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Bologna, Italy Begins Formal Recognition Of Foreign Same-Sex Marriages, Catholic Church Calls It 'Surprise Attack'

Giovanni_silvagniThe city of Bologna, Italy instated a formal recognition policy on Monday for all out-of-country same-sex marriages, and the Catholic church is not pleased. The diocese for the city described the move as a "surprise attack" and the church is urging city politicians to rethink the decision.

Gazzetta del Sud reports:

After a decree came into effect Monday, allowing gay couples to have their marriages abroad added to Bologna's civil register, Monsignor Giovanni Silvagni denounced the move. "These are sensitive subjects that are dealt with slogan attacks and and an approach a bit ideological", said Silvagni. He said that "haste and approximation are always bad ideas....imposing thoughts that are slightly weak and young, not sufficiently matured or tested..."

In contrast, Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said he would follow Bologna's lead and start the process in Italy's capital city "for the recognition of marriages contracted abroad, both heterosexual and homosexual couples."

Two couples had already filed applications for recognition on Monday, but prefect Ennio Mario Sodano has asked Bologna's mayor to withdraw said marriages from recognition.


Cameroon's Anti-gay Laws Often Invoked Based On Stereotypes and Trickery Rather Than 'Sexual Relations'

Michel-TogueAnti-gay legislation in Cameroon is meant to punish "sexual relations with a person of the same sex" and can result in prison sentences up to five years in length. One attorney, Michel Togue (right), is speaking out against the injustice not only of the law itself, but also the shoddy, treacherous ways in which it is reinforced. According to Togue, article 347 of the Cameroon penal code is more often than not invoked based on stereotyping and entrapment.

Think Progress reports:

Togue told ThinkProgress that of the dozens of such cases he has represented, very few people were actually caught in the act of actually having sex. Once an accusation of homosexuality is made, police make arrests based solely on how individuals present themselves. For example, if a man is found to be cross-dressing, that could be used as proof that he is gay in court. If somebody has a job that doesn’t fit their gender, like a male hairdresser, that too could be used against them. A judge convicted one of Togue’s clients for feminine mannerisms and for drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream, which he felt only a woman would drink...

Cameroon2One of the most high-profile cases was that of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede (left), who texted a picture of himself holding a sign that read, “I’m very much in love w/u” to another man. The recipient reported the image to the police as “sexual harassment,” then invited Mbede over to his home, where the police were waiting to arrest him. Mbede was sentenced to three years in prison. “If Roger was sentenced as a homosexual,” Togue asked, “with whom did he have sex?” Mbede was provisionally released on medical grounds in 2012 and went into hiding; he died earlier this year after he could no longer afford hospital treatment for a hernia.

While the widespread misuse of the penal code is disturbing, the reinforcement of anti-gay laws by the Catholic church is spreading a message of hate further than it would otherwise reach. in 2013, bishops from around the country issued a statement reading: "homosexuality opposes humanity and destroys it." The cultural ramifications of such fear-mongering are incredibly dangerous.

This stigma is also having a negative impact on health care in the country, particularly when it comes to HIV outreach. “They can’t go to the hospital for the treatment or even for a test because they’re afraid,” Togue explained. He knows of at least one case where an individual admitted to a nurse that he’d had same-sex relations and she called the police on him.

CameroonTogue remains hopeful, however, and believes that the work of LGBT organizations in Cameroon could positively impact the cultural milieu surrounding homosexual identity.

Togue hopes that local organizations in Cameroon will help people learn that “a homosexual is our friend, is our brother, is our sister, is part of our family — is not a stranger, not someone coming from outside.”

Image of Togue via Global Rights.


