Catholic school board reverses ‘gay’ ban
A CATHOLIC school board in Ontario has overturned its decision to ban groups that bring together gay and heterosexual students to combat discrimination, writes Peter Kavanagh. The Halton Catholic District School Board reacted to a storm of controversy that erupted after Alice Anne Lemay, its chair- woman, defended the ban to a gay rights magazine Xtra!. “We don’t have Nazi groups either. Gay-straight alliances are banned because they are not within the teachings of the Catholic Church,” she said. Several national newspapers, national labour unions and the union representing Catholic teachers demanded that the board abandon the ban on so-called “gay-straight alliance groups”. Citizen groups also used the ban as part of a campaign demanding an end to the funding of all religious schools with taxpayer dollars. Ms LeMay denies equating Nazis and gays, insisting that the board was following clear instructions from the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, which advises against tol- erating groups supporting “a self-identification with sexual orientation that is often premature among high-school students.” ■ The US Archdiocese of Boston has announced a new admissions policy for its parochial schools explicitly stating that “Our schools welcome and do not discriminate against or exclude any categories of students”, writesMichael Sean Winters. The new policy was crafted in response to a controversy last year when a priest told two lesbian parents their child would not be admitted to the parish school. The stance differs from that adopted by Denver archdiocese last year. When a priest excluded the child of gay parents, Archbishop Charles Chaput defended that decision.
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Politicians urge Pope to relax celibacy rule
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt In Vienna
A GROUP of prominent German Catholic politicians including the President of the Bun - destag, Norbert Lammert, and the Minister of Education, Annette Schavan, both members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), have appealed to their bishops to urge Pope Benedict to relax the mandatory priestly celibacy rule. In an open letter to the German bishops’ conference on 22 January, they say the Church should allow the ordination of proven married men (viri probati) because of the drastic short- age of priests.
UNITED STATES Support programme criticised
THE DIOCESE of Colorado Springs has launched a new 12-step programme to help gay men and women live chastely, modelled after the Alcoholics Anonymous approach to coping with alcoholism, writes Michael Sean Winters. In explaining the new programme, Fr Larry Brennan, a diocesan official, said it was different from “conversion therapy”. An evangelical organisation in Colorado Springs, the Family Research Council, has
■Some 200,000 people joined the annual March for Life in Washington DC on Monday.Th
e nationwide rally is held in the capital each year in support of
advocated conversion therapy for gays. In a press release, Frank DeBernardo, exec- utive director of the pro-gay New Ways Ministries, stated, “The notion that homo- sexuality is an illness similar to alcoholism or addiction to narcotics finds no support in psy- chological literature. The fruits of lifelong, committed, monogamous relationships are quite different [to] the damage and heartache done by chemical dependencies.”
pro-life legislation and abortion alternatives. Among those attending were the Democrats for Life, whose handful of supporters joined the
mainly Republican voters on the Mall. One of the few pro-life Democratic congressmen, Daniel Lipinski, acknowledged the group in his address.
As the situation in Catholic parishes in
Germany is so desperate, the German bishops could press for exceptions to the priestly celibacy rule for Germany, the signatories suggest. If the Church is “hesitant” to address the shortage of priests, then committed lay Catholics must do so, they say. In reply, the German bishops said priestly
celibacy was a matter for the world Church and that Germany could not go ahead alone. Meanwhile, before leaving for Rome to
meet the Pope, the leader of the Bavarian Lutheran Church, Bishop Johannes Friedrich of Munich, said the Bavarian Lutherans agreed with the Catholic Church regarding embryo screening and favoured banning it.
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