I am retired clergy.

— I post on Facebook in support during pride month and all year long

Where would this world be without the gifted and talented members of the LGBTQ community who bring such beautiful gifts to our lives?

By Rev. Richard Ryan, Sellersburg, Indiana.

I frequently get comments asking me how and why I support PRIDE as a retired clergy and person of deep faith.

I share for my children, some whom identify as LGBTQ-plus, and I love them deeply. I post my support on social media for my LGBTQ niece, multiple cousins and my close personal friends. I post for the child in the pew who is horrified and filled with terror the first time they hear the pastor say they’re going to burn hell for something they can’t change. I share for the many talented church musicians I’ve known whose God given gifts were tossed aside when it was found that they loved someone of the same sex. I share for my friend’s son who was told after years of serving, that could no longer work with with the youth at church because he was gay. For the youth (and adults) of the church I served in Corydon, Indiana who were gay and two who were transgender, who suffered in silence.

I post for the woman who left my sales team because of my LGBTQ support, who shared that reason with the company president, not knowing the company president had a gay son. I post for my LGBTQ team leaders at work who are without a doubt the kindest and best of the best. I post for my LGBTQ church family who worship God along side me each Sunday at Highland Baptist. And I post for my dear friend and talented singer who died way to early because he couldn’t tell his church family that he was gay for fear of their rejection.

I post hoping to make a difference. I post hoping that the love of GOD breaks through hardened hearts and we realize that we are all God’s children, diverse and proud of who God created us to be. Where would this world be without the gifted and talented members of the LGBTQ community who bring such beautiful gifts to our lives?

Many have a deep faith in the same God as you do. We all want to be loved just as we are, without having to hide who we are and who God made us to be.

And, I post for the parents of LGBTQ-plus who fear their children will be abused in this world.

Yes, I post proudly for PRIDE and will throughout the year for all these children of God.

I believe God is big enough and generous enough to share the rainbow and celebrate the diversity of his children.

Yes, I post. Proudly.

Complete Article HERE!

Lavender and Green Alliance march in New York to celebrate 30th anniversary

Brendan Fay (centre) pictured during the 2024 Queer Liberation March in New York last Sunday.

By Brendan Fay

Drogheda and Ireland’s gay ambassador in New York, Brendan Fay, the man who founded the Irish LGBTQ group Lavender and Green Alliance – Muintir Aerach na hÉireann after fleeing the repressive laws in his native country in the nineties, has written this report on the organisation’s 30th anniversary.

On Sunday last, June 30th, the Irish LGBTQ group Lavender and Green Alliance – Muintir Aerach na hÉireann celebrated Pride by joining the 2024 Queer Liberation March.  Our 30th anniversary theme and message is “Éirimid Amach le Chéile -We rise and come out together.”

Mindful of the recent anti-gay and transgender slurs from Pope Francis and the Vatican as well a repeat of the ban on openly gay men from seminary or ordination we began the morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with a witness for Pride Sunday.

At the Cathedral steps I was with my spouse Tom who I met at a Dignity Mass in 1996 and Maya Milton, transgender organizer whose family come from Dublin. We held images of two friends who were inspiring and courageous gay priests Fr. John McNeill (1925-2015) and Fr Mychal Judge of 9/11 (1933-2001). In 1976 Fr McNeill wrote the book “The Church and the Homosexual” and came out as a gay priest. Fr Mychal Judge became known as the priest to call during the AIDS crisis.  

We also held an image of Stanley and Kathleen Rygor with their son Robert.  A leader in ACT UP Robert died from AIDS related illness in January 1994. Stanley (1926 – 2019) was popular in traditional Irish music circles in New York and sang in his parish choir for over 20 years. Kathleen (1929 – 2021) from Birr, Co. Offaly was outspoken as the mother of a gay son. I am currently working on a documentary film telling their story.

While welcoming the apology of Pope Francis, there is an urgent need for a more honest and open conversation in the Catholic Church and society. As LGBTQ communities honour Pride events in 2024 we are aware that in several countries people are suffering in silence, enduring harsh sentences, imprisonment, torture and threat of death because of their gender or sexual orientation. There is a lot more work needed to protect LGBTQ rights and stem the rise of anti LGBTQ prejudice here and in Ireland. We need stories to heal, give hope and raise awareness.

