Saint John Henry Newman – Anglican and Catholic Appreciation

Joint Statement of the Occasion of the Canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman


Logos of the CCCB and ACC

by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
and the Anglican Church of Canada
on the Occasion of the Canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman,
13 October 2019

Dear friends in Christ,

Saint John Henry Newman was a disciple of Jesus Christ who was uniquely graced by the Holy Spirit with many personal, intellectual, and spiritual gifts. Baptized into Christ in the Church of England, his particular journey of faithfulness, through the baptism we all share, would call him into service as a priest, scholar, and educator, and later as a Roman Catholic theologian and eventual member of the College of Cardinals. Along the way, his talents and charisms were nurtured and shared in a variety of ways in both our traditions, to their significant mutual benefit.

In this regard, we recall how his writing and teaching led to a renewal of contemporary theological reflection through a return to the sources of the apostolic and conciliar periods of early Church history. We recognize his influence on liturgical life and traditions of contemplative prayer, with its emphasis on beauty, devotion, and reverence, particularly through his life in the Congregation of the Oratory, which he established in England. A number of institutions of higher education have likewise drawn deep inspiration from Newman’s intellectual legacy, as marked by the establishment of Newman Centers on university campuses in North America and Great Britain since the late nineteenth century. We remember his pastoral heart, especially for young people, and how he sought to bring intellectual appreciation towards the mysteries of the faith, always keeping in mind the pastoral needs of people.

Though Newman’s life has at times been a source of tension between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the past, today we are able to affirm together that Newman is a figure whom all of us can celebrate in common; a brother in Christ Jesus, in whose formation both our churches had a share. Indeed, we can even see in his legacy the planting of many seeds in both communities which later contributed to the ecumenical fruit which has grown between us at the global and local levels. This includes the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), as well as the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC Canada) and the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue (ARC-B).

Today, as John Henry Newman is canonized in Rome, both the Anglican Church of Canada and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, give thanks together for his faithful witness of a Christian life. May it inspire baptized disciples of Christ, both Catholic and Anglican, to continued renewal, holiness, and service to others, “that all may be one” (John 17:21).

+ Richard Gagnon
Archbishop of Winnipeg
President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Archbishop Linda Nicholls
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada


This is a timely reflection on the situation of Cardinal John Henry Newman’s elevation to sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church to take place on the Occasion of the Canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, in Rome,
13 October 2019

It is significant that the Anglican Church of Canada has joined with the Roman Catholic Church in that country in a Statement of recognition of Newman as a Saint of both Anglican and Roman Catholic provenance – Newman having begun his clerical career with the Church of England before becoming a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in England. There will be representatives of both the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches at the Canonisation.

In common with another Anglican cleric, (Cardinal Manning), Newman was one of the ‘Founding Fathers’ of the Anglican Oxford Movement which, in the 19th century, sought to work towards the reunion of the English Church with that of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world. That this did not happen in their life-time was probably the root cause of their later conversion – a factor which makes them equally revered by people of both Churches who still believe in the possibility of the organic unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – in accordance with the prayer of Christ: “That they may all be one, as you, Father, and I are One”

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


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Uganda ‘Kill The Gays’ bill reintroduced.

Uganda announces ‘Kill the Gays’ bill that will bring in the death penalty for homosexuals

  • Uganda plans to reintroduce a bill which would impose death penalty on gays
  • Legislation known as ‘Kill the Gays’ bill nullified five years ago on a technicality 
  • Bill to be reintroduced to parliament within weeks and will be voted on this year


PUBLISHED: 00:31 AEDT, 11 October 2019

Uganda has announced plans to reintroduce a bill which would bring in the death penalty for homosexuals in the East African nation.

The legislation – known as the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill – was nullified five years ago on a technicality, but the government now has plans to resurrect it within weeks. 

‘Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,’ Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo said.

‘Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalises the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalised. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.’ 

President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni (pictured) is supporting a bill which would introduce the death penalty for homosexuals in the East African nation

President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni (pictured) is supporting a bill which would introduce the death penalty for homosexuals in the East African nation

African countries like Uganda have some of the world’s most prohibitive laws governing homosexuality. Same-sex relationships are considered taboo and gay sex is a crime across most of the continent, with punishments ranging from imprisonment to death.

Earlier this year, Brunei sparked an international outcry over plans to impose the death penalty for gay sex, backtracking only after intense criticism. 

