Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Christian Gay Group Asks Pope To Stop Homophobia


Saturday, June 11, 2011

EuroPride Conference Rome - Xarabank 10th June 2011

I arrived home yesterday from Rome, although I was very happy to see my beloved Marjon as well as my friends, Frederick and Edward who came to visit from Malta, my spirit was still somewhere in Rome. I was still savouring the conference and the wonderful speakers, amongst whom a Catholic priest who has celebrated something like two hundred same sex marriages even though it is strictly forbidden. Yes, you read correctly a Catholic priest in Italy who celebrates same sex marriages.

The conference was very intense and full of passionate speeches by no less than 12 speakers from different denominations as well as different nationalities. I cannot possible repeat anything that was said, it would be impossible for me to share it in the same way. So many stories and reflections were shared by men and women who clearly have spent years studying the Bible, questioning and deeply reflecting upon it. http://www.euroforumlgbtchristians.eu/index.php/lgbt-events/euro-pride/66-euro-pride-2011-rome-italy-euro-pride-2011-rome-italy/75-conference-glbt-people-and-christian-churches-in-europe-fears-and-opportunities-for-full-acceptance-and-inclusion

The highlight of the conference was the end prayer, we sang songs and read passages from the Bible (Psalm 86, 8-13, Matthew 11, 25-30). The most amazing and unbelievable part of this, was that even though we were one of many tents in the park and there was a cacophony of noise and music hitting us from all directions, it was as if we were in a cocoon. It was as if we were the only tent in the whole park, all we could hear was the sound of the guitar and each other singing and praying. I was looking around me, realising how strong the power of prayer and singing can be. I was extremely moved and once again I could not help but cry. I was certain that the Holy Spirit was amongst us, that our being there was God's work and that we have absolutely nothing to fear.

One of the songs that we sang was Kyrie Eleison and those who wanted to, could say a personal prayer. Even though I was crying, I felt a strong need to pray for those LGBT people who feel rejected by the Church. I asked God to let them know that they too could experience togetherness and acceptance. I prayed that they come back to Church because they have every right to be there and that they too are loved. I wanted them to know that in spite of all the oppression and fear that they might experience, loving someone of the same sex is sacred and holy. I was absolutely convinced of God's presence and that He/She was listening to each and every one of us.

Yes, I know I am repeating myself and I will keep doing so as long as there are people around us who try to instil fear, instead of fill us with the love of God. There are people around us who claim to know God's word simply because they have read the Bible from cover to cover, countless number of times. There are people who carry the Bible in their hands all day, become evangelists, start their own ministry and claim to know the absolute truth and nothing but the truth. Whilst I admire the verve with which they preach the word of God, I do not admire the way the Bible is used to patronise others, especially the LGBT community. Can one use the Bible in this way, can one really claim to know God's word without having first spent years of research and reflection?? What is the point of quoting it without having reflected upon it?

In my opinion last Friday's episode of Xarabank, (Friday 10th June 2011), was a clear example of this. (Xarabank is a Maltese programme where people are invited to form part of a panel to discuss a particular issue). Last Saturday evening I decided to watch the afore mentioned programme, one of the guests in the panel was Pastor Gordon John Manche. I thought to myself, let me see what this man has to say, I wondered if he would come across in the same way as the many speakers I have listened to so far.

Pastor Gordon John Manche has read the Bible from cover to cover, but does he really know the Bible? Unfortunately, even though it is clear that he does love the word of God, he was not convincing. He did not convince me that he has spent time in deep prayer and reflection. On several occasions during the programme, when confronted he could not answer clearly. When asked to interpret a verse from Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1Corinthians 14:34-35) his interpretation was shaky and doubtful. Many times during the programme, when challenged, he was evasive. However what struck me most was his inability to stay calm, on the contrary very often he became aggressive. It was as if the only way he could convince the audience as well as the panel was by becoming angry and by shouting. This lead me to think that he too is not really convinced other wise he would not react in that way. On the contrary, Mario Gerada, member of Drachma LGBT Christian group remained serene and humble when he answered questions. (Thank you, Mario, for being so positive, for being a true a witness for all Maltese LGBT people and for giving them hope).

My experience of other speakers is quite the opposite, last week I had the privilege to listen to and spend time with Fr. John McNeill. A gay man and ex Jesuit, who is the author of several books, The Church and the Homosexual, Freedom Glorious Freedom, to mention a couple. A few times during our conversations, I challenged Fr. John, I challenged his thoughts and ideas and every single time he answered me with quiet conviction. He answered from a place that clearly showed knowledge, research and deep reflection. He never felt threatened, he remained calm and the look in his eyes was serene. He was not afraid.

Winston Churchill once said, 'all we have to fear is fear itself'. Overcoming fear is not always an easy task especially when we have to contend with persons who try to instil it and take us to our own place of doubts. How can we overcome these fears and doubts? We are surrounded by authors who can answer many questions, people like Fr. John McNeill, Sr Jeannine Gramick, Sr. Margaret Farley, James Alison and many others. Read, read, read their books, read the Bible, reflect upon it, get together and discuss it. Reach out to others, reach out to Drachma LGBT Christian Group (http://www.drachmalgbt.blogspot.com/), do not struggle alone. I know that asking you to not be afraid is sometimes difficult, however I know that if you dig deep into your hearts and souls, you will find that God is there. If you allow Her/Him, She/He will guide you to a place where your fears will be chased away.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Gay Cristiani Lettera al Papa


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

'L'amore gay, un'opera di Dio'- L'Espresso

E' il Signore che ha creato gli omosessuali: e pensare che Lui abbia creato qualcosa di sbagliato è blasfemo. Il Papa, che è un teologo, dovrebbe capirlo». Parla il sacerdote gesuita John McNeill: «Sono felice di essere a Roma per celebrare negli stessi giorni la Pentecoste e l'Europride»

«L'amore omosessuale può essere un amore santo». «Il matrimonio gay è basato su persone che si sentono alla pari e il Papa dovrebbe capirlo». «La Chiesa dovrebbe superare la sua misoginia». A dirlo è John McNeill, sacerdote cattolico, fra i pionieri del movimento di liberazione dei diritti umani delle persone LGBT.

