17 January 2017

PRESS STATEMENT - DRACHMA'S REACTION TO THE MALTESE BISHOPS' GUIDELINES ON AMORIS LAETITIA




PRESS RELEASE


STATEMENT BY DRACHMA REGARDING THE MALTESE BISHOPS’ GUIDELINES FOR THE APPLICATION OF CHAPTER EIGHT OF AMORIS LÆTITIA


Drachma, a support group for LGBTIQ persons and for parents with LGBTIQ children, would like to thank the Maltese Bishops regarding the Guidelines for the Application of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, issued last Friday. In issuing these guidelines, the Maltese Bishops have shown admirable pastoral care. While building on the results of the Synod on the Family and on the teachings of Pope Francis, in continuity with the teachings of preceding popes, the language used by the Maltese Bishops as well as the way in which such complex situations are addressed feel fresh and new, and they truly show that the Church is a Mother who teaches and loves all her children, whoever and wherever they may be.

STQARRIJA GĦALL-ISTAMPA


STQARRIJA TA’ DRACHMA DWAR IL-LINJI GWIDA TAL-ISQFIJIET MALTIN DWAR KAPITLU 8 TAL-AMORIS LAETITIA


Il-grupp Drachma, li huwa grupp ta’ sapport għal persuni LGBTIQ kif ukoll għal ġenituri b’ulied LGBTIQ, jixtieq jirringrazzja lill-Isqfijiet Maltin għall-Kriterji għall-Applikazzjoni ta’ Kapitlu VIII tal-Amoris Laetitia li ħarġu nhar il-Ġimgħa li għaddiet. Fil-ħruġ ta’ dawn il-linji gwida, l-Isqfijiet Maltin urew sens pastorali kbir. Waqt li komplew jibnu fuq ir-riżultat tas-Sinodu dwar il-Familja u fuq it-tagħlim tal-Papa Franġisku, f’kontinwità mat-tagħlim tal-Papiet preċedenti, il-lingwaġġ użat minnhom kif ukoll il-mod kif sitwazzjonijiet kumplessi huma indirizzati jinħassu friski u ġodda u tassew juru li l-Knisja hi Omm li tgħallem u tħobb lil uliedha kollha, huma min huma u jinsabu fejn jinsabu.

 COMUNICATO STAMPA

COMUNICATO DI DRACHMA A PROPOSITO DELLE LINEE GUIDA DEI VESCOVI MALTESI SULL’APPLICAZIONE DEL CAPITOLO VIII DI AMORIS LÆTITIA


Drachma, un gruppo di sostegno Maltese per persone LGBTIQ e per genitori con figli LGBTIQ desidera ringrazziare i vescovi maltesi a proposito delle Linee Guida sull’Applicazione del Capitolo VIII di Amoris Laetitia, uscite venerdì scorso. Nel pubblicare queste linee guida, i vescovi maltesi hanno mostrato una cura pastorale ammirevole. Sulla base dei risultati del Sinodo sulla Famiglia e degli insegnamenti di Papa Francesco, e in continuità con gli insegnamenti dei papi precedenti, il linguaggio usato dai vescovi maltesi e il modo in cui hanno affrontato tali situazioni complesse sono freschi e nuovi, e dimostrano veramente che la Chiesa è una Madre che insegna e che ama tutti i suoi figli, chiunque essi siano e ovunque si trovino.

07 January 2017

Drachma Public Conference on Saturday 14 January 2016



Drachma will be organising its 2nd LGBTIQ Public Conference on Saturday, 14 January 2017 and this year we will be focusing more widely on the theme 'Seeking the well-being of LGBTIQ persons', with an emphasis on the 'journeying' that persons experience and the ways challenges and opportunities are dealt with along life's trail.

You can register online by filling this form: https://goo.gl/forms/35fIoOSjcmU4tCE72

Registration fees (15 € + additional 10 € if staying for lunch) can be paid on the day at Mount Saint Joseph.


18 December 2016

New Ways Ministry: Malta Bans Conversion Therapy for LGBT People; Catholic Church Should Do Likewise

https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/malta-bans-conversion-therapy-for-lgbt-people-catholic-church-should-do-likewise/

The heavily Catholic island nation of Malta has become the first European country to outlaw conversion therapy designed to attempt to alter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This news reminds us that it is about time that the Vatican should also issue a statement opposing these practices which cause untold pain to people and which disrespect God’s creation.

