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Letter to the Pope

Letter to the Pope

Synod on the Family 2014

23 January 2014

Dear Father in Christ,

The proposed Synod on the Family holds great potential for the survival of faith and the spiritual well-being  of many of our faithful. On behalf of an international group of Catholic scholars I am sending you our Statement on Marriage and the Family with the scholars’s signatures which, we hope, will be of use to you in your planning of that Synod.

I realise that most preparatory information is being gathered through the medium of local Bishops’ Conferences. However, our Statement – on account of the international character of academic signatories – does not fall under any particular country, which is why I am addressing a copy directly to you.  I have, however, sent a complimentary copy to Archbishop Vince Nichols, Primate of England and Wales.

The original draft of the Statement was drawn up by Professor Joseph Selling, emeritus moral theologian of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. It has been subsequently discussed and signed by 74 Catholic experts in many fields: dogmatic theology, ethics, psychology, medicine, moral theology, sacred scripture, and so on. Their views are representative of the considered opinion of the majority of Catholic scholars world wide.

In recent decades, genuine freedom of expression has been suppressed in Church circles.  Many theologians, priests and lay people realise that a number of so-called Church ‘teachings’ do not stand up to scrutiny. This is very damaging to the Church. It undermines the credibility of authority and shakes the confidence of the faithful. That is why we are expressing our views frankly, conscious of the fact that our “freedom of research, freedom of thought and freedom of expression” acknowledged by Vatican II (Gaudium et Spes § 62), is not only a right but also a duty. “Over the Pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else. It must be obeyed if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. Conscience confronts us with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim even of the official Church” [Joseph Ratzinger, Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, ed. Vorgrimler, 1968, part 1, chapter 1].

We feel that the time has come for the Church to adjust its official position on a number of regulations affecting sexual ethics. These regulations are neither revealed doctrine, nor unchangeable traditions. Rather they often derive from Greek philosophy and scientific perceptions of the Middle Ages. It is imperative that the Church’s guidance on the morality of married life reflects the theology, science and understanding of our own time.

We wish God’s blessings on the important process of consultation and decision making that will be made possible through this Synod.

With respectful greetings in Christ,

John Wijngaards

_____

 

Petition to Widen the Circle of Consultants at the 2015 Family Synod

Widen the Circle of Consultants at the 2015 Family Synod

Petition to Cardinal Baldisseri and the Bishops of the World

Widen the Circle at the 2015 Family Synod
5,124
of 6,000 signatures


Campaign created by Deborah Rose-Milavec


As faithful Catholics, we are deeply concerned that the perspective and experience of a large number of Catholics will not be represented at the upcoming Synod. Therefore, we are writing to urge you to widen the circle of people invited to participate in the upcoming Family Synod 2015.

We know our Church would benefit from listening to representatives of the many constituencies present in the church community and from engaging in the dialogue Pope Francis has been calling for since the beginning of his papacy. The Lineamenta points out, “In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis advocates for engaging in pastoral activity characterized by a ‘culture of encounter’ and capable of recognizing the Lord’s gratuitous work, even outside customary models.”

We urge the Vatican Synod office to make every effort to include a wide diversity of Catholics, especially those from the constituencies being discussed including divorced and remarried people, cohabitating couples, interfaith families, impoverished families, single parents, families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, same-sex couples, and families torn by the violence of war and abuse. These women and men can share their lives and stories in a way that creates greater understanding among the bishops who will, in the end, make critical recommendations about the Church’s priorities and pastoral practices for years to come.

We ask that Synod planners reach out to those on “life’s periphery” (Evangelii Gaudium), those who have not felt welcome in our church. Their invaluable perspectives will greatly enrich and enlighten discussion at the Ordinary Synod on the Family in October.

As stated in Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church (2014): “The baptized….are endowed as members of the body of the Lord with gifts and charisms for the renewal and building up of the Church….Not only do they have the right to be heard, but their reaction to what is proposed as belonging to the faith must be taken very seriously. . . “ (#74).

We assure you that the mission of the Family Synod is in our prayers.

Click here to sign this Petition.

Why is this important?

