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Dignity Toronto Dignité

Dignity Toronto Dignité meets on the second Saturday of each month at 2 pm at the 519 Church Street Community Centre located on Church Street (one block north of Wellesley Street).

For more information contact toronto@dignitycanada.org, and be sure to visit our webpage at dignitycanada.org and on Facebook.


Dignity Toronto Dignité

Chapter Report 2020-2021

Meetings:

We continue to hold monthly Chapter meetings on the second Saturday of the month from 2pm to 4:15pm. As the pandemic continues all our meetings are online, using the Zoom meeting app. We have re-applied to meet at the 519 Community Centre, Church Street, Toronto when they re-open. Attendance varies from about 7 to 10 people. In addition to the chapter meetings, we hold an informal monthly get-together which usually takes place on the last Tuesday of the month. This replaces the pre-pandemic monthly potluck which rotated to different members’ homes. We have also continued to hold an on-line series of monthly meetings of "Queer Bible Study" hosted by a member.

Monthly Meeting Structure and Topics Discussed:

Our Chapter meetings typically follow an agenda which begins with a Welcome, a "Check-in", a Reflection provided by different members, a time for sharing any news of interest concerning Church and Social Justice issues, followed by a presentation or video and discussion on a particular topic, and concluding with a time of shared prayer.

This past year the presentation/video section has included:

·        A Presentation by Fr. Bryan Massingale on Liberating Religious Liberty hosted by the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California;

·        a PBS documentary on Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement;

·        a discussion of the Christmas birth narratives;

·        Richard Rohr on Franciscan spirituality and on eco-spirituality;

·        an address by Fr. John Dear on the topic of active nonviolence and contemplation;

·        a podcast interview with John Dominic Crossan on the Jesus Seminar and other aspects of his biblical scholarship;

·        recordings of a series of talks by Sr. Maureen Sullivan, OP, Ph.D. on Vatican II for Future Church (a  progressive Catholic organization in the USA,) which were relevant to what was happening in Germany and Belgium; and

·        on September 11th a Liturgy/ritual organized by Future Church, on the recent occasion of the Feast of Mary of Magdala -an opportunity to acknowledge the first among the disciples and many other women who have lived the calling of Jesus.

Emailed announcements:

The monthly meetings are announced a week in advance via an email to a mailing list of about 60 people. As well as indicating the agenda for the meeting and notices about other upcoming events which may be of interest, the email contains a “Food for Thought” section.

Dignity Toronto Dignité

Chapter Report 2019-2020

Meetings:

We continue to hold monthly Chapter meetings on the second Saturday of the month from 2pm to 4:15pm. Prior to the Covid-19 shutdown of community centres, these meetings were held at the 519 Community Centre, Church Street, Toronto. Since the shutdown our meetings have been held online using the Zoom meeting app. Attendance varies from about 8 to 10 people. In addition to the chapter meetings, we hold an informal monthly get-together which usually takes place on the last Tuesday of the month. Prior to the Covid-19 restrictions this took place at a member's home and included a pot-luck meal. This meeting now also takes place online using Zoom. Since the Covid-19 restrictions we have also held an on-line series of monthly meetings of "Queer Bible Study" hosted by a member.

Monthly Meeting Structure and People and Topics Discussed:

Our Chapter meetings typically follow an agenda which begins with a Welcome, a "Check-in", a Reflection, a time for sharing any news of interest concerning Church and Social Justice issues, followed by a presentation or video and discussion on a particular topic, and concluding with a time of shared prayer.

This past year the presentation/video section has included:

  • a CBC Tapestry broadcast of an interview with the poet John O'Donohue;
  • a video of Rev. Elizabeth Edman on how queerness can inform how we read scripture;
  • a video of Richard Rohr's opening remarks of "The Universal Christ" conference;
  • an audio recording of priest and author Donald Cozzens about the roles the laity can play in overturning clericalism;
  • a couple of presentations on a queer+ hermeutic to reading the Bible by our member Eugene;
  • a conversation about positive changes (marking Pride month);
  • a personal documentary about two gay brothers;
  • an interview with Bryan Massingale, S.T.D on "How the church can combat racism and white supremacy";
  • messages from presenters of the cancelled Outreach 2020 conference at Fordham University compiled by Fr James Martin S.J. contrasted with a YouTube recording of a homily by a homophobic priest; 
  • a documentary about the rise of the Catholic Right in Poland: "A New Crusade: Poland's Embrace of Catholicism and Anti LGBT Ideology"; and  
  • videos of talks given by Thomas Ninan, Mary Hunt and James Alison at the recent on-line meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.