Catholic Choir Director Fired For Same-Sex Engagement Meets With Cardinal, Receives Support Rally

Collette

Colin Collette (above center in white jacket) was fired from his position as music director at Holy Family Catholic Community church in Inverness, IL this July after photos of his same-sex marriage proposal emerged. Ever since he has received an intense outpouring of support from the church's parishioners, though the archdiocese of Chicago have remained tight-lipped. When Collette reached out to Cardinal Francis George for a meeting regarding the incident, however, the response was immediate and affirmative; the two met on Tuesday, praying together and, if all went to Collette's plan, discussing his job. 

Collette1The Chicago Tribune reports:

“I was incredibly grateful to the cardinal for meeting with me. This is an incredibly difficult time for him. ... I was moved beyond words that he would meet with me,” Collette said of George, who is battling cancer. “We prayed together. He was wonderful. He was very pastoral.”

Collette declined to elaborate on the nature of the discussion Tuesday. He said he had sought the meeting in hopes of getting his job back. While there was no indication that would happen, Collette said the cardinal urged him to speak to his pastor.

“My head is sort of spinning, but as I said over and over, my whole life has been the church. It's my love. It's my passion, and I pray for the opportunity to do that,” he said.

Check out a Chicago NBC 5 report on Collette's meeting with the Cardinal, AFTER THE JUMP...

Though Collette has been the recipient of a great deal of community support--including a rally held Sunday to indicate that support to church leaders--he is well aware that his sexual orientation and relationship are not to everyone's liking.

“I'm not that naive to know that there are some people who believe that who I am basically is wrong. I'm not that naive, but the love and support I have received is truly humbling and is beyond words,” Collette said.

We will continue to report on Collette's story, but for now we are happy to see the level of affirmation he is receiving from church members, and a willingness on the part of some church officials to discuss the matter. Collette said that he and the Cardinal would meet again soon.

Check out video coverage of the press conference at the Chicago Tribune.

Continue reading "Catholic Choir Director Fired For Same-Sex Engagement Meets With Cardinal, Receives Support Rally" »


Big Question: Is The Catholic Church Undergoing An Evolution On Same-Sex Marriage?

Popefrancis1Christopher J. Hale, a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, is asking a big question following a year of semi-relaxed treatment of homosexuality by the Church: is the Catholic Church really evolving on the issue of same-sex marriage? Are we on the precipice of a larger revolution? Evolution, yes, revolution, no, according to Hale, who believes that sensitive leadership from Pope Francis may bring Catholic leaders into a warmer, more tolerant phase but doubts we will see said leaders approving of gay marriage anytime soon.

Time reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01901e14e593970b-800wiLast week New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave his okay to the St. Patrick Day Parade Committee’s decision to allow a gay group to march in the 2015 parade under their own banner. This was a remarkable shift from one of Dolan’s predecessors Cardinal John O’Connor who in 1993 declared that to allow a gay group to march in the parade would be a slander to the Apostle’s Creed.

This closes a remarkable summer in which a number of high-ranking Catholic prelates have signaled that Pope Francis’s more open posture on gay issues has permeated through the Catholic world. In May, a top-ranking Italian bishop said that the Church should be more open to arguments in support of same-sex marriage. And just a few weeks ago, one of Pope Francis’s closest friends Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes said in an interview that he “didn’t know” whether Jesus would oppose gay marriage.

High-ranking Catholics from around the world will congregate at the Synod of the Family this October, and Hale believes that therein lies a chance to communicate the need for acceptance rather than cold dismissal of homosexuals. After a 1975 declaration that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered," a somewhat liberal backlash forced some Catholic leaders to reconsider the harsh rhetoric of the church.

In 1997, the American bishops grew concerned that the language from Rome had grown too cold and in response published the pastoral letter Always Our Children.

In it, they write: “God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God’s love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it.” It says Church ministers must “welcome homosexual persons into the faith community, and seek out those on the margins. Avoid stereotyping and condemning. Strive first to listen.”

Hale believes that Pope Francis will bring this ideal to the Synod of the Family and continue a quite public, very evident evolution of homosexual ideology within the church.