The synod would benefit from listening to Catholic representatives from diverse constituencies and from engaging in the dialogue Pope Francis has promoted throughout his papacy. We believe widening the circle will create greater understanding among the synod fathers whose final recommendations to Pope Francis may impact our Church’s pastoral practice for years to come. This petition is sponsored by:

Aggiornomento, Australia (ACCCR)
American Catholic Council
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Renewal (ACCCR)
Australian Reforming Catholics ARC (ACCCR)
Call to Action
Catholic Church Reform International
Catholics for ministry CfM, Australia (ACCCR)
Catholics for Renewal, Austraiia (ACCCR)
Catholic Network for Women’s Equality, Canada
CORPUS
The Cyber Community, Australia (ACCCR)
DignityUSA
Federation of Christian Ministries/Roman Catholic Faith Community Council
Fortunate Families
The Friendship Group WA, Australia (ACCCR)
FutureChurch
Inclusive Catholics, Australia (ACCCR)
International Movement of We Are Church
Loretto Women’s Network
National Coalition of American Nuns
New Ways Ministry
Noi Siamo Chiesa (Italian section of IMWAC)
Pfarrei-Initiative, Schweiz
Pfarrer-Initiative Austria
Parrish Initiative Switzerland
RAPPORT
Roman Catholic Womenpriests RCWP-USA
Sisters of Providence Peace With Justice Committee, St. Mary-of-the-Woods
Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference
Vision of Faithful People (Netherlands)
Voice of the Faithful
We are All Church, South Africa (WAACSA)
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
Women and the Australian Church WATAC (ACCCR)
Women’s Ordination Conference
Women’s Ordination Worldwide

How it will be delivered

On March 4, 2015, we will deliver the signatures by email and mail to all the English speaking bishops and to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. We will also hand deliver the petition to Cardinal Baldisseri at the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

Archbishop: School that fired gay teacher showed ‘character’

Archbishop: School that fired gay teacher showed ‘character’

By MARYCLAIRE DALE July 13, 2015 4:07 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Roman Catholic school officials who fired a married gay teacher are not seeking controversy but showed “character and common sense” by following church teachings, Philadelphia’s archbishop said Monday.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, in a statement, thanked Waldron Mercy Academy leaders “for taking the steps to ensure that the Catholic faith is presented … in accord with the teaching of the church. They’ve shown character and common sense at a moment when both seem to be uncommon.”

The church opposes gay marriage. Of homosexuals, Pope Francis has said: “Who am I to judge?”

Teacher Margie Winters recently told a newspaper that she lost her job last month as religious instruction director even though she had told the school about her same-sex marriage when she was hired in 2007. She was told she could be open about her marriage with faculty but not with parents at the school, Winters told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“So that’s what I’ve done,” Winters said. “I’ve never been open. And that’s been hard.”

Nonetheless, she said, a few parents found out and complained to the school or the archdiocese. She was fired after she refused a request to resign, Winters said.

“In the Mercy spirit, many of us accept life choices that contradict current church teachings,” Principal Nell Stetser said in a letter to parents obtained by the Inquirer, “but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings.”

Many parents are upset by the dismissal, and Philadelphia’s Democratic nominee for mayor, Jim Kenney, a Catholic-school graduate, has criticized the firing.

Spokesman Ken Gavin said last week that the archdiocese “did not influence” Waldron’s decision at the nondiocesan elementary school.

However, Chaput on Monday weighed in with his statement.

“Schools describing themselves as Catholic take on the responsibility of teaching and witnessing the Catholic faith in a manner true to Catholic belief,” he wrote. “There’s nothing complicated or controversial in this. It’s a simple a matter of honesty.”

As archbishop of Denver in 2010, Chaput supported a diocesan Catholic school in Boulder that refused to let two young children of lesbians re-enroll. Chaput, in his weekly column, called it “a painful situation and said the church “never looks for reasons to turn anyone away from a Catholic education.”

However, he said parents choose Catholic schools for their children so they can see their religious beliefs “fully taught and practiced.”

“That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents,” said Chaput, who described people with different viewpoints on marriage as “often people of sincerity and good will.”

Chaput said children of single and divorced parents are welcome in diocesan schools as long as their parents support the Catholic mission.

Chaput is scheduled to host the pope’s two-day visit to Philadelphia in September for the World Meeting of Families.

Legacy of Coercion and Shame

Legacy of Coercion and Shame

Can an institution like the Roman Catholic Church be waylaid by a group of ruthless hucksters who are willing to use the papal office to impose bad decisions that have caused and continue to cause  immense suffering upon the faithful?

Yes.   Let me explain. . . .

Vatican II was an immense turning point for Roman Catholicism.  The windows were thrown open.  Instead of using confrontation and bullying, Catholics were retrained to respect Jews, Protestants, and Muslims and to engage in dialogue.  Instead of maintaining that the Latin language and the Latin liturgy was sacrosanct, Catholics were invited to praise God in their own tongues and in rites that were suitable to their cultural roots.  Instead of pretending that obedience to the Catholic Church was the surest means of eternal salvation, Catholics were coaxed to work side-by-side with all persons of good will to bring Gospel values to bear upon every society and to expose the social sins of racism, militarism, and sexism that are a scourge to those whom the Lord loves.   Thus the Catholic Church set aside its imperialism and its triumphalism in favor of serving the servants of God.  As Jesus said, “I have come to serve and not to be served.”

