From Gay Pride to True Humility: Joe’s amazing conversion story.

Ash Wednesday marks four years since I rejected the “gay lifestyle” and came back to the Catholic Church. I didn’t have a singular moment of conversion like St. Paul. Rather, it was a slow drip, a series of gradual, often hesitant pivots towards the Church.

The first pivot came when Saint John Paul II died.

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II had been the only pope I’d ever known up to that time. My childhood parish had a painting of him on the altar next to the tabernacle. I’m from Chicago, so naturally I have Polish ancestry, and a Polish pope was a point of pride when other kids called me a dumb Polak or a Commie. I was a toddler when Pope John Paul II was elected, so I had never experienced a conclave before. A German? They’re calling him “God’s Rottweiler” and he was in the Hitler Youth?

Despite my secular, sinful life, I’d always had a soft spot and sympathy for Holy Mother Church, even during the explosion of the priest sex abuse scandal. I was willing to give Benedict XVI the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to know more about him. Some of the news coverage cited his pre-conclave homily as sealing the deal for the cardinal electors. Then Cardinal Ratzinger declared, “We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything for certain and which has as its highest goals one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” That hit me right between the eyes. So I started, occasionally, visiting Catholic websites, learning more about what this “relativism” is. There are some incredible resources out there.

It’s unclear how much of it was sentimentalism and how much was the pursuit of truth. I knew in my heart that my way of living was wrong. But I didn’t change my life. I was Catholic in name only. I hadn’t attended mass in years, despite a parish a block away from my apartment. The weekend gay bar hopping, binge drinking, pornography consumption, and casual hook-ups went on and on. I was young and “you only live once.” Nevertheless, a seed was planted.

The second pivot came when I found an old prayer book.

$_35

An elderly relative had died, and I was helping family clean out their house. I found a copy of “My Prayer Book” by Father F. X. Lasance in a drawer and snuck it into my backpack. For whatever reason, I was too embarrassed to tell anyone I wanted it, or ask if I could take it. Surely they’d have said yes. The book was at least a half-century old and barely used. Most of the pages stuck together. Over the course of several months, I read it cover to cover. It was astounding.

Immersed in that culture that “has as its highest goals one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” in that book I encountered beautiful reflections on self-denial, on forgiveness, even “The Blessing of Pain and Grief.” It catechized me in a way that 12 years of Catholic schools and an ostensibly Catholic family failed to do. A few years later when I lost it, I was able to order a replacement online from Fraternity Publications. I highly recommend it.

The third pivot came after overhearing a conversation at work about the Real Presence.

The Priest says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

I’m not sure how they happened onto the topic, but the office secretary was talking to another employee about Roman Catholics, and she said, “We believe that the Eucharist is the body of Christ.” 

“We do?” I thought? Like, THE body of Christ? Huh? No, it’s just a symbol. What was she talking about? I’d never heard that before, and I’m Catholic. Whatever.

Some online research confirmed what she said. It felt like a punch in the stomach. Again, after 12 years of Catholic schools and Catholic parents I did not even know such a fundamental doctrine of the faith? How was that possible? Had I ever received worthily, validly? If one needs to be in a state of grace to approach for communion, why did everybody go up? Why didn’t my mother go to confession? How come she’d never encouraged us kids to regularly confess? The more I read about the Real Presence, the more ashamed I felt, even betrayed.

The fourth pivot came after reading an article on “the Latin Mass” on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

Missa_tridentina_002

The article preceded Pope Benedict’s moto proprio Summorum Pontificum. Several Chicago parishes offered the mass. “Fans” quoted in the article gushed over how transcendent the Latin Mass was, how it was so beautiful they wanted to cry. I’d always enjoyed history, and I knew this was the mass my parents grew up with. So one Sunday, I visited one of the parishes.

I expected to witness the mass I grew up with, only in a different language, with nice(r) music, and with the priest facing the other way. What I encountered was baffling and frustrating. I had no idea what was going on. For long periods, nothing happened. The priest just stood there, facing the tabernacle. He wasn’t talking at all, much less in Latin, from what I could tell. But a realization hit me, seeing the priest there before the tabernacle: This is what mass is all about: the Eucharist!

The night and day difference between the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form sent me back to the Internet. I found some podcasts on iTunes by Dr. James Dobbins that dove into the history of the Extraordinary Form, about how much traces back to the Temple in Jerusalem, the symbolism of ad orientum, and so on. It was like finding buried treasure. I returned to that parish several times, window shopping as it were.

The fifth pivot came when someone asked me to be their child’s godfather.

baptism

For one thing, I never expected that parent to ask me. We weren’t particularly close. For another, I knew this was a serious, sacred obligation I was entering into. It wasn’t merely an honorific title. For the first time in 15, maybe 20 years, I went to confession.

