contrast church teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, he added.

When Nativity School of Worcester didn’t budge, McManus issued a severe ruling. The tuition-free middle school, which serves boys facing economic hardship, can no longer identify itself as Catholic because the flags are “inconsistent with Catholic teaching,” he declared Thursday.

“The flying of these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message to the public about the Church’s stance on these important moral and social issues,” McManus wrote. “Despite my insistence that the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote, they refuse to do so.”

That defiance, McManus said, left him no other choice but to strip the Jesuit-run school of its Catholic affiliation. The school also can no longer celebrate Mass or the sacraments or use diocesan institutions to raise funds. It was not included Thursday in the diocese’s list of Catholic schools in its region.

The decision, which comes during Pride Month, appears to be a rare instance of a Catholic organization’s affiliation with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” becoming a flash point with its diocese. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a nuanced approach to the phrase, endorsing the concept of racial justice but not necessarily the organizations that attach themselves to that message. The Black Lives Matter movement describes itself as aimed at eradicating White supremacy and interrupting violence against Black communities.

Nativity School said its use of the Black Lives Matter and Pride flags was a response to a call from its students, most of whom are people of color, to make their community more inclusive. The flags symbolize that all are welcome at Nativity, the school’s president said Thursday.

“Both flags are now widely understood to celebrate the human dignity of our relatives, friends and neighbors who have faced, and continue to face hate and discrimination,” Thomas McKenney wrote. “Though any symbol or flag can be co-opted by political groups or organizations, flying our flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people.”

The bishop disagrees. The Pride flag represents support for same-sex marriage and “a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” he said. And while the church teaches that all lives are sacred, McManus said the Black Lives Matter movement has used that phrase to contradict Catholic teaching on the importance of the nuclear family. (Black Lives Matter previously said on its website that it aims to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families.” The page was later taken offline.)

Bishop McManus

Nativity said it will appeal the bishop’s decision — but it has no plans to remove the flags, which it said show its commitment to solidarity with its students and families. McKenney said the administrators’ decision was informed by the Gospel, Catholic social teaching and the school’s Jesuit heritage.

The outcome follows months of dialogue between the school and the Diocese of Worcester. Around the same time that McManus took issue with the flags in March, a person tore down both flags, the school said. Two months later, the bishop warned the school that it would lose its Catholic label if it did not remove the displays.

Nativity School isn’t the only educational institution to be stripped of its “Catholic” label. In 2019, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis told Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School that it could no longer identify itself as Catholic after it refused to fire a teacher who was in a same-sex marriage. The Midwest Province of Jesuits said it would appeal the decision through a church process.

To Guillermo Creamer Jr., an openly gay alumnus of Nativity School, the flags symbolize that Nativity is inclusive of Black lives — a message he said is crucial at a school with primarily Black and Latino students.

“For these young men who are witnessing what’s happening around the country and seeing the Black Lives Matter flag fly, it’s a very big deal,” he said.

Creamer, 27, said he expects the bishop’s decision to prompt other Catholic schools that align themselves with Black Lives Matter or pro-LGBTQ messages in some way to question whether that’s acceptable. But he said that may not be entirely bad if it encourages Catholics to talk honestly about whether and how these causes fit into their faith.

In his letter to the community, McKenney reminded parents that Nativity School is funded by individuals and groups — not by the diocese — and that it would continue to operate as usual.

Outside the school building, he noted, the flags still fly.

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Bishop takes part in gay blessing services in Germany

This year, for the first time, a German bishop took part, the auxiliary Bishop of Essen, Ludger Schepers.

People with pride flags over their shoulders in Max-Josephs-Platz, in Munich in February this year.

by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Christopher Lamb

The grass-roots #liebegewinnt, or “love wins”,  campaign in Germany again held blessing services for all couples who loved each other, including LGBTQ couples, but numbers were down compared to last year – from 110 to 80 services nationwide.

The #liebegewinnt campaign, held this year on 10 May, began last year as a reaction to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF’s) “no” to same-sex blessings which was published on 15 March, 2021.

The CDF said: “It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex. The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”

This year, however, for the first time, a German bishop took part. The auxiliary Bishop of Essen, Ludger Schepers, who is responsible for pastoral work with the LGBTQ community in the German bishops’ conference, took part in an ecumenical blessing service that also included remarried divorcee couples in the Marktkirche in Essen.

There were no blessing services in Munich or Augsburg this year. A Munich priest, Fr Wolfgang Rothe, who held a blessing service for couples who loved each other including people from the LGBTQ community last year in Munich, published a statement explaining that this year he had been unable to find a church in which he could hold a blessing ceremony. “All my inquiries either remained unanswered or were rejected,” he said.

Renate Spanning, a spokeswoman for Maria 2.0, the German Catholic women’s church reform initiative, which took part in a blessing ceremony last year, told Bavarian Radio that she was “frustrated”. Several German bishops had recently spoken of the need to reform the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, she said, adding: “Blessing ceremonies would surely be the logical consequence now. But when it actually comes to embedding their oral admission liturgically, there is no one to be found!”