Even before the Vatican Council II was closed in late 1965, many of the bishops present believed that the new direction of the Church was foolish and wrong-headed and that the imperialism and triumphalism of the past had to be resurrected so that the Church would again be feared and respected by both its adherents and its enemies.

During the course of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), free and open discussions gradually took hold among the assembled bishops once the curial grip on the Council was challenged.  Within this aggiornamento [1] that was endorsed by John XXIII, the bishops discovered how creative collaboration with each other and with the Holy Spirit served fruitfully to create sixteen documents overwhelmingly approved by the assembled bishops.  Given the diversity of viewpoints and the diversity of cultures among the two thousand participants, this consensus building was an extraordinary mark of the charismatic gifts of the movers and shakers gathered at the Council.

PaulVI2As Paul VI took over the direction of the Council after the untimely death of John XXIII, he at first endorsed the processes of collegiality that had operated during the initial two years.  With the passage of time, however, Paul VI began to use his papal office on multiple levels by way of limiting the competency of the bishops and by way of pushing forward points of view that he and the curia favored.   After the Council, this trend accelerated and can best be seen by analyzing the content and reception of three encyclicals, Indulgentiarum Doctrina (1/1/67), Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (6/24/67), and Humanae Vitae (7/25/68).

Thirteen months after the close of Vatican II, on the first day of January, 1967, Paul VI took the document on indulgences that was roundly criticized and rejected during Vatican II and, with only modest revision, published it under his own name as Indulgentiarum Doctrina (“The Doctrine of Indulgences”).[8]   In so doing, Pope Paul VI opened the new year with an Apostolic Constitution designed to teach the bishops and theologians scattered throughout the whole world what many of them had roundly rejected at Vatican II.  Was the Pope deaf to the applause that Archbishops Alfrink, König, and Döpfner had received for their criticisms of this very same document thirteen months earlier?  Had he not read the written reports of a dozen episcopal conferences expressing their deep dissatisfaction with the draft document?  And was he not now shoving it back into their faces with the whole force of his papal office?

Indeed he was!  Even further, Paul VI boldly claimed in his encyclical that “indulgences” had apostolic origins–a claim that cardinals and Protestant observers at the Council refused to accept.  Furthermore, Paul VI further strengthened the papal grip on the practice of indulgences because he was quite aware that, in so doing, this promoted and augmented the power of the papal office within the universal Church.  Thus, Indulgentiarum Doctrina  received the enthusiastic support of those who wanted to stall dialogue with Protestants and to exalt papal imperialism and triumphalism.

Paul VI, during the final meeting of Vatican II in 1965, made an extraordinary intervention to forbid any discussion of the rule of priestly celibacy since he had elected to study this issue himself. Accordingly, on 24 June 1967, Paul VI published an encyclical on priestly celibacy known as Sacerdotalis Caelibatus.

Even if the manifest theological and historical flaws within Sacerdotalis Caelibatus could be forgiven in the name of the personal piety of Paul VI, one can hardly overlook the clear evidence of the Gospels to the effect that Jesus never mentioned celibacy when he chooses any of his disciples.  Peter, who is clearly recognized as a married man, receives no admonition to separate himself from his wife.  But, more importantly, we read in 1 Tim 3:2 that “a bishop must be above reproach, married only once [a one-woman man]” and, in Tit 1:7, we read that a presbyter should also be “someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers.”   Instead of discovering a “flowering of Jesus’ gift of celibacy,” therefore, we find in the late apostolic tradition the requirement that bishops and presbyters must have a wife and children.  Why so?  For this reason: “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he be expected to take care of God’s church [which is an extended family]?” (1 Tim 3:5).

How can Paul VI expect us to respect him as a reliable teacher when he fails to notice these things right before his eyes in the Sacred Scriptures?  And what if he did notice these things but deliberately omitted to mention them because they entirely negate his pious arguments in favor of  priestly celibacy?  Then, in that case, we would have to conclude that Pius VI is a dishonest scholar not worthy of our attention.  All in all, this brings us to the embarrassing sticking point of having to decide whether Paul VI is either incompetent or dishonest or a curious mixture of both.[17]

With the renewal of the Church following Vatican II, hundreds of thousands of priests anticipated a relaxation of the rule of celibacy.[18]  The adamant position taken by Paul VI in his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus killed their hope for any compassionate change.   Many Spirit-filled priests, facing a crisis of conscience between their call to ministry and their call to marital intimacy[19], decided to apply for laicization.  All told, 200,000 priests worldwide made anguished decisions to leave their ministry in order to marry.   Paul VI treated them as “traitors” to the calling of Jesus–they had “not prayed sufficiently,” he chided them.

