Catholic Priest Writes Book on Ministering to Gays

A controversial retired Catholic priest has penned a new book aimed at helping parishes that seek to reach out to homosexuals.

And it doesn’t focus on changing their orientation.

James Schexnayder’s book, Setting the Table: Preparing Catholic Parishes to Welcome Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People and Their Families, is intended to serve as a resource guide for churches attempting to create “safe, supportive and healing places” for non-heterosexual individuals and their families, according to an article in the latest issue of Oakland’s the Catholic Voice.

“This book came out of my experiences not only locally, but in working with various diocesan clergy regarding welcoming gay and lesbian families into parishes,” Schexnayder told the Voice.

“There is nothing in it contrary to Church teaching.”

Schexnayder in 1994 was a co-founder of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries, now known as the Catholic Association for Lesbian & Gay Ministry.

He’s been criticized in the past for advocating views insiders see as inconsistent with those of the church, such as suggesting that homosexuals are directed toward chastity, but not celibacy, in their sexual relations.

“Regarding sexual behavior, the Catholic Catechism… does not use the word ‘celibacy’ for gay and lesbian people; the word is ‘chastity,’” Schexnayder told an audience at Spring Valley’s Santa Sophia parish in 2002.

He says the issue is “about successful integration,” and that homosexuality can be a spiritual blessing.

At the same talk, he also touched on a controversial view of same-sex marriage, according to a report at California Catholic Daily.

“I don’t think the Church is going to deal with gay and lesbian marriages, but in its history and those who have done research on this, the Catholic Church and other Christian churches like the Orthodox church, have in fact in history blessed same-gender unions as spiritual bondings, and there are saints who have had very committed relationships.”

Full Article HERE!

The gay agenda will see you now

So, how about it? Has it all come clear? Has the true horror been made absolutely and irrefutably real? Because know this for certain: There is no going back.

Behold, beautiful and confused children of Earth: The smoke has cleared, the glitter bomb has settled and finally, after years of deliciously imaginary back-room strategizing and decades — if not centuries — of secretly brainwashing millions of innocent children, punk-rock girls and repressed ’50s dads …

After panicking the religious right, inducing nightmares in the Pope and shamelessly luring countless congresspersons and church pastors, mayors and deeply shamed NFL players into the shimmery rainbow fold, the world-famous “homosexual agenda” has, once and for all, screamed itself alive.

Have you noticed? Have you read and felt and pored through, stifled a sniff and perhaps even let a few tears flow? Have you yet had your heart cracked open, just a little? Or maybe a lot?

I dare you. I dare you right now.

Especially you, over there on the convulsive and ever so baffled religious right. Especially you, bleak and loveless Mormon Church elders. Especially you from the aged, encrusted generations who are right now looking around in buzzing terror and not sure what to make of it all. Especially you up there on the pulpit, waving your arms and wielding your Bible like it was a dull switchblade, wailing that the fabric is coming undone and nothing will ever be the same again.

You know what, pastor? You are absolutely goddamn right. You know what else? Thank sweet Jesus for that. I mean, really.

To make it even easier to understand, to produce irrefutable evidence of the agenda’s ultimate goals, to further confound (or perhaps finally enlighten?) those who still think homosexuality is a choice, who think it the devil’s work and believe it morally repugnant, well, we have pictures. Lots and lots of pictures, all from New York, all from the first days of legal gay marriage in that fine state.

And lo, they are enough to shake you to the core, reignite the soul, reaffirm your simplest faith in this rough beast known as humanity. They are enough, if you look just right and open a bit wider, to make you forget the woes of the world and be reassured that the simplest truths remain, as ever, the most profound.

Or let’s put it this way: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a photo of two people aswim in true and respected love is worth just about every book, poem and bible ever written in this messy and godsmacked little realm we call home.

Don’t believe me? Click the gallery I’ve included in this column, or any other floating around the Web right now, and be amazed, refreshed, ignited, heartspun and soulwarmed, over and over again, as many times as you like, as many times as it takes. I’ve looked through all these pictures a dozen times, and take my word for it, it never fails.

Here it is, over and over, one stunning photo after another, an endless parade of people simply bursting at the seams with love and human potential, radiating and terrified and madly aglow with the possibility of it all.

Here they are, in an incredible array of shapes and sizes, ages and hair colors, backgrounds and melodramas, each and every one finally able, with the state’s full blessing, to consecrate their vows. Hey, just like you! Imagine.

The good news is, there is almost no way your Republican dad, your deeply homophobic brother, your Puritanical grandma, or pretty much anyone with a functioning and extant heart can see these pictures and not suddenly be drained of all protest, all resistance, all ridiculous fear of what “the homosexual agenda” is really all about. It is, after all, about just one thing, and one thing only. And it always has been.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask. Perhaps you believe there are many who will simply never be convinced. The fear is too deep, the religious indoctrination too harshly stamped, the heart too cold and locked down.

