Mar 28, 2010


This just in from Clerical Whispers

"Catholics Need to Address Global Sex Abuse Scandal" By Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Cry out as if you had a million voices, it is silence that kills the world,” said St. Catherine of Siena, a courageous reformer who lived from 1347-1380, at a time of grave scandal when three men, each claiming to be the pope, shook the church to its foundation.

Today Catholics live in a time when the institutional church has lost credibility because of the cover-up of a global sex abuse scandal that, like a rapidly spreading cancer, is destroying the moral fiber of our church.

Like St. Catherine, we, the people, need to speak truth to our church leaders including our bishops and our pope. Silence is compliance.

It was silence on the part of many good people that allowed world-wide atrocities such as the Holocaust and the rape and murder of hundreds of thousands of women and children in tribal warfare in Africa to continue without world intervention.

Roman Catholics can no longer be silent about the thousands of victims throughout Europe and around the world who were sexually assaulted by Catholic clergy.

The growing number of allegations of sexual abuse in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands indicate that the cover-up of crimes against children and youth in the Catholic Church goes all the way to the Pope and the Vatican.

In the U.S. the sex abuse scandal has destroyed the lives of victims and their families, bankrupted some dioceses and cost the Church over two billion dollars.

Approximately two-thirds of sitting U.S. bishops were alleged in 2002 to have kept accused priests in ministry or moved them to new assignments.

Nineteen bishops in the United States have been accused of sexual abuse.

The Vatican's record on child abuse was criticized at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva,Switzerland on March 16, 2010.

Pope Benedict, the former Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, has been linked to the case of a German priest convicted of molesting children but allowed to continue to minister in Ratzinger’s archdiocese for more than 30 years until his recent suspension.

Later, as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge of reviewing sexual abuse cases for the Vatican.

The cases were handled under a strict code of pontifical secrecy.

The Vatican has handled more than 3,000 cases, according to its own report.

Since Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, is implicated in the handling of the cases, civil authorities should investigate the alleged cover-up to assure that transparency and justice is achieved.

Catholics should call on the all-male leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, especially those in the Vatican, to admit their failures, including the abuse of power at the center of this crisis. Catholics should call for the resignation of bishops who covered-up sex abuse.

Standards of accountability must be the norm for all, including the pope and hierarchy.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests have called for an independent truth commission made up of a broad representation of people of integrity, including victims of abuse and the non-ordained, to examine this global sexual abuse crisis and to chart a path forward to structural change - a change which would include women priests and married priests with an end to mandatory celibacy.

Now more than ever our Church needs the wisdom and experience of women to re-birth a renewed community of equals empowered by the Spirit. Roman Catholic Womenpriests offer a collaborative model of an inclusive Church rooted in partnership with the people we serve, with no one excluded.

Bridget Mary Meehan is a Roman Catholic Womanbishop serving the southern region of the U.S. She is author of 18 books and has produced television programs on prayer, spirituality, and women's issues.)

Mar 27, 2010


 Heartbreaking comment from Tom Doyle on the current sex abuse crisis within the RCC. See The Progressive Catholic Voice for full interview.

Tom Doyle: To begin the process of restoration, I believe that the current pope needs to stand up and make a public apology. Not that those mistakes were made in the past – they always do in the past tense and there’s a subtle message there that this is in the past and not now. The pope should say: “I’m sorry for what I did in my negligence to allow this to happen. I’m sorry that I did not fire bishops when I knew they were covering up.”

But I don’t believe that will happen in my lifetime.

Rubén Rosario: Why?

Tom Doyle: Because to protect their own self-identity, they will cling to the premise that they are appointed by the Almighty and are the vicars of Christ and the essence of the church. They believe this will dissolve their power. It’s all about control, and it’s all about power.

Rubén Rosario: You spent a month counseling or meeting with scores of alleged clergy abuse victims in Ireland. How did that go?

Tom Doyle: Yes. I cannot put into words the anguish and the pain of what these men and some women went through. Once I gained their trust, I apologize. I tell them how sorry (I am that the church) covered up. And every time, without exception, many with tears in their eyes, they said to me: “You are the first one from the church who has ever said that to me.”