When ministers within Anglican, Episcopalian, and Lutheran denominations were welcomed into the Catholic communion during the last forty years, it was particularly difficult for long-suffering priests to notice how easily Rome was able to relax the rule of celibacy for these former Protestant pastors who were escaping churches that endorsed the ordination of women.  I myself have frequently heard bitterness expressed by older priests on this matter.  In effect, Paul VI arrived at a very flawed decision in this matter that was biased heavily against loyal Catholic priests at the same time that it was biased in favor of “Protestant deserters” who were fleeing their churches because women were being ordained. This has caused and continues to cause  enormous resentment[20] for most priests and for those who are close to them, especially women who feel called to priesthood.  The American bishop who said, “I doubt whether the Lord would be pleased with our loneliness,” may have been saying what so many others knew in their hearts but were afraid to reveal lest they be judged as “disloyal” to the Holy Father.

John Paul II went so far as to systematically refuse all petitions for laicization.  He thus insured that disloyal priests would never receive any official sanction of their marital love from the Church.  Thus, here again, compassion was dead, collegiality was rigorously avoided, and papal imperialism was being exalted.

 

Christmas 2014

Dear Friend,

It’s the night before Christmas and I’ve set aside the giddy play with my grandchildren (see Facebook) in order to look into the inky darkness outside in hopes of finding some signs that Christmas is coming. Here are the five signs that I noticed.Pope-RollingStone

#1The good news is that Pope Francis refused to use the iron fist of papal authoritarianism by way of taking control of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in October. On the contrary, he took the long view of reinvigorating the open discussion and the collegiality experienced at Vatican II and giving this a permanent place in discerning how ALL problems facing the Church need to be examined. Click here for my personal blog on this central topic.

#2 In his Christmas address to the Vatican officials, however, Pope Francis offered little holiday cheer. Rather, he rubbed their noses in the fifteen ways that their way of life was so far from the Gospel of Jesus. But he praised the low-paid women and men who worked in the Vatican offices for their honesty and hard work.

Deb#3 Deb took over the direction of FutureChurch in September of 2013. Her reports from Rome during the time of the Synod were penetrating and forward looking. Bringing Fr. Tony Flannery to the USA for addressing the issue of power abuse in the Vatican was an act of creative genius. Continued support of the Nuns over and against their Roman detractors paid off big time when the final report of 16 Dec 2014 come forward as affirming their orthodoxy and social engagement in favor of the Gospel. The good news is that FutureChurch exposes Vatican oppression.

Obama.Castro#4 President Obama offered good news last week when he finally sat down with Raul Castro and set a date for lifting the blockade of Cuba. Nearly 54 years ago, Fidel Castro, a middle-class lawyer and social activist, led a much-needed revolution that put the future of Cuba back into the hands of Cubans. Prior to this, Havana was an unregulated vice-capital for rich Americans run by the Mafia. Cubans provided cheap manual labor for the huge pineapple, banana, and sugar cane plantations that allowed American corporations to earn stunning profits. Since the USA wanted to send the message that no country could prosper without America’s aid and approval, the naval blockade of the Havana harbor made certain that no goods would enter or leave Cuba without American approval. This insured that Cubans would remain poor, isolated, and indigent. See the words of JFK in favor of the Cuban Revolution.  And wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I just discovered that Pope Francis was responsible for nudging both sides into dialogue.  That’s the true Christmas shining through.

Scan.hip replacementsS#5  I had my left hip replaced five weeks ago.  I’ve dedicated my period of convalescence to deep reflection upon my life.  A few long-time friends will be spending time with me and advancing this project of reinventing myself.  The men’s group to which I belong will be my companions in carrying these changes forward into the new year.

happybirthdayJesusSo, I blow warm breath in your direction and my big arms wrap around you,

Aaron

— Giraffe Standing Tall

 

Ashamed of my Sexuality

I Was Taught To Be Ashamed of my Sexuality

What if my grandmother had never told me at age 3 that the reason my vagina burned and became red when she washed me with a rough washcloth and scented soap was because my vagina was dirty?

ashamedWould I have not felt different my whole life from all the other girls, that I was inherently dirty? Would I have not felt like I had this secret between my legs that was sure to disgust anyone who had to venture down there? What if my grandmother had told me every inch of me was perfectly normal just the way it was?

What if my mother had never told me, in front of my father, that she was glad she wasn’t a man since she wouldn’t want to have to touch a woman down there because “they bleed and are just nasty”?