The Irish LGBTQ group then headed downtown, negotiated a labyrinth of police barricades and unfurled our banner at 15 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. This was the site of the LGBTQ Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop founded in 1967 by gay pioneer Craig Rodwell. Irish artist and writer Krissy Mahan greeted the group from across the street with a T- shirt in Irish, “Saoirse don Phalaistín”.

Lavender and Green Alliance joined the Queer Liberation March at Sheridan Square close to the Stonewall Inn and site of the LGBTQ uprising of June 1969.  Some of the group held images of friends and pioneers of the LGBTQ community as well as rainbow coloured BRÓD (Irish for pride) signs with images of the postage stamps issued by the Irish Post Office honouring the Irish LGBTQ movement. Michael Kane, wearing a t-shirt with a map of Ireland in rainbow colors, said it meant a lot to him to carry the image of Fr. Mychal Judge who died on 9/11.

Along 7th Avenue seeing our banner, ‘Lavender and Green Alliance / Muintir Aerach na hÉireann celebrating Irish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, Heritage and Identity’ people photographed us saying how proud they were of Ireland’s global leadership on LGBTQ human rights. Others highlighted Ireland’s outspoken leadership for human rights in Palestine and Ukraine. We join the global call for a ceasefire in Palestine, freeing of hostages and access to urgently needed food and medicine.

Brendan Fay at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York with his spouse Tom and transgender organiser Maya Milton from Dublin.

A New York Pride gathering is also where long-time activist friends meet. Gay community legend Randy Wicker, an organizer in the 60s, has been a supporter of Lavender and Green Alliance joining us in many St. Patrick’s parades.  Someone came to tell of his friendship and shared kayaking with Belfast gay activist Tarlach MacNiallais (1962-2020).

Another thanked us for years of campaigning for inclusion in the St Patrick’s Parades on Fifth Avenue and the outer boroughs.  Young people out for the first time came to speak of being proud to be Irish and the gift of accepting parents and friends.

We told stories of Malachy McCourt’s support for Lavender and Green through the years. Veterans of ACT UP remembered Robert Rygor and his leadership during the AIDS crisis. As the group marched downtown to Battery Park texts came in from Donegal LGBTQ community leader Jen McCarron congratulating us on our 30 years of community advocacy.

Maya Milton who lives in the Bronx said, “I’m Irish American. I’m transgender and I am glad to be an organizer with Lavender and Green Alliance. When we are out and proud we can inspire others to be themselves and live their lives.”

Pride is a time of human solidarity and community when LGBTQ persons come out of closets of silence, rise in anger and hope from our second-class status, remember friends, lovers and pioneers who have gone before us and experience the empowerment, fun and joy of belonging to a global movement for change.

Complete Article HERE!

Rome Takes Historic Step Towards ‘Full Communion’ with Conservative Anglicans

— Groundbreaking agreement will include only those Anglican dioceses that do not ‘ordain’ female priests.

By Jules Gomes

The Vatican is taking historic strides towards achieving “full communion” with Anglicans who do not ordain female priests. It is doing so by recognizing Anglican holy orders and churches, but not requiring them to merge with or convert to Roman Catholicism.

“We are scheduled to begin our talks at the Vatican this coming September 26-27,” Bishop Ray Sutton, presiding bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the U.S., announced in an Ecumenical Relations Task Force Report of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) College of Bishops.

The ACNA bishops, who oversee 128,000 Anglicans in more than 1,000 congregations across Canada, Mexico, and the United States, met during a provincial council from June 20-25 at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Secret Vatican Meeting

The report reveals that Archbishop Foley Beach, who was then the primate of ACNA; Bishop Eric Menees, the chair of dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church; and Bishop Sutton flew to the Vatican for meetings at the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) in June 2023.

The Anglican bishops held talks with Catholic Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, who was then the adjunct secretary of the DDF, and his assistant, Fr. Andrew Liaugminas, who is seconded to the DDF by the archdiocese of Chicago.

In an unprecedented move, the process of Anglican-Roman Catholic union is being led by the DDF — the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog — instead of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, which is the Holy See’s conventional means of dialogue with Christians of other denominations.

