Tonight: “Love Free Or Die”

Tonight on many PBS stations airs “Love Free Or Die”, the story of ‘the first openly gay bishop in Christendom’, Gene Robinson:

 

 

Tonight on Independent Lens. Montana PBS airs it at 9pm.

State Tells Yakima Diocese “No Collection” For Anti-Marriage Equality Group

From New Ways Ministry:

Last week, we reported that Bishop Joseph Tyson of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington State, had instructed parishes to distribute collection envelopes in its parishes to raise money for Protect Marriage Washington, the state’s main organization working to defeat Referendum 74, a ballot initiative to uphold a law guaranteeing marriage equality.

This week, however, the Associated Press reports that the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has ruled that for parishes to collect the envelopes would be illegal and has informed the diocese of its decision:

“. . . Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, says no organization can be an intermediary for a contribution. She says the church can hand out envelopes, but either a member of Preserve Washington has to be on hand to collect them or parishioners must send them in individually.”

The diocese appears to be ready to dispute the PDC decision. Diocesan Chief of Staff Monsignor Robert Siler claims that the procedures are not a “collection” :

” ‘As far as I know, the procedures we sent to the parishes meet the requirement of state law,’ he said, noting that the envelopes are preaddressed to the campaign.

” ‘We’re not collecting and counting money,’ he said. ‘We’re just collecting envelopes and forwarding them.’ “

KIMATV.com quotes Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson’s comments on the PDC decision:

“Bishop Tyson says it’s just one big misunderstanding. In fact, he told KIMA that he has yet to see one of the donation envelopes.

“In the letter, where the Bishop specifically asked parish staff not to open the donation envelopes, but instead place them into the addressed security envelope and mail them directly to Preserve Marriage Washington. It says the collection is supposed to take place September 8th and 9th.

“ ‘It’s not our collection, we’re not collecting the money, it’s not our envelope. We’re not banking the money, we’re not rolling the money, we’re not collecting the money and we’re not taking the money. Preserve Marriage Washington is doing that…we’re going to follow the state law and I’m going to make sure that we’re doing that,’ said Bishop Tyson”

Catholics for Marriage Equality Washington State, the statewide Catholic organization working to support marriage equality in the referendum, praised the PDC’s decision.  Spokesperson Barbara Guzzo said:

“We are delighted by this ruling because we represent so many Catholics in those pews who not only find political fund raising inappropriate for their Sunday services, but also strongly disagree with the Bishop’s stance.

“We believe we should all be able to practice our faith without pressure from our Bishop or our parish priests to support an effort we oppose. “

Legal questions aside, the moral question remains:  why are church institutions raising money for a political organization?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Yakima, WA Diocese To Collect Money To End Marriage Equality

From New Ways Ministry:

The Diocese of Yakima (in yellow), Washington State, has announced that it plans to take up special collections  to support efforts to defeat the state’s referendum to enact marriage equality in November.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports:

“Labor Day weekend marks the official beginning of what the three Catholic dioceses in the state are calling Preserve Marriage Month. In Yakima that means organizing an educational program and fundraising campaign to inform parishioners about Catholic teaching on marriage and church opposition to Referendum 74, which would affirm the state’s same-sex marriage law.

“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.”

The money collected will go directly to a political organization working to repeal the state’s newly-minted marriage equality law.  The dollars will not be considered tax-deductible or a contribution to the church:

“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.

“. . . . He proposed that pastors suggest not only that parishioners inform themselves and others about the referendum, to be voted on in November, but also that they ‘can contribute to the campaign by using the envelope in this week’s bulletin to make a generous donation to Preserve Marriage Washington.’ “

The envelope reportedly is addressed to Preserve Marriage Washington.

Monsignor Robert Siler, the diocesan chief of staff, said:

“To be clear, this is basically a contribution to a political campaign, and these are not considered tax-deductible church donations.”

Of course, not all Catholics support such a fundraising campaign:

“Dr. Kevin Walsh of Toppenish is uncomfortable with what he views as picking only a few issues from papal encyclicals about social justice and raising them to the level of national causes.

” ‘It’s an example of church leadership using the pulpit for what they see as a moral issue, but it’s isolated. It’s not part of a package to make life better for everybody,’ he said.

“Walsh added,’I think it’s misguided. We should be struggling toward inclusion instead of excluding people.’ “

The diocese has not set a fundraising goal for the collection.  Perhaps that was done as a strategic move so that they don’t end up in the embarrassing position of falling way short of the goal–which would be proof of what polls are consistently showing:  although Catholic bishops oppose marriage equality, Catholic people in the pews are overwhelmingly supportive of it.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

U.S. Episcopal Presiding Bishop On Gay Clergy and Contraception

From Queering The Church:

 

In the Catholic Church, US bishops have been in a froth over health care funding for contraception – even though the overwhelming majority of ordinary Catholics have been practising birth control for decades. In the UK and Australia as well as the US, Catholic bishops are mobilizing against marriage equality – even though most Catholics support it. Just a handful of Catholic bishops are grudgingly acknowledging that there could be value in alternative legal recognition for same –  sex partnerships, while most Catholics just do not see these relationships as even a matter of morality at all.