The Lord blessed me with a gentle and patient priest behind the confessional screen. He counselled me that my same sex attraction was, alas, a heavy cross to bear. But he didn’t make me feel dirty, or like a pervert. After he lead me through making an act of contrition, I left the confessional absolved, attended the holy sacrifice of the mass, and approached the communion rail in a state of grace for the first time since I was a child. I slid back into my sinful ways pretty quickly. But I’d poke my head out of the sewer now and then, to listen to Father John Corapi (good preacher, pray for him, sad situation) on Relevant Radio, a Catholic radio station in Chicago, or to attend Holy Week services.

Finally, two years after my God-child’s baptism, I found myself waking up Sunday mornings with my conscience telling me, “You should go to mass.” I’d trek to the “Latin Rite” church and sit in a pew near the back, watching the priest from afar, knowing more now about what was going on. My head knew what was true, but my heart was lukewarm. Sin continued.

The final pivot came came that Lent.

Lent1

My conscience had been gnawing at me. “You’re a hypocrite. You can’t call yourself Catholic but live this way.” So I challenged myself: Lent is only about 40 days, right? Six weeks? This year’s Lent, let’s try to do everything the Church teaches, especially as it pertains to purity. No more porn. No more hours wasted on gay hook-up websites. No more lusting. Complete celibacy and chastity. Mass every Sunday. Regular confession.

I did it.

The first two weeks were rough, don’t get me wrong. Whether it was through grace, or the intercession of Our Lady, the saints, somehow I did it.

What’s more, I liked it! It was liberating. I was free of the weight, the rules, the oppressive expectations that the gay lifestyle places on you. Style your hair a certain way. Dress a certain way. Decorate your home a certain way. Think a certain way. Listen to certain music, watch certain television shows. Conform.

My friends’ first hint that I’d “changed” came from seeing my “likes” of Catholic posts on Facebook and from my decision to sit out the gay pride parade despite living so close to the parade route. My social circle has shrunk considerably. My best friend cut me off after I declined to attend his “wedding.” Other friends accuse me of being a “self-loathing homosexual.” Another friend, who I’m still close to, has told me to my face, with all sincerity, that he is worried about my mental health.

Ultimately though, this is not about me being happy or freed or spiritually fed/fulfilled/whatever you want to call it. My conversion was about understanding my role vis-a-vis God, that I was made to know, love, and serve Him in this life –not myself or my ego or its desires– and be happy with Him in the next.

I cannot quite explain why I so readily accept the Church’s teachings on same-sex attraction. It’s all perfectly logical and rationale to me. I’d lived that lifestyle and knew how ugly it was, what a lie it was. If I wanted to follow Christ, I would have to take up a cross. There was no “conversion” in that regard.

In a culture that says it’s all about Me, I realized that no, it’s not, and humility and sacrifice must be part and parcel of my life from now on. He must increase, I must decrease. Perhaps that’s why the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite played such a vital role in my conversion and continued efforts to life out the Faith. The Extraordinary Form is not about me. On that account, one might argue, its silence is deafening. I would not have reverted back to the faith without the Extraordinary Form. It has helped me strengthen my faith, grow in charity, battle my pride, and strive for purity in a way the Ordinary Form, as commonly offered, could not.

I’ve remained celibate since that Ash Wednesday in 2011. I’ve struggled with impure thoughts and actions, but am light years from who I used to be. With frequently confession and the graces flowing from that sacrament and the sacrament of the Eucharist, and His most merciful Sacred Heart, I soldier on in the Church Militant. Oh yeah, I think Our Lady’s on my side too!

Since I was invited to write this story for a family oriented blog, my advice to Catholic parents would be this: Teach your children obedience. Teach them obedience to you as mothers and fathers, and obedience to God and the Church. Model that obedience to them. It will require struggle, humility, and sacrifice, potentially the ultimate sacrifice. Never forget that your role isn’t to be their friend, or to give them the happy or comfortable childhood you never had. Your role is to get them to heaven. Trust in Jesus.

May God bless us all this Lent.

Joe.

Women Priests, Gay Sex, and Communion for the Re-Married: Is Fr. Timothy Radcliffe an appropriate speaker for Flame2 Youth Conference 2015?

flame2

The CYMFed (Catholic Youth Ministry Federation – England and Wales) are the organisers of ‘Flame2’. It is described on their website as: “…the largest National Catholic Youth event of 2015, taking place in the SSE Wembley Arena on Saturday 7th March 2015… The SSE Wembley Arena will be filled with 10,000 young people from across the country, receiving faith-filled inspiration from world-class speakers… Flame2 is open to anyone in school year ten and above, up to young adult (i.e. aged approx. 14-21).”

One of the key speakers will be Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP. The question is: Why do CYMFed feel Fr. Timothy Radcliffe is an appropriate speaker for a youth conference?

