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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" »


South Africa LGBT-Friendly Mosque May Close Down Barely A Week After Opening - VIDEO

Open Mosque South Africa to close down

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque could be shut down barely a week after it opened because it has violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces, reports AFK Insider.

According to Taj Hargey, the director of the “forward thinking” organization Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and Imam of the university’s Islamic Congregation, the Open Mosque in Wynberg, a Cape Town suburb - which opened last Friday - welcomes all genders, religions and sexual orientations. The mosque also allows women to lead prayers.

Taj hargeyHargey said that he has received many positive responses to the mosque but confirmed that he has also received “a lot of death threats.”

The Muslim Judicial Council, an umbrella organization of the South African Islamic clergy, condemned the mosque, stating that Hargey’s establishment cannot be considered a true mosque given that it does not adhere to both the Qur'aan and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

However, Hargey told the BBC that although his “autonomous and independent” mosque has been targeted by the City Council using “ridiculous bylaws,” he “will not be threatened by them or anyone else.”

Protesting outside the mosque, Imam Bilal Ghorieb said that his argument against the mosque is personal and "not part of the religion['s] understanding, my understanding, a selfish understanding."

Elsabeth Muirhead said that, as a Unitarian, she went to the opening to support the mosque's message of "tolerance, interfaith dialog and equality with women."

Watch a report on the opening of the Open mosque, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Southern Baptists Kick Out LGBT-Friendly California Church - VIDEO

Danny Cortez

The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has kicked out a pro-LGBT California church, claiming that minister Danny Cortez and the church are not in “cooperation” with the SBC’s stance on LGBT issues, reports Think Progress.

In August, New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, California voted to welcome the LGBT community after Cortez gave a sermon announcing that his son Drew had come out as gay - and that he himself no longer agreed with the SBC’s teachings on homosexuality.

Speaking about his son’s decision to come out, Cortez said:

“My heart skipped a beat and I turned towards [my son] and we gave one another the biggest and longest hug as we cried. And all I could tell him was that I loved him so much and that I accepted him just as he is … If it wasn’t for this 15 year journey and my change in theology, I may have destroyed my son through reparative therapy.”

After Cortez’s sermon, members of the church had the option to remove him from the pulpit but voted to keep him as pastor and adopt a live-and-let-live approach “in the same way that our church holds different positions on the issue of divorce and remarriage.” 6a00d8341c730253ef01a73dd6d034970d-500wi

On Tuesday, the SBC voted unanimously to “disfellowship” New Heart because it “does not presently meet the definition of a cooperating church” as its constitution outlaws congregations that “act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior.”

Forgetting that “compassion” is a two-way street, Ronnie Floyd, SBC President and pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, said:

“[New Heart has] walked away from us as Southern Baptists. We have not walked away from them. So it is with compassion that I would appeal to them to reconsider their decision, mostly their position related to the Word of God on homosexuality.”

However, New Heart has stood firm in its decision to embrace diversity. In a letter to the SBC committee, church Deacons explained that their congregation holds a multiplicity of positions, but also acknowledges their pastor’s firmly pro-LGBT stance:

“Some ‘members in our church’ believe that same-sex marriage can be blessed by God, while other members in our church believe that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. While ‘our church’ remains without an official stance on same-sex marriage, our preaching pastor has officiated a same-sex marriage.”

Watch Cortez's sermon "Why I Changed My Mind on Sexuality," as well as his son's coming out video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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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.


Serbian Christian Orthodox Church Denounces Belgrade Pride - VIDEO

Serbia pride

Patriarch Irinej, the head of Serbia's Christian Orthodox church, yesterday denounced a Gay Pride march planned for this weekend, reports ABC News.

In a statement, Irinej said that the "shameless" event casts a moral shadow on Serbia.

OrthOfficials have suggested they could allow the event to go ahead despite fears of a repeat of the violence in 2010 when right-wing groups attacked a pride march, triggering clashes with police that left more than 100 people injured.

Following the attacks, authorities banned LGBT rights marches for the following three years, citing security reasons.

Holding the march is seen as a test of the country's pledge to respect human rights as it seeks membership in the European Union.

However, Irinej said that the pride organizers "and their mentors from Europe" haven't learned the lesson from the past marches.

Several far-right groups have announced anti-gay marches in Belgrade next Saturday.

On Tuesday, police announced they have filed charges against eight people who had made threats against LGBT people on social media.

Milorad Todorovic, the police officer in charge of cyber crime in Serbia, has vowed to “secure the safety of all citizens” and is hopeful that the Pride event will go ahead. "I hope the pride event will be held on Sunday."

Watch police combating extremist protesters at Serbia's 2010 Gay Pride, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Serbian Christian Orthodox Church Denounces Belgrade Pride - VIDEO" »


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