Defang the Serpent of Homophobia: Gaze on It. (Numbers 21:4-9)

In today’s Mass, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14th September), the first reading tells the story of the Israelites and the serpents during their wandering through the desert:

On the way through the wilderness the people lost patience. They spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is neither bread nor water here; we are sick of this unsatisfying food.’
  At this God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede for us with the Lord to save us from these serpents.’ Moses interceded for the people, and the Lord answered him, ‘Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.
Caduceus
As LGBT Christians, we frequently have to deal with the poison of a particular kind of metaphorical serpent – that of homophobia. This may harm us in two distinct ways, by the discrimination,  bullying or violence that may result, but also more insidiously, by poisoning our minds, so that we begin to believe some of the lies and fallacies ourselves, as internalized homophobia or self – loathing. It is in dealing with this latter poison, that the story of the serpents in Numbers carries a lesson for ourselves.
The Israelites were told that if bitten by a serpent, they should gaze on its image, and they would be healed. (It is from the story that we derive the image of the caduceus, the universal symbol of medicine). In the same way, when we are injured by homophobia, gazing on it and its source can heal us not of the objective harm, but of the subjective, internal poison. Homophobia and prejudice do not arise because of any fault or illness on our part, but from ignorance or irrational fear on the side of the bigots. Recognizing and understanding this, will help us to create the antivenom we need.
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“Catamites and Sodomites” (Again).

A reader has alerted me to the inclusion in today’s Mass readings of some superficially nasty lines from Corinthians:

Thank God I’ve been pre-warned in a homily that Tuesday’s readings apparently condemn catamites and sodomites, so will miss Mass for once, as this terrible translation needs explanation by a competent priest.

I’m no priest, but based on my extensive reading of several eminent bible scholars, I’ll do my best.

Senior Bishop: “Catholic Church Must Welcome ‘Unconventional Couples’

ROME — The Catholic Church should make “unconventional couples” feel at home instead of making them targets of “de facto discrimination,” the leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis said this week.

“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, an apparent reference to divorced and remarried Catholics.

“The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination,” he said Wednesday (Aug. 27) in an address to a national conference on liturgy in the Italian hill town of Orvieto.

- full report at  The Washington Post.

Bishop Galantino’s thoughts are important, as he is the head of the Italian bishops’ conference, a post for which he was hand picked by Pope Francis himself. It is inevitable that his voice will be influential at the October Family Synod in Rome. In this interview, he seems to have been referring specifically to divorced and remarried Catholics, or to unmarried couples, but his observations are equally applicable to same – sex couples, especially as this is not the first time he has spoken along these lines. Back in May, he was specific about the need for the Church to take up a more progressive path, including a stronger welcome for gay Catholics:

The Catholic Church should listen to all the arguments in favour of gay relationships, Communion for remarried divorcees, and ending mandatory celibacy for priests, a senior Italian bishops has insisted.

The secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI), Nunzio Galantino, bishop of the southern diocese of Cassano all’Jonio, told the Florence-based La Nazione newspaper yesterday that he wanted church leaders to open their mind to different views on these issues.

He said: “My wish for the Italian Church is that it is able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favour of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality.”

- Tablet News, 13th May 2014

A few years ago, I reported that Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna had suggested that it was time for the Catholic Church to stop obsessing over the genital acts of gay people, and instead focus on the quality of their relationships, and also to consider welcoming those divorced people who want to remarry in church, at a time when so many other couples have no desire to marry at all. He was the first to voice such thoughts on same – sex couples, but when the expected reprimand from Pope Benedict, or a pushback from more conservative colleagues simply did not come, a handful of other bishops soon followed with similar sentiments. Later, this early handful became a trickle, then a steady stream. Just in the past month, for instance, Bondings 2.0 has reported on a call by yet another cardinal, said to be “close to the pope”,  for more openness in the Church to lesbians and gays, and also on a wish by an Indian lay leader for the October synod to “bring LGBT people in from the cold“. The gathering mood for reform is by no means limited to Europe and North America.

Meanwhile, the question of a welcome in church for divorced and remarried Catholics has become a major theme for the upcoming family synod. If indeed the synod finds a way, or prepares to find a way, to offer a more authentic welcome for such couples, sooner or later it must follow that a similar, more authentic welcome for LGBT Catholics must also be found. The issues after all, are similar.

Gay Marriage, Mexico: Catholic Bishops Lose (Again)

Yesterday, the Mexican state of Coahuila voted overwhelmingly. to legalize gay marriage, becoming the second Mexican state to do so, in the face of fierce opposition by the Catholic bishops.