Rubén Rosario: So you apologize for a church that once you believed in but that has basically relegated you to outcast status?

Tom Doyle: Yes. But I do this because I know how important (a church apology) is to these people.


 (Another great sign of the emerging future church, rising out of the ashes of the dying patriarchal, hierarchical clerical caste system. Thanks to Contemplative Catholic for the link to the this wonderful resource website, Progressive Spirituality Network. Here is the foundational statement.)


Between the no longer and the not yet

Spirituality is maturing and Religion is diminished.
We are here to help with renewal and healing.

   We are a growing network of  "those who care" within the Church and beyond who:

  1. Care for those who have left the Church without adequate support for their questions and concerns about faith and practice.
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Are you looking for spiritual resources and fail to find them in rituals and practices that belong to another world?
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LINKS with affinity to the Progressive Spirituality Network

Common Dreams - Australia & Pacific
Progressive Christianity Network   SA   VIC   WA   CA  UK  USA
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Sojourners: Christians for Justice & Peace
Network of Spiritual Progressives USA
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Living The Questions Downunder
St Mary's Community in Exile
Paddington Uniting Church
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Westar Institute
  Faith Futures
Lay forum

Saint Mary's Community in Exile

Peter Kenedy 21.03.10 from St Mary's on Vimeo.

Thanks once again to Contemplative Catholic for the link to this extraordinary and not-to-be missed video and this comment:

Do take time to listen to Peter Kennedy’s homily from St Mary’s Community in exile Brisbane. Like him and his community or not (and I do of course) they have a lot to say to the church today.

The progressive spirituality network he mentions in the homily has a website well worth a visit. There is also comment regarding the unfolding and ongoing scandal of abuse among the clergy.

St Mary's Community is also one of those prophetic voices in the world pointing the way towards new ways in which the church could be if it dared listen !

"If we have any future at all, we have to take all of the dogmas and doctrines of the Catholic Church, we have to order a pink bin, and throw them all in." Father Patrick Kennedy

Mar 26, 2010

Great Comment

I loved this comment at the Daily Dish yesterday:

He was handsome and charming and we called him “father what a waste.”  A catholic priest saved my life - the Catholic church saved my life.  He never once laid a hand on me – and I pray to God he never once laid a hand on anyone else.  As the seemingly endless flood of revelations of sex abuse emerge, I weep for the church, I weep that I find myself hoping against hope that the priest I so respected never abused a child. 
Maybe, just maybe, the spirit of God is working in the world – that these revelations are occurring in Lent should suggest it is time for the church to reflect on what truly matters, to give up what it must give up in order to bring itself back into accordance with the spirit of God.

In these terrible moments, as one shocking, horrifying wave of revelations hits us, we need to remind ourselves of the great number of genuinely spiritual persons struggling to hold this wounded community together and doing so with integrity against great odds and under great pressure. 

Political Sacrifices Still Made at Rome's Altar of Power

 Taken from:

