• RSS Queering the Church

    • Family Synod: Another Influential, Supportive Cardinal? September 18, 2014
      Has the Catholic Church always tried to show respect for stable, same – sex partnerships? Cardinal Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil, president of the Brazil bishops’ conference, and one of three co-presidents of next month’s Family Synod, seems to think so.…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
    • Christian Responses to Gay Couples – Catholic and Other. September 16, 2014
      In two recent posts, Bondings 2.0 has reported on yet another two highly influential cardinals, Sean O’Malley of Boston and Claudio Hummes, retired archbishop of Sao Paolo, have demonstrated substantial sensitivity to LGBT concerns. These encouraging small steps to increasing openness…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
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    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Fran)
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law (Part I) September 18, 2014
      My theologian friend Terry Dosh is downsizing his library and recently offered me a number of his books. One of the titles I accepted was Homosexuality and Civilization by Louis Crompton (pictured at right). Described by Q Syndicate columnist Richard Labonte as a "master work of interpretive scholarship," Homosexuality and Civilization is a readily […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Quote of the Day September 16, 2014
      The tragic story [of sixteen-year-old Sergio Urrego's suicide] is why it matters that discussions of Catholic families include discussions of gay Catholic families. And of Catholic families who have gay members.And of Catholic institutions whose coldness and brutality towards those who are gay can make a life-or-death difference, especially for vulnerab […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Back from the "Dead"/Book Reviews September 13, 2014
      Just getting back on my feet after eight weeks of very intense interactions with Czech kids in summer camp in the mountains. The experience was so intense I felt cut off from my own spirit from time to time, but worth every minute.  What great kids.I'm getting ready to review two books, John Boyne's magnificent fictional treatment of the sex abuse […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
    • The travails of young love July 30, 2014
      On a bit of a hiatus from blogging for the summer as I recollect my spirit, but I may have some reflections to share this weekend about the difficulties of young love. Been listening to tales of heartbreak from some of my young students. And young River Viiperi has broken from his partner of two years, Paris Hilton, so these must be difficult days for him as […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • プロミスの返済は残高スライド元利定額返済方式 September 11, 2014
      返済に影響するものは金利だけ、そう考えているのであれば今一度利用している消費者金融のホームページを確認してみましょう。実は返済方式も返済に大きく影響するものなのです。例えばプロミスで見てみましょう。返済方式として残高スライド元利定額返済方式が採用されています。これがどういったものなのか、金融専門書を確認しても出てくるものではありません。そもそも、本来であれば管理均等返済方式や元金均等返済方式というのが返済方式の中でも一般的なものですが、残高スライド元利定額返済方式とは新たにできた造語だからです。今では多くの消費者金融がこの返済方式を採用しています。プロミスではこれによって月々の返済の最低金額が決められています。例えば借り入れが2万7000円までであれば1000円の最低返済額、5万5000円までであれば2000円 […]
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Scottish independence: it isn’t about nationalism September 17, 2014
      UPDATE: Scotland rejects independence with No vote set for victory ... ;(Tomorrow the Scots will vote on whether Scotland should be independent of the UK or not. There have been mean-spirited assertions of nationalism against the independence movement. I find this criticism laughable given that those who are against Scottish independence support an empire up […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Spiritual Transformation: Guest Post by Theologian John McNeill

Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI

In my three areas of expertise; spirituality, psychotherapy and theology, I am aware of a desperate need for spiritual transformation in the culture, the nation, and the Church. I will do my best to make a contribution to that need from my perspective as an older man with many years of involved experience.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

An Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Levada, Cardinal George and all Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the World on the Issue of Homosexuality:

My initial open letter of November 2000 was addressed to the American Bishops at their annual conference. In the past ten-plus years, the contents of the letter have taken on greater relevance and force in the light of new scientific discoveries concerning the nature of homosexual orientation and the psychological and spiritual needs of GLBT people, as well as recent statements from the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching authority out of touch with those discoveries.

As a result, I would like to readdress the letter to the following: Pope Benedict XVI; Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and his fellow American bishops and, finally, to all the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the world.

Catholic gay and lesbian people demand that, if the Church wants to be seen as their loving mother, mediating to us God’s unconditional love, the Church has no choice except to enter into dialogue with its gay members. In 1974, the delegates of DignityUSA’s first national convention requested in a letter that a dialogue be opened between the American bishops and the members of the Catholic gay and lesbian community. With very few exceptions that letter was ignored. 

Now, 38 years later, once again in the name of my Catholic lesbian siters and gay brothers I call for open dialogue. For over 38 years, I have ministered as priest and psychotherapist to lesbians and gays. I helped found Dignity/New York to provide a safe and loving community within the Catholic Church for gay people. For over 33 years, I have given retreats for lesbians and gays at Kirkridge, an ecumenical retreat center. I have written four books on gay spirituality: The Church and the Homosexual, Taking a Chance on God, Freedom, Glorious Freedom and Sex: As God Intended: A Study of Human Sexuality As Play. I also published an autobiography on my own spiritual journey as a gay priest.

