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 Covering Gays and Religion



Bishops call for Canada's expulsion in gay crisis The Daily Telegraph, June 7, 2004

New Papal Assault On Gay Marriage 365Gay.com,
May 23, 2004

Gay Bishop, Rabbi Discuss Religion, Sex Los Angeles Times, December 5, 2003

Anglicans Release New Guide On Homosexuality 365Gay.com, November 4, 2003

Robinson consecrated as bishop Concord Monitor,
November 3, 2003

Anglicans Warn of a Split if Gay Man Is Consecrated New York Times, October 17, 2003

US millionaire bankrolls crusade against gay Anglican priests The Guardian, October 12, 2003

Dutch take on Vatican over gay marriages Chicago Tribune, September 21, 2003

Among Episcopalians, Grief Over Gay Bishop Protests Grow, but Risk of Schism Still Uncertain Washington Post, September 15, 2003

Catholic Church to increase opposition to gay marriages. Top U.S. bishop says government obligated to act Associated Press, August 29, 2003

Episcopalian and Catholic churches take different road to reach policy decisions on gay issues. Chicago Tribune, August 17, 2003

Church braces for gay fallout Toronto Star, August 10, 2003

Gay bishop is cleared, confirmed Boston Globe,
August 6, 2003

Allegations delay vote on gay bishop Boston Globe,
August 5, 2003

U.S. Episcopalian Stance on Gays Riles Conservatives Reuters, July 29, 2003 

Anglican Church facing new crisis over gay US bishop The Independent, July 27, 2003 

Gay issue threatens to split Anglicans Newark Star-Ledger, July 26, 2003  

Leo Sandon: Change is coming to this church Providence Journal, July 26, 2003

Sexual hang-ups in church Scripps Howard News Service, July 14, 2003

Bishops eye pastors to fight gay marriage Boston Globe, May 29,  2003

Archbishop says Church must accept faithful gays London Times, May 26,  2003

Church mired in debate over ordaining gays Denver Post, May 18,  2003

Gay rights is hot topic in Lutheran churches Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 18,  2003

Shocking results in gay marriage poll The Jersey Journal, May 5,  2003

Area gays react to Vatican decree The Trentonian, 
April 7,  2003

Minister makes stand for gay marriages Cincinnati Enquirer, April 5,  2003

Gay Catholics denied Communion found guilty National Catholic Reporter, February 14,  2003

Conservative Jews to Review Views on Gays Associated Press, January 3, 2003

Provincetown protest urges Shanley to leave Boston Herald, December 22, 2002

D.C. Church Authorizes Same-Sex Unions Washington Post, December 10, 2002

Gays, lesbians learn, are comforted: it is vital to talk openly and frankly about homosexuality within the church, says the leader of a gay and lesbian support group The Oregonian October 3, 2002

The gay purge: By scapegoating homosexual priests, the Catholic Church seeks to avoid a tougher look at its secret history of abuse Salon March 27, 2002







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The Daily Telegraph,
June 7, 2004

Bishops call for Canada's expulsion in gay crisis
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent and Jonathan Wynne-Jones

Conservative archbishops representing more than half of worldwide Anglicanism demanded the expulsion of the Canadian Church yesterday for describing homosexual relationships as holy.

In a significant blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, traditionalist leaders lambasted the Canadian general synod for affirming that same-sex unions had "integrity and sanctity".

They said the Canadians should be ejected with the liberal American Episcopal Church, which backed the consecration of Anglicanism's first openly-gay bishop last year.

Their intervention has badly damaged efforts by Dr Williams and other Anglican leaders to broker peace between the factions on homosexuality.

Last week it appeared that the Canadian synod had avoided a clash with the conservatives when it decided to delay a vote on homosexual blessings at its meeting in St Catharines, Ontario.

The postponement was even praised by Dr Williams, who said in a statement that it would help the work of the Lambeth Commission, the body he set up to try to maintain unity.

But a late amendment introduced by liberals at the synod infuriated the Global South group of conservative primates, who represent more than 50 million Anglicans in the 70 million-strong worldwide Church.

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May 23, 2004

New Papal Assault On Gay Marriage
by Malcolm Thornberry, 365Gay.com Newscenter, European Bureau Chief

Vatican City - Pope John Paul Saturday urged American Catholic leaders to step up their opposition to same-sex marriage.  The Pontiff's latest denunciation of gay unions came less than a week after the first legal gay marriages in the US took place in Massachusetts.

Although he made no specific reference to the gay marriages in Massasachusetts, his intent was clear.  Twice in his remarks he used the word 'sacrament' to describe traditional marriage, an effort to reinforce the Church's claim that it has the sole right to determine who should marry.

"Family life is sanctified in the joining of man and woman in the sacramental institution of holy matrimony," he said in an address to visiting American bishops.

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Los Angeles Times,
December 5, 2003

Gay Bishop, Rabbi Discuss Religion, Sex

By Larry B. Stammer, Times Staff Writer

The first openly gay Episcopal priest to become a bishop and the first Orthodox rabbi to publicly declare his homosexuality met at a Los Angeles home Thursday night for an evening of conversation with 50 guests.

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration last month as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire sent a tremor throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion, and Rabbi Steven Greenberg of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York, met for a wide-ranging discussion about sex and religion.

The men said they shared similar struggles in attempting to reconcile traditional religious taboos against homosexuality with their once secret sexual attraction to men.

"Neither of us set out to do something historical," Robinson said. "I think God is doing the historic thing, something new in the culture and with religious people."

They first met several weeks ago and again at dinner Wednesday night before the larger Thursday night gathering 

"When Gene and I talk we keep shaking our heads, 'Yes! That's right!' There's a real sharing on both our sides of the sense that this issue is a much larger issue in reality than the specific concerns of gay and lesbian people," Greenberg said in an interview Thursday.

"What we're really aiming toward is a picture of religious life that in itself is more responsive to the human condition, and yet takes religious tradition very seriously." After years of internal struggle, Greenberg, 47, disclosed his sexual orientation in 1999. A year later, he was prominently featured in a documentary film, "Trembling Before God," about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews.