Fr. Radcliffe has received public criticism over his comments in regards to homosexuality being consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Until they were abolished in 2013, Fr. Radcliffe, occasionally presided over ‘Soho Masses’ at Saint Anne Church’s for gay and lesbian church goers in central London. 

In 2014 there were calls for Fr. Radcliffe to be dropped as a keynote speaker at Ireland’s annual International Conference of Divine Mercy at the Royal Dublin Society. The calls were in response to Fr Radcliffe’s contribution to last year’s Anglican Pilling Report on human sexual ethics in which he said of homosexuality: “How does all of this bear on the question of gay sexuality? We cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means, and how far it is Eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual and non-violent. So in many ways, I would think that it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift. We can also see how it can be expressive of mutual fidelity, a covenantal relationship in which two people bind themselves to each other for ever.” 

Alabama-based Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) refused to broadcast the conference, due to Fr. Radcliffe being its keynote speaker; stating that Radcliff holds views that are at “at sharp variance to Catholic teaching“.

Fr Radcliffe also gave a keynote address to a US religious education conference, in which he was reported as saying: “We accompany people in friendship as they become moral agents. Let’s look at the gays. For some reason–I don’t actually understand why–it’s become a very hot topic in all the churches at the moment. It’s tearing the Church of England apart. It’s the cause of great dissension in our own church. Usually when we think about it, we ask, ‘What is forbidden or permitted?’ But I’m afraid I’m an old-fashioned and traditional Catholic, and I believe that’s the wrong place to start. We begin by standing by gay people as they hear the voice of the Lord that summons them to life and happiness. We accompany them as they wrestle with discovering what this means and how they must walk. And this means letting our imaginations be stretched open to watching Brokeback Mountain, reading gay novels, having gay friends, making that leap of the heart and the mind, delighting in their being, listening with them as they listen to the Lord.”

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe

And on the issue of Women priest’s and Holy Communion for Catholics who are divorced and re-married, Fr Radcliffe hopes that: “…a way will be found to welcome divorced and remarried people back to communion. And, most important, that women will be given real authority and voice in the church. The pope expresses his desire that this may happen, but what concrete form can it take? He believes that the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood is not possible, but decision-making in the church has become ever more closely linked to ordination in recent years. Can that bond be loosened? Let us hope that women may be ordained to the diaconate and so have a place in preaching at the Eucharist. What other ways can authority be shared?’”

At October’s Family Synod, Cardinal Burke was one of the most outspoken of the group of bishops to react strongly against the mid-term document, in which it was suggested that the Church should “accept and value” the homosexual “orientation” and cohabitation, and that such relationships could have positive or valuable “elements.”

In an interview with Ireland’s state broadcaster RTE last week, Cardinal Burke said that in regards to sexual morality, he has heard from lay people that “there’s really just a growing confusion about what the Church really teaches, and we’re not coming to any clarity.”

Surely, considering all the recent confusion surrounding the Synod, CYMFed are doubly obliged to make sure the speakers at their event are preaching the truths of the faith, not what they would prefer the Catholic faith to look like. By giving a platform to ‘progressive’ speakers like Fr. Radcliffe at Flame 2, CYMFed will be exposing 10,000 14-21 year olds to Fr. Radcliffe’s own personal opinions, many of which in direct opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church. He will stand there as a guiding voice for these young people – some of whom will no doubt be facing issues of same-sex attraction. Is this the man parents want their young adults to be guided by? What are CYMFed thinking?

When Fr. Radcliffe spoke at the first Flame conference the CYMFed website stated that: “On the Flame 2012 evaluations he (Fr. Radcliffe) was regularly named by young people as the speaker with the greatest impact, and we look forward to welcoming Fr Timothy back to Flame.”

Bernadette (20) who attended Flame 1, says that since learning about Fr. Radcliffe’s views her perception of Flame has changed:

“It probably would change my perception yes because I want to be able to go to something that I feel is completely orthodox, and I don’t like idea of prominent controversial figures being given a platform like this. Christianity is hard enough when you’re young and orthodox, without dissident individuals like Timothy Radcliffe trying to confuse things. I was talking to my house-mates about it and they were saying, that if a teenager left Flame, after having really enjoyed the day, and Googled Timothy Radcliffe, they’d be open to all the stuff that he talks about and goodness knows what they’ll read and begin to be influenced by. I would probably question CYMFed, on their motives for hosting such a figure. We either believe in the teaching power of the magisterium or we don’t.” – (Bernadette, 20)

Fr. Dermot Donnelly (centre) with his celebrity brother Declan Donnelly (right).

CYMFed Chair person Fr. Dermot Donnelly (centre) with his celebrity brother Declan Donnelly (right).

I contacted the Chair of CYMFed – Fr Dermot Donnelly several times last week and politely asked: “Considering many of Fr. Radcliffe’s views go against the teachings of the Catholic church, why does CYMFed think he is an appropriate speaker for the Flame2 youth conference?”

