Mexican Bishops Exorcism Against Equality; African Bishops Oppose ‘Enemy of Human Race’; Israeli Islamic Leader Anti-Gay Op-Ed

Mexico: Catholic bishops perform anti-marriage-equality exorcism

At conservative journal First Things, intern Matthew Young contrasts the “weak” opposition from Irish church leaders to the marriage equality referendum with more robust statements from church officials in Mexico, where the courts are in the process of making marriage equality a reality nationwide:

Statements from church officials in Mexico are markedly different than those from the Irish bishops. Msgr Eugenio Lira Rugarcia, secretary general of the Mexican bishop’s conference, told the New York Times:  “We reiterate our conviction, based on scientific, anthropological, philosophical, social, and religious reasons, that the family, cell of society, is founded on the marriage of a man and a woman.”

The difference in attitude is clear: high ranking Irish churchmen cast doubt on traditional understandings of marriage (upheld by both church teaching and civil jurisprudence for millennia) and neglect to offer bold leadership of their congregations in adhering to doctrinal norms, while Mexican church leaders restate their dedication to the Christian ideal of marriage.

Ireland and Mexico provide two examples of how Christians—and church leaders—may respond to civil legalization or endorsement of gay marriage. One response trades clarity for comfort; the other defends and promotes the Scriptural understanding of marriage and sexuality that has had the unwavering support of the Church since its foundation.

Indeed, Catholic bishops in Mexico have reportedly responded to marriage equality’s advance with an exorcism:

Catholic Archbishops have attempted to exorcise the entire nation of Mexico – to attempt to rid the country of the “Satanic infestation” of same-sex marriage…However, the increasing equality for gay couples has upset Church leaders in the deeply religious country – so much so that they have attempted to exorcise the entirety of Mexico.

The Archbishop of San Luis Potosi, Carlos Cabrero, and Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez joined together to perform the “Magno Exorcismo” (great exorcism) last month, following the expansion of marriage rights.

Famous exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, who helped perform the exorcism, told right-wing blog Breitbart the move was necessary because “undoubtedly the abortion, Satanism, corruption, the cult of ‘holy’ death and the legalization of sexual aberrations have caused great satanic infestation throughout Mexico.”

He added: “The exorcism performed in San Luís Potosí is the first ever carried out in Mexico in which the exorcists came from different parts of the country and gathered together to exorcise the powers of darkness, not from a person, but from the whole country.”

So far the exorcism does not seem to be taking hold, as courts and state legislators continue to push toward nationwide marriage equality.

Guam: Archbishop calls marriage equality “Road to a Totalitarian System”

In Guam, where the courts recently ended the Catholic governor’s efforts to stall marriage equality, Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron said marriage equality would “destroy the basic fabric of society” and is the “road to a totalitarian system.” From New Ways Ministry’s blog:

Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of Agana, head of Guam’s Catholics who make up 85% of the South Pacific island’s population, said the judicial decision which legalized marriage for lesbian and gay couples was a “defeat for the whole of Humanity.” He added further in his response statement:

“The recognition of a same-sex union, as marriage, destroys the basic fabric of society, and will destroy human beings in the process. . .The battle is not over; there is not yet the definitive word. . . For me, many words will still be said about this issue. This is still a controversial and complicated issue for our contemporary culture.”

The archbishop also expressed his “tremendous sadness” at the “tsunami of secularization” that has overtaken culture and continued, according to the National Catholic Reporter:

“Apuron called the government’s claim it has a right to acknowledge same-sex relationships ‘is the first step in collapsing the vital distinction between the state and society.’

” ‘This is the road to a totalitarian system. Why? Because now we will see that the state — the government — will require and demand that the church accept its redefinition of marriage, by way of anti-discrimination laws,’ he stated.”

Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero, the couple whose lawsuit brought marriage equality to the US territory, are both Catholic, notes Bob Shine of New Ways Ministry, “but have insisted their case involves a civil matter, telling Marianas Variety, “We’re standing up for our right. . .It has nothing to do with the church or anything. It’s our right to marry the person we love, which is each other.”

Africa: Catholic bishops meet to solidify ‘traditional’ views on family

According to a report by Sandro Magister at Chiesa last Monday, five cardinals and 45 bishops from across Africa met in Accra, Ghana, from June 8-11 in a meeting called by the symposium of episcopal conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

All in the clear light of day, not almost in secret like some of their colleagues from Germany, France, and Switzerland, who had gathered a few days before at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

But while at the Gregorian the objective was changing the Church’s stance on divorce and homosexuality, in Accra the push was in the other direction.