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November 4, 2003

Anglicans Release New Guide On Homosexuality

by Peter Moore, 365Gay.com Newscenter, London Bureau

London - A guide on gay sexuality prepared for the bishops of the worldwide Anglican faith is likely to further divide the Church. The guide, Some Issues in Human Sexuality, was released today in London, two days after the consecration of the faith's first gay bishop.

The guide was prepared by the House of Bishops of the Church of England and calls for a full "open and honest" debate on homosexuality and all aspects of gay, lesbian and transsexual relationships.

While it makes no recommendations on its own, it is likely to be seen by Church conservatives as further evidence the faith is moving closer to full acceptance of gays and by modernizers as not going far enough.

The guide says homosexual, bisexual and transsexual people should be treated with "compassion" and as equal Christians.

"It is likely that they will have encountered misunderstandings or hostility from members of the Christian Church in the past, and, if the Christian gospel is to be meaningful to them, it will need to be incarnated in terms of Christ's love."

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries, a leading church liberal chaired the working party which drew up the paper.

"Recent events have highlighted the need for such a guide and the House of Bishops believe it has become timely to publish this study guide now to help Christian people think through different aspects of gay, lesbian and transsexual relationships," he said.

The guide was presented to Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. "It is clear that there is a real need for more study of the issues raised by human sexuality," said the leader of the worldwide church.

"We have done a great deal of work as a church on this matter and we know that there is much still to be learned."

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Concord Monitor,
November 3, 2003

Robinson consecrated as bishop

He urges listeners to embrace critics

By Annmarie Timmins, Monitor staff

DURHAM - Over warnings of worldwide schism and last-minute protests, church leaders laid their hands on Gene Robinson's head yesterday and consecrated him New Hampshire's next Episcopal bishop - and the church's first openly gay one.

Retiring Bishop Douglas Theuner said that distinction will make Robinson a most able successor. 

"Because of who you are . . . you will bring in those people who have been hitherto unacknowledged," Theuner told Robinson. "Because of your presence, the episcopate will be a symbol of unity more than it ever has been."

When Robinson finally turned to address the nearly 4,000 spectators at the Whittemore Center in Durham, the place rocked, much as St. Paul's Church did in June when Robinson was elected. And as he did in June,

Robinson urged compassion for his critics.

"There are faithful, wonderful, Christian people for whom this is a moment of great pain and confusion and anger," Robinson said. "Our God will be served if we are hospitable, caring and loving toward them in every way we can possibly muster. They must know that if they must leave that they will always be welcome back into our fellowship."

Robinson, 56, of Weare will assume the bishop's office in March, when Theuner retires; until then he will serve as bishop coadjutor, or assistant bishop. Robinson will be the state's ninth bishop, in charge of 50 congregations and leader of nearly 16,500 Episcopalians.

Yesterday's three-hour consecration ceremony was Robinson's final step in becoming bishop, and the service was largely scripted according to church tradition.

Officials from the New Hampshire diocese vouched for Robinson's loyalty to God and confirmed that he had been properly elected by the state's Episcopalians. A 300-person choir led the audience in hymns, and the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, leader of the American church, presided.

Robinson pledged his belief in the Holy Scriptures and accepted the title of bishop.

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New York Times,
October 17, 2003

Anglicans Warn of a Split if Gay Man Is Consecrated


LONDON, Oct. 16 After a tense two-day emergency summit, Anglican leaders on Thursday sidestepped an immediate schism over homosexuality but warned that if the American church proceeds to consecrate a gay bishop in New Hampshire next month, the global Anglican Communion could eventually crack apart.

"If his consecration proceeds," said a statement signed by all 37 clergymen attending the meeting, "we recognize that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the communion itself will be put in jeopardy."

The primates' statement put the onus on leaders of the Episcopal Church USA, the American wing of Anglicanism, not to go ahead with the final consecration ceremony for Bishop-elect V. Gene Robinson, scheduled for Nov. 2.

Leaders of the New Hampshire diocese quickly responded by saying that they did not intend to back down. They said that Bishop-elect Robinson had been overwhelmingly elected after nearly three decades of ministry in New Hampshire and confirmed at a church convention in Minneapolis this summer.

The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins, past-president of Integrity, an advocacy group for lesbian and gay Episcopalians, said he had exchanged e-mail messages with the bishop-elect yesterday and concluded: "He's not going to back down. He knows too much is on the line."

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The Guardian,
October 12, 2003

US millionaire bankrolls crusade against gay Anglican priests

America's religious right draws a line in the sand as Anglican primates meet in London

Jamie Doward

Howard F. Ahmanson Jr does not like publicity. The fiftysomething multimillionaire, who lives in Newport Beach, California, is something of a recluse.

Calls to Ahmanson's multitude of companies and foundations requesting an interview go unreturned. Organisations which enjoy his largesse decline to talk about their benefactor.

What is known is that in the 1990s Ahmanson, whose family made a fortune in banking, subsidised a number of controversial right-wing causes. These include a magazine called the Chalcedon Report, which carried an article calling for gays to be stoned; a think-tank called the Claremont Institute which promoted a video in which Charlton Heston praises 'the God-fearing Caucasian middle class'; and a scientific body which rejects the theory of evolution.

Now Ahmanson has a new crusade, whose repercussions will be felt far beyond the United States. He is using his cash to stir up the most divisive row facing the Anglican Church, one that threatens to rip it apart when its leaders meet in London this week.

At its heart is the Church's stance on homosexuality, an issue that divides liberal and conservative. Somewhere in the middle is the Anglican Communion's spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Initial estimates suggest that the Communion's leaders are split down the middle, with some 20 of the 38 opposing two separate events that have occurred in North America.

The first was the decision to appoint the openly gay Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. The second was the decision by the diocese of New Westminster in Canada to bless same-sex unions. 

The conservative wing of the 70 million-strong Anglican Communion were outraged, arguing that the two events ran contrary to the teachings of the Bible and the Communion's position on homosexuality agreed at the Lambeth Conference in 1998 - while the Church should welcome practising homosexuals into its congregations, there could be no ordination.

Leading the backlash is the American Anglican Council (AAC) based in Washington. Until recently the AAC's chief executive officer, David C. Anderson, ran St James Church in Newport Beach, California, where Ahmanson is often to be found in the congregation. The AAC's vice-president, Bruce Chapman, is president of the Discovery Institute, on whose board Ahmanson sits and which publishes research insisting Darwin was wrong.