He offered me a phone call but I explained that to avoid any possible misinterpretation it is best for him to reply in writing. Fr. Donnelly was unwilling to give a written statement.

So instead I decided to take the matter to the Bishop affiliated with CYMFed. Surely I’ll get some sense out of him! A Prince of the Catholic Church would never stand for the UK’s youth being exposed to such low moral standards would he?

However (of course) the Bishop affiliated with CYMFed turns out to be the recently retired Kieran Conry.

 

Sources:

http://www.cymfed.org.uk/flame2/

http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Radcliffe

http://www.protectthepope.com/?p=9494

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-burke-church-teaching-on-sexuality-must-be-clarified-and-only-pope?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5cde758379-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_06_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0caba610ac-5cde758379-326240826

Bert and Ernie Gay Ridiculous Cake Court Threat.

From the TELEGRAPH:

A Christian-run bakery is facing legal action from a Government agency for refusing to produce a cake carrying a picture of the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage”.

Ashers Baking Co, based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, cancelled an order for a novelty cake with a picture of the puppets arm in arm printed onto the icing saying that it went against the directors’ religious beliefs.

They believe that producing the cake with the slogan and the logo of QueerSpace, a gay rights group the would-be customer supports, would amount to endorsing the campaign for the introduction of gay marriage in the province, and go against their religious convictions.

But the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has now written to the firm claiming that it is breaking the law.

A letter signed by the legal office orders the firm to “remedy your illegal discrimination” within seven days or be taken to court by the commission.

It claimed that refusing to print the cake amounted to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation against the man who placed the order.

The Christian institute, which is supporting the bakery, says it is not discriminatory for managers to refuse to endorse a political campaign.

Gay marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK in which it is not on the statute book.

Colin Hart, chief executive of the Christian Institute, said: “This is a sign of things to come exactly as we predicted.

“The Government repeatedly failed to listen to members of the public, lawyers, constitutional experts even its own MPs when they called for safeguards to protect those who back traditional marriage, especially those who work in the public sector.

“Now this nonsense, more usually associated with the public sector, is being applied to the private sector.

“This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage, face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide good or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.

“It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual, or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs.”

The customer was unable to comment.

……………

This is the exact reason i closed my 9 year cake business in January this year. I could see this sort of thing coming: 

http://faithinourfamilies.com/2013/05/22/why-equal-marriage-law-will-destroy-my-wedding-cake-business-and-free-speech/

What the Government is saying is that this cake company has no right to refuse a customer. The article makes no mention of the sexuality of the customer and it certainly is not saying that the cake company is refusing to serve them because they are or might be gay. I’m sure if a gay person walked in and ordered a Thomas the Tank Engine cake they would have no problem in being served. 

Would it be a matter of discrimination then if i walked in to the bakery and told them to make me a cake with the slogan “God does not exist” and they refused on religious grounds? Would that be discriminating against atheists? 

What about if i wanted them to make a cake with the slogan “pro choice” and they refused on religious grounds? Would that be discriminating against women who choose to have an abortion?

It’s funny isn’t it – that this issue of social acceptance bullying does not seem to raise its ugly head in any other community other than the gay community. It’s almost as if they want to pick a fight…

I’m just sayin’.

Sources: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10952494/Bert-and-Ernie-gay-marriage-cake-leaves-Christian-bakery-facing-court-threat.html

Catholic family branded ‘bigoted’ by social workers for not wanting their children to be adopted by gay couple.

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Two Slovakian parents have failed to block the adoption of two of their sons by a same sex couple in Kent.

The Catholic couple, who are of Roma origin, argued their two young children would grow up alienated from their family and community. Taking the case to the High Court, they accused the local authority of social engineering by attempting to turn the children white and middle class. An earlier hearing heard evidence they had neglected their children.

In the Matter of J and S concerned two boys, ‘J’, aged four, and ‘S’, who will turn two in July. Their ‘Roma’ parents come from the Slovak Republic. They were brought to West Yorkshire by traffickers and initially lived in “cramped” bed and breakfast accommodation. They later moved to a larger home with help from Hope for Justice, a charity based in Manchester which works with victims of trafficking.

Social services became involved and eventually their five youngest children were made the subject of care proceedings. The local authority applied for care orders for the four youngest, plus an order which would place for the oldest, aged 15, under its supervision for 12 months. In addition, they sought ‘placement orders’ for the two youngest, J and S, putting them in the care of prospective adopters.

