Friday, January 31, 2014

Presiding Bishop Issues Statement on Criminalization of Homosexuality

The leadership of Integrity read with gratitude the statement issued January 30th by the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, regarding the recent efforts to criminalize homosexuality by several countries in recent months.
The statement reads:
"The Episcopal Church has been clear about our expectation that every member of the LGBT community is entitled to the same respect and dignity as any other member of the human family. Our advocacy for oppressed minorities has been vocal and sustained.

The current attempts to criminalize LBGT persons and their supporters are the latest in a series, each stage of which has been condemned by this Church, as well as many other religious communities and nations. Our advocacy work continues to build support for the full human rights and dignity of all persons, irrespective of gender, race, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability or inability. To do less is effectively to repudiate our membership in the human community.

No one of God’s children is worth less or more than another; none is to be discriminated against because of the way in which she or he has been created. Our common task is to build a society of justice for all, without which there will never be peace on earth. Episcopalians claim that our part in God’s mission is to love God fully, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That means all our neighbors."
English The Most Reverend Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
The Most Rev.
Katharine Jefferts Schori

Photo Credit:
Flickr user kirkamunga

Used under Creative Commons

"I am deeply grateful to the Presiding Bishop for adding her voice to the others around the church who are beginning to speak out against the inhumanities being endured by LGBT people around the world," said the Rev. Jon M. Richardson, Integrity's Vice President for National Affairs, who -- as our liaison to the Chicago Consultation -- traveled to Africa several times to meet and pray with LGBT Anglicans there. "It is especially heartening that she has set her words in the context of the larger vision that has been emerging in the Episcopal Church over the past few decades - we are not a church that will tolerate oppression against anyone. God has given us a higher calling: to respect the dignity of every human being."

Reports of violence against LGBT people in Russia, Uganda and Nigeria have been publicized since their governments enacted or considered laws intended to punish either those who are LGBT, provide assistance or support to LGBT people, distribute pro-LGBT "propaganda"  participate in a same-gender wedding, or even express same-gender affection.

Integrity president, the Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall commented that "these new laws and the consequent violence are in part due to a sustained campaign by Americans acting in the name of Christ. I am grateful that the Presiding Bishop has made it clear that The Episcopal Church has no truck with such homophobic activities."
The Presiding Bishop's statement follows commentary from the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, published widely earlier the same week. She acknowledged the western church's role in creating the intolerant climate many African LGBT people now face.

A petition by Davis Mac-Iyalla of the UK-based Changing Attitude calls for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, to speak to his Ugandan and Nigerian peers about their enthusiastic endorsement of the laws.  Archbishop Welby and the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev. John Sentamu, published a joint letter to the primates reminding of the commitment made in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005 to "the pastoral support and care of homosexual people" but referring only vaguely to the situations currently unfolding.

Integrity urges all our members and partners to speak to your congregations and loved ones about the persecution of LGBT persons abroad and the plight of those who seek asylum in the United States.  Please contact us if you would like more information.

Christian Paolino is the Chair of the Stakeholders' Council of IntegrityUSA

No comments: