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Feminists and gay Christians who accept the Church


Gay Christians'Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,' says Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew. Look at what these words say to his followers.

You don't need a crowd, just two or three. 'Gathered in my name', not 'gathered in a church' or 'at a certain time or place', but simply 'in my name': that is, two or three, with Christ as the common centre of their faith, gathered to pray and praise God. 'There am I among them.' This is an affirmative statement. It's a positive statement. It is a statement of assurance. It is a statement made with no other qualifications.

Throughout history, this radical idea, that all you needed to form a Christian community is two or three people gathered in the name of Christ, has kept the Christian faith alive in the hearts of believers.

Think of the early Christian community in the first three centuries, threatened by a lack of religious freedom in the Roman Empire and a ban on public church buildings. Think of the persecution of Christians, and especially Catholics, in countries like Poland under communism.

Look at the growing house church movement in China — a country that is on track to become the biggest Christian nation on earth, and you can see that a community doesn't need a building or clergy or a large number of people to be a Christian community. Just two or three people gathered in Jesus' name.

For 40 years, people have been gathering to celebrate their Catholic faith under the name Acceptance. At first they met in people's homes. Later they met in halls, sometimes provided by other faith congregations: the Uniting Church, the Unitarian Church. They celebrated Mass. They put their faith into action by supporting good works in the community. They supported one another, prayed for one another, and grew in their faith together.

In the 1980s Acceptance moved physically closer to the Catholic Church, celebrating Mass at a hall next to St Canice's, Elizabeth Bay. Finally in 1990 Acceptance members gathered for the first time in a Catholic Church, at St Canice's, to celebrate Mass. Today, they gather at St Joseph's Newtown. They have celebrated a weekly Mass continuously for most of the past 40 years.

The founder of Acceptance, Garry Pye, had a mustard seed of faith. A homosexual Catholic man who grew up when homosexuality was illegal, he knew the harsh reality of accepting himself in a civil society and religious community that rejected, condemned and punished people who were homosexual.

And yet, despite all of that, he had enough faith in Jesus' promise that 'wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among you' that he invited others to join him in Acceptance.

I never knew Pye. He died in 1990, before I moved to Sydney. I wonder what he would have thought about the Australia we live in today. I wonder what he would have thought about a former premier of NSW launching Acceptance's 40th anniversary — make that the female, American-born, Catholic former premier of NSW. I'm not sure which part of that sentence would have surprised him more!

While Pye patterned Acceptance along similar lines to Dignity USA, he wanted to give the group a distinctive Australian identity. Acceptance refers to both the individual's struggle to accept both their faith and their sexuality, and society and the church's struggle to accept people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

A lot has changed since Pye travelled to America and met with Dignity in the early 1970s. Homosexuality is decriminalised, and many rights for same sex people and their families have been won. Not all families are equal yet before the law, but so much has been gained.

Even in the church there are some signs of acceptance: members of the organisation can now worship freely and participate in liturgies in a Catholic church, though some places adopt a kind of 'don't ask, don't tell' approach.

Just two months ago the Bishop Emeritus of Sydney, Geoffrey Robinson, spoke in Baltimore and called for 'a new study of everything to do with sexuality' — a kind of study that he predicted 'would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual'.

He went on to say that churches' emphasis on the profound significance of sex is correct, but that natural law approaches to sexual morality and interpretations of ancient scriptural passages on homosexual and other sexual activity are in need of correction.

I think again of Pye and all the members of Acceptance, of the priests who have supported Acceptance, of the families and friends and members of other churches who responded in faith to Pye's invitation to join him in Jesus' name. Acceptance truly is a mustard seed of faith that is moving mountains.

I have spoken a great deal so far in terms that reflect the perspective of a Christian believer. But I want to speak to another audience, too: those who are not Christians, who struggle to accept why people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persist in a Church that in many ways continues to reject them.

Sometimes I find it harder to speak to non-believers than to the hierarchal church. The responses can range from genuine inquiry through to ridicule and condemnation. For example, if you permit me to draw an analogy with the experience of being a feminist woman in the Catholic Church. Recently the writer Catherine Deveny tweeted that my claim to be a Catholic and a feminist showed I was 'suffering serious cognitive dissonance'.

Twitter is great, but it is hardly an easy place to have a serious or detailed discussion about the complexity of human life and the intertwining issues of faith, liturgy, ritual, identity and ecclesiology. But we should have those discussions. They are opportunities for, as one of my university professors called them, educative moments.

