Gotta have faith

— LGBTQ-inclusive spirituality books, part 1

by Brian Bromberger

At a time when evangelical/fundamentalist Christians are renewing their backlash against queer people, it’s imperative to remember there are other Christians appalled at this injustice and lack of compassion, who are supportive of their queer brethren, especially mainline Protestants and progressive Catholics.

Spurred on by the pandemic, these books mostly written by queer believers who want to supply succor and strength to those who have remained in the institutional church.

In this survey, many of these books are forming a nascent queer spirituality, which not only affirms LGBTQ people as loved by God and recognize the goodness and beauty of their experiences sexual and otherwise, but with spiritual practices helps them develop an existential well-being enabling them to weather oppression. We begin with Christianity, with other faiths in next week’s issue.

Called Out: 100 Devotions for LGBTQ Christians by E. Carrington Heath, $20 (Westminster John Knox Press)
Heath is a nonbinary Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire. These 3-5 minute devotions consist of a bible verse, a reflection, then a short prayer. Designed for progressive Christians, he covers topics such as coming out, relationships, chosen family, religious trauma, with such enticing titles as ‘Afraid of God?,’ ‘Alligators and Ice,’ ‘Open to Rearranging,’ ‘Compassion for the Bully,’ and ‘The Gifts of the Disagreeable.’ Perfect for a quick read right before you start your day for inspiration, strength, and fortification.

Queering Black Churches: Dismantling Heteronormativity in African American Congregations by Brandon Thomas Crowley, $29.95 (Oxford University Press)
Thomas, an African-American minister and a lecturer in Ministry Studies at Harvard Divinity School, provides an systematic approach for dismantling heteronormativity within African American congregations by first outlining a history of trans-and-homophobia in black congregations.

Then using the lenses of practical theology, queer theology and gender studies, he examines the theologies, morals, values, and structures of black churches and how their longstanding assumptions can be challenged. Drawing on the experiences of several historically Black churches that became open and affirming (United Methodist and Missionary Baptist examples) he explores how those churches have queered their congregations based on the lived experiences of Black Queer folks trying to subvert their puritannical ideologies.

Crowley wants to move beyond surface-level allyship toward actual structural renovation. At times theoretical, he winds up offering practical proposals for change that can be a valuable resource for students clergy, and congregants.

The Gospel of Inclusion, Revised Edition: A Christian Case for LGBT+ Inclusion in the Church by Brandan J. Robertson, $23 (Cascade Books)
An exercise in queer theology, Robertson is the Lead Pastor of an LGBTQ Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego who makes a compelling case for queer inclusion based on an original contextualized reading of the six traditional passages referring to homosexuality in the Bible. He suggests that the entire thrust of the Christian gospel calls the church towards the deconstruction of all oppressive systems and structures and the creation of a world that celebrates the full spectrum of human diversity as honoring God’s creative intention.

Family of Origin, Family of Choice: Stories of Queer Christians by Katie Hays and Susan A. Chiasson, $21 (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
A social scientist and a pastor asked their LGBTQ friends from church to help them understand how they navigate relationships with their affirming, non-affirming, and affirming-ish families of origin, even as they also find belonging in other families of choice. These are first-person personal stories and testimonies written by queer evangelical Christians as they come to terms with their sexuality and its impact on those closest to them. Useful for both cis-het and LGBTQ Christians who are interested in reconciliation and resiliency rather than walking away from the pain inflicted on them by the institutional church.

Queer Holiness: The Gift of LGBTQI People to the Church by Charlie Bell, $22 (Darton, Longman, and Todd)
Bell is a gay psychiatrist and ordained deacon in the Church of England. The book is a critique of that denomination’s treatment of queer Anglicans, but is also trying to develop a healthy LGBTQ spirituality that’s psychologically sound. Human experience, science, and reason are essential elements in developing a theology that celebrates God’s diversity in sexuality. “The Church has failed to provide good role models for LGBTQI people and we are wounding the body of Christ if we don’t repent and change our ways.” Bell is calling queer Christians to be prophets to the Church.

LGBTQ Catholics: A Guide To Inclusive Ministry by Yunuen Trujillo, $19.95 (Paulist Press)
Immigration attorney Trujillo has written a guidebook on how to start an inclusive LGBTQ ministry at your church, including the different types and levels, their purpose, their structures, the most common challenges, and best practices. She believes in a listening church and church of supporting people where they are, in whatever part of the journey they are in. She longs to see the day when queer Catholics will no longer need to ask, “Why stay?” LGBTQ Catholics are no longer invisible and dialogue has commenced. This seminal book focuses on Catholic parishes, but much of the guidelines would fit a church of any (or non) denomination.

