Bishop Says Gay Couples Cannot Be Part of Parish Life; Does Rising Evangelical Political Power in Brazil Contribute to Anti-LGBT Violence?; Global LGBT Recap

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law released “A Development Agenda for Sexual and Gender Minorities.”

A group of Arab LGBTQ activists living in the U.S. and Canada are planning a retreat in August to help them “mobilize our community in the diaspora to continue the fight against homophobia in the Arab world, and for a safer world for everyone.”

Catholic Church grappling with Amoris Laetitia

The Catholic News Service reported this week, “Three months after the publication of Pope Francis’ exhortation on marriage and family, bishops and bishops’ conferences around the world are studying practical ways to apply it. Some still disagree on what exactly the pope meant.” Some conservatives have criticized the pope’s letter saying it could cause “doctrinal confusion.”

In the first week of July, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s pastoral guidelines for implementing the exhortation’s teaching in his archdiocese went into effect; an Italian blog published reflections on the document by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, former president of the Pontifical Council for the Family; and La Civilta Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit journal, released a long interview with Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, the theologian Pope Francis chose to present the document to the press.

In the US, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput released new guidelines in response to Pope Francis’s exhortation on the family. Among Chaput’s directives: divorced and remarried couples must live chastely like brother and sister; priests should try to break up cohabiting couples who aren’t ready to marry; gays must be chaste unless they are in heterosexual marriages. Chaput wrote that openly gay couples “cannot be accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the community, most notably the children.” New Ways Ministry’s Bob Shine notes:

Unfortunately, the archbishop’s merciless stance may not be limited to Philadelphia. Chaput, who participated in the 2015 General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, was appointed by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to head a working group tasked with “furthering the reception and implementation of” Amoris Laetitia. He chairs, too, the Conference’s Committee on Family Life, and was elected to the Synod of Bishops’ 12-member permanent council.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who is closely associated with Amoris Laetitia, has called it a “great text of moral theology” that moves the church from ” ‘a defensive pastoral style in which evil becomes an obsession’ toward one that focuses on recognizing the value of encouraging what is good.” More from New Ways Ministry:

Schönborn said Pope Francis rejected doctrine which is “abstract pronouncements that are separated from the subject who lives,” saying the exhortation’s “bedrock” is understanding that families are not ideals but rather are journeying. He continued:

“The complexity of family situations, which goes far beyond what was customary in our Western societies even a few decades ago, has made it necessary to look in a more nuanced way at the complexity of these situations. To a greater degree than in the past, the objective situation of a person does not tell us everything about that person in relation to God and in relation to the Church. This evolution compels us urgently to rethink what we meant when we spoke of objective situations of sin. And this implicitly entails a homogeneous evolution in the understanding and in the expression of the doctrine.”

CNS has more on the response by Cardinal Antoelli:

Cardinal Antonelli, in the text published by the Italian journalist Sandro Magister, said the objective truth taught by Pope Francis is what the church always has taught. “It is held in the background, however, as a presupposition. In the foreground is placed the individual moral subject with his conscience, with his interior dispositions, with his personal responsibility,” which “is why it is not possible to formulate general regulations.”

In an age when Christianity was dominant, he said, the focus was on objective truth: Is this person living according to church teaching or not? “Anyone who fell short of the observance of the norms was presumed to be gravely culpable” and excluded from the Christian community.

However, he said, because the influence of Christianity is waning “it can be hypothesized that some persons live in objectively disordered situations without full subjective responsibility.” That is why, he said, St. John Paul II believed it was “appropriate to encourage the divorced and remarried to participate more fully in the life of the church,” although without access to the Eucharist.

“Pope Francis, in a cultural context of even more advanced secularization and pansexualism, is going even further, but along the same lines,” the cardinal wrote. “Without being silent on the objective truth, he is concentrating his attention on subjective responsibility, which at times can be diminished or eliminated.”

“The pope is therefore opening an outlet even for admission to sacramental reconciliation and eucharistic Communion,” Cardinal Antonelli wrote.

Such an approach brings risks, including a mistaken view that the church is accepting divorce and remarriage, he said, so he asked Pope Francis for more explicit, “more authoritative guidelines.”

