Catholics Participate in Prayer Service and Demonstration at Supreme Court

New Ways Ministry staff at the marriage equality demonstration outside the Supreme Court:  Sister Jeannine Gramick, Bob Shine, Francis DeBernardo.

New Ways Ministry staff at the marriage equality demonstration outside the Supreme Court: Sister Jeannine Gramick, Bob Shine, Francis DeBernardo.

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on two marriage equality cases.   The historic day began with an interfaith prayer service at the Church of the Reformation, a Lutheran congregation just behind the Supreme Court building.

The service, entitlted “A Prayer for Love and Justice,” featured prayers and rituals from a wide variety of faith traditions–Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, Native American–were all represented as part of the service.  Catholics were represented by Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry and Rev. Joseph Palacios, who ministers at Dignity/Washington.   The event was organized by the United for Marriage coalition.

Following the prayer service, participants processed to the Supreme Court building and joined the demonstration of thousands of people there who support marriage equality.  Among those in the crowd were Jackie and Buzz Baetz, a Catholic couple from Monkton, Maryland, who displayed a sign showing Catholic support for marriage equality.

New Ways Ministry staff also participated in the demonstration outside the court building.

 

 

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Today’s Must See: Alfredo’s Fire

“It was the Italian Stonewall, absolutely, the Italian Stonewall…”

 

About The Film

ALFREDO’S FIRE is a powerful and timely documentary that tells the forgotten story of Alfredo Ormando, a gay Italian writer who set himself on fire at the Vatican to protest the Church’s condemnation of homosexuality.

As Pope Benedict XVI resigns this month, the time is ripe for dialogue aimed at building a more open and inclusive Church, in the hope that no more lives are extinguished by the effects of religious intolerance.

With successful backing, the film will be finished in the next few months. We expect it to premiere in a major film festival in the U.S. and in conjunction with Italy’s National Pride celebration, this year in Alfredo’s hometown of Palermo.

For more information about the project visit: www.alfredosfire.com

Alfredo’s Story

On January 13, 1998 Alfredo Ormando, a 39-year old Italian writer, arrived in Rome just as the sun was rising. After a long journey from his native Sicily, he found his way to the empty plaza of St. Peter’s Square and, facing the entrance to the Basilica, knelt down as if to pray. He made a rapid hand gesture and suddenly was engulfed in flames. Before the Church and God, Alfredo Ormando had lit himself on fire.

Not long afterwards, and overlooking the spot where Alfredo had set himself aflame, Pope John Paul declared that “homosexual acts are against the laws of nature.” Pope Benedict XVI has even more vehemently advanced anti-gay rhetoric and policies.

Shaped by Alfredo’s manuscripts and letters, as well as rich cinematography, and provocative interviews with Alfredo’s friends, family and intimate companions, our film reveals Alfredo’s longing and the struggle to reconcile his own faith and sexuality.

My Story

As someone who has similarly struggled to reconcile his sexuality and spirituality, I became obsessed with Alfredo’s story and his choice of fire. Alfredo’s gesture was simultaneously a self-annihilation, an expression of pent-up passion and rage, a communion with God, and a dramatic “coming out.”

When Alfredo lit himself on fire at the Vatican, he hoped that his protest would be witnessed everywhere. Instead, his story was silenced by the Church and downplayed by the media. In death, as in life, he was made invisible. With our film, I want his light to reach millions worldwide. It is a flame by which to remember, witness, and come out of the dark.

Watch the video here.

New Equality Organization For Catholic Students Launched

Good news! From GLAAD, Thursday, October 11, 2012

LGBT and allied students at Catholics universities are using National Coming Out Day to launch a new association calling on the church to expand its acceptance of LGBT equality. The Catholic Association of Students for Equality (CASE) is made up of LGBT student groups from eleven Catholic-affiliated colleges.

Each LGBT student organization mailed a letter highlighting the benefits of LGBT and Catholic collaboration to their own Bishops, Diocese, and school administrators. The letters referenced how the Church’s stance on LGBT issues has been harmful, using passages from scripture and the Church’s catechisms.  However, it focused on how the groups that make up CASE have been able to work with Catholic institutions to better their campus communities. CASE’s goal is to raise awareness about these instances of cooperation and acceptance.

“Before some of us were tall enough to even see over the pews, let alone understand our orientations, we were being raised with Catholic values. We were taught to believe in family, love, and commitment. To work to ensure respect, inclusion, and human dignity,” wrote Thomas Lloyd, Georgetown student and founder of CASE. “Therefore, it is only natural that as we grew into adults we would apply these values to how we viewed our LGBTQ identities.”

So far, participating schools include: DePaul University, Chicago; Georgetown University, Washington, DC; Fordham University, New York City; Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California; College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts; University of San Francisco;Loyola University, ChicagoLoyola University,  New OrleansLoyola University,  Maryland;Boston College; and Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles. CASE is actively reaching out to LGBT students at other Catholic schools to grow the list of participating schools.

