The Church of England and THAT House of Bishops Report

Last Friday the House of Bishops of the Church of England published a report entitled “Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations“. It runs to 19 pages and was eagerly awaited by those of us interested in the debate on LGBT+ relationships in the Anglican Communion. The report will be the subject of a ‘takes note’ debate at General Synod in February.

I for one am despondent due to its tone and content. It suggests no change for the church nor does it paint a path forward for anything to change. The language is non-inclusive and full of otherness. It talks of “Same-Sex Attraction” rather than Same-Sex Relationships. It complete ignores Bisexuality.

Now I am not a stake holder in the Church of England, but I am part of the wider Anglican Communion. I have been lucky to make friends in the Church of England, Gay and Straight. I am part of organisations for LGBT+ Christians in the UK and Ireland. Seeing this report and seeing the pain of my LGBT+ Anglican siblings in England is heart wrenching. I cannot remain silent and want to point you in a few directions where people have written responses to the report and some give ideas for going forward.

Fr Pip – The old order. The C of E, LGBT and holding on.

Quiet Vicar – Chasing Shadows…..and getting very cross with the House of Bishops

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes – Sex and the bishops

Jayne Ozanne (Statement) – Unbelievable, Unacceptable and Ungodly.

Rachel Mann – More Dust: Personal Response to the Statement on Sexuality

Kelvin Holdsworth – How to change the Church of England – a quick recap

Good luck to all. I pray that you will eventually succeed!

The Catholic Church in the UK to be the Vanguard against Gay Marriage?

English: A photo of the Cardinal Keith Michael...
Image via Wikipedia

The Catholic Church in the UK has stepped up its opposition to Gay Marriage being introduced in the UK. Today mass-goers will be urged to oppose any moves towards Gay Marriage in a pastoral letter from Archbishop of Westminster Most Rev Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Southwark Most Rev Peter Smith. They argue that they must save marriage for “Future Generations”. They of course join the hierarchy in opposing this move as Cardinal Keith O’Brien last week compared Gay Marriage to slavery.

Two polls also appeared in the UK this week on this issue. One for the Catholic Voice and one for the Telegraph.

In the poll for Catholic Voice by ComRes 70% of respondents said “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.” This poll seemed to have found opposite results to nearly every opinion on the subject in the UK. Thankfully Pinknews have done some analysis of the poll, which only had four questions, and shows what is wrong with the poll.

To set the record straight a poll in todays Sunday Telegraph has a poll showing 45% of respondents support Gay Marriage in comparison to 36% against. The rest had no firm view.  Excluding those with no firm view 55.6% are in favour and 44.4% against.

Interestingly only the Catholic Church and the Church of England are the only two religions to express their opposition to Gay Marriage while Quakers, Unitarians, Liberal Judaism and just yesterday, Reform Judaism wish to conduct religious same sex marriages.

Also on Monday the Times became the first UK daily paper to back Gay Marriage. It said “It would enrich the institution of marriage, enhance social stability and expand the sum of human happiness. It is a cause that has the firm support of The Times.”

It continues ”

“Opponents accuse the Government of undermining the foundations of marriage and abusing the power of the State. It was predictable that some Conservative backbenchers would deride the proposals as (in the words of one of them) “completely nuts”. But more influential figures are deploying similarly heated rhetoric.

“Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, yesterday branded the Government’s position a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has accused the Government of acting like a dictatorship. More temperately, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, maintains that changing the law to allow gay marriage would force unwanted change on the rest of the nation.”

It finishes with “Earlier ages considered that allowing women to own property was against God and nature. Changing the law abolished a gross injustice and thereby enhanced the legitimacy of marriage. It is time to lift another form of discriminatory treatment. Reforming the law would enrich the lives of same-sex couples who wish to marry in order to affirm by rite that they love and are loved in return. By that commitment, they will enrich the society and culture that their fellow citizens share.”

ALF statement on Terror Attack in Alexandria

The Anna Lindh Foundation have issued the following declaration in response to the terror attack a Christian Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, which has its international headquarters in Alexandria (Egypt), expresses its deep sadness and pain about the terror attack which affected this city on the night of 31st December. The President of the Foundation, André Azoulay, and all of his team, wish to express their solidarity with the victims, their families and the Egyptian people.