The marching route was indicated from the very first remarks by Guinean cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the congregation for divine worship:

  • “not to be afraid of reiterating the teaching of Christ on marriage”;
  • “to speak at the synod with clarity and with just one voice, in filial love of the Church.”
  • “to protect the family from all the ideologies that want to destroy it, and therefore also from the national and international policies that impede the promotion of positive values.”

On this marching route there has been complete consensus. Even the only bishop of black Africa who in recent months had spoken out in favor of “openness” to divorce, Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, elected by the bishops of Ghana as their delegate to the synod, was found to be in agreement with all present in the defense of Catholic doctrine on the family.

Professor Edourard Ade, secretary general of the Catholic University of Western Africa, warned against creating any “loopholes” for blessing second marriages or second couples, calling them part of “the strategy of the Enemy of the human race.”

South Korea: Court Says Police Cannot Ban LGBT Pride March

We have reported previously on the way that anti-gay Christian groups in South Korea got police to deny a permit for the annual pride parade by seeking permits for opposing events at the same time and place

But on June 16, a court ruled that the police denial of a parade permit violated LGBT organizers’ freedom of assembly. BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder reported, “When the Queer Cultural Festival opened on June 9, participants were outnumbered by protestors holding signs with slogans like ‘Stop Same-Sex Marriage’ and ‘Gays Out: Homosexuals have no human rights.’”

Israel: Islamic leader stirs outrage with anti-gay op-ed; government rejects anti-discrimination law

The deputy head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, “launched a scathing attack on homosexuality in an op-ed titled ‘You make me sick,’ published in a website associated with the group,,” reports Elhanan Miller at the Times of Israel.

“Western societies have reached the lowest of lows,” wrote Khatib. “Try as they may to call this marriage, or a natural phenomenon, or [to call for] respect of personal choices, these societies have been succumbing not to hostile armies but to moral degradation and the renouncement of human nature.”

“It is noteworthy,” he continued, “that suspicious local organizations, tabloids and biased writers have been advocating this perversion. To all those, I say not ‘may you be well and have boys’ but rather ‘may you be miserable and suffer plagues and AIDS, you perverts!’”

Miller writes that the article “has sparked a flurry of condemnations by Arab civil society, shining a light on a usually suppressed debate on gay rights.”

Khatib’s comments quickly drew fire from Israeli Arabs on social media, who attacked both the style and content of his article.

“Dear Kamal Khatib, how can any self-respecting person write an article titled ‘You make me sick?” wrote social activist and Arabic teacher Hanin Majadli to her 4,000 Facebook followers on Tuesday.

“The plague of cursing and degrading anyone who doesn’t agree with you and Kamal Khatib, using the worst phrases has proven many things, including the [realization] that my society is overflowing with intellectual Islamic Staters,” wrote Majadli.

Raja Zaatry, a member of communist party Hadash, the senior partner of the 13-seat Joint (Arab) List, decided to answer Khatib in kind.

“Dear Mr. Khatib, sick is to view women as nothing but a pile of flesh … sick is to call the participation of men and women in the same demonstration ‘terrible mixing’ … sick is to call for the downfall of Syria (sic.) not because its regime is undemocratic, but because its president is Alawite. What is sick, and nothing but sick, is that you don’t respect people and impose your opinions on them.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday, June 15, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation “voted down a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people in any way.”

The legislation, proposed by MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid), would make any law prohibiting discrimination based on gender, age, country of origin, etc. apply to LGBT people as well.

“Only Gila Gamliel had the courage to support the amendment,” Shelah pointed out, adding that no other Likud ministers voted in its favor, though some attended last week’s Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv.

“Such a simple matter, that all laws prohibiting discrimination should apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, did not get the approval of the current government,” Shelah said. “On Pride Week, some of the Likud tried to paint rainbows on their faces.

Don’t be fooled: Behind that, you’ll find their true faces.”

In the last Knesset, when Yesh Atid was still in the coalition, the committee approved the bill with support of Likud ministers, but it did not become law before an election was called.

Some laws against discrimination already include sexual orientation, such as the Equal Employment Law, to which MK Anat Berko (Likud) proposed last week to add gender identity.