In other Vatican news, The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the intensely anti-gay Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, who has repeatedly and publicly insulted openly gay US Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster. The Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers quotes a prominent LGBT activist speaking favorably about the Cardinal’s successor, Monsignor Francisco Ozoria Acosta of the Diocese of San Pedro, calling him “a man who is known for his moderation and prudence in the management of religious and social issues,”

An addition, Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry responds to reports that Emeritus Pope Benedict claims in his memoir to have dismantled a “gay lobby” within the Vatican:

Since there had been so much speculation about the existence of such a group since 2013 when Benedict resigned, it was easy to believe that such a group was just a product of the rumor mill.  Yet, while it seems that Benedict’s confirmation of the group points to the veracity of its existence, I am still not so sure.

First of all, from the news reports about the book, it doesn’t seem that Benedict has produced any evidence of such a group’s existence. He doesn’t seem to have named names or given any details about how they worked or what policies they tried to influence.

While I don’t doubt the sincerity of Pope Benedict, I do question his perspective.  From the time he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and up through his eight-year papacy, Benedict was staunchly opposed to any overtures or reconciliation with the LGBT community.  His public statements and official documents depicted LGBT people and issues in strongly negative terms.  He was the creator of the term “objectively disorder” to describe homosexual orientation and “intrinsically evil” to describe same-gender sexual activity.

Given his history and perspective, it is no wonder that Benedict might think of any person or group of people who might be asking for reforms of church teaching, policy, or pastoral practice on LGBT issues as a “lobby.”  “Lobby” is not just a neutral word.  It has strongly negative connotations of manipulation and undeserved influence.  Given his negative view of LGBT topics, I would not be surprised if Benedict were to say that Pope Francis is a member of a “gay lobby” because he called for the Church to apologize to lesbian and gay people.

In other words, one person’s “lobby” is another person’s “ministry.”

Brazil: Does religious rhetoric contribute to epidemic of anti-gay violence?

The New York Times’ Andrew Jacobs reported this week on an “epidemic” of deadly anti-gay violence in Brazil, “one that, by some counts, has earned Brazil the ignominious ranking of the world’s deadliest place for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.” Nearly 1,600 people were reportedly killed in hate-motivated attacks in the past four and a half years in spite of Brazil’s image as an open and tolerant place that has long recognized same-sex couple for immigration purposes and which effectively legalized marriage equality in 2013. More from the story:

Some experts suggest that liberal government policies may have gotten too far ahead of traditional social mores. The anti-gay violence, they contend, can be traced to Brazil’s culture of machismo and a brand of evangelical Christianity, exported from the United States, that is outspoken in its opposition to homosexuality.

Evangelicals make up nearly a quarter of Brazil’s population, up from 5 percent in 1970, and religious leaders reach millions of people through the hundreds of television and radio stations they have purchased in recent years.

American-style Pentecostal congregations are also playing an increasingly muscular role in Brazilian politics. Evangelical voters have helped send more than 60 lawmakers to the 513-member lower house of Congress, doubling their numbers since 2010 and making them one of the most disciplined blocs in an unruly and divided legislature.

Jean Wyllys, Brazil’s only openly gay member of Congress, said evangelical lawmakers, the core of a coalition known as the “B.B.B. caucus” — short for Bullets, Beef and Bible — have stymied legislation that would punish anti-gay discrimination and increase penalties for hate crimes.

“Evangelicals are getting increasingly powerful and have taken over Congress,” Mr. Wyllys said.

Mexico: Religious leaders lead resistance to marriage equality advances

A group of Mexican gay men published a list of those they judged to be the 10 most homophobic characters in Mexico. Topping the list were Archbishop Norberto Rivera, Mexican Council for the Family President Juan Dabdoub, and Archdiocese of Mexico spokesman Hugo Baldemar.

Activist Ricardo Baruch reports on conservative religious backlash to presidential marriage equality initiatives. Bishop of Cuernavaca Ramon Castro Castro led demonstrators protesting the adoption of marriage equality in the state of Morelos; the Bishop denounced “gender ideology,” religious conservative’s culture-war catch-all term.  Milenio’s David Monroy reported that Mormon and evangelical groups also joined the protest.

The Bureau of the Standing Committee of the state Congress of Tlaxcala said that the state will soon recognize marriage for same-sex couples.  Journalist Rex Wockner tracks, explains, and updates “Mexico’s wild ride to marriage equality.”