Lokodo said Uganda’s bill, which is supported by President Yoweri Museveni, will be reintroduced in parliament in the coming weeks, and it is expected to be voted on before the end of the year.  

He was optimistic it would pass with the necessary two-thirds of members present – a shortfall in numbers killed a similar bill in 2014 – as the government had lobbied legislators ahead of its re-introduction.

‘We have been talking to the MPs and we have mobilised them in big numbers,’ said Lokodo. ‘Many are supportive.’

Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo (pictured) said the bill will be reintroduced in parliament in the coming weeks

Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo (pictured) said the bill will be reintroduced in parliament in the coming weeks

Uganda’s constitutional court overturned the law – formerly known as the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill because it includes the death penalty – on a technicality in 2014.

Even without it, under British colonial law, gay sex is punishable with up to life imprisonment and activists said the new bill risked unleashing attacks.

‘Bringing back anti-gay legislation would invariably lead to a spike in discrimination and atrocities,’ said Zahra Mohamed of the Toronto-based charity Stephen Lewis Foundation. 

Moves to restrict LGBT+ rights and criminalise gay sex in other countries have sparked protests and sanctions.

In May, Brunei was forced to extend a moratorium on the death penalty for gay sex after celebrities such as actor George Clooney condemned a law allowing whipping and stoning to death. 

Last November, anti-gay remarks by a senior official in Tanzania led to the east African nation’s second biggest donor, Denmark, withholding $10 million in aid.

The legislation - known as the 'Kill the Gays' bill - was nullified five years ago on a technicality (Pictured left, Lokodo in 2014)

The legislation – known as the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill – was nullified five years ago on a technicality (Pictured left, Lokodo in 2014)

Uganda faced widespread international condemnation when the previous bill was signed off by Museveni in 2014.

The United States reduced aid, imposed visa restrictions and cancelled military exercises. The World Bank, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands also suspended or redirected aid.

Lokodo said Uganda was prepared for any negative response.

‘It is a concern,’ he said. But we are ready. We don’t like blackmailing. Much as we know that this is going to irritate our supporters in budget and governance, we can’t just bend our heads and bow before people who want to impose a culture which is foreign to us.’

Pepe Julian Onziema from Sexual Minorities Uganda, an alliance of LGBT+ organisations, said its members were fearful of the bill.

‘When the law was introduced last time, it whipped up homophobic sentiment and hate crimes,’ said Onziema.

‘Hundreds of LGBT+ people have been forced to leave the country as refugees and more will follow if this law is enacted. It will criminalise us from even advocated for LGBT+ rights, let alone supporting and protecting sexual minorities.’

Onziema said three gay men and one transgender woman had been killed in homophobic attacks in Uganda this year – the latest last week when a gay man was bludgeoned to death. US reviewed relationship with Uganda over anti-gay bill in 2014Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00PreviousPlaySkipMuteCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:33FullscreenNeed Text


The so-called ‘Integrity Minister’ of the Ugandan Government had this to say about the phenomenon of human sexual-identity, which betrays an ignorance of the status of a minority homosexual population common to all humanity:

‘Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,’ Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo said.

In today’s climate of openness to the reality of a broader spectrum of human sexual identity, such ignorance in no longer an excuse for punitive acts of injustice against a category of human beings whose sexual identity is different from the binary ‘norm’.

On this issue, in certain African and other Global South countries (most of which were missionised by British Colonial missionaries in the Victorian era, whose ideas of sexual propriety were conditioned by the (then commonly current) understanding that sexuality was intended by God for the sole purpose of procreation) the indigenous heirs of local government by the British perpetuated the existing mores that had replaced their own, local, traditions – some of which included the accommodation of benign homosexual practices that were already in place before colonisation.

However, over the past several decades, new social, biological and psychological discoveries have been made about the incidence of LGBTQI sexual identification amongst the populations of every country – a situation which had gradually been accepted and accounted for by the legal and moral overturning of unjust and punitive attitudes towards a significant minority of people whose sexual identity has been assessed and found acceptable to and by civilised society.

The moral implicationsof homosexuality, long thought to be reprehensible – mainly because of the maintenance of certain biblical ethical considerations thought to be unalterable in essence for all time, and for all societies, because of the perceived necessity of population growth through heterosexual activity – were suddenly, and irrevocably, altered by a more enlightened scientific and religious understanding of the consequent injustices suffered by people whose sexual identity was ‘different’.