In the Times of Israel, Miller notes, “It was Hadash — which partnered with the Islamic Movement and Arab nationalist party Balad in the Joint List ahead of the March 17 elections — that drafted legislation recently prohibiting discrimination in employment and in the education system based on sexual orientation.”

Vatican: Pope Francis emphasizes ‘complimentarity’ in marriage

At Pink News, Joseph Patrick McCormick reports, “The Pope made the comments on Sunday [June 14] during Rome’s annual Pride march, saying the differences between women and men are “an integral part of being human,” and required to raise a child.

 “They’re not scared of the differences!” he said. “What great richness this diversity is, a diversity which becomes complimentary, but also reciprocal. It binds them, one to the other.”

“Children mature seeing their father and mother like this; their identity matures being confronted with the love their father and mother have, confronted with this difference,” he said.

Italy: Large protest in Rome against marriage equality

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Rome on Saturday, June 20 to protest the possible legalization of marriage for same-sex couples and the teaching of ‘gender theories’ in schools.

Parts of Italy – including Rome – have already begun recognising same-sex partnerships, but Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is attempting to  push through a bill to allow same-sex civil unions across the country.

Italy is one of the only countries in Western Europe that does not have any form of national legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Rome’s San Giovanni Square was filled with protesters, most of whom believed that same-sex partnerships would cause harmful effects to children.

AFP reports that protesters carried signs saying things such as “Let’s defend our children,” and “The mother without the father is like Nutella without bread”.

Protester Giuseppe Ripa said: “In my children’s schools they are talking about families made up of two fathers or two mothers, without asking parents’ permission.

“It’s dangerous and wrong.”

United Kingdom: Archbishop of Canterbury tells church leaders to stick to party line or change subject on marriage

At the Telegraph, John Bingham and Tracey Kandohla report that the Archbishop of Canterbury has “instructed Church of England officials and clerics to brush off questions about a priest who defied a ban on gay marriage rather than openly engage in further discussion about its teaching on homosexuality, a tribunal has heard.”

An email circulated within the Church of England last year, after the Rev Canon Jeremy Pemberton married his partner Laurence Cunnington, reveals that the Most Rev Justin Welby asked staff at Lambeth Palace to ensure senior figures stick to a standard pre-agreed “line” if asked about the issue.

They were told that the Archbishop wanted to “move the conversation on” to other subjects such as poverty.

And they were urged to deflect any media inquiries by insisting that the Church did not want to “prejudice” a long-drawn-out consultation process it is holding over the question of sexuality, expected to take several years….

Canon Pemberton, a hospital chaplain, was stripped of his licence to officiate at services in his local Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham by the Rt Rev Richard Inwood, who was acting bishop at the time, because of his marriage.

It meant he lost an offer of promotion within the NHS, something he argues amounts to a breach of equalities law. Sean Jones QC, for Canon Pemberton, read the tribunal an email from the Church of England’s communications office highlighting the case.

Pink News has more from the tribunal.

Taiwan: Taipei begins partnership registration

The city government of Taipei began accepting registrations from same-sex couples Wednesday. In the Advocate, Trudy Ring asks if the partnership registration means Taiwan is ready for marriage equality.

Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, has begun allowing same-sex couples to register their partnerships, a month after another large city in the nation did the same — which some activists see as a sign that Taiwan is ready for same-sex relationship recognition on the national level.

The registrations, available at no cost, are symbolic and confer no benefits, but they may be helpful in providing proof of a relationship in the case of legal disputes, some activists pointed out, adding that they send a message to the national government that same-sex relationships are now accepted in Taiwan.

Lithuania: Army’s says men who love flowers are gay and unfit for Army service.

A report from Eric Rosswood at the New Civil Rights Movement:

The Lithuanian army has reintroduced compulsory military draft this year, and randomly selected candidates will have to report to a military recruitment office in order to be screened for suitability for military service. According to the Lithuania Tribune, that screening includes a psychological test that can identify whether or not someone is gay. The paper states that one of the questions “allegedly enquires whether the candidate likes picking flowers and whether he has ever considered a career in the floral industry. Another question asks if a male candidate has ever desired to be a woman.”

Ireland: Tourism board launching campaign to attract gay weddings

In the wake of the historic referendum on marriage equality, and before new laws are in place to implement it, “the country has launched an international tourism campaign to become the top gay wedding destination in Europe,” reports Cecilia Rodriguez at Forbes.