His is only one opinion, though not without reason. And many will still argue that a slow "evolution" is not enough. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Anti-gay Evangelicals File Brief Asking Supreme Court to Uphold Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Temple

The group of five prominent, anti-gay religious organizations have joined together in a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Supreme Court to take up Utah's same-sex marriage case and uphold a state's right to deny gay couples the freedom to marry. 

The five organizations are:

  • U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • National Association of Evangelicals
  • The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • The Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod

The brief states, in part:

Marriage between a man and a woman is for us an article of faith and a profound social good. Our understanding of God’s law, fortified by experience, confirms the centrality of marriage between aman and a woman as a foundational institution for protecting children and sustaining the American scheme of ordered liberty. And our understanding of the limits of judicial authority under the Fourteenth Amendment leads us to conclude that laws reaffirming that ancient yet vibrant understanding are constitutional. [...]

And because marriage is not just a legal status but also a proxy for social and legal legitimacy, corollary issues are arising with increasing intensity. Will sexual orientation be recognized as the basis for a new suspect class akin to race, thus providing government with purportedly compelling reasons to override long-standing religious freedoms? If so, what statutory protections and exemptions should religious organizations seek to ensure their independence from State control and guard against retaliation? What exactly are the rights of organizations and individuals with sincerely-held religious objections to participating in, facilitating, or recognizing same-sex marriage?

Check out the brief in full AFTER THE JUMP to see all the other bigoted reasons for denying LGBT people equal treatment under the law...

Continue reading "Anti-gay Evangelicals File Brief Asking Supreme Court to Uphold Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban" »


Gay Missouri Teachers Fired After Catholic High School Discovers They Got Married in NY: VIDEO

Corjesu
(brian kelly @brpkelly twitter)

Supporters rallied Friday morning for Olivia Reichert and Christina Gambaro, two gay teachers at Cor Jesu, an all-girls Catholic high school in the Affton, Missouri area, who were fired after administrators discovered they had married in New York.

Reichert_gambaroThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Wednesday:

Reichert said she and her partner were asked to resign after the school said in late July it received a copy of a mortgage application with the couple’s names. The school said the couple had violated the moral contract faculty are required to sign as part of employment. The couple had married in New York over the summer.

“We understand that, as a Catholic institution, Cor Jesu has an obligation to ensure that its employees serve as Christian role models. However, because they do not enforce the witness statement in any other way, this is a blatant case of discrimination,” Reichert wrote in a statement to the Post-Dispatch.

Chargers Allies, a support group for LGBT students, alumnae, and supporters, was created in response to the firings .

Gambaro (second image, right, via Facebook) thanked supporters on social media:

 

A rally was held Friday morning, the Post-Dispatch reports, made up of "alumnae; members of the nondenominational Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis; Faith Aloud, an organization concerned with reproductive issues; and the marriage equality group ShowMeNoHate:"

[The Rev. Wes Mullins, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis] said the point of the rally wasn’t to persuade the school to rehire Reichert and Gambaro but to reach out to current students, as well as ask Cor Jesu to rethink its policies.

“If you’re a student there, do you really feel safe talking to any of the teachers now?” Mullins asked. “Are you going to talk to a principal now? I wouldn’t.”

Matthew J. Franck, director of the Witherspoon Institute’s Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution, a think tank in Princeton, N.J., said while “it’s easy to feel very sympathetic to the teachers, the school, as a Catholic school, has a kind of moral obligation to the church.”

“It simply has to let people go who live openly in this way,” Franck said. “I don’t see how any Catholic administrator with any integrity can do anything but what they did here.”

Some alumnae have vowed to withhold donations to the school until the matter is resolved in the teachers' favor.

Missouri currently has a ban on same-sex marriage. In February 2014 the ACLU and the LGBT rights group PROMO filed a lawsuit challenging the discriminatory law.

Listen to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jessica Bock discuss the firing with radio host McGraw Milhaven, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Missouri Teachers Fired After Catholic High School Discovers They Got Married in NY: VIDEO" »


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