The Times of Malta reported:

“The Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill imposes fines and jail terms for anyone advertising, offering, performing or referring an individual to another person which performs any form of conversion practice.
“In addition, the Bill affirms that no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort.”
Initially, Malta’s Catholic Church leadership opposed the bill, issuing an 8-page position paper against the proposal. The paper claimed that the bill would privilege homosexuality and linked homosexual orientation to pedophilia.  But Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the head of Malta’s hierarchy, acknowledged that the paper was mistaken, stating in an interview:

“I want to reassure [the gay community] that we are dead set against conversion therapy because we believe, as they do, as government does, that it goes against human dignity.
“We do not subscribe to beliefs that describe gay people as sick.
“These are labels that demean them. And certainly we are not going to associate gay people with paedophilia.”

Scicluna is the only Catholic leader that I know who has spoken so forcefully and officially against conversion therapy.  Yet, most mental health professionals and many pastoral leaders recognize that such therapy is dangerous and misleading.  In 1997, the U.S. bishops gave faint disapproval to conversion therapy in their pastoral letter, Always Our Childrennoting that people should respect:

“. . . a person’s freedom to choose or refuse therapy directed toward changing a homosexual orientation. Given the present state of medical and psychological knowledge, there is no guarantee that such therapy will succeed. Thus, there may be no obligation to undertake it, though some may find it helpful.”

Not an endorsement, but not a strong enough condemnation, either.

Key to the opposition of the hierarchy’s initial position were the groups Drachma and Drachma Parents, which are, respectively, Malta’s associations of LGBT Catholics and   Catholic parents of LGBT people.  In a statement at the time, they said, in part:

“We expected this group of experts commissioned to write this Paper to include LGBTIQ people who are living this reality. It would have been appropriate for the Church to dialogue with us about this delicate subject. . . .

“We expected that the Church would sympathise with all LGBTIQ persons who had to go through conversion therapies and ask for forgiveness in the name of members within the Institution, amongst which priests, who recommended or practised conversion therapy. At no point was there any indication of concern towards the pain of such people or of their families. . . .
“We expected the Paper to clearly state that no sexual orientation is a disorder or an illness, and hence, does not require the person to seek any form of healing. . . .
“It is sad to see that this Position Paper did not seek to build bridges with LGBTIQ persons and with their families in Malta. On the contrary, the Church tended to erect walls.”

Evidence that they had an effect on Scicluna’s retraction of the paper’s position can be found in his echoing much of the language that Drachma used in their statement, as well as his affirmation of the group.  Scicluna stated:

“I feel I have to build bridges with the gay community who felt our language was too technical, too cold and too distant. . . .

“It would have helped immensely to include people from Drachma in the preparation of the position paper because they have contributed in other papers and their contribution has been precious.”

The Huffington Post report about the bill’s passage noted that “Catholicism is the official religion of Malta and the religion plays a major role in the passage of the country’s laws. For instance, the country didn’t legalize divorce until 2011.”  Yet, Malta passed marriage equality and adoption laws which recognize lesbian and gay couples, as well as laws which allow transgender people to have the description of their gender changed on official documents.

In a news report on Slate.comMark Joseph Stern came to an insightful conclusion:

“Malta, of course, retains its proud Catholic heritage and continues to celebrate church traditions that help to define the country’s identity. A majority of its citizens (and legislators) have simply decided that the government has no business enforcing discriminatory beliefs using the heavy hand of the law. In that sense, the country is really an inspiration, simultaneously a haven for LGBTQ rights and a nation of deep Catholic faith. Liberal Western values may be on the decline elsewhere in Europe. But Malta today is proving that a country can adhere to key traditional values, promote its own religious heritage, andrecognize the dignity of every citizen—all at the same time.”

Stern is right, of course, but he doesn’t go far enough.  The Catholic hierarchy should follow Malta’s example by issuing a similar statement opposing conversion therapy,  a practice which is damaging and ineffective.   Pope Francis has called time and again for pastoral ministers to “accompany” LGBT people on their faith journey.  He can make this recommendation much clearer by stating that “conversion therapy” should never be part of that accompaniment.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 15, 2016

05 December 2016

Next LGBTIQ Conversation: The Spirituality of the Absent God

This month, on Wednesday 14th December, Tyrone Grima will be facilitating a session on the Spirituality of the Absent God. It might be intriguing how we will be discussing this theme at this time of Christmas, when we celebrate the coming of Christ to this world... so how can God be absent? Is this a contradiction? Or is it another way how to look at the presence of the divine in our life and world?