Despite its history as one of the world’s most conservative Catholic countries, the campaign is very much in line with another image Ireland has long cultivated: One of the most romantic places on earth, with its ancient castles, dreamingly beautiful landscapes, the biggest matchmaking festival in the world and a booming wedding industry.

It’s only economically natural that those resources now get directed to the global LGBT community.

“Yes, Ireland boasts some of the most romantic locations to tie the knot in the world,” Tourism Ireland boasts. “Yes, your big day will make your heart sing. Yes, yes, same sex couples can get married here.”

Rodriguez reports that part of the campaign is promotion of “The Outing, the only matchmaking festival in the world for same-sex couples, which is part of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival that starts at the end of August and runs into October.”

Every year since the late 19th century, the small spa town in the Irish community of County Clare, famous for its mineral-water springs, cozy pubs, classically colorful shops and traditional cottages, celebrates one of Ireland’s most cherished traditions: matchmaking in the old-fashioned style – by meeting through the offices of a professional matchmaker who for a small fee helps people find a partner and then makes the corresponding introduction…

The Outing, which comes right after, “is a fusion of music, comedy, ceilí bands and some of Ireland’s best drag acts,” according to the organizers.

Morocco: Two men sentenced to four months prison for kissing

We previously reported that two Moroccan mean had been arrested after kissing in public in an act of solidarity with other activists protesting the criminalization of homosexuality. The men have reportedly been sentenced to four months in prison.

Two men accused of having kissed in early June on a historic site in Rabat, Morocco, were sentenced Friday to four months in prison.

Lahcen, 38, and Mohsin, 25, who were being prosecuted for insulting public decency and act against nature with an individual of the same sex, were sentenced to four months in prison and a fine of 500 dirhams each ( about 45 euros), according to gay advocacy groups.

The two men arrested on June 5  were accused of having kissed before the Tour Hassan, one of the main monuments of the capital, a day after an action by two activists Femen on this site to denounce the criminalization of homosexuality in Morocco. Both French, who had posed topless and had embraced under the eye of cameras, were arrested and deported the same evening, the Moroccan authorities denouncing an unacceptable offense to the whole of society.

In Morocco, homosexuality is punishable by three years in prison, according to Article 489 of the Criminal Code. The defendants, who retracted their confessions in custody, were not present at the time of the statement of judgment.

The story notes that Human Rights watch had called on Morocco to decriminalize homosexuality two months ago after convictions in Al-Hoceima in the northeast. “The debate has, however, increased in intensity with the latest controversy in a country torn between conservative mores and proximity to the West.”

India: Actress discusses role as lesbian in film banned in India

Preeti Gupta, a popular TV and theater actor, plays a lesbian girl Leela in Unfreedom, a movie released in the U.S. in May but banned in India. The film, by US-based Raj Amit Jumar, is set in New York and Delhi. The Hindu published an article and interview with Gupta on June 19:

The film approaches sexuality and violence with a focus on the Muslim and LGBT identities. Preeti plays Leela Singh, a closeted homosexual girl in Delhi who leaves her orthodox father’s home to kidnap her activist bisexual lover, and marry her. In focus, as much as the issue, have been her intimate and nude scenes in the film, without using a body double.

Leela tells The Hindu that she is not homosexual but worked hard to make the role “look truthful.” From the interview:

Were you expecting the ban in India, considering how reactions to films on homosexuality have been?

Not really! I knew there would be some controversy and opposition, given the conservative take on homosexuality. But I didn’t know it would be this dramatic. In the U.S., where the film released end-May, it’s been seen as a hard-hitting film that has moved a lot of people. They have started understanding the situation of homosexuals in India.

What is your personal takeaway from the film?

I think we are every unkind to the LGBT community. It’s only a small section of people in the large metros in India who have an acceptance of an alternate sexuality. There’s still a lot of fear. Personally, my takeaway would be not forgetting the humanness of every individual, irrespective of our choices. We bracket humans in categories. But every life is precious, no matter what.

Pakistan: Men arrested for marriage ceremony they called ‘joke’

A gay couple in Pakistan were arrested for holding a marriage ceremony, along with the man who officiated. The men told the police the ceremony had been a joke, and authorities reportedly acknowledged that, but a police officer confirmed that four people had been arrested and are “under investigation.”