Emailed announcements and Food for Thought:

The monthly meetings are announced a week in advance via an email to a mailing list of about 60 people. As well as indicating the agenda for the meeting and notices about other upcoming events which may be of interest, the email contains a “Food for Thought” section. This past year this has included excerpts of writings by the following: Bryan Massingale, S.T.D, Mary E. Hunt, Miquel H. Diaz, Frederic Martel, Richard Rohr, Meister Eckart and Dorothee Soelle as quoted by Matthew Fox, Patrick S. Cheng, excerpts from Dignity Canada Dignité's "Cultivating Justice Love: Toward a Revision of Catholic Sexual Ethics (A Position Paper prepared for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops). February 11, 2019, Barbara Brown Taylor as cited by Richard Rohr, Geoffrey Robinson, Cynthia Bourgeault and John J. McNeill.

Chapter Action:

One action of the chapter in November 2019 was to write a letter of thanks (via email) to the members of the Toronto Catholic District School Board who formed a majority in passing a motion to explicitly include in its Code of Conduct the terms gender identity, gender expression, marital status and family status as prohibited grounds for discrimination. This is consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Here is the letter which was sent:

Re. TCDSB Code of Conduct Policy

 

On behalf of all Dignity Toronto Dignité members, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to you and all other TCDSB trustees who voted in favour of explicitly including gender identity, gender expression, marital status and family status in the updated TCDSB Code of Conduct Policy at your meeting last week. Transgender persons and other sexual minorities face a great deal of prejudice in our world.

 

We know that that the institutional Church has made mistakes in its teachings in the past. Three examples immediately come to mind: (a) Church teachings enabled the buying and selling of slaves; (b) Church teachings blamed Judaism and the Jewish people for the execution of Jesus; and (c) Church teachings stated that salvation is only to be found in Catholicism. (When I was small in the 1950’s, well-meaning Catholic nuns taught me that it is sinful to enter a Protestant church.) 

 

As found in a number of surveys, there can be a large gap between the teachings of the institutional Church and the views of the majority of Church members, especially in sexual ethics. (e.g., Bibby, Reginald and Reid, Angus.  “Canada’s Catholics: Vitality and Hope in a New Era”. Novalis, 2016, p. 92.) Regrettably, the institution continues to rely heavily on “natural law” as developed by Thomas Aquinas and others based on their readings of Greek philosophy and scripture.

 

In February, 2019, our parent organization, Dignity Canada Dignité, sent a position paper entitled “Cultivating Justice Love: Toward a Revision of Catholic Sexual Ethics” to the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in advance of an important meeting at the Vatican.  It can be found here.  In it, we urged the institution to be open to the findings of anthropology, sociology, psychology and the medical sciences, as well as listening to Church members in the pews.  It’s time to move beyond medieval philosophy.


Finally, as an example of listening to the lived experience of Catholics, I invite you to listen to Rita Celli’s interview with Rick Prashaw, father of a trans son, which took place on CBC Radio One’s Ontario Today on February 8, 2019. It can be found here.

To close, thank you for your vote last week.  Also, please contact me if you have any questions about Dignity’s submission to the CCCB president.

Yours truly,
Frank Testin

dignitytoronto@gmail.com

dignitycanada.org/toronto



Dignity Toronto Dignité Mission Statement

  1. To provide a safe place for LGBT/Q Catholics and allies to bear witness to the integrity and holiness of our lives and relationships, including opportunities for members to share our experiences as LGBT/Q and allied persons. This requires us to foster diversity and inclusion.  In response to Jesus’ invitation to become more fully human and alive, we aim to integrate our sexuality with our spirituality, and to     nurture self-acceptance.
  1. To work in collaboration with other Catholic organizations seeking reform in our church’s governance and official teachings, especially in the area of sexual ethics.  Acknowledging the large gap between what is officially taught and the actual beliefs, values and lives of most church members, we develop proposals for sexual theology, taking into account scripture, reason, scientific knowledge, tradition and the real-life experiences of our members.
  1. To bring about an increase in justice, transparency and accountability within the institutional church, we support the increased involvement of laity in governance structure, including decision-making roles.
  1. We advocate the acceptance of qualified persons in all church ministries, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or marital status, and commend Catholic parishes which offer LGBT/Q-affirming ministries.
  1. To work with others within and outside our church to live out the Gospel values of charity,  justice, compassion and community in helping those living in poverty, suffering illness or despair, or others living at the margins of society.
  1. We are all the people of God who endeavour to practice Jesus’ messages of non-violence, love and goodwill in dealing with any oppressors while working toward the non-violent elimination of conflicts among nations, injustices in our society and elsewhere in our global village and reversing the degradation of our sacred environment.

Dignity Canada Dignité is Canada's organization of Roman Catholics who are concerned about our church's sexual theology, particularly as it pertains to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. We work in collaboration with other Catholic organizations seeking reform in our church's leadership and teachings.