Mary Ann Sorrentino's Blog/Salon

A quarter century ago-- at a time when about 10 priests in RI had already been accused of sexually abusing children-- the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence tried to stop my then-14-year-old daughter from making her confirmation because of her mother's work with Planned Parenthood.  When that conversation took place in our pastor's office (and was taped by me) I was also told not to come to the rail since I was excommunicated because of that same work.
My reply?
"Let me understand this, Father. Because of my work with women at Planned Parenthood, you don't want me to come to the rail and take communion from the hands of a man who sexually abuses children. Is that what you're telling me, Father?"
The old man mumbled something about not condemning all priests for the actions of "one or two." My daughter was eventually confirmed: 25 years later we all look beyond the Catholic Church for whatever religious support we seek.
The "one or two" pedophile priests-- and those who had multiple sexual contacts (consensual and forced) with adult women and men-- are now known as legions. From around the globe, reports still flood in from former, and current, victims. Most shockingly, the Vatican, under Pope Benedict XVI, continues to stonewall such allegations and does as little as possible to stop the offenders.
This week, a priest named Lawrence C. Murphy stands accused of having sexually molested over 200 deaf boys in his flock at St. John's School for the Deaf in Wisconsin. At the same time, Benedict in Rome was accepting the resignation of Irish Bishop John Magee accused of mishandling charges of sexual abuse there.
The scandals go on and on, bankrupting diocese after diocese and sending even devout Catholics to search of a church with more integrity. In the process, more and more evidence points to former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the Pope, as a central figure at the Vatican's highest levels of power and an engineer of the church's apparent deliberate and orchestrated determination not to expose offending priests and others to public scrutiny, investigation and, ultimately, punishment for their crimes. One of the Vatican's best cover-ups seems, after centuries in place, to be unraveling.
When I was thrown out, there had not been a public pronouncement of excommunication (and certainly none related to abortion services) for centuries. But my diocese was in disarray with documented scandals surfacing daily and rumors that went to the highest offices of the chancery where Bishop Louis Gelineau (since retired) mainly hid from public comment.
The local Monsignor (and former Rome protégé of Ratzinger) was Salvatore Matano who was eventually rewarded with a bishopric in Vermont for providing my daughter and me as a distraction from the diocese's exploding scandals.
In the politics of the Vatican, stoolpigeons and wannabes report alleged infractions to their superiors and are rewarded. Those who try to argue for the true meaning of dogma and the exercise of free will are punished. Hypocrisy wins out over truth every time and the faithful are given "my way of the highway" choices by Rome.
(Bishop Matano went on to bring his diocese in Vermont close to bankruptcy with the settling of pedophile cases, and has since become a more tacit figure.)
Joseph Ratzinger, instead, went on to the papacy, but he was a papal choice that many priests, bishops and even cardinals in the know looked upon with skepticism, at best.  He lacked the charisma of his predecessor John Paul II and certainly had no use for the ecumenism of John XXIII for whom most of the faithful (and clergy) still yearn.
His personal history as a boy, later priest and bishop, in his native Germany has always had a shadow that looked too much like a swastika to reassure his critics. His record as the head of the Vatican's CIA-equivalent (The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) is rife with vindictive judgments against any individuals-- clerical of lay-- who did not interpret dogma as Ratzinger saw it. During his tenure, there were plenty of punishments for Catholic intellectuals, and even more of ignoring Catholic clergy guilty of heinous crimes, sexual, larcenous, and otherwise. About 20 years ago, Ratzinger in fact, gave the direct order to all Catholic bishops to report the burgeoning sexual scandals only directly to his office in Rome. This was the beginning of Vatican-gate under which complying bishops often did not report such crimes to their local civil authorities.
Whether or not the ultimate exposure of Ratzinger can bring his papacy to an end is doubtful. The church has a long history of protecting its pontiffs, even when they ordered killings, allowed faithful to be slaughtered, fathered illegitimate children, stole and worse.
Short of the unlikely revival of the feudal practices-- rumored to have been used last on Pope John Paul I-- where pontiffs making waves might be poisoned (or tossed in the Tiber, or fatally injured by an arranged fall off their horse) Ratzinger will be pope until his death.
Thus it is clear that the brutal politics of Rome make anything inside Washington's beltway-- or in the darkest political reaches of Iran, Russia, or Beijing-- look extremely benign by comparison.



Thanks to Michael Bayley at Wild Reed  and William Lindsey at Bilgrimage for linking to this superb analysis by Andrew Sullivan of the current sex abuse scandal unfolding/revealing itself across Europe. 
Sin or Crime?

By Andrew Sullivan

The Daily Dish
March 25, 2010

What’s fascinating in the steady onslaught of new incidences of previous cover-ups of child rape and molestation in the Catholic hierarchy is the notion that the hierarchs tended to see child rape as a sin rather than a crime. Hence the emphasis on forgiveness, therapy, repentance - rather than removal, prosecution and investigation. Obviously, there’s one reason for this: they were defending the reputation of the church by hiding its darkest secrets, and they were using the authority of religion to do so. But I suspect it’s also true that this is how they genuinely thought of child rape or abuse.