Acceptance's anniversary provides the opportunity to add another rich layer to our understanding of the experience of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people in Australia. Just as importantly, it is also an opportunity to add a rich layer to the history of the Catholic Church in Australia.

It is a chance to invite people who may have strong views in any particular direction to understand better the complex fabric woven from church, faith, identity and culture that Acceptance represents.

A moment ago I purposefully mentioned ecclesiology, the study of the church itself. One of the greatest ecclesiologists of the modern era is Hans Kung, a Swiss Catholic priest and theologian. He asserts that the church is both sinful and sinless, that it is made up of the people here on earth and the kingdom of God in heaven. He takes seriously the claim that we are called to bring about the kingdom of God on earth.

What do I see in that? I see a church that doesn't belong to Rome or the hierarchy exclusively. I see a church that is made up of all its believers. I see a church that is on a mission, striving to perfection, making mistakes and evolving, full of grace and seeking forgiveness.

When people ask me how I reconcile being a Catholic with being a feminist, I try to describe this vision of church. I try to explain what my faith means to me, how the liturgy and sacraments and ritual sustain me, how I find grace and forgiveness and acceptance within the Catholic Church.

Yes, I find things that abhor and disgust me, like the abuse of children, and I condemn them. I also find discrimination and teachings I don't accept and want to change. But none of these takes away from the core tenets of my faith: that Jesus is both human and divine, the son of God, and in him I am saved.

And when they ask: why not convert, I say why? Why give up the sacraments, liturgy, ritual and faith that the Church gives to me? If Kung is right, indeed, if Vatican II is right, then we are all the church. The history of Acceptance, and Robinson's statement, makes clear that the church does change, the attitudes, teachings and understanding can change, the Holy Spirit moves within the church by stirring the hearts of believers.

Kristina KeneallyKristina Keneally is a member of the NSW Labor Party. She was the 42nd Premier of New South Wales. This article is an edited version of her address to launch an exhibition at Surry Hills Library in Sydney to mark the 40th Anniversary of Acceptance.

Topic tags: Kristina Keneally, gay Christians



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I was at the official opening of the Acceptance Exhibition at the Surry Hills library in Sydney on Thursday evening 7 June. Kristina's address was inspiring and reassured many present that the Spirit is alive and at work in our Church. The exhibition is well worth seeing and runs till 29 June at the library. Gay Catholics have much to contribute to our Church and the Church can learn so much from people who hold on to their faith despite the continued "official" response of the Church that we are not welcome and that our relationships have no value.

Tim | 08 June 2012  

Krystina, I am in awe of your vision and your ability to put it so accessably. May the Force stay with you

Michael Parer | 08 June 2012  

'Translating' a talk from a fairly specific environment/group to a general one is always fraught with difficulty and Kristina Keneally has fallen for the trap here. The use of the Biblical text "where two or three...." can never justify the splintering of the Catholic Church into boutiuque enclaves of believers. The identity of the Church remains as one of humans, all sinners, being united by the mercy of God and Grace of challenging one another to live authentic Gospel lives. Breaking off into enclaves catering for specific needs leads to self-deception and disuntiy. The aim, of authentic ministry among people with special needs, is always to draw those people into the unity of the Church, bringing their giftedness with them to build up the Church, but also to allow the others in the Church to build them up.

Fr Mick Mac Andrew | 08 June 2012  

Beautifully put. The problem is that for every Geoffrey Robinson there are two George Pells; for every Kristine Keneally there is Abbott and Pyne and Hockey and ...

Frank | 08 June 2012  

I think, Kristina, as a "public Christian", with postgraduate theological qualifications and political clout, your words would carry a great deal more weight with the general public than those of the apocryphal 80 year old Mrs O'Brien of Enmore, who may also be as tolerant as you, but who lacks both your ready audience, your verbal facility and knowledge of writers such as Hans Kung. Many people, Catholic and other, were never brought up to regard gays or lesbians as being inherently evil. However, I think there are those who might, quite rightly, oppose what I would term "the Oxford St lifestyle" just as much as they would the wasteful, promiscuous lifestyles of many heterosexual Australians. As far as the debate on sexual morality and other related issues go I think it will continue. One of the problems with any Australian politician speaking out on any moral issue is that, sadly, most Australians see them as generally unfit to do so. If they champion either extremely progressive or extremely regressive causes they are further discounted. Sadly, I think you're basically preaching to those who totally agree with you. That is the fate of any politician speaking outside, or even in, their specific field.