Unfortunately, in countries like Uganda, Kenya, and other African countries that are now de-colonised (excepting South Africa, which has a more-enlightened attitude towards LGBTQI people) – aided and abetted by their local Anglican Church leaders who have formed themselves into a separate and self-governing province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, under the title of GAFCON – the old-fashioned (Victorian?) understanding of any other sexual identity than the binary male & female of the species still applies, in Uganda’s case quoted here, by force of law.

The GAFCON Churches have consolidated their separatism from other Churches of the Anglican Communion on the singular basis of their common belief that the Bible condemns sexual activity outside of heterosexual intercourse intentionally directed towards the propagation of the species – in direct contradiction to the FACT of the variety of human sexual responses that are outside of that procreational possibility.

In ‘First-World’ countries, where sexual mores are more open to the possibility that homosexuality has been a phenomenon of human existence from the beginning of the history of creation – in some societies being a more acceptable phenomenon than others – the Church has had to up-date its understanding of human sexuality in keeping with the social and scientific discoveries of the modern world – in which it has to minister to real needs for a just and inclusive society.

Uganda’s stepping back into the ‘dark ages’ of ignorance on this particular aspect of its own environment of human development can only be regarded as a regrettable contravention of common human rights – a matter which must surely bring further harm to its local LGBTQI minority – already under stress because of prejudice and ignorance of the plight suffered by a category of citizens whose human freedom to be allowed to live in accordance with how they were created is seriously threatened.

It will be interesting to see whether the Anglican Church of Uganda, under its current leadership, will continue to support the Ugandan government in this renewed attempt to bring the death penalty into the legal system – an attempt which was soundly rejected by a previous government in Uganda. If the Church brings its influence to bear on this perpetuation of a manfiest injustice in Uganda, then I, for one, would recommend that the Anglican Church of Uganda be expelled from the Anglican Communion of which ACANZP is a partner Church.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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U.S. Presiding Bishop Addresses St. Paul’s congregation

Video: Presiding Bishop brings the Way of Love to London audience – By Matthew MacDonaldPosted 5 hours ago

[Episcopal News Service – London, U.K.] Punctuated by laughter and rousing applause, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addressed a capacity crowd of 2,200 people at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, on Oct. 3, bringing a message of how love is the only thing that has the power to change the world.

Hosted by Paula Gooder, chancellor of St. Paul’s, Curry spoke for 90 minutes as part of the cathedral’s adult learning series about the importance of the Jesus Movement and God’s dream for the world and humankind.

Earlier, the presiding bishop joined a conversation with the Ven. Liz Adekunle, archdeacon of Hackney and chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II, about issues of racial justice in the U.K. and the U.S.

The event launched an initiative by St. Paul’s Institute – a forum for reflection, debate and education – that will investigate themes of justice, power and race in 21st century Britain, listening to the experiences of those directly affected by asymmetrical race dynamics. The project will convene a 24-month task force that will produce a report proposing concrete policy recommendations for improving the access of black Britons into positions of leadership and power in all sectors of U.K. society.

On Oct. 2, Curry addressed an audience at Canterbury Cathedral about the power of music and how the songs his grandmother sang sowed a seed that influenced his faith journey and paved his pathway toward ordination. Full coverage here.

– Matthew MacDonald is associate editor of the Episcopal News Service.


After being welcomed by Paula Gooder, the Chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Bishop Michael Curry (Presiding Bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church) speaks to a capacity congregation about his own journey in faith, and about his current movement in T.E.C. to promote ‘The Way of Love’ as the practical business of following Jesus in the pathway of the Gospel.

On a separate occasion, on the previous evening, where Bishop Michael addressed a meeting in Canterbury Cathedral’s Clagett Auditorium, he spoke of the place that music played in his early life with his grandmother, whose sung hymns were a help to the family in a time of acute distress.

I invite readers to access both videos – noted above – to experience the encouraging way in which the U.S. Presiding Bishop invites ALL to engage in the spiritual task of welcoming others to experience the Love of Christ – the essence of the Gospel.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Nigeria Elects new GAFCON Primate

Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba |

Ndukuba Elected New Nigerian Primate

 September 29, 2019  News

By Mark Michael

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, the Anglican Communion’s largest province aside from the Church of England, chose the Most Rev. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, 60, as its new primate during a meeting at Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Asaba on September 24. Ndukuba will succeed the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria in 2020, when Okoh’s ten-year term expires.