“These students are right in step with the strong Catholic support for LGBT equality that we see nationwide, “ said Ross Murray, GLAAD’s Director of Religion, Faith & Values. “At a time when the Roman Catholic hierarchy has only negative messages, these students remind us that the true Catholic values are about dignity and solidarity.”

More information can be found at CASE’s Facebook page. CASE and many of the participating networks will also be going purple for Spirit Day on October 19, to stand with LGBT youth and oppose bullying. Over time the group will post more photos, stories, and videos, to show how LGBTQ groups on Catholic campuses are helping their administrations and students better fulfill their catholic mission.

Posted Without Comment

Apparently from the print edition of today’s New York Times: (click to enlarge)

Items From New Ways Ministry

New Ways Ministry Blog offers some items of interest to LGBT-inclusive Christians:

1) Sister Maureen Fiedler, who blogs for the National Catholic Reporter, comments on the passage of the Maryland marriage equality bill by suggesting that “Catholic bishops should read the writing on the wall for same-sex marriage.”

2) In a HuffingtonPost.com essay, Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, observes that “Same-Sex Marriage IS Dangerous — to Church Workers .”  She is commenting on the recent firing of a Catholic parish’s music director, whichBondings 2.0 reported on here.

3) North Carolina’s two Catholic bishops are among the supporters of a proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage heterosexually, according to “Both sides gear up in N.C. gay marriage fight,” which appeared on The Washington Post website.

4) Maryland’s Martin O’Malley and New Jersey’s Chris Christie, two Catholic governors who have opposing views about marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples, will square off on TV’s “Face the Nation,” Sunday, February 26, 2012, on CBS.  While the topic for their segment is the 2012 presidential race, since both governors have been so visible about marriage equality, it will likely come up as a topic of discussion.  For more details, check out The Washington Post’s article  “O’Malley, adversary Chris Christie booked on ‘Face the Nation.’ “

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Catholics and Gays: Joel Connelly Calls Out The Church

The Seattle PI’s Joel Connelly has an illustrious history of commentary in Seattle. I’ve enjoyed him for years. But in Monday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he makes one of the best cases for the Catholic Church to give up the paranoid same-sex marriage rhetoric- and his seasoned, well-reasoned thoughts beg to be shared. Excerpt:

English: Schwörstadt: Catholic Church Deutsch:...

The bishops see themselves as shepherds, but American Catholics are not sheep.  They think and act independently.  A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that nearly three quarters of Catholics favor letting gays and lesbians marry (43 percent) or form civil unions (31 percent).

“Catholics are more supportive of legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall,” the survey concluded.

The church is also hurting itself:  Its social activism, defense of human dignity and witness to peace should make it a beacon for all who seek justice.  Instead, the church is pilloried as an instrument of reaction.

Its wounds are self inflicted, a classic case of clerical error.  As the National Catholic Reporter put it, editorializing after New York legislators approved marriage equality last spring:

“Even if the bishops had a persuasive case to make and the legislative tools at their disposal, their public conduct in recent years — wholesale excommunications, railing at politicians, denial of honorary degrees and speaking platforms at Catholic institutions, using the Eucharist as a political bludgeon, refusing to entertain any questions or dissenting opinions, and engaging in open warfare with the community’s thinkers as well as those, especially women, who have loyally served the church — has resulted in a kind of episcopal caricature, the common scolds of the religion world, the caustic party of ‘no’.”

Connelly is taking a fair and balanced approach, using the Catholic tradition of social justice and charity to argue for the reality of human experience- in this case the reality of same-sex relationships. The very reality of them flies in the face of the “Natural Law‘ argument:

“Jesus befriended those who were marginalized because He knew it was only in the security of loving, unconditional relationships that hearts and lives are healed,” argues writer Justin Cannon, reflecting the Christian faith as taught to us by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Not only healed, but enriched.  I’ve witnessed a warm, very traditional moment over the years.  A goofy, dreamy smile crosses the face of a friend, who after years of playing the field announces  “Well, I met this woman (or guy)!”  It signals a readiness to settle down.  My natural reaction is to say,   “You lucky dog!” and to be there, in affection and support, when the knot is tied.

Life together is a natural passage in life.  Yet, according to “natural law” the Catholic church frowns on my friends who fall in love with somebody of their own gender.  It violates nature, according to a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops statement, because such “inherently non-procreative” relationships “cannot be given the status of marriage.”

The church’s positions are, as state Sen. Ed Murray put it Friday night, “hurtful” as well as contradictory.

Out of one side of its mouth, the church condemns “all forms of unjust discrimination, harrassment and abuse” against gays and lesbians. At the same time, the Cathechism of the Catholic Church describes “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” as “objectively disordered.”

As my critical thinking professor at Carroll College taught me, the Church’s argument is flawed. It can’t have it both ways. It either acknowledges the reality of same-sex relationships- the reality of the complexity  of human love as a gift from God- or it becomes the ubiquitous symbol of fantasy, its credibility falling off the edge of its own absurdly flattened earth.

Connelly’s brave, full essay is here.