Edward F | 08 June 2012  

Thank you, Kristina!

Tony W | 08 June 2012  

An appropriately "radicall" Ms Kenneally....if common sense is radical....While she sees great scope for change within the church... I would add that is unlikely until Italy changes... an equally daunting task... So, lets just proceed as so many already are...

Robert McGrath | 08 June 2012  

Thank you Kristina for the vision that you present of an inclusive Catholicism that embraces rather than excludes, a Catholicism that reaches out to the world rather than rejects it. I really appreciated your comments.

Paul Collins | 08 June 2012  

The church (and I’m not just talking about the Catholic Church) contains a vast cross-section of our society; it is not apart from our society but an integral part of it. Debates going on in society influence how church sees things, and vice versa. Sometimes change within the church comes about because of changes in society at large, sometimes the church is way ahead of the society. A good example of the latter is the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain (and elsewhere), where it was the churches that led the debate and brought the changes to the legislative assemblies. One reason for this is very simply that it was the clergy who ministered to gays, who understood the injustice from direct experience and translated their awareness into action. The church is always in a position to bring change, especially when society is unmoved, or does not have the moral will. This is because the church is given direction to care for everyone, regardless of their status and individual identity. Such directions are not written into the policies of an open liberal society like Australia’s; they’re not even written.

MEMORY BANK | 08 June 2012  

Thanks Kristina, well said.

Liz Hepburn IBVM | 08 June 2012  

I always admired you, Kristina even though not of her political persuasion. This address encompasses a very good reason to respect her. It is clear, unambiguous and I believe Kristina expresses her views in the "Way of Christ". Have a good future and a blessed one Kristina.

Karl H Cameron-Jackson | 08 June 2012  

I cannot agree with this piece by Kristina Keneally. There are only 3 vocations which souls can live under God's Divine Law. A vocation to religious which requires. A single life which requires a celebate existance and a married life between a man and a woman in which sexual activity is for the procreation and education of children in the True Faith. The Catholic Church, in fact, distinguishes between persons with homosexual tendencies and homosexual acts. Concerning persons with homosexual tendencies, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “they must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” . Concerning homosexual acts, however, the Catechism affirms: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”". "The Church teaches that the respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of ... homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognise, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. ... The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it". Marriage is between a man and a woman in order to procreate and educate children. It is fashionable to make out that they are in full agreement of same sex marriage and unions and homosexual and lesbians having children. I find this mind set to be completely outside the Divine Law and Catholic Church Teaching. God gave marriage to men and women so that their children can be brought up in love with the lawful ordinations of the natures of both the man and the woman. It is not Catholic to suggest IVF or any form of cloning is legitimate. Both are against the infallible teaching of the Church. Any sexual activity outside of marriage is intrinsically evil and a Mortal Sin by means of which many souls are lost to Hell unless these Sins are sincerely repented of. I would like to think that any and every Catholic priest would defend marriage between a man and a woman and teach that any other use of our sexual features is a Mortal Sin that ends up in the death of the soul for eternity.

Trnet | 08 June 2012  

Here's to Fr Donal Taylor SJ (RIP) who was the parish priest who allowed the Acceptance Group to celebrate a weekly Eucharist in the St Canices Church. Aged 67, a missionary from Ireland who spent much of his life working in Hong Kong, he was new to the Kings Cross scene. He set only one condition: that the mass not be turned into a political issue with a fanfare of publicity. He believed that all Catholics whatever their sexual orientation should be encouraged to celebrate the Eucharist. The Acceptance group celebrated at St Canices out of the public spotlight for years. On another occasion, Donal opened the church very early one morning so Elton John and his partner could come to mourn a friend whose funeral was being celebrated in London. They weren't Catholic, but they liked the Church and it was close to their hotel. Once again, no fanfare, just Christian charity and hospitality. We need more like Donal.

Frank Brennan SJ | 08 June 2012  

Beautifully and persuasively put Christina. But Frank is right - for every Robinson there are two Pells; for every Keneally there is Abbott and Pyne and Hockey and Andrews..., not to mention their opposite numbers in the Shoppies and the right wing of the ALP.