For most of his ordained ministry, Ndukuba has been a pioneering missionary in the majority Muslim northern region of the country. He was consecrated in 1999 as the first bishop of Gombe and in 2017 also became Archbishop of Jos, with oversight of the dioceses in the northeastern part of the country.

Tensions between Christians and Muslims have intensified in recent years in Northeastern Nigeria. There were three assassination attempts on the life of Ndukuba’s predecessor, Archbishop Ben Kwashi, whose home was also raided during fighting between Christian farmers and Muslim Fulani herdsmen in 2018

During his first provincial assembly as Archbishop of Jos in March, 2018, Ndukuba announced a church-based rehabilitation and restoration program for those affected by the clashes, including scholarships for orphans and relief for internally displaced people. He said that member dioceses would also work with the national government to secure funds for rebuilding churches that had been destroyed by the Fulani herdsmen.

A native of Imo State in Southeastern Nigeria, Ndukuba was described by Anglican Cable Network Nigeria as “a sound Biblical scholar, teacher, master liturgist, pastor and an accomplished evangelist. He loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has a great heart for the Word of God and also a prolific writer.” His works include a book, “Christ Above All: A Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Ndukuba has also served as the chairman of the Liturgy, Prayer and Spirituality Committee of the Church of Nigeria.

The Church of Nigeria reports it has 18 million members, and has expanded rapidly in recent decades, growing from 91 dioceses in 2002 to 161 dioceses in 2017. The church has also played a prominent role in the Anglican realignment over the past two decades.  It notably redefined the Anglican Communion in its constitution in 2005 as “all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the ‘Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’.”

In 2006, the clergy and many members of several Episcopal churches in Northern Virginia declared themselves to have broken communion with the Episcopal Church. They became members of the Church of Nigeria by affiliating with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a body that had been previously established by the Church of Nigeria to minister to church members living in the United States. CANA is now an affiliate body of the Anglican Church in America.

Kwashi, Ndukuba’s successor as Archbishop of Jos, became General Secretary of the GAFCON Movement, the primary organizing force within the Anglican realignment in January 2019. The Church of Nigeria has sent large delegations to the GAFCON gatherings, and until last April, Okoh was chair of the GAFCON Primate’s Council.


The final paragraph (highlighted by me) of this communication from the ‘Living Church‘ organisation in the U.S.A., indicates that, with the election of a new Primate, the Anglican Church of Nigeria (which has links to ACNA and CANA in the U.S.A.) will continue with its separatist dogmatic separatiion from the Lambeth-based Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

As an executive member of the reactionary GAFCON Provinces – whose members will probably not be sending any of their bishops and primates to the next Lambeth Conference in July 2020 – the current Nigerian Archbishop, Nicolas OKOH, will be expected to bequeath his disdain for the official Anglican ‘Instruments of Unity to his anointed successor, The Most Rev. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, currently the Bishop of Jos,

Okoh, whose 10 years as Archbishop of Nigeria has been marked by a deterioration of GAFCON’s links with Lambeth; the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the Anglican Churches of the ‘Global North’; has served his time as the Chair of GAFCON, but there can be little doubt that his successor will want to continue his association with the Provinces of the ‘Global South’ that have set up their own constitutional Church under the GAFCON banner – as being more ‘orthodox’ – in their opinion – that the rest of us on the Anglican Communion who are open to the emancipation of women and the LGBTQI communities in our local provincial Churches.

SO! Probably no change in the status quo of the current stand-off of the Anglican Church of Nigeria – from the official Anglican Communion Churches (including the Church of England, The Anglican Church of Canada, and the Espiscopal Church of the United States). UNLESS the new Archbishop of Nigeria decides to move towards a reconciliation of Nigeria and the other GAFCON Provinces with the rest of us.

I, personally, am not holding my breath on that possibility. But, one never can tell!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Pope and LGBT champion have private chat

  1. CathNews NZ Pacific
  2. World

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

LGBT champion Fr. James Martin, SJ met Pope Francis on Monday in a private audience in the apostolic palace inside the Vatican. They spoke to each other, seated at the table where the pope meets his high-level visitors.

This is the third time Martin, who is known for his pastoral ministry to the LGBT community has met Francis. Their 30-minute meeting this week is seen as a highly significant public statement of Francis’s support and encouragement for Martin’s ministry.