How could that be, one asks? Well: imagine you are a young gay Catholic teen coming into his sexuality and utterly convinced that it’s vile and evil. What do you do? I can tell you from my own experience. You bury it. But of course, you can’t bury it. So you objectify sex; and masturbate. You cannot have sexual or even emotional contact with a teenage girl, because it is simply impossible, and you certainly cannot have sex with another teenage boy or you will burn in hell for ever ... so you have sex with images in your own head. Your sex life becomes completely solitary. It can be empowered by pornography or simply teenage imagination. Some shard of beauty, some aspect of sensuality, some vision of desire will keep you sexually energized for days.

Now suppose your powers of suppression and attachment to religious authority are also strong - perhaps stronger because you feel so adrift you need something solid to cling onto in your psyche. And you know you cannot marry a woman. But you want to have status and cover as a single man. If this is the 1950s and 1960s, it’s into the Church you go. You think it will cure you. In fact, it only makes you sicker because your denial is buttressed by their collective denial. And the whole thing becomes one big and deepening spiral of lies and corruption.

Many of these tormented men have arrested sexual and emotional development. They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. And their sexuality has been frozen at the first real moment of internal terror: their early teens. So they tend to be attracted still to those who are in their own stage of development: teenage boys. And in their new positions, they are given total access to these kids who revere them for their power.

So they use these children to express themselves sexually. They barely see these children as young and vulnerable human beings, incapable of true consent. Because they have never had a real sexual relationship, have never had to deal with the core issue of human equality and dignity in sex, they don’t see the children as victims. Like the tortured gay man, Michael Jackson, they see them as friends. They are even gifted at interacting with them in non-sexual ways. One theme you find in many of these stories is that until these screwed up priests’ abuse and molestation is revealed, they often have a great reputation as pastors. As emotionally developed as your average fourteen year old wanting to be loved, they sublimate a lot of their lives into clerical service. But they also act out sexually all the time.

And they know that many around them have the same patterns, and so a truly sick subculture perpetuates this. In the end, it is all about themselves and their pathologies, how to express them and how to hide them. As social sexual tolerance advances, and as fewer straight men are prepared to give up sex for life to become priests, the proportion of screwed up pastors increases. In this self-protective environment, these priests do not even see the children as fellow humans. They remain like those solitary abstract images in their heads. So they cannot fully grasp the enormity of the crime they are committing and see it merely as another part of the vortex of their sexual sin.

So they cover up for one another; they fear that if one of them falls, they will all fall; even those who are not totally screwed up about sex are eager to prevent the church's secret from being exposed. But the more they cover up, the bigger the calamity when it all emerges. And when it’s clear that at the center of this kind of pathological secrecy and shame is the current Pope, then it is clear that the entire institution is corrupt from the top down.

These men are too objectively disordered to run a church. They bask in self-denial, while they wage a culture war against gay men who have actually dealt with their sexuality, who have owned it, and celebrated it and even found ways to channel it into adult relationships and even civil marriage.

We all know this game is now over. The current Pope is now found directly responsible for two clear incidents of covering up or ignoring child abuse and rape. As head of the organization that took responsibility for investigating these cases for so long, his complicity in this vast and twisted criminal conspiracy is not in dispute. If he were the head of a secular organization, he would have already resigned and be cooperating with the police.

But he is the Vicar of Christ on earth.

It’s hard to imagine a deeper crisis for the Catholic hierarchy than this. If the church is to survive - and it will because it is the vessel of eternal truth - it will have to go through a wrenching transformation.

Beginning with the resignation of this Pope and an end to priestly celibacy.

Mar 25, 2010

Sacred Heart of Jesus: Show them the money

Found this fascinating response to the Sacred Heart scandal with equally fascinating responses below - at ClayBonnymanEvan's Blog


Absolutely predictable that many Boulder residents (and many elsewhere, too) are outraged by the Archdiocese of Denver’s decision to boot a preschooler and kindergartner from Sacred Heart of Jesus school because their parents are gay.

Archbishop Charles Chaput (he says it's pronounced "slap-you") has never been much bothered by a hypocritical or inconsistent application of doctrine.
Even some parents of children at the school have strenuously objected.
I appreciate the sentiment, but guess what? Unless and until parents start withdrawing their children from the school – i.e. hitting the church in the pocketbook, where it really counts – all the protest in the world won’t make any difference.

