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Pope Francis Urges Honest Debate On Homosexuality, Marriage, Contraception, Divorce - VIDEO

Pope Francis has urged bishops to speak freely on issues such as contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce at a two-week meeting aimed at making the Catholic church's teaching on family matters relevant to today's Catholics, reports The Associated Press.

FrancisThe synod marks the first time the Vatican is addressing homosexuality on a pastoral level. Earlier this year, Francis suggested that the church may be open to the idea of supporting same-sex civil unions.

In a bid to encourage honest debate, the Vatican is restricting public information about what is said at the meeting and will not be releasing texts of individual bishops as it has done in the past.

In order to inform the debate, Francis last year sent a questionnaire to bishops’ conferences around the world which confirmed that while most Catholics believe in the indissolubility of marriage, the vast majority ignore and reject church teaching on sex and contraception. The responses also suggested that the church needs to develop a pastoral plan to minister to gay people in civil unions and to children being raised in such families.

At the start of the meeting today, Francis told bishops “you have to say what you feel the Lord tells you to say, without concerns of human respect and without fear.”

Church reform groups have said the pope’s insistence on open debate are reason for hope. However, Conservative churchmen are hoping that the synod will simply reaffirm church doctrine and make it more known and understood by Catholics.

Watch a BBC report on the opening of the synod, AFTER THE JUMP...

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D.C.'s Catholic University Freaks Out Over Screening of Harvey Milk Biopic 'Milk'

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A chapter of the College Democrats at Catholic University was told to postpone a screening of the Gus van Sant film 'Milk' about gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk after it saw that fliers advertising the event tied it to LGBT Awareness Month, the Washington Post reports:

“For university administrators, it called into question whether the event had changed in nature from one of education to one of advocacy,” Nakas said in a statement. “Given the confusion caused by the advertising, the Office of the Dean of Students contacted the College Democrats to postpone the event.”

Nakas added: “The Director of Campus Activities is working with the College Democrats to review the program request to ensure that the program is presented as an educational event, as originally planned. It is our expectation that it will be rescheduled for later in October.”

The group is expected to rebill the program as an educational event and reschedule it for later in October.


Married Gay Couple Denied Communion Speak Out: VIDEO

Here's an update to the story involving Tom Wojtowick and Paul Huff, the married gay Catholic couple whose church has sid that, in order for the two to receive Holy Communion again, they must divorce.

The men spoke to the Great Falls Tribune about the discriminatory decision:

Couple"We're getting old," Huff said. "There is no other avenue for us in the Catholic Church to protect ourselves financially — our Social Security benefits or our home, which is in both our names. If something happened to one of us, we need some protection."

However Catholic officials failed to see substantial significance in such a distinction.

During subsequent discussions with Spiering and several officials from the Catholic Diocese of Great Falls – Billings, Wojtowick and Huff were told that to restore their full lives within the church they must first fulfill three requirements: obtain a civil divorce, discontinue living together and to write a public statement acknowledging marriage as being solely between and man and a women, and admitting they had made a mistake. "I basically said, if this is the way it is then I'm done," Huff said.

The head of the local diocese, Bishop Michael Warfel, visited the church, St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, last weekend. While a large number of people spoke out in support of Wojtowick and Huff, the overall situation remains unchanged.

KULR-8 reports on the bishop's visit:

He spoke for about 10 minutes and heard from a full house from young to old, mainly in support of Paul and Tom rejoining the church. “Gays and lesbians in this country have fought for every civil right; it's time they fought along with us for their faith,” said one speaker.

"Probably the issue of era, it's not just an issue for Lewistown, not just Montana,” said Bishop Michael Warfel. Yet, his presence brought no solutions. “For their situation Paul and Tom they are still not allowed to have communion, is that correct? That is the status quo right now,” said Bishop Michael Warfel.

According to the Billings Gazette, the couple have consulted with lawyers who believe that St. Leo the Great Catholic Church may have violated canon law.

Huff hasn’t returned to St. Leo’s. Wojtowick attends half the Mass, leaving before Communion is offered. Wojtowick believes the couple has a case, saying the actions taken against them are unlawful according to church law.

He has consulted with canon lawyers who agree. But he and Huff are waiting to see what final action Warfel will take in the case before they decide what to do.

However, Rev. Jean Collins at the Episcopal church in Lewistown has invited the men to attend her church where they are welcome to receive Communion.

Watch a KULR-8 interview with Wojtowick and Huff, AFTER THE JUMP...

Photo: The Billings Gazette

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Catholic Church Music Director Fired For Same-Sex Nuptials Speaks Out: VIDEO

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After getting married to his partner, Minnesotan church music director Jamie Manzi-Moore [top right] was forced to resign from his congregation in St. Victoria, MN. He's on his honeymoon, and hasn't commented on the firing — until now.