The orders were granted by Mrs Justice Theis at a hearing in May last year. The parents then applied for permission to oppose the planned adoptions, making an unsuccessful bid to the European Court of Human Rights. In due course the case came before Sir James Munby at the High Court in London. A scheduled hearing earlier this month was adjourned after scheduled interpreters failed to show up. Their parents’ counsel was acting pro bono. The President said: “This is a very sad case”. Nevertheless, he rejected the parents’ application for leave to oppose the adoption order, under section 47 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. This deals with ‘conditions for making adoption orders’. The President said the fact that J and S had been placed for adoption with a same sex couple did not constitute a sufficient change in circumstances to justify an objection by the parents under the Act.

In their witness statement, the parents had declared:

“Our family is a Slovak Roma family and we are practising Catholics and a homosexual couple as potential adopters is very different from what Mrs Justice Theis had in mind in her judgment as this will not promote the children’s Roma heritage or their Catholic faith … Whilst we have no doubt that the prospective adopters have been properly assessed by the Local Authority, they are a homosexual couple and as such their lifestyle goes against our Roma culture and lifestyle. The children will not be able to be brought up in the Catholic faith because of the conflicts between Catholicism and homosexuality. They would not be able to maintain their Catholic faith if they are adopted by this couple and even if it was promised that they would attend church the children would at some stage be taught or learn of the attitude of the church to same sex couples. This would undoubtedly be upsetting to them and cause them to be in conflict between their religion and home life. Slovakia still does not recognise same sex couples and so their Slovak roots and values will not be maintained. In 2013 the Catholic Bishops in Slovakia condemned same sex marriage.”

Mr Justice Munby responded:

“I do not see how this can be described as a change in circumstances. There is nothing in all the material I have seen to suggest that the children’s placement with the prospective adopters was inappropriate or wrong, let alone irrational or unlawful, having regard to the principles that the local authority had to apply…Nor… has it been demonstrated that the placement was of a kind not contemplated by Theis J. On the contrary, Theis J expressly held, as we have seen, that the children’s welfare needs “outweigh” the impact that adoption would have on their Roma identity.”

The President continued:

“Of course, any judge should have a decent respect to the opinions of those who come here from a foreign land, particularly if they have come from another country within the European Union….But the fact is, the law is, that, at the end of the day, I have to judge matters according to the law of England and by reference to the standards of reasonable men and women in contemporary English society. The parents’ views, whether religious, cultural, secular or social, are entitled to respect but cannot be determinative. They have made their life in this country and cannot impose their own views either on the local authority or on the court.”

Sir James Munby also said ‘It was, in my view, unfortunate that the local authority should have referred at one stage in the proceedings to the parents’ views on homosexuality in such a way as to suggest that they are bigoted. The label is unnecessary and hurtful.’ Judge: Yesterday, the country’s most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, upheld the adoption plan, but criticised the social workers for the way they condemned the parents because of their views. His criticism is understood to follow a report submitted to the court by social workers which said: ‘The attitude of the parents could be perceived as bigoted.’ 

The parents are appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, although it is likely it will take months before their case is heard.

Lucie Boddington, from Děti Patří Rodičům – or Children Belong to Parents – a Slovakian charity which has been supporting the couple, said she hoped the Slovak government would request the case be heard more quickly. She told the BBC the parents were “desperate” and had cried openly when they heard the judge’s decision. “This is I think in some way a cultural misunderstanding,” she said. “In Slovakia, they were a model family – very different from the way some Roma live. The father is hard-working, well-educated; he wanted the best for his children.”

This comes at a time when social workers are under pressure from the Government to abandon rules which have meant that adopted children can be placed only with new families of the same ethnic or cultural background. The doctrine has been blamed for preventing ethnic minority children from being adopted by a stable family, because there are two few people from ethnic minorities are willing to adopt.

Mairead Macneil - Director of Specialist Children's Services at Kent county council.

Mairead Macneil – Director of Specialist Children’s Services at Kent county council.

“We are absolutely committed to improving the quality of service and we need to have social workers who are progressive, enthusiastic, enabling, empowering, practical and frankly just able to do the job well,” says Mairead MacNeil, director of specialist children’s services at Kent county council. “I believe we have got a good core of social workers who can; we just need to build on that.”

A recent Ofsted report following an inspection rated the council’s looked after children services as “adequate”, with “good” capacity to improve. In 2010, the same services had been judged “inadequate”.

In June 2013 Kent County Council Came under criticism in a report by the Local Government Ombudsman, after it failed to provide proper support to an abandoned boy.

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Sir James Munby

According to ‘Pink News’ The head of the High Court’s Family Division, Lord Justice James Munby, is a strong supporter of equality for gay people.

In November 2013 he gave a shocking address in which he said happily judges no longer promote virtue and morality or discourage vice and immorality’. In particular Judge Munby publicly repudiates Christianity and Christian morality, and welcomes the legalisation of abortion, gay sex and adultery.