AAC stalwart James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, admits that Ahmanson gives $200,000 a year, although many observers believe it is considerably more.

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Chicago Tribune,
September 21, 2003

Doctrine Meets Practice

Dutch take on Vatican over gay marriages

By Frida Ghitis

At the stroke of midnight, on April 1, 2001, an extraordinary ceremony unfolded at City Hall in Amsterdam. Inside the massive red brick building adjoining the city's grand opera hall, a leading Dutch politician performed official marriage ceremonies for four gay couples. The weddings, conducted by Mayor Job Cohen, represented the first fully government-sanctioned same-sex marriages in the world. 

They were not registered partnerships, civil unions or any other political concoction cooked up to resemble a normal marriage. These marriages were 100 percent identical to the ones joining married heterosexual couples in the Netherlands.

The weddings did not cause much of a social or political commotion in the Netherlands. That, however, is not what happens in most countries when gay marriage comes up for debate. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law this summer, moves to legalize gay unions on all continents have gathered steam. The Vatican has made it its mission to stop gay marriage.

Activists in the Netherlands now say they will help gay groups in other countries achieve what they did.

A few weeks after the Supreme Court ruling, the Vatican issued a call for Catholics around the world to stand up against the evils of ungodly and unnatural homosexual unions. According to the Vatican's 12-page directive, even supporting gay marriage is "gravely immoral."

Not long after that, the main gay organization in the Netherlands announced the publication of a booklet designed to help activists legalize  their relationships by studying the Dutch experience.

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Washington Post,
September 15, 2003

Among Episcopalians, Grief Over Gay Bishop Protests Grow, but Risk of Schism Still Uncertain

By Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Staff Writer

When the Episcopal Church confirmed a gay bishop, Paul Wilcox put on black trousers, a black shirt and a black tie. Then he got out a can of black Rust-Oleum and painted over the word "Episcopal" on the lawn sign at St. Andrew's Church in West Nashville, Tenn., where he has been a parishioner for 15 years.

"I just felt that this was a very grave mistake and a very mournful day," said Wilcox, 45, who received permission from the church's rector to alter the sign.

Across the country, conservative Episcopalians have been grieving since the church's general convention voted Aug. 5 in Minneapolis to accept the election of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

But Episcopal leaders say it is too soon to tell whether these emotional outpourings will prove cathartic - and soon pass - or continue to swell until they wreak a full-blown schism in the church.

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Associated Press,
August 29, 2003

Catholic Church to increase opposition to gay marriages
Top U.S. bishop says government obligated to act

By Richard N. Ostling, AP Religion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) The Roman Catholic Church will intensify its efforts to prevent legalization of same-sex marriage, the president of the nation's Catholic bishops said Friday.

Bishop Wilton D. Gregory said the bishops could endorse a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as only heterosexual, though he stopped short of making such an endorsement himself.

Gregory, of Belleville, Ill., said the church is seeking "the best, most effective and surest means" for protecting marriage.  "At this point, everything is on the table," he said.

The Vatican denounced same-sex marriages in a July doctrinal decree, while Canada's government is working to legalize them a move that Gregory said "brought this close to us."

Some Republicans in Congress are calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriages nationwide.  President Bush has not endorsed that proposal but has said marriage is between a man and a woman, and "we ought to codify that one way or the other."

Gregory said, "We believe the government has an obligation to protect marriage as an institution," and U.S. Catholic leaders will cooperate with "others who are similarly concerned with preserving the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious understanding of marriage in society."

In a wide-ranging interview, Gregory also opposed any reconsideration of the church's requirement of priestly celibacy, as was proposed in a petition to him from more than 160 Milwaukee priests this month.  Priest organizations in Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania are considering similar petitions.

The current sexual-abuse crisis "is not a moment when the church needs to, or in fact intends to, review every one of our constitutive qualities and identities and beliefs and practices," Gregory said.  "It's a moment of very intense feelings, raw feelings, but the whole store is not up for sale."

"I don't believe that there is any linkage between the abuse of children and celibacy," he added, because if that were so, sexual abuse within families would not be so widespread.

Gregory also reviewed implementation of the reform "charter" that the U.S. bishops issued last year to deal with the abuse scandal.

He said the process of "complying with the things we said we would do" is "on target" and that this is "a first and an important step, because it says to people what we must say, that your children will not knowingly ever be placed at risk in a church setting."

"But the issue of the restoration of confidence in our leadership" will take time, he said.  "Trust is built slowly.  It can be lost in the twinkling of an eye."

Under the charter, three reports are due around the end of this year. One is a statistical study of the extent and patterns of priestly abuse cases, compiled by New York City's John Jay College of Criminal Justice from reports filed by each U.S. diocese.

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Chicago Tribune,
August 17, 2003

Open and shut

Episcopalian and Catholic churches take different road to reach policy decisions on gay issues. Much of the traditional condemnation of gay unions has been based on stereotyping, scapegoating.

By Robert McClory

Everyone has had a marvelous opportunity during the last three weeks to observe how two branches of the Christian faith address a hot-button, controversial issue. The Episcopalian Church and the Roman Catholic Church, have long felt pressure to alter (or reinterpret) their doctrine and practices, to more fully accept members whose sexual orientation and lifestyle may differ from traditional moral norms.

For the Episcopal Church, the issue was whether to approve for the first time an openly gay man (living with his partner) as a bishop of the church. For the Catholic Church, the issue was how to respond to a growing trend to legalize - in society and some churches - homosexual and lesbian unions as true marriages.

On the Episcopal side, everything was out in the open during the church's general convention in Minneapolis. Despite an Episcopalian habit of outward politeness and reserve, strong, often shrill, opinions were voiced for and against radical change. Opponents of an openly gay bishop voiced accusations of heresy and predictions of schism, and even raised a charge of sexual misconduct (quickly snuffed out) before the candidate, Rev. V. Gene Robinson, was approved by the assembly. 

The meeting ended on less than amicable terms with Robinson declaring that "God is doing a new thing" and the losers threatening to break away and divide the church. The next day the archbishop of Canterbury quickly called for a meeting in hopes of quelling the uprising before it goes too far.