In response to this act of violence, the Anna Lindh Foundation will intensify its efforts in favour of dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean region by involving and engaging in this mission all those who share the need to eradicate the culture of hatred, and to build societies based on mutual respect between people of different origins, traditions and beliefs. Committed against a Coptic church in Alexandria, the attack aimed to provoke sectarian tension between the different religious communities that have lived together in peace in Egypt for centuries. This crime, carried out against civilians who were practising their faith together, demands the mobilisation of all those who promote the right to practise freely religious beliefs. The Anna Lindh Foundation condemns any pretention to exploit religions and take religions hostage for the sake of fuelling violent behaviour and terrorism, whilst they carry a message of peace and fraternity for the immense majority of believers.

The Anna Lindh Foundation has had the opportunity to consistently observe in Alexandria how the coexistence between Muslims and Christians, which is part of the daily life in Egypt, is a major asset for peaceful relations between the different religious communities that exist in Middle Eastern societies, from where they originated. In view of the brutal attack that the Alexandrian people suffered, the Anna Lindh Foundation feels closer than ever to the Egyptian people and its institutions, and sets out to preserve the diverse heritage which is essential to building a Euro-Mediterranean space of peace and freedom.

Now more then ever the work of the Anna Lindh Foundation is important across the Mediterranean.

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IDAHO 2010

IDAHO2010

Changing Attitudes Ireland is again organising events for International Day Against Homophobia in Belfast, Cork and Dublin. While IDAHO is on the 17th May, the events will take place on the preceding Sunday 16th of May. The theme this year is “Open Doors”, which I think is very fitting for a church dealing with this issue.

In Belfast the service will take place at St. George’s Church, High Street at 15.00hrs. Following the service between 16.15-16.45hrs. in St. George’s Hall, there will be the launch of a Resource Booklet “Share your Story” – Gay and Lesbian Experiences of Church at which the Speaker will be Revd. David Cooper (Methodist).

In Dublin the service will take place at Christ Church Cathedral at 15.30hrs. In Cork the service will take place at St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral Cork at 19.00hrs.

Having attended last years service on the theme Don’t Throw Stones, I am looking forward to this years service.

Do go along if you get a chance, I know this event helped me a lot last year.

There is more information, including the order of Service(PDF) on the Changing Attitudes Ireland website

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The Other Workshops [ALF Forum 2010]

Poster in scout hall
Image by stephen.spillane via Flickr

Yesterday I posted that I was attending the Cities, Migrants and Diversity:  “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration” Workshop at the Anna Lindh Foundation Forum 2010, but today I have decided to tell you about the other Workshops available if you attend! It was a tough decision for me to make.

First up is Education, Intercultural Learning & Youth: “Learning to live together in diversity” This did intially appeal to me, considering my membership of Scouting Ireland, but in the end the other one stood out more. This Workshop will cover:

  • Intercultural dimension of the non-formal education in the Mediterranean context
  • Teacher trainings and other tools to deal with diversity
  • Youth policies for intercultural dialogue

It should be interesting.

Next up is Cultural & Artistic Collaborations: “Creativity for Dialogue”. Now because my interest in Art has been heightened, this one also appealed to me, but not as strongly.  This will cover:

  • Mobility as a pre-condition for intercultural dialogue and exchange
  • Networking: cultural platforms and networks
  • Translation and the challenge of understanding the other: the state of the art

The next choice is Creating Spaces of Peace and Co-existence: “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”. Now this would be an interesting workshop. Now unfortunately I didn’t think I would be able to use what I would learn from it. This will cover:

  • Revitalize reconciliation processes and confidence building in conflict areas with intercultural and non-violent means
  • New patterns to deal with the social consequences of the economic crisis in multicultural contexts
  • Application of intercultural approaches for a culture of peace based on understanding, justice and respect
  • Follow-up of the ALF initiative “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”

The next one is Religion, Spirituality and Values: “Inter-religious dialogue & common values for action”. This is currently an issue in Europe, and one I am interested in. How I would approach it would be difficult though. So hence why I didn’t pick it! This workshop will cover:

  • Educational professionals, civil society actors and religious leaders as active agents for the promotion of coexistence and interreligious respect
  • Spaces of encounter: dialogue and exchange between religious and secular communities
  • Developing working tools for inter-religious dialogue: trainings, mapping exercises and practices

And as a reminder the Cities, Migrants & Diversity: “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration” will cover:

  • – Migrations and mutual perceptions in the Mediterranean: challenging stereotypes
  • – Migrants and immigrated communities as key actors of development and intercultural action
  • – Intercultural approaches in dealing with strengthening social cohesion and solidarity in multicultural urban contexts

There are some really good chances to learn at this event. I hope to learn alot.

