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The Roman Catholic Church, and Single-Sex Marriage

In a rectent news article in the Independent, the Catholic Synod moderated it’s language towards single-sex couples.

While the Synod continues to uphold the current line of the Catholic Church, and does not seek to change that, it does offer a way forward. It comes on the back of Pope Francis’ statement last year to the LGBTQ community “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”.

The full document itself is lengthy, and does attempt to explore what the Catholic Church means by family. It explores in depth the problems faced by families in the social context, raising the problems of isolation and children born outside of marriage seen in the west, and the practice of polygamy still seen in many places in Africa.

It is as the discussion on what it means to be family develops does the Church find that it needs to say something on the nature of same-sex relationships

In the section entitled Truth and beauty of the family and mercy the document has this to say:

21. The Gospel of the family, while it shines in the witness of many families who live coherently their fidelity to the sacrament, with their mature fruits of authentic daily sanctity must also nurture those seeds that are yet to mature, and must care for those trees that have dried up and wish not to be neglected.

22. In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

23. Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.

Here the church begins to wrestle with the reality of life that is experienced by most people. It affirms, of course, the stance on marriage, but also makes the point that there are those who have formed non-traditional unions that show the hallmarks of what would be held up as the hallmarks of marriage.

It is good that the Roman Catholic Church has faced this issue head-on. Jesus himself had a non-traditional family, and it is about time that the Churches that attempt to live by his teaching try to minister to all of God’s Children, just like he would have.

~BX

American Episcopate ahead of their time?

Amidst calls for another reformation in the Catholic Church, the American Episcopal Church is busy forging ahead on it’s own. The news that’s making the headlines is of course the consecration as Bishop of Canon Mary Glasspool. This is not because she’s a Woman, the presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church is Dr Katherine Jefferts Schori, a woman. It is more because Canon Glasspool is in an openly Gay Civil Partnership.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, fearing for a split in the Anglican Communion, has repeatedly asked for “gracious restraint” in this matter. Now that the decision has been made to go ahead with the consecration of Canon Glasspool, a statement from the Lambeth Palace (as quoted in the Church times) says that this raises “very serious questions, not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole” (Dember 11, 2009, Church Times). The usual responses have been seen from the Fundamental Christian groups, getting all hot-and-bothered about the way that it might affect them. It of course, raises big questions about the communion, as many African Bishops are against Single-Sex marriages. With this going ahead, it is going to leave the traditional Anglican Communion in tatters, especially if there are no sanctions brought against the American Episcopal Church for going against the communion.

The problem is that someone had to do something. Someone had to say that those three lines in the Bible that have been used for oppression had to be changed. We’re not still fighting for Slavery. We worked out that was wrong. Glasspool is the height of all the arguments that the Anglican Church in the UK have been arguing over. Single-Sex Issues, and Women in the Episcopate. Here, in one woman, we have both. The world will hold it’s breath as she gets ordained, and all the liberals pray that she doesn’t screw up. A good example will ensure that others will be able to follow her.

The one thing that isn’t being said that there was also another development in the USA this week that shows that, despite the most vocal Christian opposition, it is busy actually being more liberal than the rest of the world. Clergy in Washington, Iowa, Vermont, and Massachusetts are able to preside at civil same-sex marriages, and bless them. Essentially, it is possible for Clergy who’s conciousness allows to marry single-sex couples. Yes, that’s right, AMERICA is allowing clergy in some states to bless single-sex marriages.

Yes it may be up to individual faith-communities who they see as married and who they don’t but the LAW of America say that they are married.

The fuss about Glasspool means that this little gem is passing by the fundmentalists. While they are busy pointing up at the Bishop, they are missing the fact that America is working through it’s very own grass-roots revolution.

Now, if only the rest of the Anglican Communion could start moving forward, we may yet be able to avoid a split, and embrace this reformation with open arms.

~BlackXanthus