Would I have been proud to have a period? Would I have been proud that my body could create life, and thus bleed monthly in sync with the ocean tides and the moon? Would I have not felt deep shame and embarrassment in front of my father, and thus all other males thereafter, for what I was? What if my mother had told me that having my period was a rite of passage into womanhood, that it was something to be proud of and celebrate? That women were strong and that’s why men loved them?

What if my mother, whose body I admired as a young girl and hoped to have one day myself, hadn’t told me that [her] large breasts were ugly and veiny, that large breasts are only attractive when clothed?

ashamed2Would I have stood in the mirror every night after I developed my own breasts and thought about how disgusting they were? Would I have felt the need to always cover myself, even in front of my own husband? What if my mother had told me that no matter what my breasts looked like, they would be beautiful? What if she had told me she loved her body? Would I have loved mine too?

What if my father would’ve never told me that he saw girls being groped when he was in high school and that they giggled… and that I should never giggle if a boy ever did that to me?

Nevermind the issues of sexual harassment or blaming the behavior of the victim, what I heard was: Don’t act like you like it when a boy touches you. That is what the voice in the back of my head has told me my whole life, “pretend you don’t like it or you’ll look like a whore and men don’t like whores.” Why did my knees get weak when the boy I liked touched me? What kind of girl did that make me? What if my father had told me it’s a normal and exciting thing to experience sexual relations with a person of my choosing when I was older? What if he had known that his example and love for me alone was all I needed to grow into a healthy woman with respect for herself? What if I had had my father’s blessing to be a sexual human being without fear of losing his respect or love?

What if my sex education instructors hadn’t told me that I was like a rose, and every time I have sex before marriage, I would lose a petal?

Would I have still felt like damaged goods? Would I have still felt like all I had to offer my future husband was my untarnished body? What if they had told me I was like a book, and every experience adds a valuable chapter of lessons and knowledge to my life? Or what if they had just told me how to have sex safely and left the condemning analogies and personal beliefs at the door?

What if I had never been told that premarital sex is damaging, especially to girls because they crave relationships, not sex?

Would I still have felt so confused over my desire to have sex? Why did I not always crave a relationship? Why did I not feel any guilt when I had premarital sex besides the guilt of knowing what my parents/Jesus/youth counselors would think? Why did sex always feel so normal and intimate and fun and not anyone’s business? Why did it always have to be someone’s business other than mine? What if I had been told that women enjoy sex just like men do, and that sex, premarital or not, is a normal thing that people do?

shame3Our culture sends very conflicting messages to girls. They are pure until they aren’t. They are so much more than what their bodies offer, but they aren’t. Their bodies aren’t good enough, but they cause men to fall. It’s OK to look sexy, but not to actually have sex. What we tell our daughters about sexuality, and more importantly how we make them feel about it, will stay with them their entire lives.

For that reason, I believe it’s so important to be mindful of the way we talk to our daughters, nieces, granddaughters and any young girl. I think it’s possible to convey our personal and religious beliefs without the shame and embarrassment. And if you can’t convey your beliefs without shaming a young girl, maybe you should reconsider some of your beliefs.  (source)

Criticism of papal declarations. . . .

“Criticism of papal declarations will be possible and necessary to the degree that they do not correspond with Scripture and the Creed, that is, with the belief of the Church. Where there is neither unanimity in the Church nor clear testimony of the sources, then no binding decision is possible; if one is formally made, then its preconditions are lacking, and therefore the question of its legitimacy must be raised.”

– Joseph Ratzinger, as he then was, in  Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwuerfe zur Ekklesiologie, p. 144, Patmos 1969.  

Do Animals Exhibit Homosexuality?

Do Animals Exhibit Homosexuality?

Arash Fereydooni | Yale Scientific 14 March 2012

Recent research has found that homosexual behavior in animals may be much more common than previously thought. Although Darwin’s theory of natural selection predicts an evolutionary disadvantage for animals that fail to pass along their traits through reproduction with the opposite sex, the validity of this part of his theory has been questioned with the discoveries of homosexual behavior in more than 10% of prevailing species throughout the world.

Currently, homosexual behavior has been documented in over 450 different animal species worldwide. For instance, observations indicate that Humboldt, King, Gentoo, and Adélie penguins of the same sex engage in “mating rituals like entwining their necks and vocalizing to one another.” In addition, male giraffes have also been observed engaging in homosexual behavior by rubbing their necks against each others’ bodies while ignoring the females. Yet another example is lizards of the genus Teiidae, which can copulate with both male and female mates.

