In Eric Kruszewski’s final video on the LEAD Ministry, a LGBT-friendly group within Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church, we meet Father Joe, the man who is helping to change his congregation’s stance on homosexuality. “I don’t think the institutional church realizes how hurtful they are to homosexual people,” he says.
Four years ago, Father Joe helped launch LEAD, which has since grown in numbers and visibility—even participating in Baltimore’s pride parade.
In part six of Eric Kruszewski’s documentary series on LEAD, an LGBT group within Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church, we meet Carolyn, a woman who was persuaded by her husband to kick their son out of the house after he came out. “My husband got very angry and asked David to leave,” she says. “I was torn between my husband and my child.”
Carolyn has since changed her views on homosexuality and has joined LEAD. “I don’t accept the fact that homosexuals are bad. I want the same opportunities for my gay and straight children in the Catholic Church.”
Watch Carolyn below:
Click here to see all of the videos from this series that we’ve post so far.
Acceptance of homosexuality is rising across the broad spectrum of American Christianity, including among members of churches that strongly oppose homosexual relationships as sinful, according to an extensive Pew Research Center survey of U.S. religious beliefs and practices.
Amid a changing religious landscape that has seen a declining percentage of Americans who identify as Christian, a majority of U.S. Christians (54%) now say that homosexuality should be accepted, rather than discouraged, by society. While this is still considerably lower than the shares of religiously unaffiliated people (83%) and members of non-Christian faiths (76%) who say the same, the Christian figure has increased by 10 percentage points since we conducted a similar study in 2007. It reflects a growing acceptance of homosexuality among all Americans – from 50% to 62% – during the same period.
Among Christians, this trend is driven partly by younger church members, who are generally more accepting of homosexuality than their elder counterparts. For example, roughly half (51%) of evangelical Protestants in the Millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996) say homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with a third of evangelical Baby Boomers and a fifth of evangelicals in the Silent generation. Generational differences with similar patterns also are evident among Catholics, mainline Protestants and members of the historically black Protestant tradition.
At the same time, however, a larger segment of older adults in some Christian traditions have become accepting of homosexuality in recent years, helping to drive the broader trend. For instance, 32% of evangelical Protestant Baby Boomers now say homosexuality should be accepted, up from 25% in 2007.
Regardless of age, seven-in-ten Catholics – whose church teaches that homosexual behavior is “intrinsically disordered” – say that homosexuality should be accepted by society, a 12-percentage-point increase since 2007. Similar jumps have occurred among mainline Protestants (from 56% to 66%), Orthodox Christians (from 48% to 62%) and members of the historically black Protestant tradition (from 39% to 51%).
Most Mormons and evangelical Protestants still say homosexuality should be discouraged by society – in line with the teachings of many of their churches – but 36% of both groups say it should be accepted. Among Mormons, there was a 12-point increase (from 24% to 36%) in acceptance since 2007, and among evangelicals there was a 10-point rise (from 26% to 36%). Jehovah’s Witnesses remain perhaps the most opposed of any U.S religious tradition toward homosexuality, with just 16% saying it should be accepted by society.
The trend of growing acceptance is evident across many specific Protestant denominations, including some conservative denominations with official teachings that remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. For example, among members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the share saying homosexuality should be accepted by society grew by 12 points (from 44% to 56%) between 2007 and 2014. And although Pentecostals who identify with the Assemblies of God remain largely opposed to homosexuality, 26% now say it should be accepted by society, up from 16% in 2007.
Among members of the Southern Baptist Convention – an evangelical church and the nation’s largest Protestant denomination – the share saying homosexuality should be accepted increased 7 points, from 23% to 30%.
Members of several mainline churches – some of which have officially embraced same-sex marriage – have become even more accepting of homosexuality in recent years. For instance, 73% of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America now say it should be accepted by society, up from 56% in 2007. Members of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ also have become more accepting toward homosexuality.
A senior Vatican priest, stripped of his post after admitting being in a gay relationship, has launched a scathing attack on the Roman Catholic Church.