Ginnger Meggs | 08 June 2012  

As you are aware, Kristina, there are some biblical quotes which might be interpreted to mean that the Church implemented by Christ is a little more than "two or three gathered in my name". Perhaps some of the most important of all are those in which Christ exhorted his followers, (whom he referred to as "my church"), to teach all peoples and delegated to them the authority to do this and to interpret his teachings for his church, guided by his spirit, "even to the consummation of the world". He even had the temerity to suggest that he trusted his church in this task to the point that "whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven and whatever you shall loose, shall be loosed". I am, perhaps unlike you, not aware that God has changed the design or revised the mandate since his crucifixion and resurrection. I am not surprised, therefore, that his church invested with his authority is reluctant to change in order to fit in with popular minority opinion and lifestyles. I am aware, however, that like Christ, his church sees God in all that he created and is open to all peoples. It does not qualify the Church as an ogre if it also recognises that some human beings are capable of ignoring Christ's teaching through their actions. The Church recognises that there is both morality and immorality in human sexual activies. It is the Church's Christ-given covenant to teach that. It is also its covenant to forgive. But then, I'm probably just another, unthinking old-fashioned "silly old buggar", as defined by another Labor leader some years ago.

john frawley | 08 June 2012  

Whilst the Catholic Church ought to stand for unity and equality it sadly fails on many levels. This is because there is no unity and equality at the decision-making levels. As long as there are categories within our faith community who feel discriminated against, the Church as Jesus envisaged, simply cannot and does not exist. Thankfully, there are individual groups that feel called to bring about community churches in whatever way possible where all feel accepted. In Melbourne one such group is Inclusive Catholics ( http://www.inclusive-catholics.com/) where ALL are welcome at Christ’s table. It takes much courage, vision and determination to boldly and openly step out this way. Remaining silent can only add to the guttering of one’s faith so deeply that those who feel excluded no longer see the road to a loving Church. Thank you Kristina, for speaking out so boldly and being ‘radical’ - you are in an ideal position to do so.

Emmy Silvius | 08 June 2012  

Thank you Kristina for this essay and I concur with your sentiment of the last few paragraphs. I also believe that most Australian Catholics concur with your view of the Catholic Church; I think I once heard Paul Collins say on ABC radio that opinion surveys had found that the majority of Australian Catholics were tolerant and accepting of gay people. It is only the Church hierarchy and a minority of conservative anti-feminist men who cannot accept a totally inclusive Church. I also believe that most Australian Catholics are in favour of women priests. I was pleased with your acknowledgement of the Swiss theologian, Hans Kung, and recommend his memoirs which were published about ten years ago. I also once read a great book called 'The People Are The Church' which I think was written by a bloke named Kennedy.

Mark Doyle | 08 June 2012  

Thanks Kristina, I really enjoy your contributions to this important debate. Homosexuality is a legitimate moral sexuality. The view that homosexual believers should have acceptance and equality within the Catholic Church is widely held. It is a real shame that the leadership of the Church appear to be against the opportunity for development of genuine inclusive Catholic moral theology in this area.

Andrew Crowden | 08 June 2012  

To declare, as Trent does, that there are only “three vocations which souls can live under God's Divine Law” is not only unbiblical and ahistorical, it reveals a disconnection with the reality of married and individual life that is quite disturbing. It shows a serious lack of respect for the body and for personal identity development. Trent fails to understand that his Declarations are hardline, judgemental and fundamentalist. They are no better than the worst Evangelical Protestant attitudes on the same subject. It is this sort of attitude, mocked up as Christian (it isn’t Christian), that is leading young people to despair and suicide. Any Catechism that teaches that “tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” is in need of serious revision. And while we are making declarations, here is mine: “God is Love”. Married or unmarried, that is the message. I find it ludicrous, for example, to state with finality, “Marriage is between a man and a woman in order to procreate and educate children.” We know this is not the whole truth of marriage and what a miserable world it would be for everyone if this was the sole criteria. Fortunately God is bigger than that and Love is bigger than that. As for this - “Any sexual activity outside of marriage is intrinsically evil and a Mortal Sin,” - such puritanical narrowness should be laughed to scorn. Trent simply does not grasp the loveliest truth that a little warmth and loving affection from another person is worth more than a hundred thousand Declarations in this cold old world.


