Friday, March 19, 2010

The good apple

While researching on all this, I went back to a link I posted on my Facebook wall regarding Anne Hathaway quitting Catholicism in favor of another Church. Turns out it was the Episcopal Church:

Hathaway Quits Catholicism for Gay Brother

Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway tells GQ magazine she and her parents have left the Catholic Church because of the religion's views on gay issues. Hathaway, whose brother is gay, says she and her parents became Episcopalians shortly after he came out.

"The whole family converted to Episcopalianism after my elder brother came out,” she said. “Why should I support an organization that has a limited view of my beloved brother?"

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So you won't think I'm pushing everyone to turn atheist (which I'm not; my heart still refuses to fully acknowledge it)...

I stumbled on this news report from CNN:
Episcopal Church confirms first openly lesbian bishop

That led me to research about the Episcopal Church. By research, I mean Wikipedia. Its entry included the following:

  • In 1976 the Convention declared that homosexuals are "children of God" and "entitled to full civil rights"
  • In 1991 the Convention restated that "physical sexual expression" is only appropriate within a monogamous "union of husband and wife". The Convention also called on the church to "continue to reconcile the discontinuity between this teaching and the experience of members", referring both to dioceses that have chosen to bless monogamous same-sex unions and to general tolerance of premarital relations.
  • In 2000 the Convention affirmed "the variety of human relationships in and outside of marriage" and acknowledged "disagreement over the Church's traditional teaching on human sexuality.
  • The 2006 General Convention affirmed "support of gay and lesbian persons and children of God"; calls on legislatures to provide protections such as bereavement and family leave policies; and opposes any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriages or civil unions.
  • The 2009 General Convention affirmed that "gays and lesbians (that are) in lifelong committed relationships," should be ordained, saying that "God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church." The Convention also voted to allow bishops to decide whether or not to bless same-sex marriages.
These are important to note because as you'd see in this report, the solipsistic Catholic Church is against full civil rights for gays: Pope Blasts U.K. Anti-Discrimination Laws; that's just one among the Vatican's other atrocities, of course.

Next, I researched about the Episcopal's presence in the Philippines and learmed that it founded Brent International School and St. Luke's Medical Center. It also has a strong presence in the Cordilleras for its socio-civic services. Wikipedia entry here.

It used to be against proselytization, or the act of attempting to convert people into its own religion, hence, the presence is not as widespread as those of the Roman Catholic's and Iglesia ni Kristo's.

I learned that as opposed to the Catholics, who has a governing body in Vatican, Episcopal Churches, led by their respective bishops, are autonomous although they do have a General Convention, wherein they pass resolutions for all to follow.

So I wanted to know the Episcopal Church of the Philippines' view on homosexuality. There are no explicit information on the matter -- save for one -- although there are some clues. Let's start with the explicit data:

Homosexuality is not seen as an issue in the Episcopal Church of the Philippines. There has been no discussion of the issue at provincial or diocesan level.

The gay community is becoming more visible in the society and they are not discriminated against in the society or in the Church. They are understood to be different in their orientation. There are same sex couples living together, but they are not seeking either civil unions or church blessings and they are aware that marriage in the Philippines is between a man and a woman.

The only discrimination has come from the Roman Catholic Church which has seen the presence of gays in the Priesthood and among the seminarians as a problem and have sought to ban gays.

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines has gay priests. They are expected to live to the standards of the Church and society in sex and marriage.

However, this entry included no references; I couldn't accept them as facts. What follows are the clues:

Since the Episcopal Church does not have a governing body, some dioceses are against gay priests and same-sex unions. In 2007, all bishops organized a general assembly to overcome their differences. Part of that meeting resulted to the drafting of a communiquƩ:

The communiquƩ asked that the bishops make "an unequivocal common covenant" that they "will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention" and asks them to "confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent; unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion."

The report continued:

It is unclear how many, or which, Primates actually endorsed the communiquƩ or saw it in its final form prior to publication on the Internet. After the statement was released, at least two Primates, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Southern Africa and Episcopal Church in the Philippines Prime Bishop Ignacio C. Soliba, disavowed the communiquƩ.

A separate news report:

... a September 28 statement from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP)... clarified that its Prime Bishop, the Most Rev. Ignacio C. Soliba, "did not attend the meeting and was not a signatory to the so-called Kigali CommuniquƩ."

The Philippine statement also offered greetings on behalf of the province to Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori and welcomed her election. "The Episcopal Church in the Philippines will extend an invitation for her to visit the Philippines in early 2008 for the renewal of our historical ties and covenant relationship," the statement said.

Katharine Jefferts Schori's selection as head bishop of the US Church was frowned upon by some dioceses because she is female. She supported the election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay and partnered man, as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. She visited the Philippines in 2009. (Further reading, Time Magazine's 10 Questions for Katharine Jefferts Schori.)

These are good clues -- they imply that the Philippines diocese is, at the least, gender-sensitive. Cheers to a Church that seeks to understand.

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