As a result of my experience, I have come to the conclusion that what is at stake at this point in time is not only the spiritual and psychological health of many gay and lesbian Catholics and other lesbian and gay Christians. What is at stake is your moral authority to teach on the issue of homosexuality. In the past, when you undertook a listening process to hear what the Holy Spirit was saying through the People of God, you won our respect. We respected you when you made your statements on the economy, on nuclear warfare and, especially, your aborted effort to draw up a letter on the role of women in the Church. You listened carefully to what women had to say, and drew up your statements responding to what you heard from women. These actions gave us gay and lesbians reason to hope that the Holy Spirit would lead you into a spirit of willingness to listen to us gay and lesbian Catholics.
What is at stake now is your own moral authority! Unless we gay and lesbian Catholics receive the message that you take us seriously and are willing to listen carefully to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you through our lives and our experience, your judgments on homosexuality will be ignored, for the most part, and you will lose what authority you have left to deserve to be listened to with respect on this issue.

I have never heard the same level of courage from the American bishops in dealing with the Vatican as that shown by the Major Superiors of Religious Men in response to the egregious document issued by The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, entitled, “Some Considerations Concerning Homosexual Persons” as follows:

“We view (this document) as a hindrance to the Church leaders of the United States in this most difficult and sensitive area of human living. —We are shocked that the statement calls for discrimination against gay men and lesbian women. We find the reasoning for supporting such discrimination to be strained, unconvincing and counterproductive to our statements and actions to support the pastoral needs and personal dignity of such persons. Far from a help to the Bishops and other religious leaders in the United States Catholic Church, the statement complicates our already complex ministry to all people.
“Moreover we find the arguments used to justify discrimination based on stereotypes and falsehoods that are out of touch with modern psychological and sociological understandings of human sexuality. We regret such actions by the CDF and we reaffirm our support for the human rights of all our brothers and sisters.”

As a gay Catholic theologian and psychotherapist, I am fully aware of the enormous destruction recent Vatican and USCCB documents, and news items, as well as actions taken by the USCCB and several state Catholic Conferences in the U.S. leading up to the November 2008 elections, have caused in the psychic life of young Catholic gays, and of the violence they will provoke against all gay people. This is compounded further by the initial Vatican reaction and opposition to the United Nations proposal sponsored by France and backed by 27 European Union nations which seeks to end the practice of criminalizing and punishing people for their sexual orientation—their very human nature and spiritual being. I find myself in a dilemma; what kind of faith and trust can I place in a teaching authority that I see clearly acts in an unloving, hateful and destructive way toward my gay family and is more interested in defending its institutional interest than it is in truth and justice? In the name of the thousands of gay and lesbian Catholics and other Christians to whom it has been my God-given privilege to minister, I make this statement:

At this point, the ignorance and distortion of homosexuality, and the use of stereotypes and falsehoods in official Church documents, forces us who are gay Catholics to issue the institutional Church a serious warning. Your ignorance of homosexuality can no longer be excused as inculpable; it has become of necessity a deliberate and malicious ignorance. In the name of Catholic gays and lesbians everywhere, we cry out “Enough!”

Enough! Enough of your distortions of Scripture. You continue to claim that a loving homosexual act in a committed relationship is condemned in Scripture, when competent scholars are nearly unanimous in acknowledging that nowhere in Scripture is the problem of sexual acts between two gay men or lesbian women who love each other, ever dealt with, never mind condemned. You must listen to biblical scholars to find out what Scripture truly has to say about homosexual relationships.

Enough! Enough of your efforts to reduce all homosexual acts to expressions of lust, and your refusal to see them as possible expressions of a deep and genuine human love. The second group you must listen to are competent professional psychiatrists and psychotherapists from whom you can learn about the healthy and positive nature of mature gay and lesbian relationships. They will assure you that homosexual orientation is both not chosen and unchangeable and that any ministry promising to change that orientation is a fraud.

Enough! Enough of your efforts through groups like Courage and other ex-gay ministries to lead young gays to internalize self-hatred with the result that they are able to relate to God only as a God of fear, shame and guilt and lose all hope in a God of mercy and love. What is bad psychology has to be bad theology!

Enough! Enough again, of your efforts to foster hatred, violence, discrimination and rejection of us in the human community, as well as disenfranchising our human and civil rights. We gay and lesbian Catholics pray daily that the Holy Spirit will lead you into a spirit of repentance. You must publicly accept your share of the blame for gay murders and bashing and so many suicides of young gays and ask forgiveness from God and from the gay community.

Enough, also, of driving us from the home of our mother, the Church, and attempting to deny us the fullness of human intimacy and sexual love. You frequently base that denial by an appeal to the dead letter of the “natural law.” Another group to whom you must listen are the moral theologians who, as a majority, argue that natural law is no longer an adequate basis for dealing with sexual questions. They must be dealt with within the context of interpersonal human relationships.