“Everyone whom my Father has given me shall come to me, and whoever will come to me I shall not cast out.” John 6 : 37

Myra | 08 June 2012  

Kristina, Thank you for your article and for remembering Garry Pye who one day in the late 1970s turned up at Macquarie University where I was chaplain at the time asking if I would agree to celebrate Mass with Acceptance on some occasions. As I listened to him, I realised that he was not asking me to be involved in a gimmick that would cheapen the dignity of the Eucharist nor did he intend a splintering of the Church. Just the opposite. Over the next five years or so, my experience of occasionally celebrating the Eucharist with Acceptance opened my heart and my eyes to the sincerity of Acceptance members "keeping the faith" together, facing the advent of AIDS in Sydney and responding collaboratively with care and compassion for those who suffered. I am grateful for meeting Garry and for my experience of being gathered in Christ's name with him and the other members of Acceptance. Congratulations to Acceptance for 40 years of faithful gathering.

alex nelson | 08 June 2012  

Dear Kristina,
Thank you for that address - i wish I had been there. The clarity
of your compassion and faith is a blessing in increasing our understanding . I particularly appreciated the "confession" you make about why you remain in the Church .

FayeLawrence | 08 June 2012  

Well done Kristina. Some do not understand what being Christian means.

Bev Smith | 08 June 2012  

To Frank, 4th from top, Abbott, Pyne and Hockey are church going Christians too. Abbott has a lesbian sister in a relationship, and he strongly supports her. So Frank, careful with the stone throwing.

Peter Flood | 08 June 2012  

After reading a number of the comments made here I have the distinct feeling that many people are either not familar with or disregard the teachings of The Catholic Catechism which after all may well be described as the handbook of the Catholic Church.

John Tobin | 08 June 2012  

It was an amazing speech from an inspiring person, thank you Kristina. I was there last night. I heard mutterings from behind me in the crowd '...and I thought she was just here to cut a ribbon!' Comments around the room were so positive of Kristina's speech, the exhibition and a great opening night. Capturing the 40 year history of Acceptance in an exhibition is such an achievement. Please take the time to visit Surry Hills Library and see for yourselves. See the photos and read the stories. Thank you Kristina and thank you to all the wonderful people of Acceptance who have become friends and family over the years.

Very Grateful | 08 June 2012  

I would like to see a couple of footnotes to back up the assertions Ms Kenneally makes about Hans Kung's theology. I think he would, too. She grossly misrepresents him when she writes: "He asserts that the church is both sinful and sinless, that it is made up of the people here on earth and the kingdom of God in heaven. He takes seriously the claim that we are called to bring about the kingdom of God on earth." Notice that she attributes to Kung the Lutheran doctrine that we the Church are justified and yet sinful. Note that Kenneally seems to be suggesting that Kung is teaching that the Kingdom is our creation and not God's work of grace in God's time and manner. I certainly hope that Kristina has not confused a future sexual utopia with the Kingdom. Kristina Keneally needs to disengage her careless theology from her social programs and goals. Acceptance would not be well served by buying into her support for a change to the Commonwealth Marriage Act to include homosexual marriage contracts.

Dennis Carroll | 08 June 2012  

Kristina sadly you misunderstand the term "being gathered in my name". Being gathered in Jesus' name means FOLLOWING Him, ie following his teachings. Bibical law (which Jesus supported and followed) teaches that any sex outside of a lifelong union between one man and one woman is sin. Being homosexual is not a sin, having homosexual sex is. Another mistake you have made is your belief that being a feminist is incompatible with traditional Christianity. The early feminists were mostly bible believing Christians. They believed in equality for ALL. They fought hard for equal rights. But they would be ashamed of what "feminism" has become today. A genuine bible believing Christian can be a true feminist, but a genuine Christian cannot support the twisted version of feminism that most people who call themselves "feminists" follow these days with their male-hating and their antiwoman and antichild acceptance of things like abortion. Abortion is child abuse of the worst kind and is incredibly destructive to women. Women can be feminists and Christians - the real problem is what most people see as "feminism" is actually anti-woman and needs to get back to it's core principles of true equality for women.

Julie | 09 June 2012  

TRNET great response! However as a bible believing Christian there is a few things I cannot agree with your Catholic beliefs. All sins are mortal and seperate us from God and require repentance. The teachings of the church are not infallible - only the teachings of the bible are infallible. And while the protestant church is opposed to cloning because of the destruction of life it involves, the protestant church is not opposed to the glorious gift of IVF when it is used for married couples who give birth to every child created by the process. But other than that, everything else you said is very well said. :)

Julie | 09 June 2012  

Kristina, Never stop writing!!! leo

leo kane | 09 June 2012  

Dennis Carrol seems to be upset that a woman dare try to do theology. Dennis, we alltheologise and no-one's method or reasoning can replicate God's full truth. Yes, Kristina is correct - the Kingdom is our work as well - it's a collaboration between humankind and God. .