This is not quite as dramatic as it may seem. Mexico City became the first Mexican jurisdiction to approve marriage and family equality in 2009, also resisting strong opposition from the bishops. A later constitutional court ruling held that all marriages conducted in Mexico City must be recognized throughout the country, effectively making same – sex marriage available to any couple able to travel to the capital for the ceremony. Since 2012, same – sex marriages have also been conducted in the state of  Quintana Roo, in the South of Mexico, after it was found that they were not specifically excluded by the state constitution.

In addition. following a 2012 case in Oaxaca state, a particular Mexican judicial procedure (the “injunction” process), any couple in any state can secure approval for a same – sex marriage, by making specific application to the courts. Several individual couples in a range of states have done so, as this map shows.

Map_of_Mexico,_gay_rights

(Source: Wikipedia. State recognition of same-sex relationships in Mexico   Dark blue – Same-sex marriage (Rings: Individual cases)   Mid  blue – Same-sex civil unions   Light blue – Same-sex marriages recognized but not performed)

 

Mexican State Legislature Enacts Marriage Equality Law

Since Mexico City’s Federal District legislature passed a bill permitting same-sex marriage in December 2009, most of Mexico’s steady march to marriage equality has been propelled by court rulings. However, on September 1, 2014, the legislature of the state of Coahuila overwhelmingly voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

As Rex Wockner reports, the new law, which alters more than 40 parts of the state’s Civil Code, takes effect in one week. It also extends adoption rights to same-sex couples and defines marriage as “the free union with full consent of two people, which has as its objective to realize community life where both [people] seek respect, equality and mutual aid, and make in a free, responsible, voluntary and informed way reproductive decisions that fit their life project, including the possibility of procreation or adoption.”

According to BBC News, the law was supported by the national party PRI and local parties. Congressman Samuel Acevedo, who sponsored the legislation, which was adopted on a vote of 19 to 3, described the changes as a “great step forward.”

Despite the lopsided vote, Acevedo said that the bill was fiercely opposed by conservative groups, including the Catholic Church.

Coahuila is located in Northeastern Mexico and shares a 318-mile border along the Rio Grande with Texas. Its has a population of almost 3,000,000 inhabitants.

Although Coahuila is only the second of the 32 Mexican states to enact marriage equality via legislation, other states, including Quintana Roo, Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Yucatán, have achieved marriage equality as a result of court rulings or administrative decisions.

via glbtq >> blogs.

Cardinal Muller Implies that Only Women Should Be Priests, Bishops.

In welcome news, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has revealed in a newspaper interview that at Pope Francis’ request, there will soon be more women on the International Theological Commission: the numbers will go from two, to “five or six”. To put this into context, out of a full complement of 30, that’s only 20% at best. The reason is simple: with a commission heavily dominated by an all – male clergy, there cannot be more realistic representation of women, until there the representation of priests goes down. We need more lay people, of either gender, and religious women.

Buried inside the report on increasing female representation on the commission, are some observations by Muller which have startling implications, taken to their logical conclusion: that far from excluding women from the priesthood, only women should qualify for ordination.

Müller underlined that the female presence in the Church needed to be recognized within its own specific context, it should not be an imitation of the male model.

- Vatican Insider

That seems innocuous enough, echoing some sentiments of Pope Francis himself. But look at what comes next:

He stressed that the Church needs to be like a mother, not an institution, because an institution cannot love but a mother can.

If women in church should not be in imitation of men, then by symmetry, it must also follow that men in the church should not attempt to imitate women. And yet – the Church must be “like a mother”. If men should not attempt to imitate women, and the only people who truly can be like a mother a the women, then it must surely follow that the people best qualified to take the key roles in the Church, as priests, bishops, cardinals and pope – are the women.

That is obviously not what Müller intended to say – but it’s the logical conclusion from his two propositions.

“Armagayddon”: How Marriage Equality Will DESTROY Irish Traditional Marriage (or Not).

A parody video about gay marriage has sparked a debate about the issue in the Republic of Ireland.

Armagayddon pokes fun at how Ireland will change if same-sex marriage is introduced. It was made by the gay rights group LGBT Noise and has been viewed over 200,000 times on YouTube.

Civil partnerships have been available in the Republic of Ireland since 2011. The country is due to vote on same-sex marriage in a referendum next year.

via BBC News

I particularly enjoyed the extreme lengths that this beleagured couple went to, to “protect” their son from the gay threat – storing him locked up in a dark box for his safety.

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