In a speech in London, Sir James Munby said judges ‘happily’ no longer had a role in enforcing morality, unlike in the past when they  routinely condemned homosexuality, adultery and promoted Victorian social attitudes. ‘Once upon a time, the perceived function of the judges was to promote virtue and discourage vice and immorality,’ he said. ‘I doubt one would now hear that from the judicial bench. Today, surely, the judicial task is to assess matters by the standards of reasonable men and women in 2013 – not by the standards of their parents in 1970.’

Sir James said that Victorian judges promoted ‘virtue and morality’ while  discouraging ‘vice and immorality’ with a ‘very narrow view of sexual morality’. He cited laws banning gay sex and abortion and rulings that condemned women for adultery. He added that the influence of Christian churches in the courts had also disappeared in recent years.

He said: ‘Happily for us, the days are  past when the business of judges was  the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs.’ He said that modern-day judges had rightly abandoned any claim to be ‘guardians of public morality’, just as Christian clerics no longer claimed to speak as the ‘defining voices of morality and of the law of marriage and the family. Today, we live in a largely secular society which, insofar as it remains religious at all, is now increasingly diverse in religious affiliation.’ he said. ‘Although, historically, this country is part of the Christian West and although it has an established church which is Christian, we sit as secular judges serving a multi-cultural community of many faiths, sworn to do justice “to all manner of people”. We live in this country in a democratic and pluralistic society, in a secular state not a theocracy. All are entitled to respect, so long as they are “legally and socially acceptable” and not “immoral or socially obnoxious” or “pernicious”.’ he said.

He also said courts would overrule parents’ religious beliefs if it was in their child’s best interests, such as if a child of Jehovah’s Witnesses needed a blood transfusion. ‘We live in a largely secular society which, insofar as it remains religious at all, is now increasingly diverse in religious affiliation,’ he added.

He said a believer’s faith was not the ‘business of government or of the secular courts’, ‘although, of course, the courts will pay every respect to the individual’s or family’s religious principles’.

In 2007  he was the presiding judge at a landmark case that ruled that a Christian couple should be banned from fostering children because of their views on homosexuality.  At the time, making his judgement he said: “The equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence over religious beliefs”.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27552716

http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2014/05/23/family-law-court-rejects-romani-parents-bid-to-return-children/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2637725/Catholic-family-branded-bigoted-social-workers-not-wanting-children-adopted-gay-couple.html#ixzz32dfazoJe 

http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2013/sep/06/career-opportunities-social-workers

http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/story/2013-06-04/council-fails-abandoned-child/

http://protectthepope.com/?p=9004

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/21/uk-new-head-of-the-high-courts-family-division-is-a-strong-supporter-of-gay-equality/

 

The evidence that blows apart Mr Cameron’s claim that gay marriage will strengthen families.

This is such a great article  – please take a look…

'The ties that bind us': For the PM's inner circle of self-styled modernisers, the proposal of legalising same-sex marriage is seen as a key instrument of change, a powerful agent that can 'detoxify' the Tory brand

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2329294/The-evidence-blows-apart-Mr-Camerons-claim-gay-marriage-strengthen-families.html?fb_action_ids=10151378106401198&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210151378106401198%22%3A315009368630424%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210151378106401198%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

 

 

Wedding Cake Prosecutions…

For anyone who thought my last post might have been in the realms of fantasy – think again!

I did a little fishing around on the internet and found this sort of “Your Christian beliefs are not tolerated here…” issue has already raised its ugly head in the USA:

 

Probe: Oregon baker Aaron Klein, pictured, is under investigation after he refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple

Baker who refused to make wedding cake for lesbian couple faces state  investigation…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272429/Aaron-Klein-complaint-Baker-refuses-make-wedding-cake-lesbian-couple-calls-abominations-unto-Lord.html#axzz2Jm9roLLL

And Another…                                   

Barronelle Stutzman via screencap

Washington state suing florist who refused to supply gay wedding…

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/10/washington-state-suing-florist-who-refused-to-supply-gay-wedding/

And another…

Wedding Cake Wars…

http://www.bilerico.com/2013/05/wedding_cake_wars_oregon_edition.php

And another…

Same-sex couple denied wedding cake by bakery…

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57482042/same-sex-couple-denied-wedding-cake-by-bakery/

 

Well, there you have it! Your comments please…

 

Happy 1st Birthday Faith in our Families!

fiof birthday

Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year C

“Let anyone among you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Gospel: John 8:1-11

1 While Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Gospel Summary

The Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman before Jesus who was guilty of adultery. The asked Him what should be done with her? They were in fact trying to trick Jesus into going against the law of Moses by not having the woman stoned or going against the Roman law that did not allow the Jewish people to impose the death sentence. Jesus took His time to answer, and then instructed anyone who was without sin to cast the first stone. Of course no-one could do this, and the crowd slowly drifted away. Jesus then tells the woman that He does not condemn her – and that she should go, and not sin again.

Relating the Gospel to our lives today.