In a letter to Pope Francis this month, Krzysztof Charamsa accused the Church of making the lives of millions of gay Catholics globally “a hell”.
He criticised what he called the Vatican’s hypocrisy in banning gay priests, even though he said the clergy was “full of homosexuals”.
Pope Francis has yet to respond.
Until 3 October, Monsignor Charamsa held a senior post at the Vatican at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department that upholds Roman Catholic doctrine.
The Vatican immediately stripped him of his post after he held a news conference in a restaurant in Rome to announce that he was both gay and in a relationship. Roman Catholic priests are meant to be celibate.
At the time, the Holy See said the priest’s decision to come out on the eve of the Vatican’s synod on the family had been “irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure”.
The Polish priest has released to the BBC a copy of the letter he sent to the Pope, written the same day as the announcement, in which he criticises the Church for “persecuting” and causing “immeasurable suffering” to homosexual Catholics and their families.
He says that after a “long and tormented period of discernment and prayer”, he had taken the decision to “publicly reject the violence of the Church towards homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people”.
The 43-year-old says that while the Roman Catholic clergy is “full of homosexuals”, it is also “frequently violently homophobic”, and he calls on “all gay cardinals, gay bishops and gay priests [to] have the courage to abandon this insensitive, unfair and brutal Church”.
He says he can no longer bear the “homophobic hate of the Church, the exclusion, the marginalisation and the stigmatisation of people like me”, whose “human rights are denied” by the Church.
Church attitude unchanged
The priest goes on to thank Pope Francis – who is thought to have a more lenient attitude on homosexuality than some of his predecessors – for some of his words and gestures towards gay people.
The Pope recently met a gay former student of his during his recent visit to the US, and has previously said that gay people should not be marginalised in society.
But Krzysztof Charamsa says that the pontiff’s words will only be worthwhile when all the statements from the Holy See that are offensive and violent against homosexuals are withdrawn.
He also urged the Church to annul a decision taken by his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, to sign a document in 2005 that forbids men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies from becoming priests.
The Polish priest terms “diabolical” Pope Benedict’s statement that homosexuality was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil”.
The priest writes that LGBT Catholics have a right to family life, “even if the Church does not want to bless it”.
He later criticises the Vatican for putting pressure on states which have legalised equal or same-sex marriage.
He also expresses his fears about the impact his coming out may have on the treatment of his mother in Poland, “a woman of unshakeable faith”, saying she bears no responsibility for his actions.
The synod ended on Sunday, but made no change to its pastoral attitude to gay Catholics.
The final document agreed by the Synod Fathers reiterated Church teaching that gay Catholics should be welcomed with “respect” and “dignity”. But it restated that there was “no basis for any comparison, however remote, between homosexual unions and God’s design for marriage and the family”.
The synod voted through a paragraph saying that it was unacceptable for pressure to be put upon local churches over their attitude towards same-sex unions, or for international organisations to make financial help contingent on poor countries introducing laws to “allow or institutionalise” marriage between people of the same sex.
A Polish bishop on Wednesday defrocked a high-ranking Catholic priest fired by a furious Vatican earlier this month after he came out as gay on the eve of a key synod on the family.
Bishop Ryszard Kasyna has decided that Krzystof Charamsa should no longer be able to celebrate mass, administer sacraments like communion and baptism or wear a cassock, according to a statement on the website of their northern Pelplin diocese.
Charamsa had held a senior position working for the Vatican office for protecting Catholic dogma, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The 43-year-old priest sparked outrage at the Vatican on October 3 by publicly declaring his homosexuality — and presenting his Catalan boyfriend Eduardo — on the eve of a bishops’ synod set to touch on the divisive issue of the Catholic Church’s relationship to gay believers.
Bishop Kasyna said he was forced to defrock Charamsa for failing to abide by his vow of celibacy following an earlier official warning.
“Considering Father Charamsa’s lack of will to correct his behaviour and public statements indicating he will continue to break rules governing the behaviour of Catholic priests,” the bishop decided to defrock him, the statement said.