This correspondent learned of secret meetings between ACNA bishops and top officials at the DDF earlier this year and published an exclusive news story about the historic meeting in the summer edition of Mass of Ages, the quarterly magazine of the Latin Mass Society.

Proposal to Base Union on Malta I

According to the ecumenical report obtained by The Stream, the union between Rome and orthodox Anglicans aims to be based on a Malta II proposal — a manifesto that revives the Malta I agreement reached between Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, in 1966.

The Malta I agreement resolved to overcome differences between Catholics and Anglicans in matters like Petrine primacy, papal infallibility, and Mariology by ensuring that “neither Communion is tied to a positive acceptance of all the beliefs and devotional practices of the other.”

According to Malta I, unity and reciprocal acceptance of holy orders would be founded on the acknowledgment that each Communion “embraces the fundamental truths outlined in the ecumenical Creeds and the shared tradition of the ancient Church.”

“The Malta Report put forward a way to unity and communion between Rome and Anglicanism without requiring amalgamation or conversion to each other’s churches,” Sutton’s report underlined.

Liberal Anglicans Excluded

Historical events and past decrees like the papal bull Apostolicae Curae, which was issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring Anglican ordinations to be “absolutely null and utterly void,” are set to be reevaluated “only to the extent that they can shed light upon the facts of the present situation.” 

Bishop Sutton said that Rome’s agreement with ACNA would eventually be applied to the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA)/Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), an association of conservative Anglicans in the non-Western world.

However, the process of working toward unity would not include “the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, or the Episcopal Church,” (Anglican bodies that ordain female priests and bishops), Sutton emphasized.

Roman Catholic officials holding senior positions in Rome have enthusiastically welcomed the proposal for “full communion” between Rome and the ACNA.

Catholics, Anglicans Welcome Proposals

Fr. Bryan Lobo, S.J., the dean of the Faculty of Missiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, explained to The Stream the impact the move could have on the worldwide Church.

“Anglicans form the third largest body of Christians in the world (around 80 million members) behind the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in more than 165 countries. Today, a majority (55%) of the world’s Anglicans live in sub-Saharan Africa,” Lobo observed.

“If this bold initiative works and is then broadened as the ACNA proposal states, communion between Catholics and Anglicans in the Global South would be an overwhelming witness of the Kingdom and mutually encouraging and empowering to both churches.

“I think ecumenism should be considered as one of the primary missions of the Church. I would therefore support any initiative of the Catholic Church towards ecumenism.”

Anglicans reciprocated with messages of hope that the joint venture would succeed.

“I’m an orthodox Anglican priest, so this would change my life, as I live in formerly Catholic Spain. I would love to help local Catholics by presiding at communion and hearing confessions,” said Fr. Duane Alexander Miller, an expert in World Christianity with a doctorate from Edinburgh University.

“I think it’s a good thing that the church is looking for unity since every single denomination already prays for Christian unity,” Fr. Calvin Robinson, a media celebrity and Old Catholic priest, told The Stream. “The ACNA has become the predominantly recognized orthodox Anglican body in the U.S., and while it still has some issues to work through, as do all denominations, the fact that they are engaging with Rome shows that they are serious about providing a Catholic perspective to the Christian faith in America.

“I know ‘ecumenism’ is a dirty word to some people, and there will be a lot of doubling down from people who do not actually want a united Church,” Robinson warned. “They will say there’s already the Ordinariate. Of course, the Ordinariate offers a very particular charism for very particular demographic, but it isn’t a way to reunite the church.”

Convert Clergy Hostile to Unity

Pope Benedict XVI established ordinariates in 2009 in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus as a means of receiving converted Anglican priests or laity into the Roman Church. Most Anglican priests were reordained unless they could prove they had been “validly” ordained as Anglicans.

Anglican clergy who converted to Catholicism and are now members of the Ordinariate responded with hostility to the proposals for communion between Rome and the ACNA.

“Surely they should just join the ordinariate, no?” Fr. Ed Tomlinson, an Anglican convert and Ordinariate priest, posted on Facebook. “During those talks they will be told to join the ordinariate — that is Rome’s offer and it won’t change.”

Fr. John Konstantin Tee, also a convert and Ordinariate priest, responded, “The traditional teaching of the Church has always been that the Church is One. It’s just some people have separated from that unity. You have two choices. You either join that Church of Oneness or you choose to remain apart from it. Ecumenism is a non-sense born from a faulty Council.”