How would you feel if you were the adulterous woman’s husband? Or the wife of the man she committed adultery with? Pretty angry right?! There are plenty of words we can use to describe this woman – home wrecker, whore, dirty, cheap, the list goes on. And quite right – adultery destroys marriages and families. So why did Jesus seemingly let her get away with it? There are three reasons here: firstly, Jesus was making the point that as human beings, we do not have the moral authority to condemn one another. We are all sinners, and all in need of God’s forgiveness. Secondly, he was revealing the very essence of Good News – that Gods love and mercy are greater than our sins. And thirdly, He was drawing attention to the fact that this woman was not just a sinner but a person.

In some ways, my own judgemental reaction to this woman reminds me of the elder brother’s reaction in the prodigal son – “How can God love this sinner as much as He loves me?” At the end of the day we have to face our own reaction for what it is: jealous, self-righteous moral snobbery (ouch!). This story is a true lesson in humility for us!

How do we react to our fellow sinners? The drug addict, the prostitute, the divorced and re-married, the homosexual, the atheist, the young woman who had an abortion? Do we see the person, or just the sin? Do we take into account that there are circumstances and a complex history for this person that has led them to where they are? Or do we stand there holding our stone, ready to throw it?

Judgment day will come, and justice will be served – but that is God’s job, not ours.

  • Each one of us is created in the image and likeness of God.
  • Do I realise my own dignity?
  • Do I realise the dignity of others?

Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred let me bring your love. Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord. And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace. Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, only light. And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek, So much to be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. In giving to all men that we receive. And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

 – St. Francis of Assisi

* GOD BLESS OUR NEW POPE FRANCIS! *

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POPE FRANCIS  TRUE DISCIPLE OF JESUS Pope Francis I In 2008, on the Holy Thursday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio(Pope Francis) washed the feet of 12 recovering drug addicts at a rehabilitation centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina(in this Pic). As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he showed compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS and in 2001, visited a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients. True disciple of Christ!!! To be more precise True Vicar of Christ!!!

Gay Marriage – What happened in Parliament…

I was overwhelmed to hear the MP’s tell of how much mail they had received on the same-sex marriage issue. They said it was the most they had ever received on one single issue, and the vast, vast majority of it opposed the bill. (Of course those in favour decided not to talk about their bulging mail bags – because that would put them in a position where they would look as if they were IGNORING their constituents!)

But what really struck me yesterday while watching the same-sex marriage debate in parliament was how un-equal the legislation actually is. So much so that David Cameron has actually had the word ‘Equal’  removed from the title of the bill! The main points of inequality are that same-sex marriages do not require fidelity, or even consummation. Therefor, the grounds for divorce are completely different from those of a hetero marriage. And if equality was really the goal then surely civil partnerships should also be offered to hetero couples? (This would however create a situation in which it was legally viable for me to marry my sister! – or even my son! which would probably make the whole thing a laughing stock right?! – but hey, each to their own – we wouldn’t want to discriminate against people who want to marry within their own families would we? After all if the two people really love each other then what’s the problem?!…)

(Here is a lovely pic of the happy couple – just before they formalise their non- faithful, non-consummatory, legally equal, hetero civil wedding-marriage!… Lol! – just kidding!)

Here are some of the MP’s comments opposing the bill from yesterday’s debate:

Tory John Glen (Salisbury) questioned the politics of the move: “By a factor of a least 30 to one my constituents have expressed their opposition to this. The level of disappointment of a much larger minority, as witnessed by the 635,000 who have signed the coalition for marriage petition, is keenly felt and will, in my view, be a highly motivated electoral minority in future elections.”

Senior Tory Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, said: “I will vote against this measure tonight not because I think the world will end if we see it pass but because I have serious misgivings that in spite of the minister’s commendable efforts, recognised by the Church of England, it is impossible to guarantee that religious freedom will not be compromised.”

David Burrowes said he had received death threats about his opposition to the measure and his children had been taunted and told “their dad’s a bigot”. He said he was “very sad” at Mr Cameron’s plan and added: “The redefinition downgrades marriage to a personal relationship not bound by the obligations to society, community and family which have stood the test of time and is an increasingly popular institution.”

Former minister Edward Leigh said the plans were an affront to many traditional Conservatives. “We should be in the business of protecting cherished institutions and our cultural heritage otherwise what, I ask, is a Conservative Party for? Indeed we are alienating people who have voted for us for all their lives, leaving them with no one to vote for.”

Tory former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said the legislation was a “massive change” which “deeply affects the core fabric of our society through the challenge it poses to the whole institution of marriage”.

Conservative Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) said: “It is not possible to redefine marriage. Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any Government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon. It will not do.” It had been suggested, he said, that a civil union bill could be created “that applies to all people irrespective or their sexuality, or their relationships, and that means brothers and brothers and sisters and sisters and brothers and sisters as well”. Sir Roger stressed he did not subscribe to the notion, but added he recognised the merit in the argument.