In the Anglican / Episcopal church, where governance is more democratic and leadership is more in touch with their members, things are different. The English church has a formal working group engaged in studying the issues around human sexuality, which has just announced the appointment of expert advisers to assist its work, and the US Episcopal Church is even further ahead. There, says the presiding bishop, “it’s a done deal”

NEW YORK — The movement toward legalizing same-sex marriage and the acceptance of gay people as clergy and lay members of religious groups is “a done deal” that represents “phenomenal” progress, the top figure in the Episcopal Church told The Huffington Post during a recent visit to its newsroom.

In an hour-long conversation with HuffPost staffers, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, touched upon subjects that ranged from her views on how to interpret scripture and challenges that face the church as its demographics change to debates over contraception and the relationship between religion and science. Read more of this post

 

A Bishop Talks About (gasp) Sex

Many of you have probably heard the news that (from New Ways Ministry Blog):

“On the second day of  New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, From Water to Wine: Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships in Baltimore, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Australia summoned the Catholic Church to rethink its teaching on sexuality- for heterosexuals and lesbian/gay people.  (The full text of his talk can be found on his website.)

The National Catholic Reporter news account of the bishop’s talk cites his call for

‘a new study of everything to do with sexuality’ — a kind of study that he predicted ‘would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual.’

‘If [church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change,’ he said. . . .

‘If the starting point [as in current church teaching] is that every single sexual act must be both unitive and procreative, there is no possibility of approval of homosexual acts,’ Robinson said.

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

He proceeded, however, to question that natural law argument, especially as laid out by recent popes, and to suggest that a more nuanced reading of divine commandments in scripture and of Jesus’ teaching would lead to a different set of moral norms — starting with a change in church teaching that every sexual act or thought that falls outside a loving conjugal act open to procreation is a mortal sin because it is a direct offense against God himself in his divine plan for human sexuality.

‘For centuries the church has taught that every sexual sin is a mortal sin. The teaching may not be  proclaimed as loudly today as much as before, but it was proclaimed by many popes, it has never been retracted and it has affected countless people’, Robinson said.

‘The teaching fostered a belief in an incredibly angry God,’ he added, ‘for this God would condemn a person to an eternity in hell for a single unrepented moment of deliberate pleasure arising from sexual desire. I simply do not believe in such a God. Indeed, I positively reject such a God.’”

Terrific.
And “Amen”.
This is startling- not only because of its sensibility- but for the courage of a man who has jumped over the traces, so to speak, of his fellow magisterial wizards. Dare we hope that this is the first voice of many?

Will Minnesota’s Bishop Follow Maine In Marriage Equality?

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Catholics in Minnesota are asking the states’ bishops to follow the example of Maine’s Bishop Malone by taking a less activist approach to the state’s upcoming marriage equality referendum.  In the past week, the Maine prelate released a pastoral letter on traditional heterosexual marriage, and announced that the Diocese of Portland would not be funding or staffing the political campaign to make sure that marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples is defeated.

Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota has instituted a number of new initiatives to make sure that their state’s proposed constitutional amendment against marriage equality will be defeated, including asking their bishops to take a cue from Bishop Malone.  According to a news report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“ ‘We are encouraged by Bishop Malone’s decision to place at the center of the Church’s mission in Maine Jesus’ call to care for the poor and marginalized,’ said Michael Bayly, executive director of Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota. ‘We pray that the bishops here in Minnesota will not only follow the example of Maine but will also be open to the love and commitment embodied in the relationships of committed gay and lesbian couples.’ ”

According to Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota’s blog site, Sensus Fidelium, the group

” . . . has organized a weekly prayer vigil during the season of Lent. Over 100 people attended last Sunday’s vigil, and organizers anticipate the numbers of attendees to continue to increase. Those who gather bear public witness to the fact that they do not see anything of Jesus’ life or message in Archbishop John Nienstedt’s support of the so-called ‘marriage amendment.’

“The group has also started an online petition asking Archbishop Nienstedt to re-focus the energy and resources of the Church away from divisive and unnecessary constitutional amendments back towards the core Catholic teachings of compassion and care for others. The petition can be found at FocusOnSocialJustice.Com

You can learn more about Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota at their website,c4me.org.

For more information about the Maine bishop’s action, you can read yesterday’sBondings 2.0 blog post.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

The Catholic Hierarchy: “Suffer The Little Children.”

Illinois Catholic bishops are taking their ball and going home in the face of federal non-discrimination requirements for foster care and adoption. The New York Times:

Children of the United Kingdom's Children's Mi...

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Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.

The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.

The vilification of LGBT persons by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is quickly becoming hysterical paranoia. What I find interesting is that it flies in the face of most of the opinions of people in the pews as well as the experience of many of the clergy and bishops themselves. They know gay people, they minister to gay people, and- I know this from personal experience- many of them are gay people.

Yet, this real-life, personal experience has no credibility in the face of freakishly ideological edicts from Rome. It’s absolutely backward. The experience of the people is supposed to form the church, form the hierarchy.

Not to mention the disregard for social and biological science. This is a church that would rather let the little children suffer. It saddens me.

Where’s the love, people?

Read the full story here