Biologists Nathan W. Bailey and Marlene Zuk from the University of California, Riverside have investigated the evolutionary consequences and implications of same-sex behavior, and their findings demonstrate benefits to what seems to be an evolutionary paradox. For example, their studies of the Laysan albatross show that female-female pairing can increase fitness by taking advantage of the excess of females and shortage of males in the population and provide superior care for offspring. Moreover, same-sex pairing in many species actually alleviates the likelihood of divorce and curtails the pressure on the opposite sex by allowing members to exhibit more flexibility to form partnerships, which in turn strengthens social bonds and reduces competition. Thus, not only do animals exhibit homosexuality, but the existence of this behavior is quite prevalent and may also confer certain evolutionary advantages.  (source)

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To Western science, homosexuality (both animal and human) is an anomaly, an unexpected behavior that above all requires some sort of “explanation” or “cause” or “rationale.” In contrast, to many indigenous cultures around the world, homosexuality and transgender are a routine and expected occurrence in both the human and animal worlds…[ Bruce Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999) 215].

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bonobosBonobos, which have a matriarchal society, unusual among apes, are a fully bisexual species—both males and females engage in heterosexual and homosexual behavior, being noted for female-female homosexuality in particular. Roughly 60% of all bonobo sexual activity occurs between two or more females. While the homosexual bonding system in Bonobos represents the highest frequency of homosexuality known in any species, homosexuality has been reported for all great apes (a group which includes humans), as well as a number of other primate species.[66][67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74]

Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal on observing and filming bonobos noted that there were two reasons to believe sexual activity is the bonobo’s answer to avoiding conflict. Anything that arouses the interest of more than one bonobo at a time, not just food, tends to result in sexual contact. If two bonobos approach a cardboard box thrown into their enclosure, they will briefly mount each other before playing with the box. Such situations lead to squabbles in most other species. But bonobos are quite tolerant, perhaps because they use sex to divert attention and to defuse tension.

Bonobo sex often occurs in aggressive contexts totally unrelated to food. A jealous male might chase another away from a female, after which the two males reunite and engage in scrotal rubbing. Or after a female hits a juvenile, the latter’s mother may lunge at the aggressor, an action that is immediately followed by genital rubbing between the two adults.[75]    (source)

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Further Sources

  1. Joan Roughgarden, Evolutions rainbow: Diversity, gender and sexuality in nature and people, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2004; pp.13-183
  2. Vasey, Paul L. (1995), Homosexual behaviour in primates: A review of evidence and theory, International Journal of Primatology 16: p 173-204
  3. Sommer, Volker & Paul L. Vasey (2006), Homosexual Behaviour in Animals, An Evolutionary Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  4. Douglas, Kate (December 7, 2009). “Homosexual selection: The power of same-sex liaisons”. New Scientist. Retrieved 2009-12-21.

Homeless Teen Cast Out by Catholic Family

While life gets better for millions of gays, the number of homeless LGBT teens – many cast out by their religious families – quietly keeps growing


homelessJackieO
ne late night at the end of her sophomore year of college, Jackie sat in her parked car and made a phone call that would forever change the course of her life. An attractive sorority girl with almond eyes and delicate dimples, she was the product of a charmed Boise, Idaho, upbringing: a father who worked in finance, a private [Catholic] ­school education, a pool in the backyard, all the advantages that an upper-middle-class suburban childhood can provide – along with all the expectations attendant to that privilege.

“There was a standard to meet,” Jackie says. “And I had met that standard my whole life. I was a straight-A student, the president of every club, I was in every sport. I remember my first day of college, my parents came with me to register for classes, and they sat down with my adviser and said, ‘So, what’s the best way to get her into law school?'”

Jackie just followed her parents’ lead understanding implicitly that discipline and structure went hand in hand with her family’s devout Catholic beliefs. She attended Mass three times a week, volunteered as an altar server and was the fourth generation of her family to attend her Catholic school; her grandfather had helped tile the cathedral. “My junior year of high school, my parents thought it was weird that I’d never had a boyfriend,” she says, “so I knew I was supposed to get one. And I did. It was all just a rational thought process. None of it was emotionally involved.”

After graduating, Jackie attended nearby University of Idaho, where she rushed a sorority at her parents’ prompting. She chose a triple major of which they approved. “I remember walking out of the sorority house to go to Walmart or something, and I stopped at the door and thought to myself, ‘Should I tell someone I’m leaving?'” she says. “It was the first time in my life where I could just go somewhere and be my own person.”

In fact, it took the freedom of college for Jackie to even realize who her “own person” was. “Growing up, I knew that I felt different, but when you grow up Catholic, you don’t really know gay is an option,” she says. “I grew up in a household that said ‘fag’ a lot. We called people ‘fags,’ or things were ‘faggy.'” Her only sex-ed class was taught by a priest, and all she remembers him saying is, “‘Don’t masturbate and don’t be gay.’ I didn’t know what those words meant, so I just hoped to God that I wasn’t doing either of them.”