2 Responses to “Sacred Heart of Jesus: Show them the money”

  1. When I hear about stuff like this, I’m reminded that we’re not doing our job properly. Our job as secular humanists, is to temper the tendencies of religion to devolve into its natural state of demonizing the infidels. The Christians would have you believe that their god is one of love and nowadays, well, generally they’re right. But if you look at history, every religion (except Buddhism which is not a religion in the normal sense) degrades into this faithful/infidel where the influences of secular humanism is not strong. Remember the Spanish Inquisition and the Puritans and the dark ages in general.

    It’s funny since the theists like to complain about secularism yet its secularism that keeps them as “loving” and “caring”.

  2. When will we relegate this antiquated (and dangerous) religion to the dustbin of history? Not anytime soon, it appears, and we owe that to the Catholics who either tolerate the church’s indiscretions – or worse, endorse them. We have a prolonged, widespread pedophilia scandal in the church where the leaders are shown to hide (or even defend) serial child molesters and many Catholics (most?) still look to the church for moral guidance. How sick is that?
    Slowly but surely reason will overcome “faith”, science will overcome religion and theism will fade away. Give it another 100 years, but that time is coming.

    Well, I can't say I blame these individuals for their sentiments about the nature of organized religion, given the toxic witness of Catholic leadership in our times. For those of us spiritually connected to the Christian/Catholic tradition, it is both a sad and heartbreaking time to see the mystery of the Church so wounded and abused by those in power. But it is also a time of hope as we witness the false idols of the clerical caste system and hierarchical power crumble into dust. Out of the ashes......Jayden

Mar 24, 2010


 John McNeill has posted a very powerful open letter to Pope Benedict at the progressive blog, Open Tabernacle:

An Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Levada, Cardinal George and all Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the World on the Issue of Homosexuality:

My initial open letter of November 2000 was addressed to the American Bishops at their annual conference. In the past ten-plus years, the contents of the letter have taken on greater relevance and force in the light of new scientific discoveries concerning the nature of homosexual orientation and the psychological and spiritual needs of GLBT people, as well as recent statements from the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching authority out of touch with those discoveries.

As a result, I would like to readdress the letter to the following: Pope Benedict XVI; Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and his fellow American bishops and, finally, to all the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the world.

Catholic gay and lesbian people demand that, if the Church wants to be seen as their loving mother, mediating to us God’s unconditional love, the Church has no choice except to enter into dialogue with its gay members. In 1974, the delegates of DignityUSA’s first national convention requested in a letter that a dialogue be opened between the American bishops and the members of the Catholic gay and lesbian community. With very few exceptions that letter was ignored. 

Now, 38 years later, once again in the name of my Catholic lesbian siters and gay brothers I call for open dialogue...

read the rest of the letter here

Mar 22, 2010


Have been busy lately moving house to a beautiful, larger apartment on the Vltava with a great view of the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. So I guess I'm a European now. I have the 'Eucharist' "reserved" in the bedroom and the feeling of sacredness emanating from out of that room and flooding the space is an extraordinary and utterly gracious gift. Just to walk back and forth from one room to the other highlights the sense of "Presence" from this gift within the home. Not the same feeling in my previous studio when I was constantly in the presence of the Eucharist. When first entering the flat, I was always conscious of its reality and gave reverence the first few moments in the space, and then went about my ordinary business. This new space gives an entirely different experience, moving from one space that 'feels' ordinary into another that feels filled with warmth and light.

Have taken off for Germany on another school trip again (I'm a part time teacher and am frequently asked to chaperon for these trips, which are great fun.) Back on Sunday, when I hope to resume blogging of a sort with some reactions to the unfolding abuse crisis in the Church and the  resulting 'demythologization' presently underway of the sacerdotal priesthood. Am also just finishing up Peter Ackeroyd's biography of Thomas More, a martyr to unity at the time of the shattering experience of the  Protestant Reformation. Inspiring and illuminating