Meanwhile in Rome, the Vatican's Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, with Pope John Paul II's full approval, issued a statement declaring that gay unions are in clear violation of the natural moral law and that Catholic politicians worldwide have a serious obligation to oppose such unions and to bar gay couples from adopting because these adoptions do "violence" to the adopted children.

No debate here, no indication of any division on the matter among Catholic people, bishops or theologians, no evidence of any discussion with anyone outside the Vatican.

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Toronto Star,
August 10, 2003

Church braces for gay fallout
Archbishop of Canterbury must preserve unity in diverse Anglican Communion

Michael McAteer, Special To The Star

In the wake of Tuesday's confirmation of the Episcopal Church's and the world's first openly gay Anglican bishop, there is talk of schism, separation and defection in the air.

Even before the American branch of the Anglican Communion approved the election of New Hampshire priest V. Gene Robinson, 56, a divorced father of two who lives openly with a male partner, a conservative group that includes international Anglican leaders warned that, in the event of Robinson's election, they would demand a meeting of primates the leaders of the world's 38 Anglican branches to address the "dramatic realignment" of the church and the changes to Anglican teaching on marriage and sexuality.

Many are asking:  Can the Anglican Communion survive in its current form?

But this isn't the first time the question has come up in matters of gender and sexuality. The 1988 Lambeth Conference the gathering of Anglican bishops from the around the world held in England every 10 years ended with some conservative bishops warning that the consecration of women bishops would tear the communion apart.

Within a month, the Episcopal Church had elected its first woman bishop in the United States and the election of a Canadian female bishop followed not long afterward.

And so it came to pass that there were 12 women delegates among the hundreds of bishops who gathered in Canterbury for the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

In the 10 years between the two conferences, there had been defections and the establishment of splinter Anglican groups.  Anglican priests, some of them married, had crossed over to Rome and some Anglican churches still refused to ordain women, let alone consecrate them as bishops.

But while the question of women's ordination remained contentious, the worldwide community of self-governing Anglican churches, with 77 million members, remained intact despite all its cultural, social and theological diversity.

Only minutes after the news of Robinson's confirmation by the Episcopal General Convention in Minneapolis, the Archbishop of Canterbury worldwide spiritual leader of the Anglican branches predicted that difficult days lie ahead and that the American church's decision would have a significant impact on the Anglican Communion.

As a measure of his concern, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams has called for an extraordinary mid-October summit of the primates in London.

It was the first time an emergency meeting has been called since the primates began meeting together with the Archbishop of Canterbury on a fairly regular basis nearly a quarter-century ago.

"I am clear that the anxieties caused by recent developments have reached the point where we will need to sit down and discuss their consequences," Williams said in a Friday press release from Lambeth Palace.

"I hope that in our deliberations we will find there are ways forward in this situation which can preserve our respect for one another and for the bonds that unite us.

"I hope we can use the time between now and then to reflect, to pray, to consult and to take counsel."

Opponents of Robinson's election are still pressing for a meeting of like-minded Anglican leaders, including bishops from the developing world.

They're threatening to call a fall meeting in Texas to discuss whether to establish a breakaway traditional church.

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Boston Globe,
August 6, 2003

Gay bishop is cleared, confirmed

Robinson vote marks first for Episcopal Church

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff

The bishops of the Episcopal Church yesterday dismissed allegations of misconduct against the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and then voted to confirm him as the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The action immediately provoked protests by 19 conservative bishops, who declared a "pastoral emergency" and called for intervention by the other primates, or chief bishops, of the Anglican Communion.

Yesterday's vote, the final step required for Robinson to be confirmed as a bishop, is a watershed moment in the history of Christianity, the world's largest faith group. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church described it as a ringing expression of the inclusiveness of the faith, but also, for the church, a risky step.

"For some this is a moment of great joy and represents an affirmation of the place of gay and lesbian persons in this church," said Bishop Frank T. Griswold. "For others, the decision signals a crisis and reflects a departure from biblical teaching and traditional church practice. This is not a time for either triumph or desolation."

Griswold said that, to his knowledge, this is the first time an openly gay man has been elected a bishop in a Christian denomination.

Robinson, speaking at a press conference after the vote last night, expressed joy, humility, and relief at the outcome.

"This is a huge step for gay and lesbian folk in the church," he said. "I think we are seeing the [country] moving into a kind of mature adulthood with the full inclusion of gay and lesbian folks in the culture, and I'm proud to a be a tiny, tiny part of that.

"The only thing that makes this not a completely joyous day today," he said, "is the fact of my consent causing pain and difficulty for a good number of people in our community."

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Boston Globe,
August 5, 2003

Allegations delay vote on gay bishop

Impropriety charged; some fear a smear

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff

MINNEAPOLIS - The Episcopal Church yesterday delayed a final vote confirming the election of the denomination's first openly gay bishop aftera Vermont man accused the bishop-elect of inappropriate physical contact and a crusading Web journalist reported that the website of a youth organization supported by the bishop-elect included an indirect link to a site containing sexually explicit images.

Supporters of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson, who was subjected to extensive background checks by the church before being elected bishop by New Hampshire Episcopalians on June 7, said they feared a last-minute campaign by the church's conservative wing to derail the confirmation of Robinson's election by the national church.

Opponents of Robinson's confirmation denied such a role but said the allegations were troubling and must be taken seriously.

"We would like to see Gene Robinson's candidacy defeated, but within the Episcopal Church family this is not how we do business," said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, president and chief executive of the American Anglican Council, an organization of conservative Episcopalians.

The allegations, made public less than an hour before the House of Bishops was scheduled to begin debate, threw this week's triennial convention of the Episcopal Church into turmoil.

"I'm extremely disturbed about this," said Rev. Robert W. Tobin, a Robinson supporter and the rector of Christ Church Cambridge. "You have to wonder why these things are happening at this stage."

The delay was formally announced by Bishop Frank T. Griswold, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, who said he had named the bishop of Western Massachusetts, Gordon P. Scruton, to oversee an investigation into the allegations. Griswold, who met with Robinson yesterday, said the probe was "well underway" but did not say how long it would last or whether it could be completed before the convention adjourns Friday. The current bishop of New Hampshire, Douglas E. Theuner, said the concerns about Robinson were raised Sunday, after Robinson's election was confirmed by the House of Deputies, which is made up of priests and lay people. Theuner who is scheduled to retire in March, expressed continued confidence in Robinson.

