Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Amazing! An Ally I Never Expected!

We find allies in strange places… how about in the Catholic church? Two stories that blew my mind, the first is out of Africa.
Homosexuality should not be a criminal offence and people should be helped to understand the issue better, a top cardinal from Ghana has told the BBC.
BBC News
By Damian Zane
27th November 2023

Cardinal Peter Turkson's comments come as parliament discusses a bill imposing harsh penalties on LGBT people.

His views are at odds with Roman Catholic bishops in Ghana, who say homosexuality is "despicable".


In July, Ghanaian MPs backed measures in a proposed bill, which has still not completed its passage through parliament, that would make identifying as LGBT punishable with a three-year prison sentence. People who campaign for LGBT rights could also face up to 10 years in jail.

Gay sex is already against the law and carries a three-year prison sentence.

In their statement in August, issued along with other leading Christian groups in the country, the Ghanaian bishops also said that Western countries should "stop the incessant attempts to impose unacceptable foreign cultural values on us", the Catholic Herald newspaper reported.

Cardinal Turkson, who has at times been regarded as a future candidate to become pope, told the BBC's HARDtalk programme that "LGBT people may not be criminalised because they've committed no crime".

"It's time to begin education, to help people understand what this reality, this phenomenon is. We need a lot of education to get people to... make a distinction between what is crime and what is not crime," he went on to say.

The cardinal referred to the fact that in one of Ghana's languages, Akan, there is an expression "men who act like women and women who act like men". He argued that this was an indication that homosexuality was not an imposition from outside.
Wow, just wow! I would have never thought I would see a bishop come out against anti-LGBTQ laws. Episcopal bishops have testified for us but not Catholic priest (They did keep silent on the Connecticut bills).


Meanwhile the Pope does lunch.
New Wave Ministry
By Robert Shine
November 22, 2023

Pope Francis welcomed a group of transgender women, with whom he has formed an ongoing relationship, to a luncheon at the Vatican last week marking the church’s World Day of the Poor.

Some 1,200 people who live in poverty or are unhoused joined Francis for a meal inside the papal audience hall, at tables reminiscent of the Synod assembly held in that same space last month. The Associated Press reported on one notable group of luncheon guests: trans women from just outside Rome, many of whom are sex workers and migrants from Latin America:

“Thanks to the local parish priest [in the Italian town of Torvaianica], these women now make monthly visits to Francis’ Wednesday general audiences, where they are given VIP seats. On any given day, they receive handouts of medicine, cash and shampoo. When COVID-19 struck, the Vatican bussed them into its health facility so they could be vaccinated ahead of most Italians. . .

“‘Before, the church was closed to us. They didn’t see us as normal people, they saw us as the devil,’ said Andrea Paola Torres Lopez, a Colombian transgender woman known as Consuelo, whose kitchen is decorated with pictures of Jesus. ‘Then Pope Francis arrived and the doors of the church opened for us.’


The relationship between Pope Francis and this group of trans women dates to 2020, when they sought help from Fr. Andrea Conocchia because they could not work due to the pandemic. As Bondings 2.0 reported previously, Conocchia and the women asked the pope for assistance which the town’s small parish could not fully provide. Per AP:

“‘The pages of the letters of the first four were bathed in tears,’ he recalled. ‘Why? Because they told me ‘Father, I’m ashamed, I can’t tell the pope what I have done, how I have lived.’’

“But they did, and the first assistance arrived from the pope’s chief almsgiver, who then accompanied the women for their COVID-19 vaccines a year later. At the time of the pandemic, many of the women weren’t legally allowed to live in Italy and had no access to the vaccine.”

Reuters posted a video interview with several of the women, who talk movingly about Pope Francis’ impact on their lives, which is available here.
Who would have thought that the Pope does lunch… with trans people!
By Oriana Boselli, Antonio Denti and Philip Pullella
November 20, 2023

The run-down beach town of Torvaianica is about 35 kms (20 miles) south of the Vatican.

But for transgender women who live there it had seemed light years away until a rapprochement with the Catholic Church that began during the COVID-19 lockdown and led to an invitation to have lunch with Pope Francis on Sunday.

Claudia Victoria Salas, 55, and Carla Segovia, 46, both Argentinian, were in a group of transgender people, among about 1,200 poor and homeless people, who attended the lunch on the Church's World Day of the poor.

To her surprise, Salas, a former sex worker, found herself seated opposite the pope, who is also Argentinian, at the main table in the auditorium, where the pontiff holds his general audiences in winter.

"We transgenders here in Italy feel a bit more human because the fact that Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church is a beautiful thing," Carla Segovia, 46, a sex worker, said earlier this week on the deserted windy beach of Torvaianica.
Maybe, just maybe, the Vatican is turning over a new leaf...
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
November 11, 2023

Pope Francis on Saturday forcibly removed the bishop of Tyler, Texas, a conservative prelate active on social media who has been a fierce critic of the pontiff and has come to symbolize the polarization within the U.S. Catholic hierarchy.

A one-line statement from the Vatican said Francis had “relieved” Bishop Joseph Strickland of the pastoral governance of Tyler and appointed the bishop of Austin as the temporary administrator.

Strickland, 65, has emerged as a leading critic of Francis, accusing him in a tweet earlier this year of “undermining the deposit of faith.” He has been particularly critical of Francis’ recent meeting on the future of the Catholic Church during which hot-button issues were discussed, including ways to better welcome LGBTQ+ Catholics.

Earlier this year, the Vatican sent in investigators to look into his governance of the diocese, amid reports he was making doctrinally unorthodox claims.
And a second Cardinal was also punished,
AP  News
November 28, 2023

 Pope Francis has decided to punish one of his highest-ranking critics, Cardinal Raymond Burke, by revoking his right to a subsidized Vatican apartment and salary in the second such radical action against a conservative American prelate this month, according to two people briefed on the measures.

Francis told a meeting of the heads of Vatican offices last week that he was moving against Burke because he was a source of “disunity” in the church, said one of the participants at the Nov. 20 meeting. The participant spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal the contents of the encounter.


Burke, a 75-year-old canon lawyer whom Francis had fired as the Vatican’s high court justice in 2014, has become one of the most outspoken critics of the pope, his outreach to LGBTQ+ Catholics and his reform project to make the church more responsive to the needs of ordinary faithful.

Twice, Burke has joined other conservative cardinals in issuing formal questions to the pontiff, known as “dubia,” asking him to clarify questions of doctrine that upset conservatives and traditionalists. In the first, they asked Francis to clarify his outreach to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and Francis never replied. In the second, they asked whether same-sex couples could receive church blessings — and received a conditional maybe in response. 

Has the Pope changed the official policy? Has the Pope become my trans friendly? Has the Pope become an ally? Stay tune for the continuing saga of the Pope’s treatment of us.

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