“This penalty is intended to encourage Father Charamsa to mend his ways and can be rescinded depending on his behaviour,” it said.
While Charamsa can no longer perform priestly duties, he has not been excommunicated, a move that would entirely banish him from the Catholic church.
After coming out, Charamsa presented a 10-point “liberation manifesto” against “institutionalised homophobia in the Church”, which he said particularly oppressed the gay men who, according to him, make up the majority of priests.
He also revealed plans for a book about his 12 years at the heart of a Vatican bureaucracy only just recovering from a scandal under previous pope Benedict XVI over the influence of a “gay lobby” among senior clergy.
A Vatican spokesman described Charamsa’s action as “very serious and irresponsible”.
One day before he met antigay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, Pope Francis had a private meeting at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C. with a gay man and his partner, who the pontiff knew from Argentina, CNN reports.
Yayo Grassi, who has been with his partner, Iwan, for nearly 20 years, told CNN that Pope Francis personally arranged the meeting, and welcomed both men warmly with hugs at the Vatican Embassy in D.C. on September 23.
“Three weeks before the trip, he called me on the phone and said he would love to give me a hug,” Grassi, a caterer who lives in D.C., told CNN.
Grassi has long maintained a correspondence with Pope Francis, who originally served as Grassi’s high school literature and psychology teacher when he was Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, according to National Geographic.
After Bergoglio came out against Argentina’s marriage equality efforts in 2010, Grassi struck up an email correspondence with the future pope, expressing his disappointment that his former mentor was taking a stance so personally hurtful to Grassi.
The Vatican this morning disputed Davis and her attorney’s claims that she had a private audience with the pope, saying instead that she was among dozens of people who greeted Pope Francis in a receiving line as he departed Washington, D.C.
“The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi in a statement. “The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature [Vatican embassy] was with one of his former students and his family.”
“That was me,” Grassi told CNN.
Grassi’s partner posted video of the couple’s papal encounter on Facebook; click HERE to watch.
The big news today seems to be that Kim Davis, the goldbricking county clerk from Kentucky, met secretly with Papa Francesco in Washington and that he endorsed her current status as a faith-based layabout. Given this pope’s deft gift for strategic ambiguity and shrewd public relations, it’s hard for me to understand how he could commit such a hamhanded blunder as picking a side in this fight. And it’s odd that he (or someone) sought to publicize it through an American media entity that is not wholly sympathetic to his papacy. Inside The Vatican, the e-newsletter that broke the story, is edited by Robert Moynihan, a 79-year old whose patron was Benedict XVI.
God, the crowing from the Right is going to be deafening. Everything he said about capitalism and about the environment is going to be drowned out because he wandered into a noisy American culture-war scuffle in which one side, apparently the one he picked, has a seemingly ceaseless megaphone for its views. What a fcking blunder. What a sin against charity, as the nuns used to say.
This is, obviously, the dumbest thing this Pope ever has done. It undermines everything he accomplished on his visit here. It undermines his pastoral message, and it diminishes his stature by involving him in a petty American political dispute. A secret meeting with this nutball? That undermines any credibility he had accrued on the issue of openness and transparency. Moreover, it means that he barbered the truth during the press conference he held on his flight back to Rome, in which he spoke vaguely about religious liberty, and freedom of conscience, but claimed, “I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection.” He certainly knew the details of this case.
I really wish I could blame this on some shadowy Vatican cabal. Not that there aren’t some really weird elements to the story.
In case you were wondering about the publication that got the message out, it’s an e-newsletter whose editor-in-chief, Moynihan, is entirely a creature of the Catholic Right, at least as far as his career as a journalist is concerned. He was originall encouraged in his efforts by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, and he built his publication specifically to take advantage of the climate of apologetics among conservative Catholics that Ratzinger best represented.