•Pope Francis’ recent “mini-interview” on the topic of LGBTQ Catholics provides some of the building blocks for a re-imagined ministry to gay people.

“A ‘selective’ church, one of ‘pure blood,’ is not Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect,” the Pope explained in a handwritten reply to questions from Fr James Martin, a Jesuit priest and founder of the “LGBTQ Catholic resource”, Outreach. “What would you say is the most important thing for LGBT people to know about God?” Fr Martin asked on behalf of Outreach.  “God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And the ‘style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy and tenderness’. Along this path you will find God,” Francis replied.

Complete Article HERE!

Priest says it’s ‘sad’ Catholic Church will bless tractors but not same-sex couples when they marry

Kellie Harrington and Mandy Loughlin on their wedding day.

By Sarah Mac Donald

A well-known priest has congratulated Olympic medallist Kellie Harrington and her wife Mandy Loughlin on their wedding and criticised the Catholic Church’s stance on same-sex blessings as “out of date”.

Fr Paddy Byrne, parish priest of Abbeyleix, Ballinakill, Raheen in Co Laois, lamented the “sad” fact that he can bless tractors and cars but not a loving same-sex couple.

Speaking to the Irish Independent he said the boxer and healthcare worker “encompasses and personifies all that Christianity is about”.

In a tweet, Fr Byrne described Kelly Harrington as “a national treasure” and said he wished her and her partner health and happiness.

“I find it sad that as church we can bless cars, tractors…I’m not assuming this couple may want such ritual, but for many likewise who do we should,” he wrote.

He was congratulated by Labour TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, for his comments.

Fr Byrne told the Irish Independent the Church’s ban on same-sex blessings is “one of the reasons why the level of practice among under 60s at the moment is in freefall”.

He added: “It is not about diluting the truth of Christianity – it is about embracing the consequences of the radical love of Jesus Christ.”

Referring to the sense of exclusion many gay couples feel within Catholicism, he asked: “How can we continue to alienate these couples at such a happy moment in their lives and not offer at least some form of recognition – spiritual nourishment – and ritual?”

He said he did not know Kellie personally or anything about her religious background or tradition, but he felt it was a “paradox” that cars and tractors can be blessed when a committed couple could not.

“I wanted to acknowledge a happy moment in her life particularly in the context of Holy Week, which is a narrative about inclusion, love and welcome.

“These couples aren’t from the moon, they are from loving families, they are our siblings, they are our people, they are us – they are humanity.”

Stressing that he was “not a maverick in any way”, he said people on the ground in the Church buy into the need to offer gay couples a ritual to mark their commitment.

“I speak on behalf of the vast majority of the members of the parishes that I serve and particularly the younger members of those parishes. I speak on behalf of clergy as well. The majority of us find it not just disappointing but almost embarrassing that we cannot celebrate these occasions in our churches,” he said.

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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!

Pope Francis removes archbishop tied to document barring same-sex blessings

Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was widely seen as being behind the March 2021 document that outraged the gay community, which Francis has made pains to welcome into the church fold.

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus noon prayer in St.Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022.

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Pope Francis took the first step Monday to reorganize the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office, removing the No. 2 official widely believed responsible for a controversial document barring blessings for same-sex couples because God “cannot bless sin.”

Archbishop Giacomo Morandi
“Bye Felicia”

Francis named Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, currently the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, bishop of the Italian diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla. The move amounts to a demotion since Morandi currently has the title of archbishop, yet is heading to a small diocese, not an archdiocese.

The Vatican said Morandi would nevertheless retain the title of archbishop “ad personam.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or CDF, is one of the most important Vatican offices, interpreting doctrine for the universal Catholic Church, sanctioning dissenters and handling cases of clergy sexual abuse of minors. Morandi joined the CDF as an under-secretary in 2015 and was promoted to secretary, or the No. 2, in 2017.

He was widely seen as being behind the March 2021 document that outraged the gay community, which Francis has made pains to welcome into the church fold.

The document declared that the Catholic Church won’t bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.” The document said Francis had been informed of the document and “gave his assent” to its publication, but Francis was apparently taken by surprise by its impact.

Francis has since made several gestures of outreach to the gay Catholic community and their advocates, including a recent letter congratulating an American nun once sanctioned by the CDF, Sister Jeannine Gramick, on her 50 years of LGBTQ ministry.

The CDF is currently headed by the Jesuit Cardinal Luis Ladaria, but he is expected to retire relatively soon since he turns 78 in April, three years beyond the normal retirement age for bishops.

Aside from Morandi, there are two “additional secretaries” in the CDF, including the American Archbishop Joseph Di Noia, who also is due to retire soon since he turns 79 in July. The other is Archbishop Charles Scicluna, but he has a full-time job as archbishop of Malta.

The impending retirements and transfer of Morandi thus suggests some management changes at the office, though they probably won’t be announced until Francis releases the blueprint of his reform of the Vatican’s overall bureaucracy, expected sometime this year.

Complete Article HERE!