It’s very possible. When I first posted a link to some of these photos in Twitter and on my Facebook page, amidst all the positive comments, the cheers and tears from all normal and vibrant souls, even then did a few scowls sneak through, some who were still disgusted at the thought, sickened by the images, grossed out by the very existence of gay people in the way only violently uptight, over-sheltered straight people can be.

To which you can too easily reply, Have you seen straight people lately? Bridezillas? Bridalplasty? The abject nightmare of deeply freaky straight people getting married in strip clubs, in full furry costume, at Star Wars conventions, as Klingons and Smurfs and Star Trek characters, at drunken monster truck rallies, Krispy Kreme donut shops, Guns ‘R Us? I’ve been to many beautiful weddings in my life. But know this now: No one can top straight people when it comes to gross and ridiculous couplings.

But I won’t say that. Because that would be tacky, and also beside the point. Besides, the protests have been relatively minor, tame. Note how there hasn’t been a single GOP candidate who has dared to slam the New York weddings. The Prop 8-loving Mormons are nowhere to be found. Redneck dudes in baseball hats have retreated to the man cave en masse to sulk and watch gay porn in silent resentment.

Do you think they sense the writing on the wall? Do you think they intuit which way history is leaning? Which state will be next (note: all of them, eventually)? Or do you think they finally understood the true nature of the terrifying “homosexual agenda?”

Maybe, just maybe, they finally saw it, in blazing full color, in a devastatingly simple photo gallery somewhere, and finally had their fears laid to rest, their ideologies reconfigured, their hearts blasted open. Hey, it’s possible.

Love can do that, you know. It always has.

Archbishop Urged Md. Gov Against Supporting Marriage Equality

When Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (pictured, left) announced he would sponsor a marriage equality bill, he was bucking pressure from the Roman Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, who said the action amounted to “promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith.”

The Baltimore Sun reports that Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien (right), in a letter dated July 20 and released Monday by O’Malley’s office, wrote, “I am well aware that the recent events in New York have intensified pressure on you to lend your active support to legislation to redefine marriage,” referring to the enactment of marriage equality in New York State. O’Brien continued, “Maryland is not New York. We urge you not to allow your role as leader of our state to be used in allowing the debate surrounding the definition of marriage to be determined by mere political expediency.”

Two days later, O’Malley, a Catholic, announced that he would introduce a marriage equality bill next year. Similar legislation passed the state Senate this year but was pulled from the House of Delegates because it did not have the support of a majority. O’Malley had said he would sign this year’s bill, but the fact that he is lobbying more actively for such a measure now is likely to help it pass.

In making his announcement, O’Malley said other states had found a way to provide equal marriage rights to gay couples while protecting the rights of those who object on religious grounds, and he was confident Maryland could do so.

Last week he responded to O’Brien, and the letter was made public Monday. “On the public issue of granting equal civil marital rights to same sex couples, you and I disagree,” O’Malley wrote. “As governor, I am sworn to uphold the law without partiality or prejudice. When shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice.”

Scottish Government is committed to holding a consultation on the issues of same-sex marriage

A public consultation on whether to redefine marriage in Scotland will be launched before the end of 2011, the Scottish Government has said.

A spokeswoman told The Scotsman newspaper: “The Scottish Government is committed to holding a consultation on the issues of same-sex marriage and civil partnership, with the process beginning later this year.”

Campaigners for same-sex marriage are pushing for the traditional definition to be overturned and a new definition imposed.


During the run up to the Scottish election earlier this year, the SNP made a promise to hold a consultation on the subject, and Scottish Labour promised to look at “options”.

The Scottish Lib Dems went a step further, saying they would back a change to the law. The Scottish Conservatives were silent on the issue ahead of the election.

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has criticised calls for marriage to be fundamentally redefined.

John Deighan, the Parliamentary Officer for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland asked: “Are we saying that, for the past few thousand years, Western civilisation has been wrong and because of the lobbying by pressure groups over the past ten years everything should now change?”


Mr Deighan also asked: “What are we going to teach our children at school, that you can marry a man or a woman when you grow up?”

The Guardian’s Michael White has previously expressed concern about same-sex marriage, saying that heterosexual marriage is distinct because it “is there to produce and raise children in a more or less stable environment”.

In Canada a legal case involving a polygamist has seen him argue that since the law there permits gay ‘marriage’, his multiple marriages should also be allowed.

True to Episcopal Church’s Past, Bishops Split on Gay Weddings

The Episcopal Church, which has been strained by gay-rights issues since the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire eight years ago, is now divided over how to respond to the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York.

Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano will let priests in Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island officiate at same-sex weddings. In some other New York dioceses, bishops will not or are undecided.

As a result, gay and lesbian Episcopalians will be allowed on Sunday to get married by priests in Brooklyn and Queens, but not in the Bronx or Manhattan or on Staten Island; in Syracuse but not in Albany.