When Jackie got to college, the “typical gay sorority encounters” she found herself having didn’t seem to qualify as anything more than youthful exploration; she thought all girls drunkenly made out with their best friends. By her sophomore year, she was dating a fraternity brother but was also increasingly turned on by a friend she worked with at the campus women’s center. “I was just playing it off as ‘So maybe I’m just gay for you – I mean, I don’t have to tell my boyfriend’ kind of thing,” she says. “I knew what I wanted, but it was never something I ever envisioned that I could have on a public level.” And yet, as her friendship with this woman turned physical and their relationship grew more serious, Jackie saw her future shrinking before her: a heterosexual marriage, children, church and the knowledge that all of it was based on a lie. “I honestly thought my whole life I was just going to be an undercover gay,” she says, shaking her head in disbelief.

For better or worse, that plan was never to be. Toward the end of her sophomore year, Jackie got a text message from one of her sorority sisters who said she’d been seen kissing another girl, after which certain sisters started making it clear that they were not comfortable around Jackie. (“You’re living in the same house together,” she says, “and, of course, to close-minded people, if somebody’s gay, that means you’re automatically interested in all 80 of them.”) Eventually, she went before her chapter’s executive board and became the first sorority girl at her college to ever come out, at which point she realized that if she didn’t tell her parents, someone else would. “I was convinced somebody was going to blast it on Facebook.”

So while Jackie hoped for the best, she knew the call she was making had the potential to not end well. “You can’t hate me after I say this,” she pleaded when, alarmed to be receiving a call in the middle of the night, her mom picked up the phone.

“Oh, my God, you’re pregnant” was her mom’s first response, before running through a litany of parental fears. “Are you in jail? Did you get expelled? Are you in trouble? What happened? What did you do?” Suddenly her mom’s silence matched Jackie’s own. “Oh, my God,” she murmured in disbelief. “Are you gay?”

“Yeah,” Jackie forced herself to say.

After what felt like an eternity, her mom finally responded. “I don’t know what we could have done for God to have given us a fag as a child,” she said before hanging up.

As soon as the line went dead, Jackie began sobbing. Still, she convinced herself that her parents would come around and accept her, despite what they perceived to be her flaw. As planned, she drove to Canada to celebrate her birthday with friends. When her debit card didn’t work on the second day of the trip, she figured it was because she was in another country. Once back in the States, however, she got a call from her older brother. “He said, ‘Mom and Dad don’t want to talk to you, but I’m supposed to tell you what’s going to happen,'” Jackie recalls. “And he’s like, ‘All your cards are going to be shut off, and Mom and Dad want you to take the car and drop it off at this specific location. Your phone’s going to last for this much longer. They don’t want you coming to the house, and you’re not to contact them. You’re not going to get any money from them. Nothing. And if you don’t return the car, they’re going to report it stolen.’ And I’m just bawling. I hung up on him because I couldn’t handle it.” Her brother was so firm, so matter-of-fact, it was as if they already weren’t family.

From that moment, Jackie knew that she was entirely on her own, that she had no home, no money and no family who would help her – and that this was the terrible price she’d pay for being a lesbian.

Jackie’s story may be distinctive in its particulars, but across America, it is hardly unique. Research done by San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project, which studies and works to prevent health and mental­ health risks facing LGBT youth, empirically confirms what common sense would imply to be true: Highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay – a finding that social-service workers believe goes a long way toward explaining why LGBT people make up roughly five percent of the youth population overall, but an estimated 40 percent of the homeless-youth population. The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States. Meanwhile, as societal advancements have made being gay less stigmatized and gay people more visible – and as the Internet now allows kids to reach beyond their circumscribed social groups for acceptance and support – the average coming-out age has dropped from post-college age in the 1990s to around 16 today, which means that more and more kids are coming out while they’re still economically reliant on their families. The resulting flood of kids who end up on the street, kicked out by parents whose religious beliefs often make them feel compelled to cast out their own offspring (one study estimates that up to 40 percent of LGBT homeless youth leave home due to family rejection), has been called a “hidden epidemic.” Tragically, every step forward for the gay-rights movement creates a false hope of acceptance for certain youth, and therefore a swelling of the homeless-youth population.

