NEWS NOTES: Pax Christi Group Forms LGBT Ministry; John Gehring Appeals for Civility; and More

Here are some news items that you may find of interest:

1) A local chapter of Pax Christi USA in Little Rock, Arkansas, which usually focuses on anti-racism and nonviolence work, has expanded its ministry to create “Welcome Home,” a support group for LGBT Catholics and allies who have left the Church or may be exploring a return to it. The group is supported by Bishop Anthony Taylor, Diocese of Little Rock, according to Arkansas Catholic.

2) Christian Bales, a gay student barred from giving the valedictorian speech at his Catholic high school, has been given a First Amendment Award from the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation, reported The Cincinnati Enquirer. Last year, the Diocese of Covington intervened to ban Bales’ and the student council president’s speeches, accusing them of defying Church teaching. Bales instead ended up delivering his address via a megaphone outside the venue where graduation was held.

3) Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, wrote in The Advocate about LGBTQ responses to February’s Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse. She noted that many Catholics were disappointed by the summit, and she hoped thatmovement towards “more openness, honesty, transparency, and accountability within the institutional church. . .could translate into new approaches to teachings and practices that impact LGBTQI people.” For her full analysis, click here.

4) The ruling Law and Justice Party in Poland, which has close ties to the Church hierarchy there, is relying on anti-LGBTQ fears to help its prospects during two elections this year. One issue is their opposition to sexual education for students about sexual orientation, discrimination, and reproductive health, reported Reuters. Such efforts have been condemned by Party leaders and Church leaders alike. Poland is highly Catholic to this day; a 2017 poll revealed some 25% of the population still believes homosexuality should not be tolerated at all.

5) Catholic reform groups held events during the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women meetings this past March that called for a reassessment of the Holy See’s participation at such meetings given the Church’s discriminatory teachings and practices related to women’s and LGBTQ equality. Crux quoted Sheila Peiffer, president of the Women’s Ordination Conference which helped organize the events, as saying “the Holy see does not merit inclusion” in UN events on gender equality.

6) Following Second Lady Karen Pence’s (wife of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence) hiring at a conservative Christian school that discriminates against LGBTQ people, John Gehring of Faith in Public Life issued an appeal in Commonweal for greater engagement between people of differing viewpoints. He wrote, in part:

“Refusing to partner or even associate with people or institutions unless there is consensus on every issue, whether theological or political, makes for tough going in a diverse democracy where civic engagement requires navigating differences. . .We can uphold commitments and engage with others who have different guiding truths, hoping there are bridges to be built but also knowing there will be lines we can’t cross.”

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April ??, 2019

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