“It already had a dividing effect on the ACNA. Groups have already left,” an Ordinariate priest and convert posted on Twitter. “Also, as was said at the time, all they did was turn the clock back 20 years. Most of the serious Anglo Catholics have gone Ordinariate or Orthodox.”

Same-Sex Blessings Stall Talks

A high-level ACNA source told The Stream that a major sticking point in the dialogue was Pope Francis’ recent pastoral declaration Fiducia Supplicans, which permits priests to offer informal and non-liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.

The dialogue ground to an abrupt halt days after the DDF issued Fiducia supplicans, with Anglicans arguing that ACNA and other orthodox Anglicans had split from the Episcopal Church in the U.S. precisely over the issue of the acceptance of homosexual unions by liberal Anglican jurisdictions.

Bishop Sutton explained the problem orthodox Anglicans had with the document:

Fiducia Supplicans has resulted in conflicting interpretations of it, as well as polarization within the Roman Church. Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops have even opposed it. The USCCB has offered a ‘sic et non’ (‘yes’ and ‘no’) and mitigating statement in response to Fiducia Supplicans. With our conciliar view of the Church, we see the failure of a Magisterium to maintain the integrity and unity of the Faith.

The ACNA report clarified that the DDF had reassured Bishop Menees that “Fiducia Supplicans is actually an attempt to “curb but not open up the practice of homosexual behavior.” The Catholic Church “still prohibits homosexual practice and by canon warns of removal from the clergy for such behavior,” it added.

Please Support The Stream: Equipping Christians to Think Clearly About the Political, Economic, and Moral Issues of Our Day.

On Rome’s side, the sticking point is with Anglicans who ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate. “The door of union and mutual recognition of holy orders would remain open only for Anglican provinces that were orthodox and had not permitted the ordination of women or gay blessings/marriage,” an ACNA source confirmed.

Meanwhile, on June 13, the Vatican released a document titled “The Bishop of Rome,” which seeks to reconfigure the office of the Bishop of Rome from an absolute monarchy into a ministry of “first among equals” for the sake of ecumenical unity, The Stream reported.

“Today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ,” Pope Francis affirmed in the document.

Complete Article HERE!

NYC church redefines acceptance for LGBTQ+ people

By Shannon Caturano

Pope Francis formally signed off on allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples in December 2023.

But decades before the pope’s historic announcement, a New York City church has embraced the LGBTQ+ community and provided a safe space for worship.

The Church of St. Francis Xavier, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, provided services for AIDS patients while others refused, including being one of the first to bury a person who died of the virus during the epidemic of the 1980s. More recently, the church became the new home for a decadeslong memorial for people who died from AIDS-related complications when the original host parish was closed as part of the Archdiocese of New York’s reorganization plans.

“We came and we never left,” Roe Sauerzopf told ABC News Live, recalling the first time she and her wife, Paula Acuti, had attended Sunday Mass at St. Francis, and how they immediately felt “safe” to be themselves.

“It’s been a struggle to be a lesbian, and to be a Catholic lesbian has been even more of a struggle,” Acuti, a New York resident, shared with a room full of women who attend a Catholic Lesbian group at the church and can relate to her experience, all nodding in agreement, while eating cheese and crackers and sipping wine on a Friday night.

“I had left the Catholic Church because of the attitude toward gay people,” Sauerzopf added.

“It was on Pride Sunday and the priest said that everybody there should pray for all the sinners who were marching in the city. And I think that’s the last time that we went into a church for a long time,” Acuti told ABC News Live.

It was at least 15 years before the couple found their way back to the Catholic Church. When attending a friend’s wedding in the early 2000s, they shared with a straight couple that they had felt unaccepted to be themselves within their religion.

“We were complaining to them about how there really is no accepting Catholic churches and they were like ‘oh no, there is one,’” Acuti said.

That’s when Acuti and Sauerzopf found St. Francis Xavier.

They soon became involved in the parish’s Catholic Lesbian group, which was founded in 1995, and now has more than 300 participating members.

Pastor Kenneth Boller, who leads the LGBTQ+ friendly groups at the church, said the parish has been welcoming of all people for “many, many years.”

