Pope

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Pope, Pat and Tutu all speak out on faith and LGBT

Published July 30, 2013 by Katy J Went
This week has seen Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Pope and firebrand Pat Robertson, speak out on LGBT identity and faith positions. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the usually extreme fundamentalist homophobic Pat Robertson who, when questioned on TV about transgender, said:

“I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that. I don’t condemn somebody for doing that…It’s not for you to decide or to judge.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/pat-robertson-transgender_n_3672244.html

Is age or grace softening him or is he seeking to get one up on the Pope’s latest announcement that being gay or a woman might actually be ok, just don’t ask to be a priest.

Pope Francis has affirmed gay orientation, but not practice (which still requires forgiveness) nor equal marriage. Also, on women, they are to be more proiminent but  “But with regards to their ordination, “the Church has spoken and says no… That door is closed.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23489702

Meanwhile, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of South Africa, has blown people away with his statement on homosexuality, coming from a continent where even more usually liberal-minded Anglicanism is homophobic. He said that he would rather go to hell than a homophobic heaven and could not worship a homophobic God. He was speaking at the launch of a United Nations gay rights program in South Africa:

“We have to build a society that is accepting and it is not a free society until every single person knows they are acknowledged and accepted for who they are.”

“I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

“I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.”

“I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”, “I think it’s as utterly unjust as racism ever was.”

“Can you imagine me having said it’s unjust to penalise something they cannot do anything about, their race or gender, and then to keep quiet when people are hounded, people are killed, because of their sexual orientation?”

South Africa may have deep divisions and violence still but it is the only African country to fully support equality of race, sex and LGB identity, allowing gay marriage since 2006, 7 years before the UK and France. The laws passed with overwhelming political support.

South Africa was also the first country in the world to protect sexual orientation as a human right in its constitution. Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender or sexual orientation, has been against the law there since the 1994 interim and 1997 final constitutions.

Homophobic attacks in South Africa are, if anything, on the rise and especially of lesbians. Several having been murdered and even mutilated over the last year.

Of the world’s 76 nations that criminalise homosexuality 39 are in sub-Saharan Africa, with some of their homophobic campaigning allegedly encouraged and supported by American fundamentalist Christian organisations.

Transgender and Intersex people have also had a level of legal recognition for gender change since 2004 when the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act (2003) came in to force, although in 10 years only 95 people have taken advantage of it since medical and/or surgical proof is often deemed to be required and many officials are still transphobic and reluctant to implement the law according to reports.

It’s slow speed ahead, but a seed of change nonetheless. One can easily jump on the ongoing LGBTIphobia, and one should – yet acknowledge too that 14 nations and 14 US states bringing in same-sex marriage laws, with several denominations increasingly and fully accepting LGBTI identities is a gathering storm of progress. Bigotry will not fall in a day and inching towards equality should be celebrated without letting them off the hook for hypocrisy and double standards.

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Odds on black Papal favourite Turkson wants to convert my “trendy alternative gender” identity

Published February 14, 2013 by Katy J Went

Diversity? The possibility of the modern era’s first black pope, yet this would be twinned with the more traditionalist evangelical stance of African Catholicism that would rather deliver and exorcise me of my “trendy alternative gender” identity! Gender and Sexuality are as difficult to change as the colour of one’s skin.

Turkson has said, 

“We need to find ways of dealing with the challenges coming up from society and culture,” he said, adding that the Church needed to “evangelise”, or convert, those who had embraced “alternative lifestyles, trends or gender issues”. He added: “We cannot fail in our task of providing guidance.”

Cardinal Turkson has caused controversy in the past both by screening a video claiming that Europe faced being overrun by Muslims and by insisting that condoms were not the solution to preventing HIV.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/9866227/Pope-resigns-Peter-Turkson-reveals-vision-for-the-Church-and-alternative-lifestyles.html

I’ve met trans and intersex Catholics, one was indeed among many that the Roman Catholic church literally hounded out of convents and colleges, under the auspices of the current Pope when he was head of the Inquisition, I mean, Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei – the Doctrine of the Faith, of which Ratzinger was Prefect from 1981 till 2005.

“Under the influence of Paul McHugh, a transphobic Johns Hopkins psychiatrist and conservative Catholic ideologue (and advisor to the Vatican on sexual matters), the Vatican pronounced in 2000 that transsexualism “does not exist” – claiming that it is a form of insanity instead.” http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/CatholicTSDecision.html

The “mental instability” of transsexuals is constantly referred to in the Vatican document, allegedly rendering trans unsuitable for ministry, untrustworthy in marriage, and to be expelled from religious communities – permission for which was given.

Catholics who have undergone “sex-change” procedures are not eligible to marry, be ordained to the priesthood or enter religious life…”The key point is that the (transsexual) surgical operation is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality. If the person was male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female…”
 
The document’s conclusions close one area of controversial speculation that arose in Italy in the late 1980s when a priest publicly announced he had undergone a “sex-change” operation.

Given church teaching that only males can be validly ordained priests, the question posed in newspapers at the time was whether a priest who undergoes a “sex-change” operation remains a priest — the answer is “yes” — and whether a woman who undergoes the procedure can be ordained — “no.”

So basically the church still has its knickers in a theological twist over gender. A transwoman remains a man in Roman Catholic eyes but is mentally ill and untrustworthy and therefore should not be in ministry and a transman remains a woman and women can not serve as vicars of Christ on earth. 

It is time for the Christian orthodoxy to reflect on the statements of Jesus, such as Matthew 19:12: 

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’” 

And to look at the then current Jewish teaching on intersex and third gender including eunuchs and androgynous tumtum etc. Even the Hebrew Bible in the book of Isaiah, written centuries before the Church came into being, was more enlightened: 

 “To the eunuchs … to them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56:4-5)

Isaiah does not proclaim healing, deliverance or expulsion from religious communities and ministry, but the granting of a name “better” than that of son or daughter, a recognised status as a third gender, whom Jesus and St Philip (Acts 8:26-40) further acknowledged as accepted in their existing state (born or made that way) and able to serve the community of believers.