Mar 14, 2010


There is something Catholic in the wind and it smells a bit like mutiny. It sounds like the early morning clarion call on the hushed day of battle, with a hint of frustration and a dollop of American liberty all tied up in larger issues of equality for women and minorities. It is laced with the strong conviction that the bishops no longer speak for the Catholic Church and that the voices of the bishops are no longer the voice of Jesus Christ. If yesterday’s planning session is any indication, it will probably be called “Catholics for Equality” and if all goes as tentatively planned, you may look for it in a diocese near you by Pentecost Sunday (which commemorates the Spirit inflaming the hearts of the disciples and sending them into the crowd they had previously feared to proclaim boldly everything they knew to be true.)
-Ft Tony, Bilerico Project.

taken from Queering the Church

Mar 12, 2010


 By James Parker (The Times OnLine)

Anyone who has endured years of teenage, and often adult, angst coming to terms with their homosexual attraction, as Alexandra Mankowitz recounted in The Times Online last Monday, cannot help but be deeply moved.
Like her, I too came out at 17, and felt incredible shame and abject loneliness trying to dodge the assumption of heterosexuality and the homophobic bullying that was ever present in the Northern mining community in which I grew up.
Unlike her, however, my parents had no gay friends. Nor were there any visible gay role models within spitting distance of the Watford Gap to offer a hand of hope or consolation in my time of despair and silent suffering.
I was raised in a Christian household and experienced only unconditional love, both before and after declaring my homosexual nature. Yet for many in the gay community, religions represent nothing other than bastions of division and rejection. For some time I too shared this belief, until I was presented with a fresh challenge.
My life calling, I wholeheartedly believed, was to challenge the leaders of religion that homosexuals should be treated with the same dignity and rights as everyone else. This was especially true of the Christian community in which I had been raised. The more senior the religious leader’s role, the more I rose to the challenge.
Along the journey of acrimonious engagement with different expressions of Christianity I came across some startling, dare I say life-changing, revelations. In short, I came to understand that some of the people and organisations that I had consistently learned to blame and finger-wag for my despair were in fact conduits of my discovering an equal standing with others. This in turn led to a deeper sense of self-acceptance and my despair metamorphosing into a rich hope.
The season of Lent, the 40-day period in the run up to Easter, has become a great gift to me and to many homosexual men and women I know. It is the season where we recognise that no one gets it right all the time, that everyone is in need of compassion and mercy, and that before God we all experience apartheid, sexual or otherwise, in some form or other.
The life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ take on a whole new meaning and relevance when we each willingly and humbly acknowledge and release our prejudices, sufferings and judgements of others to God who came in human form. He is the one who has taken into himself any shame, despair, and the inequalities that so many of us feel and experience through life. He is the one that transforms our exclusion into inclusion, not with the righteous and conceited, but with the broken and meek. Everyone is welcome – Jew, Muslim, atheist, homosexual. Everyone.
In Christ there is no inequality and no changing legislation. Each person is met where they are and embraced with unconditional love.
For the past five years I have facilitated a group for men and women with homosexual attraction in the heart of London. Although authentically Catholic in both name and nature, it attracts a wide ethnicity and is attended by those of other Christian expressions, other faiths and unusually by those of no faith. It is the last thing I ever imagined doing when I first came out as a gay man in my late teens, especially as I saw the Catholic Church’s teaching as being the most archaic of all.
The group’s policy is to refuse to diminish anyone by using labels, and especially restrictive terms such as gay and lesbian, while honestly facing the reality of thoughts, feelings and actions. We seek to meet each other on our unique life journeys with authenticity and to bring them to the cross. It is here we have made sense of our sufferings and pain, and where crippling shame can be left behind.
Once stripped of a socio-sexual identity, which by its very nature can bring about feelings of inequality and exclusion, many report over time experiencing a deeper sense of integration within themselves and with those around them, and a new-found sense of equality irrespective of any homosexual feelings.
Many today call for increased legislation to rid our society of its seemingly draconian inequalities. And yet equality for one sector will always diminish the equality for another and thereby fail in the goal it seeks to attain.
Concern shared by some homosexual men and women is that pockets of society, including the so-called gay community and other minority groups, are looking for deep inner resolution merely through external means.
We have discovered, much to our surprise, that legislation will not, because it cannot, eradicate the deep sense of injustice that so many face. In fact, legislation can often further blind and hinder us from making the necessary inner journey we all have to take to bring about greater social equality.
James Parker facilitates the London EnCourage group.