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, of Massachusetts, said the church has a duty to investigate the allegations: "I just feel that somebody has raised questions and we've got to look into it."

Of the two allegations Robinson faces, the more serious is that he inappropriately touched David Lewis, of Manchester, Vt. Lewis sent an e-mail to some Episcopal bishops Sunday, asking them "please do not consent to the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop."

"As outstanding as Gene Robinson may have been thus far as a priest and diocesan administrator, my personal experience of him is that he . . .does not maintain appropriate boundaries with men," he said. "I believe this is an alarming weakness of character that alone makes Gene unsuitable for the office of bishop."

Lewis, who identifies himself in the e-mail as heterosexual, said he first met Robinson at a convocation of New England Episcopalians. "He put his hands on me inappropriately every time I engaged him in conversation. 

No gay man has ever behaved towards me this way, and I have had over 25 years of associations with gay male colleagues in the Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego show business communities."

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July 29, 2003

U.S. Episcopalian Stance on Gays Riles Conservatives

By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Proposals to ratify election of a gay bishop and bless same-sex relationships will fire debate at the upcoming convention of the U.S. Episcopal Church, which is on notice by church conservatives that approval may trigger a schism in the global Anglican Communion.

The 10-day convention in Minneapolis that begins on Wednesday will test liberals' sway over the 2.3 million U.S. Episcopalians. At their last meeting three years ago, the convention narrowly failed to give ministers leave to bless unions "outside of holy matrimony."

The liturgy governing homosexual relationships and the elevation of New Hampshire's openly gay bishop-elect Gene Robinson have each prompted threats to undermine the Anglican Communion that unites the world's 77 million congregants, many of them African and Asian converts with a conservative bent.

"The proposed actions ... would shatter the church," said a statement issued last week by 62 conservative bishops from around the world, representing some 20 million Anglicans, who met in Virginia to address the topic.

In recent years, several other Protestant denominations have similarly wrestled with whether to ordain gay clergy or sanction homosexual relationships. Decades of dispute preceded the Episcopal Church's decisions to accept contraception in 1958 and allow the ordination of women in 1975. 

The issue of homosexuality has gained prominence after two Canadian provinces recognized gay marriage and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down state sodomy laws - which dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia derided as signing on to the "so-called homosexual agenda."

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The Independent,
July 27, 2003

Anglican Church facing new crisis over gay US bishop

By David Usborne in New York

The constitutional crisis threatening to split the worldwide Anglican Church is likely to be reignited by a vote this week among American Episcopalians on whether to confirm the election of their first openly gay bishop. Most expect the appointment to go ahead.

The threat of a possible parting of ways was highlighted at a meeting in Virginia at the end of last week of five archbishops from Africa, Asia and Australia. Joined by conservative church activists from around the world, they warned in a statement that a yes vote would "precipitate a dramatic realignment of the church".

In June the diocese of New Hampshire elected an openly gay pastor, the Rev Gene Robinson, as its new bishop. The Episcopalian Church, the name taken by Anglicans in the US, must confirm the election at its annual general convention, which opens on Wednesday in Minneapolis. It must also vote on a motion to allow its pastors to conduct blessings of gay couples.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is the titular head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 79 million members in 38 regional churches around the world. This weekend Dr Williams is in Ghana, where he is likely to face renewed pressure to take a position on the New Hampshire election, an issue on which he has so far remained silent.

Similar debates gripped the Church of England when Canon Jeffrey John - also gay, though celibate, unlike Mr Robinson - was appointed Bishop of Reading. Canon John decided not to take the post after meeting Dr Williams, leading to loud protests from liberal and gay activists at the General Synod in York two weeks ago.

Most observers predict that the convention in Minneapolis will go ahead and confirm Mr Robinson this week. Only then will it be clear whether member churches in the Third World, which have a reputation for a more conservative reading of the scriptures, will carry out their threat to break away.

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Newark Star-Ledger,
July 26, 2003

Gay issue threatens to split Anglicans

Vote on Episcopalian's ordination looms

By Jeff Diamant, Star-Ledger Staff

For almost 20 years, the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson, who is gay, served as an Episcopal minister without much controversy.

Then in June he was elected bishop in New Hampshire, although not yet ordained. His sexual orientation has become the focal point for a national debate in the Episcopal church on gays that now threatens to divide the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal general convention meets in Minneapolis this week, and Robinson's ordination is expected to command center stage. In addition, the convention will vote on whether to develop a ceremony for same-sex unions.

"I'm going into this with a certain amount of dread," said the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chatham, who is gay and plans to vote in favor of Robinson and blessings for same-sex unions.

"There will be winners and there will be losers. The winners will be elated, and the losers will be devastated."

Nine days ago in an open letter, 24 U.S. Episcopal bishops implied they will sever ties with the church in America if the convention measures pass.

Instead, they suggested, they would align themselves with more conservative Anglican Communion leaders in Africa and Asia.

Worldwide, the Anglican Communion has 70 million members in 164 countries, of which 2.3 million are U.S. Episcopalians.

Four days ago, a worldwide group of Anglican Communion leaders, meeting in Virginia, threatened "a dramatic realignment of the Church," if the measures are passed.

"There's a very good chance of a split," said Bruce Mason, spokesman for the American Anglican Council, a conservative Episcopal movement. "The way we view it, the Episcopal church is moving away from the historical Christian faith by embracing these innovations concerning homosexuality."

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Providence Journal,
July 26, 2003

Leo Sandon: Change is coming to this church

New Hampshire Episcopalians are forcing the issue regarding the ordination of gays and lesbians. The Diocese of New Hampshire this month elected an openly gay priest as its new bishop. "Openly" is the operative word: There have been and are bishops in the Anglican communion who are gay, but none heretofore revealed his or her sexual orientation before election. This is a first. 

The bishop-elect is the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson who has served 16 years as an assistant to New Hampshire's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Douglas E. Theuner. Robinson's election must be confirmed by bishops and diocesan representatives at the Episcopal Church's General Convention, which is set for Monday in Minneapolis. Opposition will be intense. 