Above all else, you must enter into dialogue with the gay and lesbian members of the Catholic community. We are the ones living out the human experience of a gay orientation, so we alone can discern directly in our experience what God’s spirit is saying to us. And for the first time in history, you have gay and lesbian Catholic communities of worship and prayer who are seeking individually and collectively to hear what the Spirit is saying to them in their gay experience—what experiences lead to the peace and joy of oneness with the Spirit of God and what experiences lead away from that peace and joy! God gave you the commission of discerning the truth. But there is no mandate from Jesus Christ to “create” the truth. We pray daily that the Holy Spirit will lead you to search humbly for the truth concerning homosexuality through dialogue with your lesbian sisters and gay brothers.

The only consolation I can offer gay and lesbian Catholics in the meantime is the profound hope that the very absurdity and hateful spirit of recent Vatican and USCCB documents, news items and political actions will lead gay Catholics to refuse them and recognize the contradiction of their message, and that of Jesus, who never once spoke a negative word concerning homosexuals.

I work, hope and pray that lesbian and gay Catholics and other gay Christians will exercise their legitimate freedom of conscience, discerning what God is saying to them directly through their gay experience. I hope, too, that they will be able to de-fang the poisons of pathologically homophobic religion, accepting the good news that God loves them and accepts them as gays and lesbians and refusing to be caught in the vortex of self-hatred vis-à-vis a God of fear.

I believe that we are at the moment of a special “kairos” in this matter. The Holy Spirit is “doing something new.” I was the guest at a gay ecumenical community that established homes for adult retarded people in the city of Basel in Switzerland. The extraordinary spirit of love and compassion that permeated that community was a foretaste of what lies in the future. I believe there is a vast reservoir of human and divine love that has remained until now untapped because of prejudice and homophobia. The Spirit is calling on you to help release that vast potential of human and divine love through your actions.

The worldwide prayerful vigils in December 2008 were to raise our concerned voices over the stance taken by the Vatican to perpetuate the criminalization, incarceration and death sentences towards people of a homosexual orientation. It is not only counter – productive, it violates your own teaching that all persons are due dignity and respect and that homosexual persons should not suffer violence, injustice and discrimination. Furthermore, that they should be welcomed as full and equal members of the Church and society. We pray and hope that the same Holy Spirit who has graciously liberated us who are gay to self-respect and self-love will liberate in you, our Catholic leaders, a profound love for your gay brothers and lesbian sisters and melt away all prejudice and judgmentalism in your hearts.

May you make us welcome as full members in your family in Christ.

May God bless your efforts!

Sincerely in Christ
John J. McNeill

Comments from the Editor of Dignity’s Quarterly News Journal:
The open letter to the USCCB of November 2000 is currently popping up on several Internet user groups and blogsites, and appears in the Appendix in John’s latest book, Sex as God Intended:A Reflection on Human Sexuality as Play.

Since the release of John’s open letter, there have been numerous documents and communications promulgated by the Pope, Vatican offices and USCCB on matters related to homosexuality. Even more so during 2008. Except for minor nuances, they contain the same repetitive rhetoric. Repetition of falsehoods, erroneous interpretations and bad logic doesn’t make for “the truth” and mitigates our trust and respect of “the teaching authority.”

I was in communication with John from the last week of December 2008 through early January 2009 . I learned he had but one response from a bishop of the United States in response to his initial open letter. John has issued this update and said that while announced as an open letter to the Pope, Cardinals Levada and George and the bishops of the world, it was also directed to ordinary gay Catholics for their discernment and investigation of personal and collective lived experience.
John suggests that the more out of touch the hierarchy of the Catholic Church get, “…the more we learn in a painful way to let go and grow up spiritually”.  He calls it “…the blessing of fallibility. We are witnessing the birth pangs of the Church of the Holy Spirit.”

“SNAP Needs Our Help”: Guest Post Response

Following the post on these pages by Frank Cocozzelli  “SNAP Needs our Help“, we have received these words of thanks in the comments thread.  As comments can easily be missed, I have copied it as a Guest Post , where it will have greater visibility.

-Terence

Good morning,

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. We have made great progress in the past few years but sadly rarely a day goes by that we do not hear from new victims of clergy abuse.
Our National Conference will be in Chicago the weekend of July 30 to August 1. We would like to invite your readers to join us for this event. Speakers in the past have included Frank Keating, former head of the bishops lay review board, Fr. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer and out spoken critic of the way the hierarchy has handled the abuse crisis and Jason Berry a journalist who has written extensively about this issue.Thank you again for all your help. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Barbara Dorris
National Outreach Director
314-862-7688

A Reader Responds: Mark F on “Women as Property”

Comment threads are designed as spaces for brief, pertinent responses to posts. MarkF’s response to a post yesterday was clearly pertinient, but far too long for a comment. I have transferred the full comment here (excluding a single sentence which was more personal than pertinent).  If any reader would care to engage with Mark’s thinking here,  please do so

In response to the post “Women as Property“,  Mark F wrote:

“The point is that adultery here was seen primarily as a sin against property.”

You left out the part where you explain HOW what Job says refers to property. What actually is in the text is that Job is confessing his sins. He conditionally admits to adultery (he says “if”). He then says that if he has committed his adultery, let his wife leave him and go with another man. No mention of property. No mention of buying or selling her. Doesn’t property involve the exchange of money? Does Job buy and sell is wife here? Continue reading

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