AURELIUS | 09 June 2012  

There has been an interesting development in same-sex marriage in Denmark. According to the article below a law, which has just been passed, makes it illegal for a Church to refuse to accept to marry same-sex couples. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/9317447/Gay-Danish-couples-win-right-to-marry-in-church.html Is this the way that Australia is heading? Will the secular authorities impose their morality on the Churches? How many who support gay marriage would tolerate this? I cannot see this as being anything other than totalitarianism. The right of an individual to follow his conscience and dissent from a particular viewpoint is paramount. Frank Brennan has often talked about the right of the individual with an informed conscience to dissent from the Church's teachings. This view has been warmly greeted by many posters at Eureka Street. Will these same people defend the right of people like me to follow my conscience and agree with the Church's teachings, but to dissent from the moral view of the government? It would appear that such a right does not exist any longer in Denmark.

John Ryan | 09 June 2012  

Thank you for this lucid and Christian column. I believe you have interpreted Kung, an outstanding theologian who has been targeted for many years by a dictatorial Vatican, correctly. Reading his works I have always been reminded of Augustine's City of God and the works of other theologians who know what the Body of Christ is all about. Many years ago Kung gave me a copy of his book Infallible? in which he wrote on the fly-leaf NON IN DESTRUCTIONEM SED IN AEDIFICATIONEM ECCLESIAE - 'not for the destruction but for the building up, the reinforcement of the Church'. He is intent on pursuing the true message of the Gospel.

John Nicholson | 09 June 2012  

John Ryan makes a good point about possible state coercion when and if a gay marriage law is passed in Australia. Because there is no state church in Australia as there is in Lutheran Denmark then Australian churches can make their own choices. This is already the situation for not marrying divorsees. Strangely, Anglicans in England could be forced to do gay unions, but not Anglicans in Australia. I imagine that the Catholic Church in Denmark does not have to do gay marriages. Please correct me if I've got it wrong, John. The example of coercion I'm aware of comes from Canada where civil marriage celebrants who refuse gay marriages are being taken to court. Catholic civil celebrants, or any celebrant opposed to homosexual contracts, in Australia could be confronted with this dilemma in the future. Some celebrants will resign and lose their incomes; some Catholic celebrants will "adjust" their consciences.

Dennis Carroll | 09 June 2012  

Simple Bible-believing Christians like Julie need to finish the sentence: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." This is a saying about presence, about Christ being present with those who ask in his name. It is an assurance about the efficacy of prayer. Christ elsewhere gives the invitation to follow him, but the saying quoted by Kristina and Julie seems to this simple Bible-believing Christian to be about Christ being with us when we ask, whoever and wherever we find ourselves. Kristina, it seems to me, has grasped the essential meaning of this saying in her article. We all like a crowd when it gives strength to our own position, but that doesn't mean we're right. And Christ is with those who don't always go with the crowd, as his saying makes clear.


Consideration must be given to those brought up in the faith where some things are not in line with the Church of Scripture and Tradition. It's a little like the recent Papal make over given to Judas Iscariot with references still made to his now misjudged role in the life of the historical Jesus. Even Rome wasn't built in a day.

L Newington | 10 June 2012  

The state has been forced to play the fool for the sake of religious laws for most of Christian history (burnings at the stake for witchcraft, heresies etc) so it's about time the role was reversed and religions are forced to toe the line for a cause that's actually just this time.

AURELIUS | 11 June 2012  

Trent: Perhaps the Catholic Church is wrong. It has been before, and will be again. It is a human institution, after all. And no matter how much the Holy Spirit may guide it, ultimately, it is up to the human members of the church to listen to the Spirit. We choose to listen or to ignore. We choose to act in common with the Spirit or we don't. Church history demonstrates that as an institution (or set thereof), it's been pretty much a hit-and-miss affair. For example, anti-semitism has been a perennial favourite in Catholic and wider Christian thought and practice. So forgive me when I ask you to _prove_ the things that you state as fact, with reference to texts authored by a Church that has supported much injustice in its time. I ask because I know that it is impossible to do. God doesn't like boxes - including the ones that the Church builds to contain the Divine.