Already some Episcopalians have indicated that this is the last straw. Talk of schism is in the air. The issue will not be confined to the U.S. Episcopal Church's 2.3 million members but will have repercussions among the international Anglican Communion's approximately 79 million communicants.

The approaching Episcopal "showdown," as others have called it, constitutes the most recent major engagement in the struggle that has gone on in mainline U.S. Protestant denominations for three decades.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Methodist Church have experienced ongoing conflict over providing commitment rites for same-sex partners and ordaining gays and lesbians for ministry. More slowly and convolutedly, the Roman Catholic Church is beginning to deal with its significant homosexual clerical subculture.

The painful tensions within these faith communities reflect our wider society's struggle to understand and to reach consensus on gay and lesbian issues.

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Scripps Howard News Service,
July 14, 2003

Sexual hang-ups in church

David Yount

(SH) Sex has become such a preoccupation of the churches that it threatens to split some denominations.  Episcopalians in New Hampshire recently chose an openly gay bishop.  In England, a gay priest, Jeffrey John, was nominated to become suffragan bishop of Reading.

Bitter debates erupt at national meetings of mainline Protestant denominations, sometimes spilling over into church courts.  United Methodists split over same-sex unions among members, the ordaining of practicing homosexuals, as well as their official doctrine that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Meanwhile, conservative Presbyterians recently mounted a petition campaign to censure congregations that do not follow the denomination's ban on actively gay clergy.  Within the Evangelical Lutheran Church the debates over gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions are less heated but every bit as persistent.

The Catholic Church, swamped in sexual scandal because of the abuses of pedophile priests, nevertheless has managed to avoid these divisions because it insists on celibacy as a standard for its clergy.  Whether a priest is straight or gay in his sexual orientation, he is expected neither to wed nor to indulge in sex.

The problem with sex may prove to be most acute for the Anglican Church, many of whose clergy resigned when the denomination agreed to ordain women.  An Anglican diocese in Canada recently agreed to bless same-sex unions there.

George Carey, the recently retired archbishop of Canterbury, has admitted that he ordained two bishops in the 1990s whom he knew to be gay but who assured him that they would lead celibate lives.  In 1991 the Church of England adopted a dual standard, which tolerates sex between gay lay members of the church, but forbids sexual relations to gay clergy.

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Boston Globe, 
May 29,  2003

Bishops eye pastors to fight gay marriage

Want Catholics to press legislators for amendment

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff

The four Catholic bishops of Massachusetts are asking every pastor in the state to remind worshipers this weekend that the church opposes same-sex marriage, and to urge lay Catholics to lobby the Legislature for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.

After a year in which the state's bishops were largely silent on public policy matters as they grappled with the clergy sexual abuse crisis, they are now launching their broadest effort in years to influence the Legislature. The four bishops, of Boston, Fall River, Worcester, and  Springfield, are asking pastors to read statements on their concern about same-sex marriage, and are asking that announcements be put in church bulletins, telling parishioners how to contact legislators.

The bishops say they decided to speak out because they are concerned that the state Supreme Judicial Court may decide the Massachusetts Constitution allows same-sex marriage, and because legislative testimony last year by three priests who oppose a constitutional amendment may have led to confusion about the church's position on the issue.

"The bishops have a right and a duty to remind Catholics of what it means to be a married couple, and they are reminding people that everyone has a right to let their legislators know what they believe marriage is," said Bishop Daniel P. Reilly of Worcester, in an e-mail reply to a question from the Globe. "It is not an anti-anything statement, but a reminder that marriage holds a unique role in the history of mankind and should be respected for what it is, a union of a man and a woman who seek to live a new life focused on the best interests of that new couple and their potential family, not just each other's personal interests."

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London Times, 
May 26,  2003

Archbishop says Church must accept faithful gays

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, believes that the Church of England should change its mind on homosexuality in the same way that it has already altered its teaching on slavery, hellfire, usury and marriage after divorce.

According to a new biography of Dr Williams serialised in The Times today, Dr Williams believes that faithful gay partnerships should be accepted by all Christians who endorse contraception. 

After Dr Williams' translation to Canterbury was announced last summer, he wrote to his fellow primates in the Anglican Church worldwide, promising to abide by the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution upholding traditional biblical norms on the issue.

But according to the book, Rowan Williams: An Introduction, by Rupert Shortt, a former pupil of Dr Williams' at Oxford and currently the Religion Editor of The Times Literary Supplement, the Archbishop's private view remains at variance with this.

Mr Shortt, who had five face-to-face sessions with Dr Williams and three telephone interviews, and who allowed him copy approval of the text, writes: "His private view remains that an adjustment of teaching on sexuality would not be different from the kind of flexibility now being shown to divorcees who wish to remarry, or the softening in the 16th century of the Church's once total opposition to borrowing with interest, or the 19th and 20th-century shifts of view on subjects like slavery and eternal hellfire."

The book comes as the worldwide Anglican Church has once again been debating how to avert schism over the issue. At a meeting in Gramado in southern Brazil this week of the 38 Anglican primates, Dr Williams and his fellow archbishops debated a report, True Union in the Body, which spoke of "anarchy and division" if liberal bishops were to permit the formalising of homosexual relationships through an official ceremony of "marriage" or blessing. The report, commissioned by the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev Drexel Gomez, argued that bishops who defy the Church's policy should be "openly rebuked" and no longer recognised as Anglican.

The meeting, which ended on Sunday was in private but Dr Williams is understood to have spoken in support of the report. However, fears that he represents a liberalising trend in the Church were accentuated last week by the appointment to the episcopate of one of the Church of England's most prominent advocates of homosexual rights, who has called for the ordination of practicing homosexuals and blessings of gay marriages.

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Denver Post, 
May 18,  2003

Church mired in debate over ordaining gays

By Eric Gorski, Denver Post Religion Writer

Lorna Wagner wants to draw attention to the tragedy of African orphans with AIDS when she and 547 other delegates to the 215th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) meet in Denver starting next weekend to weigh church matters large and small.

Then she opens her mailbox.

Nearly every day, the 78-year-old Aurora woman is inundated with position papers from conservative and liberal policy groups within her denomination.