Speaking with CBS Minnesota, Manzi-Moore is unequivocal that "Archbishop Nienstedt was the person requesting [his] resignation."

Archbishop NienstedtThe Archbishop has claimed that the church reached out to him for advice, but Manzi-Moore tells another story. He says that after coming out to his community, his church's Father White reached out to the Archbishop, telling him the church wanted to keep Manzi-Moore on staff, regardless of his sexuality. Manzi-Moore says Archbishop Nienstedt never responded to this request.

While Manzi-Moore says he felt "heartbroken" when he heard the news of his firing from the church, and he does not have another job lined up, he was not exactly surprised by the news — his comments sound more resigned than angry:

I have known ever since going to work for the Catholic Church that this could be a possibility at some point in time [...] It might take me a while to quote unquote, ‘come back.’ But I was born and raised Catholic and I love the Catholic faith.

Watch a CBS Minnesota report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

It bears repeating that Archbishop Nienstedt has a history of anti-gay remarks and recently refused to leave his post despite allegations of sexual misconduct and covering up the sexual abuse of children. 

Continue reading "Catholic Church Music Director Fired For Same-Sex Nuptials Speaks Out: VIDEO" »


Gay Minnesotan Church Employee Forced to Resign for Getting Married

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Jamie Moore, music director for St. Victoria Catholic Church in Victoria, MN (pictured) was forced to resign from his post. 

Over the weekend, Moore married his male partner, and as a response, the archdiocese told the church it would be best if Moore resigns. Via CBS Minnesota, Archbishop John Nienstedt said that he was contacted by the church for advice on the situation. Said Nienstadt in a statement:

The … conduct of church employees can inspire and motivate people, but it can also scandalize and undermine their faith. Church employees must … recognize and accept the responsibilities that accompany their ministry.

Nienstadt has a history of anti-gay remarks and recently refused to leave his post despite allegations of sexual misconduct and covering up the sexual abuse of children. 

Moore, meanwhile, is on his honeymoon, and has yet to be heard from on this matter. 

Dan Carroll, who has been a church member for 45 years, provided a quote to CBS: "I think he’s a real friendly person. He seems like he gets along with everybody and fits in quite well." And yet, his attitude was more resigned than up-in-arms: “Whatever they [the church] choose for us, that’s what we have to put up with.” 

The church's Father White, who the Archbishop spoke with directly, says he plans to address this issue in a sermon this weekend.


Catholic Church To Married Gay Couple: You Must Divorce In Order To Receive Communion Again

A Catholic church in Montana has told two gay men that they can no longer receive communion simply because of their gay marriage and, in order to do so again, they must file for divorce.  

The two men, Paul Huff, 66, and Tom Wojtowick, 73, have been together for over 30 years and were married in Seattle in 2013. They've attended Saint Leo The Great Catholic Church in the town of Lewistown since 2003 and have also been members of the church's choir. The've also now been denied participation in that church group.

The Great Falls Tribune reports on the events leading up to the ban:

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According to Huff, four days after the Rev. Samuel Spiering was installed as the new administrator of St. Leo's, the priest left a phone message at their home asking that either Huff or Wojtowick return his call. "He said, 'I heard a rumor that you two got married,'" Huff recalled.

When Huff confirmed that he and Wojtowick had indeed been joined in a civil ceremony 15 months earlier, Spiering asked for both men to meet him at his office the next day. It was at that point that Spiering informed both men that because of their marriage, they could no longer receive the sacraments in the church or be part of any ministry.

Huff and Wojtowick were also told that to regain full privileges within St. Leo's, they must first obtain a divorce, cease living together and write a statement renouncing their prior marriage.

Speaking to to the Billings Gazette, Bishop Michael William Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings attempted to justify the church's decision.

Bishop_copyThis is not animus against someone who happens to be a homosexual; this issue is the same-sex marriage,” he said. “A lot of people put those two together, and obviously there’s a connection, but it’s not the same thing.”

Warfel called same-sex marriage “the issue of our era,” acknowledging that in the U.S., polls show that support for it has edged higher than those who oppose it. But the fact remains that stands in conflict with Catholic teachings.

“As a Catholic bishop I have a responsibility to uphold our teaching of marriage between one man and one woman,” Warfel said. “And I think there’s very solid scriptural teaching on it and our sacred tradition is very strong on it.”

Huff and Wojtowick have received support from many of the church's congregation. Forty members have reportedly either voiced their disapproval of the church's offensive decision or have quit attending mass there altogether. One parishioner has suggested the title of a song sung at the church be changed from "All are Welcome" to "Some are Welcome." How apt.

Warfel met with parishioners yesterday to talk about the situation and says that he now needs time to take in their comments.


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