LGBTQ Catholic Ministry: Past and Present by Jason Steidl Jack, $27.95 (Paulist Press)
A good companion book to Trujillo, Jack, who teaches religious studies at St. Joseph’s University in NY, provides a history of queer-friendly groups that have ministered to LGBTQ Catholics in the last 50 years, including Dignity (LGBT rights and the Catholic church), New Ways Ministry (support for queer priests and religious), Fortunate Families (straight allies/families), St. Paul the Apostle (a Paulist pro-LGBTQ parish in Manhattan), and Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit, whose ministry is trying to bridge the gap between the institutional church and the LGBTQ community. The book culminates in trying to create a new understanding of church that includes queer people and combats homo/transphobia.

God’s Works Revealed: Spirituality, Theology and Social Justice for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Catholics by Sam Albano, 29.95 (Paulist Press)
Albano is the national secretary of DignityUSA and lays out well-argued theological arguments critiquing the Catholic Church’s treatment of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Catholics as unjust and ignores their inherent dignity as God’s creation. He proposes a Catholic vision for same-sex marriage, a queer liberation theology, and an LGBTQI spirituality of suffering. He has some bold proposals but the schema is marred by its lack of inclusion of transgender Catholics, especially since he believes LGBTQI Catholics are called to be God’s friends in creating, loving, serving, and raising this world to new life.

I Came Here Seeking A Person: A Vital Story of Grace, One Gay Man’s Spiritual Journey by William D. Glenn, $29.95 (Paulist Press)
Glenn, a SF Bay area transplant, who began as a devout Catholic boy joining and later leaving the Jesuits religious order. He progresses go AIDS counselor and then later President of the SF AIDS Foundation, clinical psychologist, spiritual director, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, as well as with husband Scott Hafner, is the cofounder of its Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion. The book highlights key moments illustrating the above milestones in his life.

The title comes from Trappist author Thomas Merton, “suggesting the human journey is a series of seekings, the encounters we have with ourselves, others, and the divine presence.” He writes that the book isn’t a classical memoir, but “a recounting of two dozen+ encounters I have experienced that changed the direction of my life both in almost imperceptible ways and in ways that were utterly transformative,” whether it be a book, a person, a dream, an intuition, or a prayer experience. It’s evocative rather than full of biographical details.

It’s an honest, warts and all account of Glenn’s spiritual journey often moving and inspiring, integrating all his milestones through both a Jungian psychological lens, but also an Ignatian (founder of the Jesuits) spirituality prism too. The best chapters are the ones about AIDS and how it impacted his life. Also, Paulist Press, a mainstream Catholic publisher, is to be commended for producing four queer religious books in the last year, atoning for their previous absence of titles through the decades.

Gay Catholic and American: My Legal Battle for Marriage Equality and Inclusion by Greg Bourke, $26.00 (University of Notre Dame Press)
Compelling and inspirational memoir about information technologist Bourke, who became an outspoken gay rights activist after being dismissed as a troop leader from the Boy Scouts of America in 2012 and his historic role as one of the named plaintiffs in the landmark U. S. Supreme Court decision Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. After being ousted by the Boy Scouts, he became a leader in the movement to amend antigay Boy Scouts membership policies.

The Archdiocese of Louisville, because of its vigorous opposition to marriage equality, blocked Bourke’s reutrn to leadership despite his impeccable long-term record as a distinguished boy scout leader. Bourke describes growing up in Louisville, Kentucky living as a gay Catholic. With his husband Michael De Leon he has been active in a Catholic Church for more than three decades, bringing up their two adopted children in the faith. Bourke proud to be gay and Catholic was tenacious enough to fight for inclusion, that they are not mutually exclusive. Heartwarming and deeply affecting with the inside story behind the historic Obergefell case.

The Queer Bible Commentary, 2nd Edition, edited by Mona West and Robert E. Shore-Goss, $112 (SCM Press)
First published over a decade ago, it has been newly revised including updated bibliographies and chapters with new voices taking into account the latest literature relating to queer interpretations of scripture. Contributors, both English and American, draw on feminist, queer, deconstructionist, utopian theories, the social sciences and historical-critical discourses. The focus is both how reading from lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender perspectives affect the interpretation of biblical texts and how biblical texts have and do affect LGBTQ+ communities.