That is because the church has not taken a firm position nationally on same-sex marriage, leaving local bishops with wide latitude to decide what priests may do when the law takes effect in New York State. In the state, with six Episcopal dioceses, the bishops are split: two have given the green light for priests to officiate at same-sex marriages, one has said absolutely not, two are undecided and one has staked out a middle ground, allowing priests to bless, but not officiate at, weddings of gay men and lesbians.

The Episcopal Church, known as one of the most welcoming to gay men and lesbians among mainline Protestant denominations, finds itself in an uneasy position on the issue — embracing neither the clear stance against same-sex marriage taken by Roman Catholic, evangelical Protestant, Muslim, Mormon and Orthodox Jewish leaders, nor the supportive position of Reform Jewish, Unitarian Universalist and many liberal Protestant leaders. The Episcopal Church is a small denomination — the church claims 172,623 members in New York State — but is also prestigious and influential.

Now, gay and lesbian Episcopalians are finding their joy at the legalization of same-sex marriage tempered by the ambiguity over where they stand in their church.

“The Episcopal Church should really communicate that God loves everybody,” said Roy Kim, 40, who is engaged to an Episcopal priest, the Rev. Clayton Crawley. “The Episcopal Church does do that better than most churches, but it’s a great opportunity now to really, unequivocally say that.”

He and Father Crawley worship at St. Paul’s Chapel, which is part of Trinity Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. In keeping with the local bishop’s directive, Trinity’s priests will not officiate at same-sex marriages, and the parish has not decided whether to allow them to bless such unions.

The Episcopal Church’s rules define marriage as a “union of a man and a woman” but also say the clergy must “conform to the laws of the state” governing marriage. In 2009, the denomination approved a resolution saying that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

But New York State’s bishops differ over just what a “generous pastoral response” means, and even the bishops most supportive of gay rights are struggling to balance their desire to sanctify the relationships of all of their parishioners with their reluctance to further alienate conservative Anglicans in Africa and even the United States.

The bishops of the Long Island and Central New York Dioceses have authorized priests to preside at same-sex weddings; the bishop of the New York Diocese (which includes three of the city’s five boroughs) is allowing them to bless but not officiate at such rites; the bishop of the Albany Diocese is barring any involvement by priests; and the bishops of the Rochester and Western New York Dioceses remain undeclared.

“It could appear to someone looking from outside the church that this is all we’re talking about, and it isn’t,” said Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of the Long Island Diocese. “It finds its place in the larger question of how you minister to the wider world.”

Bishop Provenzano, whose diocese includes Brooklyn and Queens, concluded that a “generous response” allowed presiding over the marriage rite. But Bishop Mark S. Sisk of the New York Diocese found that the “generous response” resolution did not supersede the canon law defining marriage.

“The landscape regarding marriage is still changing across the country, within the church and for gay or lesbian couples themselves,” Bishop Sisk, who supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, said in an interview conducted by e-mail. “The church is still in the process of creating liturgies for these rites and incorporating them into church law.”

A number of gay Episcopalians professed sympathy for what they viewed as Bishop Sisk’s effort to balance competing views.

“That’s a fair middle-of-the road-position,” said Mary O’Shaughnessy, coordinator of the New York metropolitan area chapter of Integrity USA, which advocates equal treatment for gay men and lesbians in the Episcopal Church. “There is nothing that I will call homophobic about that.”

Derek Baker, 46, also expressed understanding for Bishop Sisk’s predicament.

“He’s between a very pointy rock and a very firm hard place,” said Mr. Baker, who plans to have his marriage blessed at the Church of the Ascension in Greenwich Village, where he has been a parishioner for two decades.

The situation is particularly awkward for gay priests like Father Crawley. Bishop Sisk has said that gay and lesbian priests “living in committed relationships” should marry — even though they cannot do so in church.

“That’s called hypocrisy,” said the Rev. Michael W. Hopkins, rector of the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene in Rochester. Father Hopkins is a past president of Integrity USA.

But Bishop Sisk responded, “The expectation that clergy in relationships will marry is not a demand, nor does it come with a specific timeline.” He also said clergy members could be creative in fashioning liturgies that might include a civil marriage conducted in the church but solemnized by a secular official, followed by a pastoral blessing offered by a priest.

Some gay and lesbian Episcopalians said they were content to allow the church to proceed slowly because they believed it was moving in what they viewed as the right direction. The issue of same-sex marriage will most likely be raised again at the church’s next national conference, next summer.

“The bishop might be completely behind gay marriage, but he also understands that unless we have the conversation, and unless we are patient, the church will break,” said Javier Galitó-Cava, a gay Episcopalian and actor who worships at St. Paul’s. “I want to kick and scream and say ‘How dare you, I’m not a second class citizen’ — but if I want this to happen, for myself and for my children, we have to take it one step at a time.”