I then began making calls—to Phil Lawler, to Father Richard Neuhaus, to David Schindler, to Deal Hudson (who at that time was known as a Maritain scholar), to Stratford Caldecott, and to many others. I was seeking insight into what people thought was needed. What message would The Catholic World Report proclaim? I knew I did not want it to be superficial or knee-jerk; I wanted it to be profound, provocative, and fearless, looking at the world from a thoroughly Catholic perspective. One great concern I had was that we would be “too American.” Then Father Fessio explained that we would not be alone, but together with some French and Spanish editors in a group which would be called “I.Media,” short for “International Media.” The French would be financed by Vincent Montagne’s publishing group, Media-Participations, the largest Catholic publisher in France, and the Spanish by the Legionaries of Christ.
That list is more than something of a tell. His good friend, Father Joseph Fessio, is an important figure among American conservative Catholics. He founded Ignatius Press, and he was twice fired from his posts at Ave Maria University, the bungled attempt at creating a papist Bob Jones University—and recreating Franco’s Spain around it—in Florida funded by pizza billionaire Tom Monaghan. Lawler writes for an extremely conservative Catholic website, and he once chastised Sean Cardinal O’Malley because, in a sermon he’d given after the Boston Marathon bombings, O’Malley had mentioned this country’s lax gun-control laws as contributing to a “culture of death” which included abortion, and that O’Malley had failed to use the words “Islamic terrorism” in reference to the bombing. The late Father Neuhaus was the crackpot editor of First Things, in which he once published a symposium that appeared to call on American Catholics to commit sedition. Deal Hudson founded and edited Crisis, a conservative Catholic journal, and was the director of Catholic outreach for George W. Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004. Hudson was forced to resign from a position at the Republican National Committee under very strange circumstances. And space limitations preclude discussing all the horrors of the Legionaries of Christ, which Moynihan says financed the Spanish edition of his publication.
There is no question that the conservative Catholic backlash began as a response to the ever-detonating scandal involving the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, and the international conspiracy to obstruct justice that followed. An explosion of revelations was followed by a well-financed explosion of apologetics. The latter emphasized that liberal Catholics were using the scandal to attack the Church generally. I wrote extensively about it at my previous gig. This did not abate during the papacy of Benedict XVI, and there exists a kind of silent civil war in Catholicism that continues to this day.
(It’s here where I should mention that there is a serious line of thought among Catholic conservatives that Benedict was forced into retirement by a cabal of liberals. There’s even a new book on the subject that Rod Dreher found interesting, although I have to admit that, every time I hear the author’s name—Gottfried Danneels!—I hear it in the voice of W.C. Fields.)
So not only has the pope trashed whatever good will he’d accrued here, he (or someone) did so through a publication aligned with the forces in the church opposed to everything for which his papacy allegedly stood. He did a really stupid thing and he (or someone) is dealing with the dingier elements of the religious media to get the news out. Somebody needs to get fired behind this. Who are you to judge, Papa Francesco? I’m afraid you just did. I will pray for you, because, damn, son, you need it.
I AM a Catholic, born in 1921 of Italian and Irish families and raised in California seminaries. After decades of work as a priest, I was astonished that Pope Paul VI appointed me a bishop in San Francisco. I love my church, and every night I pray that I might die in her warm, loving arms.
Yet I worry about my church’s future. Basic doctrines will not change. But the church may change policies and practices after doing serious study.
So, as we await Pope Francis’ visit to America, I offer a peaceful contribution to the controversies that convulse the church today.
American Catholics are divided, primarily, by three internal church conflicts.
The first is over priestly celibacy. Observers within and outside the church point to mandatory celibacy as a principal factor driving down the number of American priests.
A celibate life is admirable for a priest who personally chooses it. For 1,000 years, great good has been accomplished because priests could fully devote their lives to their ministry.
Nevertheless, in recent years married clergy of other Christian churches have been accepted into service in the Catholic Church. So far, the ministry of these married priests has appeared successful.
The church should start relieving the desperate shortage of clergy members by also accepting for ordination men of mature age, of proven character and in stable marriages.
Optional celibacy allows a choice between an abstinent life, totally free for ministry, or a married life that enables better understanding of the lives of parishioners.