A national LGBT rights summit is being planned for August

United Kingdom: Christian lobbying group pushing for LGBT rollback with Brexit

The anti-LGBT organization Christian Concern “is already calling for progress on LGBT rights to be rolled back in the wake of the Brexit vote,” write Nick Duffy at Pink News, quoting a message from the group’s Andrew Williams to her supporters:

“The vote for ‘Brexit’ on 23 June was a protest vote. Some parts ugly no doubt, many parts good… Brexit was a moment when, whatever you think of the outcome, the people said ‘we can’t go on like this.’

“This was a vote for change. At best, the vote to leave was a vote to reassert our foundational principle of democratic accountability…

“We, as believers, are called to hold the nation to account…It is our job to seek to ensure the political earthquake fuels a much broader spiritual, political, social and cultural rethink in the country…

“The church needs to call the nation to repentance – but first the church needs to repent.

“As a nation we have turned our back on God’s laws, but we should not be surprised, given that we, God’s people, have not spoken clearly of Jesus and His truth and lived in obedience to Him.

“In our nation, we have called good evil and evil good.

“The referendum has exposed a deeply divided nation with elements of racism, hatred and anger. God longs to bless our nation. But this will not happen without repentance. And true repentance requires action…

“Radical obedience to His commands will lead the nation forwards.”

Scotland: Free Church of Scotland moderator criticizes teaching of LGBT issues in schools

Rev. David Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, criticized LGBT activists with Time for Inclusive Education for wanting to “indoctrinate children” by having schools teach about LGBT issues,  More from The Herald’s Hanna Rodger:

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Robertson said: “Primary school children do not need to be taught what gay and transgender is.

“We are concerned that what is being proposed is not teaching children facts but indoctrinating them with a particular political/sexual philosophy.”

He claimed mandatory LGBT education would go against the human rights act, and added: “The bottom line is that we are opposed to our state education system being used for social engineering and for foisting propaganda upon children.

“We believe that no one should be subject to bullying but that the way to combat bullying is to teach people respect for all human beings, not to indoctrinate children.”

Garry Otton, founder of Secular Scotland, said: “David Robertson is obsessed with gay sex. Hardly a day goes by when he is not making some foamy-mouthed condemnation of a subject he has an extraordinary interest in. If he wants to talk about what is unnatural about any aspect of sexual orientation he need look no further than his own reflection – denial of what is an everyday reality for many people is certainly not natural.”

Anglican Communion: A way forward?

The Institute of Public Affairs at the London School of Economics and Political Science last month published “Anglicans and Sexuality: A Way Forward?” The report’s authors describe its purpose:

The purpose of the research was to consider the role, both historic and current, of the Anglican Communion, and individual provinces and churches that make up the Communion, in efforts to bring about the decriminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults. It asked a simple question: should an independent commission be set up to look at all aspects of criminalisation and seek ways in which Anglicans can come to a better understanding of these issues and how they can engage with governments, legislatures and the public in countries which criminalise?

United Nations: Fallout on Human Rights Council creation of LGBT rights position

We noted last week that the UN Human Rights Council had voted to create a position to investigate discrimination against LGBT people. At the Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson reports on the intense opposition to that move by C-FAM and other groups that oppose LGBT human rights at the UN.

A fundamental tenet of religious conservatives like C-FAM is that sexual orientation and gender identity do not, in fact, exist. I may be a man who has sex with men, but that’s just my choice—or, more commonly these days, my mental illness. Likewise, they say, I may be a man who likes to wear dresses and who thinks of himself as a woman, but that, too, is a form a mental illness.

In other words, the very categories of sexual orientation and gender identity (often abbreviated as SOGI in international contexts) are a threat to the way these people see the world. Never mind the science of gender or sexual orientation; this is dogma.

In the Hindustan Times, Dhurbo Jyoti criticized the Indian government for abstaining from the vote:

In not backing the resolution, New Delhi joined a clutch of African countries with a history of violence against gender and sexuality minorities, Bangladesh, where LGBT activists were hacked to death two months ago and Saudi Arabia, where human rights violations regularly make international headlines.

The abstention made clear two things. One, that the government doesn’t see its LGBT population as equal citizens and views the violence faced by them as a non-issue. This is part of a broader pattern that has seen the Narendra Modi government not back any LGBT-friendly resolution in the UN in its two years in power….