Don’t forget to check out the provisional programme for the Forum!

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Armstice Day

Scarlet poppy with neighbors
Image by Martin LaBar via Flickr

I am not sure if many people i Ireland are aware of the promises made by people today attending Rembrenance Day and Armstice Day Services make a very poignant promise during the service. Maybe we should all make this promise.

Let us commit ourselves to responsible living and faithful service

Will you strive for all that matters for peace?

We will

Will you work seek to heal the wounds of war?

We will

Will you work for a just future for all humanity?

We will

Merciful God, we offer to you he fears in us that have not yet been cast out by love; may we accept the hope you have placed in the hearts of all people, and the live lives of justice, courage and mercy; through Jesus Christ our risen redeemer.

Amen

Something for us all to consider on this day?


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Illegal in Ireland: Blasphemy

Picture of Christ Church Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Image via Wikipedia

Well it has happened. The President has signed the Defamation Bill into law today which means in Ireland you can now be prosecuted for blasphemy. Yes that is right, in this Ireland of the 21st Century I can no longer complain about God, Jehovah, Allah, The Flying Spagetti Monster, or any other deity in case I get prosecuted for the crime of blasphemous libel.

Now while I am a church going person (Church of Ireland), with a healthy respect for himself upstairs, I don’t he (or any other deity) is going to be too upset if an unbeliever blasphemes against him (or her or them). Are priest now going to have to be very careful with what they say in their sermons if they mention another religion.

Its crazy that in this day and age I have to be very careful in what I type, say, tweet or what ever in case someone takes offense in what I say and decides to try and bring a prosecution against me.

Its a bollocks to be honest. I agree with my Bishop, its time to take Blasphemy out of the Irish Constitution!

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The English Catholic Church – Moving with the times?

LONDON - JANUARY 06:  Churchgoers crowd the ai...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeAfter the recent did he mention it or didn’t he mention speech by the Pope it is good to see that the English Catholic Church is moving with the times according to GCN.ie. Bishops in England have sent out leaflets urging priest not to use ‘heterosexist’ language in church.

Priest have been told not assume that all Church goers are heterosexual. “Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful – a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain,”. It is good that part of the Church is waking up to how it talks about part of its congregation.

Of course no everyone is happy with this. Lynette Burrows, a Catholic commentator, describes the move as ‘pitiful’. She said it was ridiculous that Church leaders appeared to be ‘ grovelling’ to a secular agenda.

‘It is things like this that are enfeebling the Church at the moment – the concentration on things that don’t matter and missing the things that do,’ she said.

‘What is pitiful as well as demeaning is that the Church is running after homosexual opinion but nothing is going to make homosexuals like the Catholic Church.

‘This is because the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a disorder and whatever the bishops say will not change that.’

Of course this isn’t a secular agenda. This is how the Church reacts to its member. Fair play to the Bishops in my opinion. It is about time the Church addressed it followers on this and actually supported them.

This post actually gives a nice follow in for me to introduce an interesting site for Lesbian and Gay Christians, LGBT Christians. Their aim is to “bring Christ to those who have been alienated by those organisations that claim to be his Church and claim to preach his love and yet through ignorance and misconception preach not love to Gods lesbian, gay and bisexual children” and “seek to create an atmosphere of understanding between those who think that homosexuality has no place in Christs Church and those who think they do”

To quote John 13:35

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Do check them out.

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Did we get it wrong on the Pope?

Pope Benedict XVI during visit to São Paulo, B...Image via WikipediaTallyman as an excellent post pointing out that the mainstream media and many blogs (including me!) got the Pope’s message wrong. Now I was working from what was reported in the media considering the Pope’s speech was in Latin.

Tallyman points out that there was “nothing new” in the speech but that the Pope was “following some very simplistic, narrow logic”. As he points out the “Pope regularly says things like this. This is something that we all understand to be Roman Catholic doctrine. How many gays still attend Church knowing this?”. I, like him, know lots!