Although Martin would not reveal what the pope said to him he did say “we both laughed several times” and that he shared with Francis “the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.

“I also spoke about my own ministry to them and how they feel excluded.

“I saw this audience as a sign of the Holy Father’s care for LGBT people.

“I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired … [Francis’s] time with me, in the middle of a busy day and a busy life, seems a clear sign of his deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.

“I was very moved by my encounter with a real pastor.”

An Vatican source says Francis is aware Martin is sometimes viciously attacked in the US including by clerics, for his 2017 book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity”.

He’s also attacked for his lectures and ministry to LGBT people. Last month, his views have attracted words of caution from Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput:

“Father Martin has sought in a dedicated way to accompany and support people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria,” he said recently.

“Many of his efforts have been laudable, and we need to join him in stressing the dignity of persons in such situations. “At the same time, a pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing.

“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasise that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church …”.

Martin thanked Chaput for his careful tone and for encouraging people to not engage in “ad hominem” attacks. He says he’s careful not to challenge Church teaching on matters of sexual morality in his writings and talks.

At the same time, he does not focus on same-sex relations and same-sex marriage. “… I know [these relationships] are both impermissible (and immoral) under church teaching, [but] … LGBT Catholics have heard this repeatedly. Indeed, often that is the only thing that they hear from their church,” Martin says.



Today, being the Feastday of his name-sake – Francis of Assisi – I, as an Anglican priest in Aotearoa/NZ, thank God for the ministry, the Love, Joy and Peace in the heart and mind of the Roman Pontiff. May God give him many years of his very special Apostolate in the Universal Church. He is an encouragement to all of us who want to follow Jesus in the Way of the Gospel.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Pope gives hope to LGBT Catholics – Still a liong way to go!

Editorial: Despite moments of welcome, LGBTQ Catholics still on the margins

Oct 2, 2019by NCR Editorial StaffOpinionVatican

Altar server Angelo Alcasabas prepares the altar during an annual "Pre-Pride Festive Mass" at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City June 29. Jesuit Fr. James Martin presided at the liturgy, which is hosted by the parish's LGBT outreach ministry.

Altar server Angelo Alcasabas prepares the altar during an annual “Pre-Pride Festive Mass” at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City June 29. Jesuit Fr. James Martin presided at the liturgy, which is hosted by the parish’s LGBT outreach ministry. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Popes, even the comparatively freewheeling Francis, don’t cram into an already jammed calendar a half-hour, announced, private meeting in a formal setting with a U.S. priest who has been the cause of ecclesial apoplexy in some church quarters, unless the papal intent is to send a very clear message.

And at least one unmistakable message in the Sept. 30 meeting between Francis and Jesuit Fr. James Martin was, if not in so many words: “This priest is okay, so stop messing with him.” It was an unambiguous point aimed clearly at some U.S. bishops and others on the right who had spoken out against Martin, his book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, and the speeches he’s been delivering since its publication in June 2017.

As remarkable as the meeting and the message are — who could have dreamed of such 10 years ago? — in their wake are as many questions as answers.

Martin has become a target for those who think homosexuality should be condemned, that the church should draw severe lines around questions of sexuality, that gays should be kept from seminaries, that partners in same-sex marriages are automatically disqualified from taking up positions of service in the church, and even that homosexuals can be changed. He has been disinvited from speaking engagements and subjected to unspeakable ugliness online.

Most recently, he was singled out by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput who, in gracious if quite pointed prose, stated: “Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims.” Chaput received some public support among other bishops who are similarly identified as culture warriors.

If he doesn’t speak with the authority of the church, Martin certainly, since Sept. 30, speaks with the approval of the pope.

But if the pope is signaling a new attitude in the church regarding the LGBTQ community, what, exactly, does it mean? Further, is it even fair to expect exactitude in an area that for so long has been deeply fraught with contention that can extend to hatred?

Clearly, the meeting was a friendly one. Martin was not chastised. He tweeted that it was “one of the highlights of my life. I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by the Holy Father. … And his time with me, in the middle of a busy day and a busy life, seems a clear sign of his deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.”

That seems an indisputable claim.  

And it is certainly backed up by others, most enthusiastically by New Ways Ministry, which has long advocated for and ministered to LGBTQ Catholics in the church. The New Ways statement described the event as reason for “a day of celebration for LGBTQ Catholics who have longed for an outstretched hand of welcome from the church that they love.”