American Catholics are also divided over the ordination of women as priests.
Recent popes have said publicly that priesthood for women cannot be considered because the gospel and other documents state that Christ ordained men only.
Yet women have shown great qualities of leadership: strength, intelligence, prayerfulness, wisdom, practicality, sensitivity and knowledge of theology and sacred Scripture.
Might the teaching church one day, taking account of changing circumstances, be inspired by the Holy Spirit to study and reinterpret this biblical tradition?
Finally, why is a divorced Catholic who has remarried denied the Eucharist? Such people are considered living in an irregular union.
Valid marriages remain indissoluble. However, in confession a priest, after reviewing the circumstances with a remarried penitent, already can assist that person to develop a clear conscience with God and resume receiving the Eucharist.
Last month, Pope Francis stated that divorced and remarried Catholics were “not excommunicated,” perhaps suggesting that prohibition of the Eucharist is under review.
In surveys today, the question “to what church do you belong?” increasingly prompts the answer “none.” Polls show that many high school and college students have gradually come to believe that what they learned as children about the nature of God can be erased as readily as Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.
The culture that surrounds them focuses on science, growing out of the long history of Copernicus, Darwin, Freud, Einstein and Hawking. Still, most young people become not atheistic but agnostic, still searching even as they entertain doubts about God.
Pope Francis prefers the simple title “bishop of Rome.” So I ask my brother bishop: Should we not convene a third Vatican Council just as ethical and paradigm-shifting as Vatican Council II of the 1960s?
A Vatican Council III would bring together the world’s bishops under the unifying guidance of Peter. It would include representative major theologians, scholars of sacred Scripture, scientists and appropriate academics, lay people of all ages, clergy members and parishioners, and officials of other faiths.
In addition to the three issues dividing the church, this council and future councils would explore the morality of world economies, spiritual life, human sexuality, peace and war, and the poor and suffering.
Such a council might slow or reverse the flow of the faithful out of the church. It would also stimulate a new conversation about God, one that shows young people that God is not an old man with a long white beard. God is infinite and unlimited.
This is not easy to grasp. God is incomprehensible to our finite minds. We surmise that God is spirit, straddling the universe and parallel universes. At the same time God is intimate to each of us. We cannot prove existence by reason, nor can science disprove God’s existence.
Moreover, faith and science are not in conflict.
Many of the young say they relate to God personally and do not need a church. We applaud this personal relationship, but it is also truly human to do things in community: We party together, we play sports together, we enjoy meals together. The three generations of my own nieces and nephews are just as moral as I am, if not more so. Could it be that they know more clearly what Pope Francis has been asking of us for the past two years — to be more loving and accepting?
What caused much of the church over the centuries to underestimate the gospel’s core message, which is love? After the emperors Constantine and Theodosius embraced Christianity in the fourth century, one strain in the church developed a spirit of power and dominance, seen most clearly in the Crusades and the Inquisition. Many, including Pope Gregory VII, tried heroically, but unsuccessfully, to stop this trend.
Therefore, the main challenge facing the church today is not simply to resolve questions like celibacy, but to relearn how to communicate a deeper, more intelligent, more relevant religion that leads to a life of acceptance and love.
Most Americans who were raised Catholic but have since left the church could not envision themselves returning to it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey examining American Catholics and family life. The survey’s findings were released Wednesday, weeks before Pope Francis makes his first visit to the United States, and as Catholic leadership contends with dramatic demographic shifts.
Seventy-seven percent of those who were raised Catholic but no longer identify with the religion said they could not envision themselves eventually returning to the church, according to the Pew survey. The survey also examined U.S. Catholics’ views on issues such as divorce, same-sex marriage and sinful behavior, finding an openness for non-traditional family structures.
Although Catholics have long made up about a quarter of the U.S. population, recent data has shown that percentage dropping. In 2007, 23.9 percent of Americans identified as Catholic. In 2014, 20.8 percent of Americans said the same, according to previous survey results from Pew.