DC | 11 June 2012  

Let's get real! Homosexuality is just another form of lust and a powerful one at that!

Jim Spratt | 11 June 2012  

I support you Kristina and I wouldn't worry about comments from an intellectual lightweight like Deveny.

ann | 12 June 2012  

Well, Jim Spratt, you are entitled to your opinion but unfortunately even lustful and power hungry individuals should be allowed equal rights as citizens.

AURELIUS | 12 June 2012  

Thanks, Christina, we need more and more open discussion on this and a willingness to listen to alternative theology. For example, I wish the views of theologian Fr. James Alison on homosexuality, which he spoke of in Sydney last year, were more widely known. His views about it as a non-pathological, minority variant of human nature, to me, are compelling. If so, he says, these human beings should not be denied the ability to 'flourish' just as all others. One other comment. I'm worried by the use of the expression: 'the Kingdom of God in heaven'. The Kingdom, said Jesus, is among you. It's not heaven. Following Laurence Freeman, it's the rule of love, 'acceptance' and compassion which is uncovered in human nature when we leave our selfish egos behind and allow Jesus to work through us - when we live 'in his name.' When we do that, especially towards the marginalised and downtrodden, we are initiating 'heaven' on earth. I'm so glad that people like yourself and Acceptance are gathering in this way.

JO'D | 12 June 2012  

People who profess to believe in God cannot ignore sacred scripture. The fact is that this talk of the marginalised and the downtrodden is misplaced. For all the radical things that are contained in the Old and New Testaments, there is absolutely nothing that can legitimately be said to give divine sanction to homosexuality as a valid expression of human sexuality. It is expressly forbidden. Only in the union of marriage between a man and a woman in marriage is genital love given the divine sanction.

David Panther | 12 June 2012  

The legacy shown here has an amazing effect, Kristinas words are so well put. Yes many years ago I was a "HOMOPHOBE" yes as a young man growing up I despised all I knew about them, Family pressures and hidden secrets bred a hatred towards the Gay community, It took my uncles funeral who was sadly taken from this world I learnt all about his legacy and how he fought for acceptance, I learnt alot that day and my attitude towards the gay community dramatically changed. Today I am proud to say that yes Gary Pye was my Uncle and his legacy changed my thinkings and attitude, its now amazing to see sectors of the Catholic church are still fighting for acceptance. Non Nobis Domine Non Nobis Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam.

Damian Pye | 12 June 2012  

Julie, As a Catholic Priest, I totally disagree with your personal infallible decree, that only scripture is infallible. After all it was the infallible decrees of the Catholic Church that decided which scripture was authentic Christian scripture, versus sundry, free floating, somewhat zany and heretical non canonical scripture, aka 'apocrypha'. 'Scripture-alone principle' didn't establish their canonical veracity. The apocrypha, though used cautiously in multiple attestation for biblical events, nonetheless, as revelation, they are taken at best, 'cum grano salis'. By the way I am a 'bible believing Christian' too [but not an infallabilist 'fundo']

Father John Michael George | 13 June 2012  

St Jerome did a great job of interpreting scripture especially in relation to devilish adversaries women and Jews. Still widely read and acclaimed Father of the Church.

L Newington | 13 June 2012  

Some guiding light from Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky might help clarify both sides of the debate here: "Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others."

AURELIUS | 13 June 2012  

David Panther, the bible does not mention any type of genital acts, let alone homosexuality. The best way to crush the human spirit is to render the core of someone's being to be invalid - thereby making even that which causes them to suffer to be non-existent. It's a very cunning form of cruelty.

AURELIUS | 13 June 2012  

For all of you appealing to the scriptures, I'm guessing you all find a convenient way to justify the continuation of armed conflict in the world, given that Jesus strictly prohibited it, even as a form of self defence. John 18:36 "Jesus answered: 'My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.'” Nowhere in the bible does he give us such strict instruction on the same-sex expressions of affection.

AURELIUS | 13 June 2012  

Aurelius: The best way to crush the human spirit is to render the core of someone's being to being invalid-thereby making even that which causes them to suffer to be non-existant.
It's a very cunning form of cruelity.
If I ever forget to give you the creditation, forgive me.
How many can quietly claim that for themselves,
I have to get that out there!