Certainly, Francis’s outstretched hand is far more welcoming than the “intrinsically disordered” (yes, we know, it was referring only to orientation) judgment that gays and lesbians previously encountered. But how much of the LGBTQ experience is welcome? Martin has been cautious to maintain he stays within the bounds of church teachings. But do members of the LGBTQ community who are also Catholic also obey such proscriptions?

NCR columnist Jamie Manson, who writes often about the struggles an openly lesbian woman faces in trying to stay in the church, has been clear in the past in pointing up Francis’ inconsistencies in dealing with gays, lesbians and transgender persons.

While he’s met with Martin and apparently restored to ministry another priest who had been ousted for disagreeing with church teaching on same-sex marriage, the pope has also publicly worried about homosexuals in the priesthood and signed a Vatican document that stated the church “cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’ “

On the Society of Jesus’ official Twitter account, the Jesuits said of Francis and Martin’s meeting: “No Politics. No strategies. No hidden agendas. Just two brothers in the Lord in an honest conversation about how best to reach those who feel as if they are on the margins. This is the Gospel at work in our Church today.”

That is a lovely sentiment. But they have to know — as the pope certainly did — that the politics in the meeting is inherent. If there was strategy, it was discussed during the conversation, the contents of which were not revealed.

And what it all means in terms of acceptance of LGBTQ Catholics and their families — the degree to which they are accepted — will likely unravel over time.

We don’t want to spoil the moment, but we feel compelled to say big as it was, it was but a moment. This pope has certainly extended a more welcoming hand to the LGBTQ community than any previous. We certainly take hope from the string of increments extending that welcome that in this papacy have mixed with the teachings and attitudes that have caused LGBTQ Catholics to remain on the margins.

We’ll rejoice in the increments, but only with the sober understanding that as long as LGBTQ Catholics are on the margins, and as long as popes can change while church teaching on sexuality in so many areas remains unchanged, there’s a lot more work to be done.


Following on my last blog thread (- kiwianglo – 28 September, 2019), which showed the validation by Pope Francis of the priesthood of Fr. James Alison (a distinguished English Catholic theologian); there was the more recent meeting of the Pope with Jesuit Fr. James Martin, a prominent theologian and writer who believes the Church should be more welcoming and enabling of its LGBTQI membership.

This article from the Editor of the U.S. ‘National Catholic Recorder’ expresses his concern that, though Pope Francis himself has expressed and demonstrated his own personal acceptance of LGBT people – many of the Catholic hierarchy – notably those who are currently set up in opposition to the Pope’s more liberal, open and pastoral attitude towards matters of gender, sexuality, celibacy and divorce – are still unhappy to recognise the efficacy of the theological challenge to historic homophobic and sexist attitudes in the Church by people such as Fr. Alison and Fr. Martin.

Granted that the sexual abuse of minors and women of the Church by Catholic clergy is an ongoing agony for Pope Francis and the Vatican; the issue of accepting the presence of intrinsically LGBTQI people – formerly lumped together with the problem of male clergy accused of the abuse of young boys (as in the case of Cardinal Pell in Australia) – is proving to be different from that of revealed scandals of paedophilia which, literally, is the sexual abuse of young people (male or female) by older people in a situation of misdirected supervision.

The etiology of LGBTQI people is now recognised to be an innate tendency to sexual difference among a small percentage of human beings whose developing and eventual gender/sexual status is different from that of the majority binary sexual model.

For instance, same-sex attraction – which can be experienced by almost anyone at some stage of their sexual formation – is an irrevocable situation for a small minority of both male and female persons; known as either homosexual or lesbian-oriented. Extreme instances of this sexual-orientation are those of men or women who have no affective alternative. They are NOT sexually attracted to the opposite sex. Neither are they prone to contract a heterosexual relatrionship. (This does not mean, however, that they are automatically attracted to adolescent or pre-adolenscent boys or girls. – Such adults would be labelled ‘paedophilic)

Bi-sexuals are those human beings who are capable of sexual attraction to either their own or the opposite gender. Most such persons seem more likely to settle down into a heterosexual marriage arrangement capable of producing children. Such persons have the choice of adapting to either (or both) sexual situations.

The other variants of the gender/sexuality spectrum need encouragement and help to settle into their own, often deeply/felt, gender/sexual identitity.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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A story of God’s infinite mercy, love and acceptance

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