It’s scholarly but accessible to the educated reader with cutting-edge contributions exploring faith, gender, sexuality, bodies, activism, and queer rights. Probably definitive for now and yes very expensive, but it’s the type of book you will use continually whether it be for preaching, education, or your own spiritual enrichment. Extensive citations allows one to research topics and themes. Indispensable and monumental.

Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians, Updated and Expanded Edition with Study Guide by Austen Hartke, $20 (Westminster John Knox Press) and Margins: A Transgender Man’s Journey with Scripture, $19.99 (Wm. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.)
Both these authors weave their personal trans experiences into reflections on well-known biblical stories, such as eunichs for Christ/Acts’ Ethiopian eunich, Jacob wrestling with God, sex worker Rahab and the Israelite spies, Ezekiel and the dry bones, the transfiguration of Jesus, and trans implications of the resurrection, not as a moment but a process. They reveal how these stories have helped shape their own identities. Both believe transgender Christians have unique and vital theological insights for the church, especially new ways to think about gender with clever chapter titles like “God Breaks the Rules to Get You In” and “The Best Disciples Are Eunuchs.”

They unpack the terminology, sociological studies, and theological perspectives that affect transgender Christians, contradicting the notion God makes mistakes. Hartke is the founder of Transmission Ministry Collective, an online community dedicated to the spiritual care, faith formation, and leadership potential of transgender/gender-expansive Christians.

He has an MA in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Studies. Kearns is an ordained priest, playwright, and theologian, who has given popular TED talks. Both books provide scriptural ammunition against religious critics who attack trans people as defying God’s binary creation of man/woman, promoting a more diverse, expansive view of the divine. “We know what it is to not fit in, to have to fight for a place for ourselves in the world and in the church.”

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Colors of Hope: A Devotional Journal from LGBTQ+ Christians, edited by Melissa Guthrie, $16.99 (Chalice Press)
Inspired by the colors of the original Pride flag, the book explores the themes of sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, art and magic, harmony and serenity, and spirit matched with a color encompassing a weekly scriptural reading and a daily reflection or activity that reminds readers we are all children of God.

Then each section has faith sharing questions, making this book ideal for prayer, Bible, meditation, and recovery groups plus the wider non-LGBTQ church, since the whole project is inclusive and the broadest spirituality imaginable. Each of the contributors are part of Alliance Q, the queer affirming ministry of the Disciples of Christ (a very progressive Protestant denomination). “What color is hope? Hoping in color brings the joy, beauty, and power of the rainbow to life.” Hope is presented here as an embodiment of all faiths and an act of resistance.

Complete Article HERE!

In letter, thousands of Catholic nuns declare trans people ‘beloved and cherished by God’

— The letter follows a recent statement from U.S. Catholic bishops discouraging Catholic health-care groups from performing various gender-affirming medical procedures

Nuns gather in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City as they attend Pope Francis leading the traditional Sunday prayer in early March.

By Jack Jenkins

A coalition led by Catholic nuns, representing thousands of women religious and associates at partner groups, released a public a letter on Friday voicing support for transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive individuals, declaring they “are beloved and cherished by God” and implicitly rebuking recent statements from the U.S. Catholic hierarchy.

The letter is meant to mark the International Day of Transgender Visibility, which takes place Friday.

“As members of the body of Christ, we cannot be whole without the full inclusion of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive individuals,” the letter reads. It goes on to argue that “we will remain oppressors until we — as vowed Catholic religious — acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people in our own congregations. We seek to cultivate a faith community where all, especially our transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive siblings, experience a deep belonging.”

The letter also states transgender people are “experiencing harm and erasure” in various ways, listing daily discrimination, a groundswell of state-level legislation aimed at LGBTQ rights and “harmful rhetoric from some Christian institutions and their leaders, including the Catholic Church.”

Prepared by representatives from various communities including the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth JPIC office, the letter lists orders of nuns and other organizations representing more than 6,000 vowed religious across 18 states.

Among the signatories are various offices of the Sisters of Charity; the leadership of the Presentation Sisters of Dubuque, Iowa; Sisters of Loretto/Loretto Community; multiple offices of the School Sisters of Notre Dame; the Dominican Sisters of Houston; and the Justice Office of the Medical Mission Sisters.

