The papacy was in a very precarious position when Pope Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council on June 29, 1868. The drive for Italian unification was underway, with revolution in 1848 that led to the exile of Pius IX in the castle of Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from November 24, 1848 until his return to Rome in April 1850. The revolutionaries declared a Roman Republic comprised of the Papal States and in accordance with the ideals of the Enlightenment religious liberty and tolerance was enshrined in the new constitution by article 7 of the Principi fondamentali. Prior to this development only Christianity and Judaism were allowed by law to be practiced in the Papal States. The independence of the pope as head of the Catholic Church was guaranteed by article 8 of the Principi fondamentali. While providing constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and papal authority over the Catholic Church, the framers of the Constitution of the Italian Republic curtailed the temporal authority of the Pope which was referred to as an “historical lie, a political imposture, and a religious immorality” by a reform minded priest, Abbé Arduini. (as cited in Wikipedia) However, by June 1849 the Roman Republic was overthrown by a French military intervention and Pius IX restored in office, returning to Rome and reclaiming governance of the Papal States. Continue reading
Recruitment is defined among other things as “the action of finding new people to join an organization or support a cause.” (Oxford Dictionaries) It is so common to come across the claim that gays recruit others into being gay, that you choose to be gay, that someone lured your into this “lifestyle.” Speaking on behalf of myself, I can say that no one recruited me into being gay. Same-sex attraction manifests itself naturally in me. It is who I am. During my formative years in the latter half of the 1970s, the only impression I had of homosexuality was not good. Aside from a steady stream of disparaging, anti-gay jokes, remarks and slurs commonly in use at the time), there were a series of news reports about police raids on bathhouses in Toronto, culminating in Operation Soap in 1981. The impression of the “gay lifestyle” presented to me came up short if it was intended to win me as a recruit. I have written about my experience in how I came to accept that I am gay in previous posts, see Tap, Tap, Tap…, for example. It was a long and challenging process that dragged on over several years. I tried desperately to ignore, suppress, will even pray away the feelings of same-sex attraction. For a long time, I really wanted the gayness to go away. Continue reading
How often have I heard it said that it is the precepts of Christianity that are the foundation of Western civilization? My typical response when confronted with this claim is to roll my eyes and think “that old chestnut.” This is particularly the case when the claim is framed so egregiously by the likes of Glenn Beck who stated, in referring to origins of the United States, “it is God’s finger that wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This is God’s country; these are God’s rights. I have no idea what he wants us to do with them, other than protect them, and stand with Him.” (As cited in Tony’s Curricublog) While it is easy to dismiss such claims as stuff and nonsense, it is worth considering the role of religious belief in the growth and development of Western civilization, its transition from the primacy of Christian doctrine in public life to the rise of liberal democracy and the rule of law in the secular nation state, though not in the way many religious folk, such as Glenn Beck, imagine it to be. Continue reading
Recently, Mika and I attended a meeting of gay and lesbian Catholics. Several people of all ages were in attendance. We had a very interesting discussion and it was very nice meeting these people. Among those present was a young gay man, Jesse, who has faith in Christ and the Roman Catholic Church. Jesse, like so many gay people, just wants to find conjugal love and companionship with someone who happens to be the same sex. Jesse took the time to write a heartfelt letter to Pope Francis, explaining who he is, that he is gay, leading a very normal life, hoping to have married life with a man someday and asking for acceptance in the Church. He expressed some concern he might face excommunication for what he wrote, but we assured him this is not very likely. What he can realistically expect is a polite reply from the appropriate branch of the Vatican bureaucracy thanking him for his letter and reminding him that as Roman Catholic it is expected that he abstain from sex outside of marriage. That the Church does not accept same sex relationships at present leaves him in a bind.
I was for a time a very pious Roman Catholic. I attended mass every day, I said my prayers, I studied theology and accepted the authority of the Sacred Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition. Throughout it all, however, doubt always nagged at me. I remember following the Easter Sunday mass at the Mother House of Sisters of Providence of Saint Vincent DePaul (my great aunt Olive was a member of the order), joining in with a priest who was reciting Revelation 11:15 “And He shall reign for ever and ever.” The priest added emphatically that “yes, forever and ever.” “Oh wow, you really believe that” was the first thought that crossed my mind. Doubt was ever present while I tried to practice Roman Catholicism. Some years later at a suburban parish at the Easter Vigil, a woman behind me was pouring candies from a bag into her children’s hands while the priest was busy reciting the words for the lighting of the Sacred Fire. The sound of the candies pouring out of the bag was an annoying distraction and it was following this that seemingly out of nowhere, doubt struck and I found myself wondering “what on Earth am I doing here, do I really believe any of this?” I left the Vigil as I felt it was hypocritical of me to stay. Continue reading
Continuing their series of posts on Christianity and homosexuality, Geoffrey and Mika recently attended the screening of a documentary film, Taking a Chance on God: the Story of Pioneer Gay Priest John McNeill, at Saint Paul University here in Ottawa. This event was organized by Ewelina Frackowiak, who runs a local Catholic gay and lesbian group. The film maker, Brendan Fay, was on hand to introduce the film and take questions from the audience following the screening. It was a most interesting story related in the documentary, that of the faith, life and work of John J. McNeill. Continue reading
In light of the recent demonstrations in France against same sex marriage, demonstrations mounted by Catholics and Muslims by and large, I offer comments on religious opposition to same sex marriage and why marriage rights are so important to gay couples.
Posted by Geoffrey