The most important part in Tallyman’s post is when he points out that the Pope “does not single out the gay community in his New Years message.” (Emphasis his). In fact he points out the over arching theme of the message which was“Fighting Poverty to build Peace” which is a good idea.

He goes to point out that the Pope mainly called for teaching of abstinence to be considered a way of halting the spread of diseases, such as AIDS, and connects these diseases to poverty. Now while some people disagree with this way of halting the spread of AIDS, it must be admitted that it is one of halting the spread of the disease.

Tallyman concludes with the following

So, in one line the Pope has incensed the Gays, the Greens and certain sections of the media to declare him as inciting hatred. The Pope stuck to Catholic (albeit misguided dogma) in relation to what it deems to be a natural order. It didn’t tell all good Catholics to shun their homosexual neighbours, disown their homosexual children, or rise up in revolt against governments legislating for civil partnership. He asked us to me good Christians, to be mindful of the poor in this festive season and combat corruption and immorality in the name of the poor.

I don’t really see the harm in that.

So this to me seams to be logical, so why then did the Mainstream media take up the Pope’s message wrong? Why were we led to believe that he was equating Homosexuality with Climate Change?

While I am no fan of the Pope, I don’t think it is right that when he says something, it is misrepresented. As Tallyman puts it “i find any distortion of the Pope’s message by LGBT groups, the media, and those looking for a sound-byte, a bit rich, worrying, and it has to be said, gay.” Sentiments I agree with completely.

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"Humanity must be saved"

Pope Benedictus XVIImage via WikipediaFrom the gays??? What? Really? We are responsible for the downturn in humanity? Has the Pope been having chats with Fred Phelps?

I am amazed and disgusted. I find myself in complete agreement with the headline from Froodie’s blog “Pope Benedict incites hatred, misunderstanding and probable bullying and violence.”.

While I know a lot of Catholics don’t agree with the Church on everything but this does not help in anyway. A lot of elderly people do listen to the Pope for advice and guidance and him saying things like this do not help.

It is a step back for the Church in general. I have a lot of respect for individual priests who hold differing views then the Pope, but this will not help those Catholics who are gay and still hold the Church in high regard.

Other blogs have reacted in various ways to this declaration. Iain Dale thinks the Pope should “Just Join the BNP & Have Done With It“. Una of Unarocks points out that the Pope is teaching the wrong stuff and should be concentrating on “Love” a very good point! Also she points out

On one hand, i suppose, you can laugh this stuff off- who gives a fuck? Who cares what an old repressed dude in a wine dress says? Surely if you get pissed off by this it legitimises his statement as something worth listening to? Then on the other hand, this is a man with huge power and influence and a massive willing and listening audience who believes ten per cent of the population is evil.

And I agree with her fully on that point!

I love Joe Scanlon‘s post title on this issue “Plant a Tree – Shoot a fag” which basically could sum up the Pope’s speech to some people!

As the papers point out (Irish Indo and UK Times) “The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are”. So they think the fact that you are gay is not sin (yay, therefore not a choice) but we can choose to ignore it! Really? You can ignore the fact that you have fallen in LOVE? I don’t think so. Having actually experienced true love for another man, it is an overpowering experience (as it is for anyone I would assume straight or gay) that hits you. It cannot be ignored. Yet this “ancient institution” expects us do so. No thank you! There is reason I CHOOSE to no longer to be considered a Catholic. I CHOOSE no longer to be associated with comments such as this or the on earlier this year from a high ranking Vatican Official that called homosexuality “a deviation, an irregularity, a wound”.

An issue that most of these posts and my comments so far are on the issue of transgender which the Pope also tosses into the mix. He opposes Gender Theory and said

“That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator,” the Pope said.

“Human beings want to do everything by themselves, and to control exclusively everything that regards them. But in this way, the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit.”

Wow! Even Iran is more ahead then the Catholic Church on Transgendered issues when it espousing beliefs such as this.

The Church needs to get a grip and move with the times. The Church is losing membership and it wonders why? The Church has to be seen to approach issues with a modern mindset, something it has failed to do since the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

I wonder what he will complain about next Christmas? Single mothers?

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