The letter also lists ways to take action, such as supporting New Ways Ministry, a Catholic LGBTQ outreach group, or signing a statement highlighting a “Catholic commitment to trans-affirmation” from DignityUSA.

The nuns’ effort comes in the wake of a doctrinal statement published earlier this month by a committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which discouraged Catholic health-care groups from performing various gender-affirming medical procedures, arguing doing so does not respect the “intrinsic unity of body and soul.”

Sister Barbara Battista, the congregation justice promoter for the Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, noted the letter was already in the works before the bishops unveiled their doctrinal statement. Battista said she and other crafters of the letter were initially responding to the wave of bills being considered in state legislatures that target transgender rights.

When the bishops’ statement became public, Battista said, it jump-started their efforts.

“There’s a sense of urgency in me to say that there are many, many faithful Catholics who know a different way,” said Battista, who has publicly advocated for other causes in the past.

“We need to find opportunities to speak up and to say, ‘We are with you, we support you.’”

Battista noted that many of the bills working their way through state legislatures revolve around the health-care needs of trans people, an issue that hits home for her as a licensed physician assistant in Indiana. She described her work as “participating in the healing ministry of Jesus,” rooted, she said, in a “sacred trust” between patients and providers.

But Catholic leaders and government officials, she argued, have tried to “insert themselves into the private, very personal and intimate conversations and decisions made between the health-care provider and the person they are serving.”

Another person who assisted in crafting the letter, a nonbinary member of a Catholic religious community who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against their community, echoed Battista’s comments in an interview with Religion News Service. “It’s past time for religious communities to speak out against the injustice, the violence, the exclusion of trans, nonbinary persons within society and the church,” they said.

The person also expressed hope the letter would draw attention to the fact that Catholic communities include transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive individuals.

“It’s not some outside group,” they said. “There are members of religious communities who identify as transgender or nonbinary. … They’re not ‘out there.’”

In the past few decades, Catholic nuns have shown a willingness to take public stands on issues different from or even opposed to those of the American bishops. Earlier this month, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi recalled when U.S. bishops came out against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, a move that concerned some Catholic Democrats who wanted to vote for the bill. But a broad group of Catholic nuns voiced support for the ACA a short time later, a development Pelosi credited with helping get the bill passed, saying, “Thank God for the nuns.”

But the nuns’ activism was not without consequence. Their support for the ACA is widely believed to be one catalyst for a Vatican investigation of women religious in the United States. The investigation, launched under former Pope Benedict XVI, was discontinued by Pope Francis in 2015.

Battista and the nonbinary religious both said the dangers LGBTQ people face every day were far more daunting than kickback from Catholic officials. Said the anonymous religious: “It takes an enormous amount of courage because of discrimination, the actual real existence of threat of harm to our physical bodies and lives, but also the hatred and rejection.”

Complete Article HERE!

LGBTQ Catholics dream of a changed church, while seeing reasons to hope

By

As a child in inner-city Milwaukee, Father Bryan Massingale’s grandmother gave him a leather-bound copy of The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, along with a dream that he might need it someday.

“My grandmother was not delusional. She did not live in denial of reality,” said Massingale, a Jesuit priest who holds an endowed chair in ethics at Fordham University, in New York City. “Her gift was a vision, an act of hope. It was a dream, a hope, a reminder that the neighborhood, with its drugs, violence and rodent-infested corner store with overpriced goods, did not define or limit who I could be.”

That’s important to know, he declared, since he was speaking as “a Black, gay priest and theologian” at Fordham’s recent Ignatian Q Conference for LGBTQ students from Jesuit campuses. This event was a “space for our dreaming, for queer dreams” of hope for “despised and disdained and stigmatized peoples,” he added.

“I dream of a church where gay priests and lesbian sisters are acknowledged as the holy and faithful leaders they already are,” he said, in a published version of his address. “I dream of a church where LGBTQ employees and schoolteachers can teach our children, serve God’s people and have their vocations, sexuality and committed loves affirmed. …

“I dream of a church that enthusiastically celebrates same-sex loves as incarnations of God’s love among us.”

Theological visions of this kind inspire hope for some Catholics and concern for others.

Thus, the North American phase of the Vatican’s global Synod on Synodality found “strong tensions within the Church,” while participants in the virtual assemblies also “felt hope and encouragement and a desire for the synodal process to continue,” according to the 36-page report (.pdf here) released on April 12 by U.S. and Canadian Catholic leaders.