L Newington | 13 June 2012  

Aurelius can split hairs all day arguing no mention of homosexuality in scripture,BUT: "God gave them up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (Rom 1:26-27). In the First Letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle, among other things, gives a list of vices to be avoided: "Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God" (6:9-10). Re full treatment: http://www.ewtn.com/library/humanity/homo3.htm

Father John Michael George | 13 June 2012  

Is it the church they embrace or the fundamental beliefs and ethics of that churcH??? Does one need to be in a building, accepted by bigots to be accepted and loved by God?? I think not; if one lives by the motto of "Do not deliberately harm/hurt another" or "Do NOT unto others as you would NOT have them do to you" then I think God will know you are righteous.

Claire Hughes | 13 June 2012  

People it appears there is an argument being developed on both sides of the equation, but realistically we all have our beliefs and interpretations of the teachings in the bible, but we base all our beliefs on what was given to us by God through the Ten Commandments not alter them to suit our way of life. Homosexuality has been around for centuries as has Islam, Buddism, Hinduism and until we all accept that these are going to be around for a long time to come this world can not and will not live in peace,when my Uncle started his acceptance campaign Im am sure at the time he was not aware of where our society would be today. Any one who wants to attack the lives people choose to lead then I say this LET HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE think about that for a while. So if you have the perfect life feel free to comment on how others live. Every one is entitled to an opinion but some just are not warranted.

Damian Pye | 15 June 2012  

Aurelius, the Church has never condemned same-sex affection, be it fraternal, paternal or otherwise. Scripture and magisterium, as I have shown, castigate homosexual genital acts. Thus, your sudden maraud into Jesus on war, vis a vis condemning same sex affection, would even flabbergast Dostoevsky.

Father John Michael George | 15 June 2012  

Irrespecticve of Aurelius splitting hairs, and the content of Romans 1: 26.27, behaviour of members of the priesthood haven't always past the test scripturally, and that carrying the Papal imprimatur. No need for bibical quotes there.

L Newington | 15 June 2012  

Father John Michael George, the passages you refer to in the bible refer to the sin of infidelity and unfaithfulness - men and women with families become licentious and promiscuous. Also, in the bible passage you quoted, the translation is not "homosexual" as it wasn't a recognised concept back then - and most translations use the word "effeminate" which could be regarded as a reflection of Paul's scruples and preoccupations in this area. Also the emphasis on genitality and the prohibition thereof has been unecessarily overstated. The teaching is the same for unmarried heterosexual people but they are not stigmatised to the same extent and most people realise that this is a grey area.

AURELIUS | 15 June 2012  

Leaving aside Aurelius 'limpwristed Paul' hypothesis:[By the way I maintain spirit guided magisterial exegesis as of far greater authority than the Aurelius revisionist take, frankly [limpwristed or other!]
Traditionally, six texts in Scripture have been accepted in Christian Churches as condemnations of homosexual behavior. Genesis (19.1–29) contains the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by God for wickedness which included homosexual demands on Lot's guests.[nb revealed exegesis of same:the author of the Letter of Jude refers to Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding towns which indulged in unnatural vice, with the admonition that their punishment is meant to dissuade us (1.6-8). Leviticus forbids practices such as adultery and bestiality, and includes the prohibition: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination" (18.20–23), a condemnation repeated in Lv 20.13.
Aurelius revisionism, that absolutely no one had any idea about homosexuality in New Testament times, is preposterous[ I fully agree, there were no gay pride marches, or Jewish gay games, or synagogue gay unions but is Aurelius suggesting homosexuality is a new millennium, DNA anomaly[this beats his Pauline, limp-wrist dogmatics] Aurelius makes Jesus Seminar coloured beads exegesis, look like infallible edicts!

Father John Michael George | 16 June 2012  

Father George Michael, scriptural interpreters explain that the events at Sodom and Gomorrah refer to acts of homosexual rape and paedophilia - not consensual, faithful acts.

AURELIUS | 18 June 2012  

In 1986 the CDF dealt precisely with gay exegetical reductionisms. CDF Prefect, Cardinal Ratzinger noted: "4. An essential dimension of authentic pastoral care is the identification of causes of confusion regarding the Church's teaching. One is a new exegesis of Sacred Scripture which claims variously that Scripture has nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality, or that it somehow tacitly approves of it, or that all of its moral injunctions are so culture-bound that they are no longer applicable to contemporary life. These views are gravely erroneous and call for particular attention here:" http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

Father John Michael George | 18 June 2012  

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