“It’s important for everybody to find groups of people who are ‘like’ instead of ‘other.’ So you can develop friendships, you can share experiences,” Boller said. “What’s important is that people find a place to pray.”

The Catholic Lesbians group meets monthly to pray together and share their own faith experiences. With a wide range of ages, the youngest member is 18 years old and the oldest members are in their 80s.

Acuti and Sauerzopf, who have been together for 45 years, got married at St. Francis Xavier in 2004, when same-sex marriage was still illegal in the United States.

Sauerzopf said the ceremony was for their 25th anniversary, and the priest at the time told them to invite their family and friends.

“He did a whole Mass, he blessed our rings, he just couldn’t sign the papers.”

It was a day the couple said they’d never forget. Wanting other same-sex couples to feel the acceptance they had received, they helped plan a surprise ceremony at a recent Catholic Lesbian retreat for a newlywed couple who joined the group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re just the most welcoming group we found,” McKenna Coyle, who is in her 20s, said, describing the group as “family.”

It was the last day of the retreat when Coyle and her wife, who were celebrating their one-year anniversary, walked into a room with music playing, a cake and photos from their wedding day displayed.

“They blessed us to celebrate our wedding since we can’t get married in the Catholic Church,” Coyle said.

“It’s a blessing on persons because everyone, every person, is entitled to be blessed. It’s not a blessing or endorsement of their living situation, but a realization that these are people of goodwill,” Boller said, in describing the Vatican policy change.

“The Pope says all are welcome. But then he kind of backtracks a little,” Sauerzopf said. “But this church doesn’t do the backtrack. They keep it up.”

In addition to advocating for equality within the Catholic Church, Sauerzopf also said she would like to see more women in leadership roles within the church. The Church of St. Francis Xavier allows women to perform the homily during Mass, Sauerzopf said, which is rare within the Catholic religion.

“We shouldn’t be the oasis. We should be what it’s all like,” she said, while sitting in a church pew.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope’s reported remark on gay people ‘disappointing but not a step back’

— A London-based LGBT+ Catholic group said Francis should be ‘more careful about how he phrases things’.

Pope Francis reportedly made a derogatory comment relating to gay priests

by Aine Fox, PA

The Pope’s reported use of derogatory language about gay people has been branded “disappointing” by a London-based LGBT+ Catholic group.

Italian media reported that Pope Francis used the term “frociaggine” when answering no to a question on whether gay men should be admitted to seminaries to train for the priesthood.

The Vatican has not commented on the remark – believed to translate to an offensive slur – reported to have been made in a meeting behind closed doors earlier this month.

If it is as it has been reported it is offensive. I think it is disappointing. He should be more careful about how he phrases things, particularly in these kind of off-the-cuff remarks
— Martin Pendergast, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster

Martin Pendergast, secretary of LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, told the PA news agency: “If it is as it has been reported it is offensive. I think it is disappointing. He should be more careful about how he phrases things, particularly in these kind of off-the-cuff remarks.

“I think he tends to use these slang words without understanding the ramifications they can have.”

But, asked whether he feels the remark will be a step back for relations for the church and its gay members, Mr Pendergast replied “certainly not” and questioned the way in which the comment had emerged from the private meeting.

He said: “I just wonder what the rationale was for whoever released this to the media – was it used to weaponise against the Pope’s more consistent LGBT+ welcoming approach?

“It would have been better to have challenged the comment within the meeting (rather than leaking it).”

Asked about the comment, a spokesman from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) said: “Echoing the consistent message of the Synod and this papacy, the Catholic Church is a place of welcome for all.”

In 2013, Pope Francis was reported to have indicated he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation, saying: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”<

In December last year he formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples, as long as such blessings do not give the impression of a marriage ceremony, reversing a 2021 policy by the Vatican’s doctrine office, which barred such blessings on the grounds that God “does not and cannot bless sin”.

The Pope’s most recent reported comment came as LGBT+ Catholics Westminster marked its 25th anniversary, with a celebratory Mass on Sunday.

Bishop Paul McAleenan, who is Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and was representing Cardinal Vincent Nichols at the service, told those gathered that the church “must never be closed, it must always be a church that includes and makes room for all”.

He thanked the LGBT+ group for its “value” and “contribution to the life of the church”.

Complete Article HERE!