Catholics are “called to act co-responsibly in a synodal fashion, not to wait until we know how to do everything perfectly, but to walk together as imperfect people,” said one group, in its summary of the process. Another group added: “When Church structures and practices are dynamic and able to move with the Holy Spirit, everyone is able to ‘use their gifts in service of the Church and of each other.'”

Calling for “greater inclusivity and welcome” within the church, the final report said this was especially true with “women, young people, immigrants, racial or linguistic minorities, LGBTQ+ persons” and “people who are divorced and remarried without an annulment.”

But the report also warned about the “danger of false or unrealistic expectations regarding what the synodal process is meant to be and to ‘produce,’ since people living in “North American culture” tend to focus on “measurable results and … winners and losers.” Some participants, for example, questioned calls for “radical inclusion,” while asking about the “pastoral and even doctrinal implications” of that term.

The explosive nature of these debates jumped into the news weeks later when the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York hosted, next to a side altar, a “God is Trans” exhibit.

In his written explanation of his art, Adah Unachukwu said this display “maps the queer spiritual journey” through “Sacrifice, Identity and Communion.” There is, he added, “no devil; just past selves” and “Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane.”

After seeing headlines, Archdiocese of New York officials promised to investigate the exhibit at the Paulist Fathers parish. The congregation also offers, on its website, an “Out at St. Paul” ministry to the “Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer community.”

Media reports early this week noted that parish leaders changed the name of this art exhibit, but that it remained in place.

Massingale delivered his Fordham address before that controversy. However, he did stress that Catholics must dare to share dreams of change – even those with “an inherently subversive quality” – while seeking a “new and more just social order.”

Referring to the “wedding banquet at Cana,” when Jesus turned water into wine, the Jesuit theologian called for a changed church in which “people of all races, genders and sexualities rejoice at the presence of love” and a world in which “spiritual wounds will be healed, where faith-based violence will be no more, where fear and intolerance are relics of history.”

Complete Article HERE!

Who will Catholics follow? Pope Francis or the right-wing U.S. bishops?

Pope Francis welcomed President Biden to the Vatican for talks in October 2021, as U.S. Catholic bishops debated denying the president communion in American churches.

By Mary Jo McConahay

It’s time to take a clear look at the far-right politics of U.S. Catholic bishops. They won a 50-year campaign to turn back legal abortion, but they will not rest, it seems, until the country becomes a Christian nationalist state, with their moral principles codified into law. The religious right has long been identified with white evangelical Christians, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, some 250 men, mostly white and past middle age, ranks among the nation’s most formidable reactionary forces. As a Catholic, I must protest.

There was a time when I was proud of the principled but often unpopular positions of my faith leaders. During the Cold War, they spoke out against nuclear proliferation. When neoconservatives rose to power in Washington, the bishops issued a powerful letter on the economy, reminding government of its responsibility for making a “preferential option for the poor.” They stood against Ronald Reagan’s support for autocrats in wartime Central America — I was covering the region as a reporter and met several bishops who traveled south to see for themselves before making the policy decision.

Since those days, the proportion of conservative U.S. prelates has increased with nominations by the two pontiffs who preceded Pope Francis, and the USCCB drifted far to the political right, narrowing its focus to the “preeminent threat” of abortion. Its members lead the country’s largest and hardly monolithic faith group — 73 million American Catholics — but it also attempts to sway the law with amicus curiae briefs on cases from gay rights to prayer in schools, and with a powerful lobbying arm, its Office of Government Relations, tasked with influencing Congress. The bishops are driving the U.S. church to the point of schism with opposition to Pope Francis, who emphasizes pastoral care more than doctrine, and who virtually slapped down their attempt to forbid Holy Communion to lifelong Catholic Joe Biden, who is pro-choice.

What shaped the conservatism of the America’s bishops?

The roots of today’s right-wing church hierarchy go back to the 1970s when Catholic activist (and Heritage Foundation co-founder) Paul Weyrich persuaded evangelical minister and broadcaster Jerry Falwell to join forces in a “moral majority” — Weyrich suggested the term. As a movement, ultraconservative Catholics and evangelicals would restore the values and morals of the founding fathers as Weyrich, Falwell and their followers saw them, a promise taken up by Reagan, their favored presidential candidate. Abortion became the Moral Majority’s flagship issue.

That highly politicized obsession has put U.S. Catholic bishops sharply at odds with the global church (and public opinion) in their animus to Pope Francis, who calls capital punishment, euthanasia and care for the poor equally important “pro-life” issues.  For moderate Catholics like me, the deviation hits close to home, pushing the U.S. church too far from too much of Christ’s most elemental teachings while engaging in modern culture wars.