The size of the vote against the Bill’s second reading indicated that scores of Tory MPs opposed the measure but a number of Labour MPs also spoke against the plans.

Stoke on Trent South MP Robert Flello said: “Civil partnerships are equal to marriage – they might not have the same name but they are equal. “It’s not simply about the love and commitment of the happy couple, as important as that is. If marriage was simply about love and commitment, we would first have to define love as being sexual love otherwise non-sexual relationships based on love and commitment would also have to be treated as marriage if that really were the definition of equality.” Mr Flello said the Bill would create two forms of marriage – traditional marriage and same sex marriage – which were still not “equal” with the plans trying to “engineer cultural equivalence”.

Labour’s Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton) said the Bill would change the very nature of marriage and law and was both “hasty and destructive”.

Dr Sharon James, Coalition For Marriage said “We’re absolutely delighted at the scale of those MPs who voted against this. It’s way more than we thought it would be at the start of our campaign. I’m disturbed to hear many MPs say that people are writing to them to say they disagree with gay marriage, but that they’re wrong. Those MPs are holding their constituents in contempt. However, I was pleased to hear in the parliamentary debate that some MPs talked of being flooded with letters and emails from people against gay marriage, and that those MPs are listening. This isn’t a done deal, it’s the beginning of a parliamentary process.”

So you see, David Cameron now has a huge problem. The majority of his own party (approx. 140) voted against him last night. and about another 75 conservatives abstained. This was a much larger opposition than anyone was expecting. It now causes Davy Boy a real problem. And it is a problem that is not going to go away. How long do you think it will be before we start to hear shouts of no confidence coming from the bowels of the conservative party?! Tread carefully David – you’re on thin ice.

Catholic, Protestant and Muslim Mothers unite in Support of Traditional Marriage.

Three mothers from South London have come together to represent their communities in support of traditional marriage. Whilst all respect the fact that individuals can live how they choose, they believe that marriage is, and always has been, a sacred institution between 1 woman and 1 man. All three have signed a letter explaining their views and presented it to their local MP:

Katie McGowan, a Protestant Christian says “Our faiths dictate that ‘marriage’ is an institution between one man and one woman. In countries where marriage has already been redefined, people of faith have faced prosecution for upholding their beliefs. Evidence shows that governments have not been able to protect ordinary people who believe in traditional marriage. We worry that, should the bill be successful, teachers will be sacked for refusing to endorse gay marriage in the classroom, and couples will be banned from fostering children if they disagree with gay marriage. Obviously, these are just a couple of examples.
Furthermore, it may be assumed that the general public are largely in favour this proposal. However, the voters have not been given a say. None of the parties included it in their election manifestos. Marriage is going to be redefined over our heads. In a recent poll by YouGov for The Sunday Times, published on 11 March 2012, a larger proportion of those questioned were against gay marriage than were for it.”

Asma Dar, a Muslim says “Marriage is meant for 1 woman and 1 man, and it is the place to raise a family. We believe that all children have the right to a Mother and a Father. Sadly, however well-meaning they are, a same-sex couple simply cannot offer this to a child. If my husband and I were to die suddenly and our 3 girls were taken into the care of the local authority, it would be possible that they be placed with two men. This would not only be against our wishes and our faith, but it would also rob our girls of any chance of having a mother. What indeed is the legal position of the wishes of deceased parents on this issue?
According to the 2011 Office for National Statistics survey, the gay population in the UK stands at 1%. The population for Christians and Muslims combined stands at 64.1%. The majority of UK residents oppose the bill on the grounds of faith. If marriage is re-defined, the new law will be forced upon millions of people who strongly oppose it. This is especially true in the area of education and adoption. We are stepping into unknown territory and no-one can predict the effect this law will have on children and on society as a whole.”

Clare Short, a Roman Catholic says “I think it is a disgrace that teachers could face being sacked if they fail to promote same-sex relationships to children as young as age 4. Why doesn’t the government concentrate on teaching our kids to read and write, rather than forcing sexual information on them that they really don’t need to know about at that young age. This is a deeply personal political issue that is doing more harm than good in society. I believe it is creating unwanted tension between the gay and straight communities. It is not something people of faith are ‘just going to get used to’ over time. It is an issue of such importance, that we are willing to fight against it for as long as it takes. There is a particularly nasty undertone in the UK at the moment where people are being made to feel guilty for expressing their opposition to the re-definition of marriage on the grounds of being ‘politically incorrect’. This sort of political bullying is completely unacceptable in a civilised democratic society. We hope from reading our story that more people will find the confidence to contact their MP to voice their opinion. Every voice counts.
The issue of re-defining marriage is uniting people of all faiths, and also those who do not have a faith. David Cameron needs to realise that the vast majority of people in the UK do not want marriage re-defined.”