Being Gay and people of faith:
what’s all the fuss about?

An Afternoon with James Alison
Catholic priest and theologian who has been developing a positive understanding on LGBTI issues in faith contexts for many years. James was born in England. Currently he works as a travelling preacher, lecturer, and retreat giver. He has written many books on God, religion and LGBTI people and a work on reimagining Christian theology -  Broken Hearts and New Creations: Intimations of a Great Reversal (2010). The principal representatives of “religion” have until recently been very negative about LGBTI people, and yet LGBTI people of faith have discovered and are discovering, that it is our very struggle around issues of identity that has deepened our awe and gratitude for all that is best in our respective traditions. What are some of the ways in which we can help those who have “issues” with us (our marriages, our voices, our forms of political presence) move on, and maybe even move deeper into faith?  What are going to be some of our tasks in a future where being gay has become a “whatever” issue, but where the life of faith will need to be much deeper if it is to survive?
Sunday September 24, 2017. Time: 2 - 4pmat University of Technology Sydney, Guthrie Theatre Peter Johnson Building, Building 6, Level 3 (CB06.03)Enter at 702-730 Harris Street, Ultimo and proceed to level 3 (down one floor)
Download flyer here
 Rainbow Catholics InterAgency for MinistryUniversity of Technology Sydney, Multifaith Chaplaincy. Details: Francis: or Ben:

An Apology Liturgy to LGBTIQ People

inspired by Pope Francis' call for an apology by the church

To cry to God to be with us and strengthen us in a time that continues to silence those affected by hatred, misunderstanding, bullying and oppression of human rights.
As people of the christian church, we say sorry for our part in the silencing and for our failure to speak out against bigotry and vilification that fuels violence and fear toward 'the other'.

Development of Pastoral Letter on affirming the place of Catholics identifying as same sex attracted in the Australian Catholic Church
(Originally submitted to the Bishops Conference in 2010)

A Submission of Newtown Parish Team to the Australian Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life Download full text here

Homophobia at Newtown with LGBTI Catholics
An uncertain world
Religion for all its poetry and pity
Can sometimes be a place of judgment and complicity
In the cool dark place where real lives struggle
And pray for more than just another haggle
Over words – shouted in market squares
Battles producing endless judgmental stares
Clouting fragile people with blunt exceptionalism
Rather than rainbow colours within the prism

At Newtown on a Friday night
Gay christians gather – not to fight
But in mutual support befriending
And with a quiet voice ascending
Seek hope for a world made anew
Everyone included no matter what the hue
When protested, critiqued by the certainty
Strangely out of touch with all reality

There is a spark breaking free
Hesitating, straining to see
A truth - what self is all about
Accompanied by some healthy doubt
About God and me and us and the world
From a starry mouth gently unfurled
A whisper gently claiming safe space
It is not a federal case
But a celebration of what is God-given
Finding confidence - not hidden

Peter Maher Aug 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Newtown parish responds to video vilifying ministry to lesbian and gay Catholics

After last Sunday’s homily there has been some interest in the thoughts I expressed.  Far from judging and vilifying lesbians and gays, as we heard from Michael Voris in his video about the Newtown parish Friday night Mass, I suggested that hearing the stories of lesbian and gay Catholics and how that had influenced my reading in order to better pastorally care for all Catholics might offer a new way of seeing lesbian and gay Catholics as gift rather than “the other” for whom we might feel sorry.
What I learned from hearing these stories was that lesbian and gay Catholics are like all people trying to live their faith – they are searching for meaning and joy and authenticity in and through the Catholic community and the spiritual wisdom of the bible and church tradition. Catholics expect to find guidance and encouragement, as well as challenge, but  lesbian and gay Catholics find all too often that they are asked to deny their sexuality or, at best, to be invisible.
Theologians and spiritual writers are beginning to write from the perspective of the world in which we live and the life stories of lesbian and gay Catholics. If sexuality is a gift from God and if psychology and science are correct in finding that homosexuality is God-given, that is not chosen, then homosexuality must also be a gift from God.  What might this gift be? Those doing theology with the insight of the stories of lesbian and gay Catholics and modern science suggest such areas as intimacy, friendship, faithful love and personal growth might be a gift to the church and indeed the world. 
Where traditional sexual ethics has dominated church teaching about heterosexual relationships and marriage; homosexuals have had to find the meaning for themselves of their God-given attraction and have made some astoundingly good gospel-based spiritual discoveries.  While heterosexual relationships are struggling in the current climate of distrust of church teaching; homosexual relationships, lived according to gospel principles of love, seem to be finding a beautiful expression.
But what of the scripture passages that seem so damning of homosexuality? Through scripture scholarship which emphasizes the meaning of the text in context, it seems that all the texts referring to homosexuality, and there are not many – indeed, none in the gospel, all refer to abusive sexual relationships.  In times when people did not identify as gay, as they do today, it is reasonable to infer that the texts referring to homosexuality refer to people being used and abused.  Scriptural texts do encourage intimate and caring relationships and these can often be found among lesbian and gay couples.
I don’t pretend we have found a path forward yet but there are many within the church exploring these ideas.  What we try to do here at St Joseph’s Newtown is to support, and walk with, lesbian and gay Catholics as they try to faithfully live their faith authentically.
Including the outsider is a common theme here at Newtown parish and so it is not so surprising that we might explore such a ministry.  Let’s hope the likes of Michael Voris, and his Opus Dei money, don’t destroy this emerging gift for the church.
Peter Maher, Parish priest, Newtown

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