“The summer that marriage equality passed in New York, we saw the number of homeless kids looking for shelter go up 40 percent,” says Carl Siciliano, founder of the Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. A former Benedictine monk-in-training, who once went by the nickname Baby Jesus, Siciliano had spent years living in monasteries and serving in shelters run by the Catholic Worker Movement before his own sexuality inextricably came between him and his institutional faith. “I ended up just feeling like the Catholic Church was wack,” he says. “Cardinal O’Connor [the archbishop of New York at the time who once said if he was forced to hire homosexuals, he would shut down all of the Catholic schools and orphanages in the diocese] was like the arch-homophobe of America.” Siciliano was working at a housing program for the homeless in the Nineties when he noticed that his clientele was getting younger and younger. Until then, he says, “you almost never saw kids. It was Vietnam vets, alcoholics and deinstitutionalized mentally ill people.” But not only were more kids showing up, they were also disappearing. “Every couple of months one of our kids would get killed,” Siciliano says. “And it would always be a gay kid.” In 2002, he founded the Ali Forney Center, naming it after a homeless 22-year-old who’d been shot in the head on the street in Harlem, not far from where the organization’s drop-in center currently resides. Siciliano had been close with Forney and felt that had he had a safe place to go, he might be alive today.

Since founding the center, Siciliano, 49, has become one of the nation’s most outspoken homeless advocates. “I feel like the LGBT movement has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to this,” he says, running his hands through his closely cropped hair and sighing. “We’ve been so focused on laws – changing the laws around marriage equality, changing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ getting adoption rights – that we haven’t been fighting for economic resources. How many tax dollars do gay people contribute? What percentage of tax dollars comes back to our gay kids? We haven’t matured enough as a movement yet that we’re looking at the economics of things.”

Siciliano also understands that the kids he works with don’t sync up with to the message everyone wants to hear: It gets better. “There is a psychological reality that when you’re an oppressed group whose very existence is under attack, you need to create this narrative about how great it is to be what you are,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Leave the repression and the fear behind and be embraced by this accepting community, and suddenly everyone is beautiful and has good bodies and great sex and beautiful furniture, and rah-rah-rah.’ And, from day one of the Stonewall Riots, homeless kids were not what people wanted to see. No one wanted to see young people coming out and being cast into destitution. It didn’t fit the narrative.”

Jackie knew well what her parents thought of homosexuality, but she still held out hope that maybe over time her family would come around. With the last of her cash, she bought a bus ticket back to campus, where within a few weeks she defaulted on her rent. She started couch surfing and persuaded the women’s center to let her work through the summer for $6 an hour, 10 hours a week. “I mean, it was crap money, but it was something,” she says. “I didn’t tell anybody the situation I was in. I didn’t tell anybody I was hungry every day. I didn’t tell them I didn’t have a place to stay, because I thought this was my punishment for being gay and I deserved it.” She’d ask friends to crash overnight, lying about being too drunk to go home. If that fell through, she’d spend nights in study rooms on campus. She found herself dating women simply to have a bed, which she admits was neither “healthy nor permanent.”

In the upheaval that had suddenly become her daily existence, Jackie felt that she had to cling to something constant; she chose her education. The day after returning to campus, she went to the financial­aid office to ask for the help she’d never before had to seek, appealing to the university to gain status as an independent student. Though she did eventually receive tuition assistance, Jackie says, “You’re not meant to be homeless and a student. I learned really fast how to pretend to not be poor. I learned that if I had a couple of nice things to wear, nobody would notice that you wear them all the time. Or if you are a sociable person, people don’t notice that you’re never actually buying drinks. You just sort of figure it out.”

She was soon taking any job she could get: on campus, in town, even picking up the odd construction shift. “I would do anything I could for money,” she says. She finally pieced together enough funds to get a room in an apartment, but she couldn’t afford furniture. To hide her penury, she never let anyone in her room. Even being around other gay people was sometimes difficult, a reminder that though “they had committed the same ‘sin,’ their parents loved them,” she says. “They got to go home for the holidays. I had these moments when I would say, ‘I did everything right. I excelled in all the right ways. So why me?’ That hurt really bad. I mean, how do you explain to people that your parents chose not to parent you anymore?”

At times, it felt like more than Jackie could bear, and in these moments of doubt and despair she wrote her mother and father countless letters and e-mails begging them to be her parents again. “I wanted to take it all back so badly,” she says. “I was just like, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any of it.'” They eventually responded: If she went to a conversion therapist and tried to be straight, they would at least help her financially. At first, she agreed. “But I couldn’t do it,” she says now, four years later, in a city hundreds of miles away from where she imagines her parents still live. “I wanted to be their kid, but I couldn’t change. Everyone I’d ever known my whole life cut ties with me. But this was who I am.”

Pope Francis’ closing of the Synod

Pope Francis’ closing of the Synod

[Vatican Radio’s provisional translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Synod Fathers]

Dear Eminences, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

4FrancisWith a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.
From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.

I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!
I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

– One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

This is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it… that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].

May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!