The literature almost always is concerned with the same subject: whether non-celibate gays and lesbians should be ordained, and whether church leaders should crack down on those who defy a ban on the practice.

Homosexuality in the church has divided the nation's largest Presbyterian body for 25 years, and the issue shows no signs of going away.

"I ache for the church because I've been in it since I was born into it," said Wagner, the wife of a retired railroad executive and charter member of St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Aurora. "Someone built this building with a lot of sweat and tears - and a lot of hope. It saddens me to watch this big fight."

At the General Assembly in Denver, the Presbyterian fight over homosexuality will center on three key issues: 

Ordination. The assembly will hear a proposal to reverse the denomination's ban on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians as ministers of word and sacrament, deacons and elders. The church teaches that sexual relations should be confined to marriage between a man and woman. Celibate homosexuals can be ordained.

That Presbyterians ordain people other than their pastors further complicates the issue. Lay leaders in local churches also are ordained - as elders and as deacons.

The prohibition on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians has been in place since 1997. Before then, congregations and presbyteries, or regional clusters of churches, had more discretion in deciding whom to ordain.

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Minneapolis Star Tribune, 
May 18,  2003

Gay rights is hot topic in Lutheran churches
Kim Palmer, Star Tribune

Minnesota Lutherans are not known as a racy bunch.  But the hot topic now in many congregations is sex.

Specifically, gay sex.  And whether sexually active gay individuals should be ordained as pastors, receive blessings for commitment ceremonies, or just be welcome in church.

Many faiths are wrestling with such issues, but the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Minnesota's second-largest denomination, behind Catholicism is in the thick of things as never before.

This month, three metro-area ELCA churches have taken on three big debates:

Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer in southwest Minneapolis will install a partnered lesbian pastor today, defying the ELCA's requirement that unmarried clergy, gay or straight, be celibate.

Also today, Pilgrim Lutheran of St. Paul will vote on a "statement of welcome" to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people.

On May 4, another St. Paul congregation, Gloria Dei, voted by a wide margin to allow its pastors to bless same-sex unions.  The ELCA has no official policy prohibiting such blessings, but church leaders have discouraged them.

Leaders have urged churches to talk about these issues, however, well ahead of the 2005 Churchwide Assembly, during which members will discuss the results of a four-year sexuality study and consider changing the ban on ordaining noncelibate gays and lesbians.

"I'm worried that large segments of the ELCA are choosing not to have conversations about these issues," the Rev. Mark Hanson, the ELCA's presiding bishop, told the Metro Lutheran monthly newspaper in April.  "Most of us grew up in homes where we didn't talk about sexuality, and now we're going to fumble through with this new challenge."  If Lutherans don't talk openly now and instead await the assembly's decision and then react "we will have a divided church," he said at a pastors' conference last month.

There are already splits in some congregations.  Advocates liken the gay-rights debate to the civil rights movement.  Critics contend that they're being asked to endorse a lifestyle they say the Bible condemns.       

A renewed calling

When the Rev. Mary Albing divorced her husband and former co-pastor and came out as a lesbian five years ago, she thought her life as a parish minister was over.  "I didn't intend to stay single, and I didn't want to lie," she said.

Today, Albing, 48, will be installed as pastor of Redeemer.  The bishop will not "sign the call," meaning the synod will not officially recognize the installation.

Even so, Albing said, the new parish is a blessing.  "I feel so grateful. . . .  Five years ago, there was no place for me to be."

Redeemer's decision to hire Albing, who is in a committed relationship, followed its move five years ago to become a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation, said church council president Ruth Peterson.  (RIC is the term for gay-welcoming among ELCA churches.)  Two members submitted letters asking the church to consider gay and lesbian pastoral candidates.  "The letters said, 'This seems to be a contradiction, that we welcome [gays and lesbians], but not to the pulpit.'"

Last fall, church members voted 64 to 9 to change their constitution to allow candidates not on the ELCA roster, including noncelibate gays.

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The Jersey Journal, 
May 5,  2003

Shocking results in gay marriage poll
County 55.6% in favor, most Catholics approve

By Peter Weiss
Journal staff writer

Legalizing gay marriages is favored by more than one-half of Hudson County residents, according to a poll conducted by New Jersey City University for The Jersey Journal.

The pollsters said they were surprised by the results, which show 55.6 percent in favor of legalization and 34.2 percent opposed.

The issue of legalization of gay marriage is currently in state Superior Court, and one Hudson County couple is among the seven suing for

"Hudson is a working-class, blue-collar and heavily Catholic county and we surmised that residents would be strongly against gay marriage," said poll supervisors Fran Moran, of the Political Science Department, and Bruce Chadwick, of the English Department.

They said even more surprising than the overall numbers were those among Catholics, with 60.4 percent in favor. Only 30 percent of Protestants

The poll results were welcome news to Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow, a Union City couple who are involved in the lawsuit. Lewis said that he's learned from a series of recent town hall meetings throughout the state that people understand the issue.

"They get the point that this is not about religion," Lewis said. "We're not trying to change any church rules. (The poll) shows the message is clear that this is about civil rights."

Lewis said he was also heartened by a Star-Ledger editorial yesterday that supported legal marriage for gays and asked that Gov. James E. McGreevey back off his legal challenge of the suit and "allow same-sex couples to marry."

Chadwick and Moran suggested the results may be indicative of a growing rift between Catholic leadership and church members. They noted a previous NJCU poll in which 56 percent of Hudson residents favored marriage for priests and 60 percent were accepting of priesthood for women.

The pollsters found that the youngest age group questioned, those between 18 and 29, were most in favor of gay marriage, with 71 percent approving. Support was only 20 percent among those over 65.

The pollsters said gender results were also surprising, with 61 percent of men in favor, 10 percent higher than the approval rate among women.

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The Trentonian, 
April 7,  2003

Gay Fury In Trenton

Area gays react to Vatican decree

Lisa Meyer, Staff Writer

Gay and lesbians in Greater Trenton reacted with muted fury - and one reflexive guffaw - after learning of the Vatican's latest publication in which homosexuals are described as mentally disturbed and lacking "any social value."

"Somehow I just don't get it," said Athena Gassoumis, an ordained interfaith minister and lesbian, calmly referring to the Vatican's assertion that legislation on gay marriage stems from "deeply disordered minds."