Mc Neill, arrivato a Roma dalla Florida, per presentare all'Europride, in anteprima mondiale, "Taking a Chance On God" (Scommettere su Dio) il documentario sulla sua vita del regista Brendan Fay, afferma con fermezza che «visto che anche la Chiesa riconosce l'omosessualità come qualcosa di innato, allora Dio ci ha creato così e pensare che ha creato qualcosa di sbagliato è blasfemo».

I suoi scritti, in particolare "La Chiesa e gli omosessuali", hanno ispirato la nascita di Dignity, movimento che lega gli omosessuali cattolici nel mondo, ma hanno causato anche una dura reazione delle autorità della Chiesa che gli hanno imposto il silenzio. Lui non l'ha rispettato. «Non potevo accettare un documento del Vaticano che definiva l'omosessualità come un disordine oggettivo», fa notare, «perché essere dipendenti da una persona che ti dice cosa fare è un atteggiamento infantile».

Nell'87 l'allora cardinale Ratzinger le ha ordinato il silenzio sulla questione dell'omosessualità. Lei non ha obbedito ed è stato espulso dall'ordine dei gesuiti. Pensa che ora si possa aprire un dialogo con Papa Benedetto XVI?
«Non ne ho idea. Spero che riveda la dottrina della Chiesa in chiave diversa. Si è creata una divisione tra quello che pensa il Papa rispetto alla base cattolica, basti considerare che il 65 per cento dei cattolici americani è favorevole ai matrimoni tra omosessuali. Ogni volta che Papa Benedetto XVI ribadisce posizioni retrograde, come sulle coppie di fatto, sui preservativi e sui gay, mette una distanza con il suo popolo, invece di ascoltarlo. Il matrimonio eterosessuale è nato nel XIII secolo ed è stato introdotto per sancire la compravendita della donna, considerata inferiore all'uomo. Il matrimonio gay invece è basato su persone che si sentono alla pari. Il Papa dovrebbe capirlo. Ma soprattutto io penso che il vero capo della Chiesa sia lo Spirito Santo. Il Papa è solo il leader politico del momento».

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fr John McNeill at EuroPride Rome 2011

Rome, beautiful Rome, I was here almost thirty years ago, back then, I was too young to appreciate its beautiful history as well as its charm. I think its still the same however I landed early in the evening (8.20pm) so it was already dark. A city looks different during the day.

In any case, as soon as I got off the plane, I was greeted by a hot sticky wind, which immediately reminded me of my beloved rock, Malta. I was excited as well as frustrated because the plane was delayed by an hour and the premiere of John McNeill's documentary 'Taking a Chance on God' was due to be screened at 9.45pm. I was definitely not going to make it on time. In fact I arrved at the hotel at 10.30pm. I quickly deposited my lugguage and made my way to the EuroPride park which happily, is only 300 meters away from the hotel. I thought that I would get there to find that it was all over, however in true Italian fashion (practically always late ;)) it had only just started. It was 10.45pm. I arrived just in time to hear Fr. John introduce himself as well as the documentary.

The tent was packed, all the chairs were taken, there was barely a place to stand and everyone was listening attentively. Listening to this charismatic 85 year old legendary, gay Jesuit priest, hanging on to his every word.

Short description about the documentary, not my words: 'Taking A Chance on God' is a 48 minute view of Fr. John's life and his dedication to the LGBT community. It is a story of the heart; the story of John McNeill’s love for his Church, his gay community, his Jesuit brothers, and his beloved companion and now legally wed spouse, Charlie Chiarelli. Taking A Chance on God gives a rare look into the heart of one inspiring man’s journey, as he negotiates his life as a Catholic priest, a gay man, and a courageous advocate for LGBT rights.

I have been staring at this cursor for about five minutes because I am trying to find the right words to describe what this man has done and what this man means to the LGBT world. I suppose it still needs time to sink in, I still need time to appreciate his courage and determination.

I want to honour this man and all he has done. I want to thank him for standing up and giving a voice to all those who were frightened, for not denying himself and the wholeness that he found in loving another man. He risked everything he loved so that he could let other people know that it is not evil to love someone of the same sex, on the contrary it is holy and good. He dedicated himself to psychological, theological and traditional research and wrote papers which received alot of attention. He travelled far and wide to tell his story but the Vatican told him to shut up. For several years he complied, however when the Vatican document (and here I will quote) defined homosexuality as “an objective disorder” and “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil', he could no longer remain silent. For having broken his silence he was expelled from the order he truly loves by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

I couldnt help but cry whilst watching the documentary and when I went to meet him I could see that he too was very emotional. I am grateful for having been able to meet this humble and whole man and for having been able to thank him personally for paving the way for the LGBT world and for making our life more possible. It is through the courage and determination of individuals like him that there has been so much change and acceptance in the LGBT world.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

President Obama and the LGBT Community | The White House


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Faith and Homosexuality Conference during Europride