About sexual orientation, Francis, who recently celebrated 10 years as pope, famously said, “Who am I to judge?” but U.S. bishops rail against the “intrinsic disorder” of homosexuality. They ignore his urgent call for action on climate change and its existential threats. They drag their feet on his unprecedented process to prepare for a global Synod this year in Rome, which asks people, and in particular women, at every level of the church’s life — not just bishops — to contribute assessments and aspirations meant to define the mission of today’s church.

During the COVID pandemic some U.S. prelates tried to undermine the authority of both church and state. Francis encouraged vaccination, but San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone distributed communion unmasked and unvaccinated and played the aggrieved victim (a Christian nationalist trope), claiming that “cultural elites” treated Catholics with “willful discrimination” by limiting public gatherings. Timothy Broglio, archbishop for the Military Services USA, contravened the pope by saying Catholic service members could request a religious exemption to the shot, despite Pentagon orders they get it. Broglio is the newly elected president of the USCCB.

The U.S. church has a history of discrimination against Black Catholics in parishes and seminaries, and now the bishops go wrong, with notable exceptions, by failing to adequately condemn white supremacy. After Black Lives Matter protests, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez — president of the U.S. bishops for three years until late 2022, and vice president of the group before that — called out social solidarity movements as “pseudo-religions” that are part of “a deliberate effort … to erase the Christian roots of society and to suppress any remaining Christian influences.”

Wealthy laity support the vision of far-right prelates. Southern California billionaire Timothy Busch, for example, is the founder of the Napa Institute and its influential summer conference where well-to-do conservative Catholics hobnob with bishops, archbishops and right wing politicians. Archbishops Gomez and Cordileone are advisors; last year Trump administration Atty. Gen. Bill Barr was a keynote speaker. Busch, who sees unregulated free markets as congruent with Catholic teachings, has little to say about Francis’ attack on the “sacrilized workings” of the global economy.

Perhaps of greatest concern, the USCCB has been increasingly willing to render the wall between church and state a mere gossamer curtain. Invoking novel theories of “religious liberty,” the bishops have fought legislation and court decisions most Americans support, notably laws protecting same sex marriage and access to contraceptives.

At age 86, Pope Francis is close to the end of his pontificate. Among American Catholics, a stunning 82% view him favorably. But he may not live to appoint enough like-minded cardinals to elect a similar successor.

Moderate U.S. prelates do not go along with the USCCB right-wing hardliners, but they are a minority. I can only hope their numbers grow in time, providing the church with the leadership devoid of political considerations that American Catholics deserve.

Complete Article HERE!

Church’s ‘God Is Trans’ Display Sparks Controversy

— ‘The Church Should Not Be Promoting This’

By Michael Foust

A church in New York City has divided members and ignited a social media debate after hosting an art display claiming “God is trans.”

The “God is Trans: A Queer Spiritual Journey” display at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, a Catholic congregation, includes artwork that maps the “queer spiritual journey,” according to a description of the artwork at the church. The New York Post first reported on the controversy.

“The church should not be promoting this,” one member told The New York Post. “I understand there are transgender people. I pray for all people, but enough is enough.

“It seems like they are trying to force the agenda on others,” the member said. “Also, when a friend asked a priest about this, they didn’t answer. You can’t put this out on the altar and then hide.

“That’s what gets the church in trouble.”

The pro-transgenderism display by artist Adah Unachukwu conflicts with the teachings of the Vatican. Pope Francis this year called gender ideology “dangerous” and said it blurred “differences and the value of men and women.” In 2019, the Vatican released a document saying it’s a “fact” that “a person’s sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity.”

The description of the artwork said it focused on three points: Sacrifice, Identity and Community.

“The painting Sacrifice and its complementary act in the film speak to the need to shed an old life and personhood in order to be able to focus on your spiritual need,” the description said. “There is no devil: just past selves. Identity is the most impactful part of the exhibition. What does holiness look like? What does your god look like? Are these two portrayals that can be merged? Finally, Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane to speak to one another. This part of the installation is about a spiritual home and the ways we can achieve this home in our everyday lives.”

Some church members supported the display.

“I don’t understand the art, but this church is very liberal, which is why I love this church,” Cherri Ghosh, 80, told The Post. “They are really in the present when others are not.”

Complete Article HERE!