 Prague 54-Istanbul 27 this afternoon at 3:30, which was a relief, but that was followed by  #1 Warsaw defeating us 38-26 at 6:30 this evening, putting us into fourth place (out of 6) for the playoffs tomorrow. Interesting experience working with young adolescents in this way. A tremendous learning experience for them and a real exercise in responsibility and concentration and cooperation, though I did have to lose my temper half way through the game with Warsaw. A bit of screaming from the sidelines and scolding as well, for sitting on the benches after the Instanbul win, feeling complacent and eating M & M's, instead of properly warming up. My lesbian friends would refer to the whole enterprise as a futile and silly display of the "male competitive ethos," but they would be wrong. Much more going on here than simply "ruling the world," especially in terms of sportsmanship and camaraderie, cooperation and learning how to lose gracefully with one's self respect intact and one's enthusiasm for the game, especially its esthetic aspects, undiminished. If only all wars could be settled this way.

Jayden Cameron reporting from The Howard Johnson Hotel, Bucharest, for Gay Mystic Sports News.

Mar 11, 2010


3 losses today, so dealing with some sad boys tonight. A very young team, four 9th graders - so for you British folks, this was their first tournament day as high schoolers American style. 15 years old. But they won the JV basketball tournament last year as 8th graders (Year 9's) for the network of Central and Eastern European Schools, so they had high hopes. Also two 12th graders, three 11th graders. Now they can only hope to come in 6th out of 7 schools. Don't know which was worse: the trouncing from Bucharest 52 to 27 or the close call with Moscow 41-40. So different from the drama tournaments. Also, a very different energy with an all male group of kids - more subdued. The girls liven things up quite a bit.

Mar 9, 2010


I'm off to Bucharest for five days with our boys' basketball team. I've already been warned to beware of the dogs in Bucharest, but it should be an interesting experience. I notice that McDonald's is here, so there's hope for civilization yet.I should add that I lived in Thailand for over twenty years and packs of wild homeless dogs also roam the streets, especially after dark in the upper end housing estates. They rule the roost from about 10pm onwards, making it impossible to walk or ride your bicycle in peace. Yet if you take the time to befriend them, an arduous risky process which I undertook one evening on the way home by whistling and calling gently to a wild pack of snarling, barking beasts, they become your loyal friends from that point onwards, rushing up towards you every time you appear in the night and jumping all over you with their mangy, flea ridden bodies. I wasn't sure what was worse, being threatened by these wild packs or being beloved, since some of them were very sick animals. Yet  underneath all the snarling, they were desperate for attention and affection and became fiercely protective of any human who took the time to break through the barriers and become their friend. There's a lesson here somewhere.

Mar 7, 2010


Have been neglecting this blog once again because I'm still in a tizzy over my new apartment.
But I have had time to read John Cornwell's superb evaluation of the contemporary church, entitled Breaking Faith,  published in 2001, just before the passing of John Paul II - and much of the book is anticipating that famous death and it's consequences for the church. Throughout the book, Cornwell quotes a number of distinguished theologian, journalists, commentators who lament the present state of the institutional church and warn of schism and fragmentation if things  continue on their present course. Every time I came across one of these very sincere laments, I had a very curious reaction - one of optimism and anticipation of a bit of schism and fragmentation, as a very healthy thing, provided one has trust in the Holy Spirit. That is probably an irresponsible attitude to take, but there it is. Cornwell quotes the then Cardinal Raztinger to the effect that a smaller, more purified church, purged of it's rebellious, heretical liberals, would not be a bad thing at all. In the final chapter, in which Cornwell surveys the field for possible contenders for the papal throne, he mentions a number of distinguished, graying gentlemen in crimson, but does not include Raztinger on the list. Curious omission. Well, we now know with startling clarity that the good German theologian/Cardinal has embarked upon a policy of purification and seems to be deliberately inviting schism of one sort or another. Except the days of schism are long past. As witnessed by such groups as Roman Catholic Women priests, the Spiritus Christi community of Rochester, New York, St. Mary's Brisbane and the Home Eucharist community, we see communities seemingly inspired by the Spirit striking out on their own without considering themselves formally separated from the Catholic tradition, the fulminations of authority figures notwithstanding. In other words, the pronouncements of 'leaders' are becoming increasingly irrelevant for a growing number of mature, responsible Catholic Christians, who are looking to the 'sense' of the whole church, the sensus fidelium, for their guidance and direction. And that certainly applies to sexual ethics. Again, in Breaking Faith. Cornwell quotes Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, Carlo Maria Martini, on the danger of schism and fragmentation. And the good Cardinal remarks that if the Catholic Church were to allow the ordination of women, we would see a fragmentation 1,000 times worse than the breakaway communities of Marcel Levebre and like. Perhaps. But that just reminds me of a quote by Irish theologian DIARMUID O'MURCHU:

What do you do with the people who don't want to move, that want to keep things as they always were, and are so rigid and frightened and scared, and you can't get them to move without badly damaging them, which I don't feel I have any right to do or anybody else has a right to do. Supposing you have this group That are totally rigid and stuck, if you like, and you have 50% that are yearning to go. Insofar as there are people that are committed primarily to life and to the evolution of life, the primary energy should move with the 50% that want to move. And then we keep a secondary energy to try and help and maintain the others in a meaningful way. So this principal is that you go primarily where the life is! I think the tendency, particularly in churches, is that we try to keep everything at the lowest common denominator to please those who want to keep things the way they are. That, in my opinion, is not what Jesus would do. That is not Christian gospel. I think we need to go where the life is, primarily, without abandoning the others. And we need to try and bring them with us, in so far as we can, in love, in charity, and also in challenge! And ok, if they choose to remain totally stuck, or totally where they are - let me not be too judgmental about it - ok, that is their freedom, that is their right if you like, but I think in the overall sense of things, whether at the human level, at the religious or spiritual level, I think this commitment to life always has to be honored. And so go where the life is primarily, put your energies primarily there. And then also spare some to try and maintain, in kindness and dignity, those that pretty much want to remain. And a corollary of that, of course, which is much more difficult and this requires a lot of skills, we do not allow this subgroup to dictate. And I think that's where leadership has a huge responsibility. Leadership has to put it's commitment with the new primarily.

And this leads me to another interesting and provocative quote from an unlikely source, Stephen Spielberg's Jurassic Park. The chaos theory scientist, Malcom (played by Jeff Goldblum) is talking to the biologist Wu (played by B. D. Wong - who played the transvestite Chinese opera singer in M. Butterfly) and the director of Jurassic Park, John Hammond (played by Richard Attenborough). The conversation focuses on the assurance given by Wu and Hammond to Malcom that the dinosaurs on Jurassic Park will not breed because they have been genetically modified:

Malcom: But again, how do you know they're all female? Does someone go into the park and, uh - - lift up the dinosaurs' skirts?

Wu: We control their chromosomes. It's not that difficult. All vertebrate embryos are inherently female anyway. It takes an extra hormone at the right development stage to create a male, and we simply deny them that.

Hammond: Your silence intrigues me.

Malcom: John, the kind of control you're attempting is not possible. If there's one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks through barriers. Painfully, maybe, even . . . dangerously, but . . . and ... well, there it is.

Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of females will breed?

Malcom: I'm simply saying that life - - finds a way. 

And of course, life did find a way, the dinosaurs did breed, because the scientists had committed one major oversight. They had used frog DNA to fill in the gaps in the partially damaged dinosaurs DNA recovered from mosquito blood frozen in fossils - not realizing that some South African frogs had the ability to change sex within one generation. Life finds a way! It doesn't take much ingenuity or imagination to see how this conversation applies metaphorically to the present state of the Roman Catholic Church - in reverse. The present day Vatican biologists are attempting to impose a thoroughly masculine order on the church, denying rights to women and gays. But the witness given by such Spirit inspired communities as St. Mary's Brisbane, Spiritus Christi, Roman Catholic Women Priests, and the Home Eucharist movement - to mention only a few - is that


(or as Scripture Scholar, Father Edward Malatesta S.J. said to a group of Jesuit novices in Montecito, California in 1970, referring to the sometimes startling and surprising appearance of new forms in the institutional life of the church)

and... well...there it is.