But the new survey illustrates something else about Catholic life in the United States: while the percentage of Americans who may identify their religion as Catholicism is dropping, a much larger group of Americans identify as Catholic in some way.
In all, 45 percent of Americans say they are either Catholic, or are connected to Catholicism. That larger percentage includes “Cultural Catholics” (making up nine percent of those surveyed) who are not practicing Catholics but who identify with the religion in some way; and “ex-Catholics” (also nine percent) who were formerly Catholic but no longer identify with Catholicism at all. And another eight percent said they had some other connection to Catholicism, for instance by having a Catholic partner or spouse. For the purposes of the survey, Pew kept each category mutually exclusive.
According to the survey, about half of those who were raised Catholic end up leaving at some point, while about 11 percent of those who left have since returned.
The breakdown provides an interesting look at the cultural reach of Catholicism, beyond those who would call themselves members of the religion. For instance, the survey also found that eight in ten American Latinos have some direct connection to Catholicism, whether as a current practicing Catholic, as an ex-Catholic, or otherwise.
The study also sheds some light on how Catholic American attitudes on family, sex, and marriage compare with church teaching. When asked whether they believed the church should change its position on a variety of issues, a very large percentage of religiously identified Catholics — 76 percent — expressed a desire to see the church allow the use of birth control. Sixty-two percent felt that the church should allow priests to marry, and about the same percentage thought that the church should allow divorced and cohabitation couples to receive communion.
Fifty-nine percent of Catholics surveyed thought women should be allowed to become priests. Meanwhile, just 46 percent of Catholics believe the church should recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Among those Catholics who attend Mass weekly, support for these changes was lower overall. But Pew notes that even among this particular population, two-thirds of Mass-going Catholics think the church should relax its prohibition on contraceptives.
Overall, cultural Catholics were more supportive of the changes named by the survey, while ex-Catholics were more supportive of allowing priests to marry, and for women to become priests.
Although an overwhelming majority of Catholics (nine in ten) believe in the concept of sin, they don’t seem to agree on what, precisely, constitutes one. Fifty-seven percent of Catholics think it’s a sin to have an abortion, compared to 48 percent of the general U.S. population who say the same. Forty-four percent think homosexual behavior is sinful (about the same say this among the general public). And just 17 percent of Catholics believe its a sin to use contraceptives, while 21 percent say the same of getting a divorce.
And although those percentages are higher for those who attend Mass weekly — 73 percent of weekly churchgoers say that abortion is a sin, for instance — the numbers are still pretty low on the issue of contraception: just 31 percent of weekly Mass attendees say the use of artificial contraception is a sin.
Despite those disagreements between U.S. Catholics and church teaching, the poll does not indicate that a change in that teaching would lead more Catholics to “revert” to their faith than do already.
Cultural and ex- Catholics gave a variety of answers when asked why they decided to leave Catholicism, and no consensus emerges from those reasons that could point to any one factor driving away those who were raised Catholic from the faith. A 2008 Pew study asked a similar question, and found that fewer than one in four Catholics said that the rule banning priests from marrying was an important reason for leaving Catholicism. About 3 in 10 said that the church’s teachings on abortion and remarriage were important.
Far more common, in that 2008 survey, were those who said they simply stopped believing the church’s overall teachings, or gradually drifted away from Catholicism, or said that their spiritual needs weren’t being met.
The latest survey finds clearer answers for why “cultural Catholics” identify with the religion in some non-religious way – 59 percent of those who were raised Catholic or have a Catholic parent cite this familial connection as the reason they are tied to the church. Cultural Catholics without a parental connection cite a variety of reasons, including having a Catholic spouse (15 percent), a general affiliation with Christian beliefs or practices (nine percent) or the idea that their religion is rooted in Catholicism (15 percent).
The 2015 Pew survey was conducted between May 5 and June 7 among a national sample of 5,122 adults reached on conventional cellular phones, including 1,016 Catholics. The margin of sampling error for results among Catholics is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; the error margin is 5.5 points among the sample of 425 “Cultural Catholics” and among the sample of 413 “Ex-Catholics.”