"In light of the geopolitical situation today," she said, shifting her tone, "for the church to focus on this instead of healing is reprehensible."

The Lexicon On Ambiguous and Colloquial Terms about Family Life and Ethical Questions, penned by the Vatican, sought to clarify the Church's teachings on birth control, sex education, assisted procreation and homosexuality.

While the contents of the 900-page dictionary spawned the ire of homosexuals around the world, it still came as no surprise to those who are accustomed to denigrating dogma or who have weathered open hostility for decades.

"It's way different now than from 30 years ago," said Nancy Hillman, 53, president of the seven-year-old Trenton Gay and Lesbian Civic Association. "What is going on now in the search for marriage equality is rights for every person out there."

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Cincinnati Enquirer, 
April 5,  2003

Minister makes stand for gay marriages
Presbyterian Church puts area pastor on trial

By Erica Solvig, The Cincinnati Enquirer

The national debate over homosexual rights in church will focus on the Tristate on Tuesday when the minister of the Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church faces a disciplinary trial for marrying same-sex couples and ordaining gays and lesbians.

As the Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken prepares to face the Presbytery of Cincinnati's Permanent Judicial Commission, he says he hopes the trial will raise the issue's profile nationally and bring understanding and acceptance.  The commission is made up of seven members three ministers and four elders.

"Part of all this is about the ability to be honest and open," said the 44-year-old father of two.  "That certainly applies to gay and lesbian people.  It also applies to progressive straight people like me."

The pastor faces two ecclesiastic charges:

Ordaining deacons and elders who "refuse to repent of self-acknowledged practice(s) which the Confessions call sin" and which violate the Book of Order;

Officiating Christian marriage services for same-sex couples.

If he is found guilty, Van Kuiken could be removed from the ministry.

Presbyterians define marriage as a union between a man and woman, said the commission chairperson, Rev. Martha Cross Sexton.  The Book of Order has been interpreted by many to prohibit the ordination of persons who are gay and lesbian and are sexually active, according to the Presbytery of Cincinnati.

"The purpose of disciplinary actions in the Presbyterian church is to nurture and reconcile and build up the church, its members and pastors," Sexton said.  "It's not revenge or anything like that."

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National Catholic Reporter, 
February 14,  2003

Gay Catholics denied Communion found guilty

By Joe Feuerherd

Washington - As she prepared to declare their guilt and sentence the three defendants, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Mildred Edwards told the dozen or so people gathered in the second floor courtroom what most of them already knew.

"This is not a difficult case on the facts."

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Associated Press, 
January 3, 2003

Conservative Jews to Review Views on Gays

By Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer

Conservative Judaism may be about to reopen discussion of the denomination's ban on same-sex unions and ordaining homosexuals - a move critics say could fracture the centrist branch of U.S. Jewry.

Judy Yudof, lay president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, wants the movement's lawmaking body to decide whether its condemnation of gay sex still holds under current interpretations of religious law.

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Boston Herald, 
December 22, 2002

Provincetown protest urges Shanley to leave

by Franci Richardson

Victims of pedophile priests joined gay activists in Provincetown yesterday to reject the Vatican's claim that homosexuals are to blame for the sexual abuse scandal and to call on the Rev. Paul Shanley to leave town.

"This has to do with justice," said Steve Lewis, 45, an abuse survivor who traveled from his home in Lynn to the end of Cape Cod for the peaceful noon demonstration.

"This has to with the rape and molestation of kids and young adults," he said.

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Washington Post, 
December 10, 2002

D.C. Church Authorizes Same-Sex Unions

By Caryle Murphy and Bill Broadway, Washington Post Staff Writers

National City Christian Church, a prominent mainline congregation in Northwest Washington, has decided to allow same-sex weddings in its sanctuary.

The unanimous decision on Saturday by its board of elders places the 159-year-old congregation, where U.S. presidents James A. Garfield and Lyndon B. Johnson once worshiped, among a small number of D.C. area churches that permit such services, often called "covenant ceremonies."

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The Oregonian
October 3, 2002

Gays, lesbians learn, are comforted

By: Shirley Dang

BEAVERTON - With the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal echoing, it is vital to talk openly and frankly about homosexuality within the church, says the leader of a gay and lesbian support group.

New Ways Ministry opens a daylong workshop Friday at Our Lady of Peace Retreat Center in Beaverton as part of a four-stop trip in the Northwest.  "Building Bridges" is aimed at clergy, church volunteers, educators, social workers, gays and lesbians, and their families, says Francisco DeBernardo, the group's executive director.

New Ways preaches tolerance and understanding of gay priests, parishioners and church personnel.

And many Portland Catholics are listening. Joy Wallace says she discovered she was lesbian after joining the church in her 40s.  The 57-year-old has attended more than five of New Ways' seminars.

"They're wonderful," Wallace said.
The workshops, along with the supportive community at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Northeast Portland, gave Wallace a safe place to explore her issues with Catholicism, including its stand on homosexuality.

Not all parishes and church leaders are so comforting.

E-Mail: Letters@news.oregonian.com

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March 27, 2002

The gay purge
By scapegoating homosexual priests, the Catholic Church seeks to avoid a tougher look at its secret history of abuse.

By Cheryl L. Reed

The Vatican has come up with a simple solution to the Catholic Church's recent sex scandal: Eliminate gay priests. "People with these inclinations just cannot be ordained," says Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, responding to the sex scandals sweeping the American Catholic Church in recent weeks.

U.S. conservatives have also taken up the cause. Former drug czar and self-appointed "values" cop Bill Bennett told CNN last week that "the church has to consider the whole question as to whether it wants priests who are homosexual in orientation."
That answer may make sense to many, since the sex cases that have received the most attention have involved priests who have molested young boys. And turning the scandals into a "gay" issue allows the church to suggest that it, too, is a victim in the scandal. 

Rather than being responsible for pedophile priests, the church can portray itself as victimized by gays who have sneaked into the priesthood. But it blurs a central fact at the heart of the controversy: No one, including the church itself, seems to know exactly how big the sex scandal really is, who it involves or what role homosexuality plays in child abuse by priests.

E-Mail: letters@salon.com 

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