Contrast India’s response to that of Mexico that marshaled the resolution through numerous hostile amendments and spoke out in length on the necessity of a watchdog to protect LGBT rights, no doubt motivated by the murder of seven people at a gay bar in May. Or to the decisions taken by a newly independent India under prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru that made strong strides to be recognised as a prominent voice on human rights and non-violence.

The final vote tally showed India breaking away from countries such as France, Germany, United Kingdom and many Latin American nations, exposing the fact that New Delhi’s loud proclamations about being an international player didn’t extend to the human rights arena. But India voted in favour of at least two amendments that restricted the scope of the watchdog, betraying what the country’s intention was.

Devirupa Mitra at the Wire has more on India backing the amendments moved by the “Islamic Bloc.”

Canada: Prime Minister marches in pride parade

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marched in Toronto’s pride parade alongside a Syrian refugee who had arrived in Toronto in May. The parade was temporarily disrupted by protestors from Black Lives Matter Toronto, whose demands included the exclusion of police floats from future pride parades. More from Peter Kim at Global News:

At an open-air religious service on Church Street prior to the start of the parade, Reverend Brent Hawkes spoke of the need to actively welcome everyone within the LGBTQ tent – especially people of colour. He cautioned those who bandy the slogan “all lives matter” as an attempt to discredit the black queer movement.

Leaders of all three levels of government sat at the front row as Hawkes gave the speech.

A group of gay conservatives associated with a group called Queers Against Islamic Apartheid joined the Jewish Defense League and others in protest of “the annual Iran-backed al-Quds Day rally.” From CIJNews, which calls itself a news source for the Canadian-Israeli community:

Doc, a spokesman for Queers Against Islamic Apartheid, told CIJnews that he wants to see a boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against 52 Islamic countries, including OPEC nations, that engage in imprisonment, torture and murder of gay people. “We are a group of people made up of Kurds, Yezidis, Catholics, Jews, Christians and Baha’is. We feel that our government is not standing up for homosexuals. We have to stand up, especially after Orlando (where a Muslim who proclaimed his allegiance to the Islamic State murdered 49 innocent people at a gay bar), make our voices heard and not be afraid of political correctness.”

“The gay community is turning a blind eye to what is happening in the Middle East. When I marched in Pride Parades 35 years ago, we had bottles and rocks thrown at us. We were fighting for gay liberation, for equal rights. It’s great that equal rights have come our way, but we have to stand up for equal rights for gays in other countries. We have an obligation to look after our gay brothers and sisters, especially after what happened in Orlando.”

Last month, Toronto activist Shawn Ahmed responded to the Orlando shooting by tweeting against both homophobia and Islamophobia, identifying himself as a gay Muslim. He received plenty of brutal backlash from people who said it was impossible to be a gay Muslim. He told Global News:

Many Muslims, especially in Canada, especially in America, they’re saying, they’re asking for tolerance, they’re asking for understanding…We as a minority cannot ask for tolerance, and understanding, and acceptance while showing intolerance and prejudice against other minorities. That makes us hypocritical and Islam speaks against hypocrisy.

Australia: Islamic leader defends controversial Imam; marriage still not in sight

The Grand Mufti of Australia “has sprung to the defence of a controversial anti-gay cleric,” reports the Daily Mail, which says the religious leader’s letter says that recent criticism of National Imams Council president Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman could strengthen support for ISIS.

In the wake of Australia’s inconclusive parliamentary elections, Australian Marriage Equality announced that an overwhelming majority of MPs support marriage equality, leading activists to call once again for the government to shelve plans for a plebescite and move forward instead with a vote in which parliamentarians will be free to vote their conscience rather than with party leaders. But Sydney Morning Herald columnist Tim Dick predicted the country “won’t have the marriage equality it wants for at least three years.”

Uruguay: Territorial asylum granted to gay Russian man

Uruguay granted territorial asylum to a Russian man who said that he would be harassed and discriminated against if he returned to Russia.

Thailand: Separate prison planned for LGBT inmates

Officials announced plans to house LGBT prison inmates in their own facility to protect them from sexual and physical abuse from non-LGBT prisoners.

Bermuda: Gay couple pushes for marriage despite recent referendum

In a June referendum, a large majority of votes were cast in opposition to civil unions and marriage equality, but because turnout fell below 50 percent, the questions are officially considered unanswered. Now a gay couple has applied to be married and their lawyer is planning to take the case to the Supreme Court if they are denied, the Royal Gazette reports.