North American Old Catholic Church to ordain transman as priest

I tend not to cover too much on the religion front. There are no doubt deep psychological issues involved with that.

I have written about my own spiritual journey at my pretty much forgotten blogspot site.

One of the reasons I don't cover religion much, although I do acknowledge that many transpeople find it to be an integral part of their lives, is because writing about religion on the internet tends to be a magnet for disagreement, name-calling, and disrespect. It is my sincere hope that will not be the case with this article. Adults can disagree without being disagreeable.

And people who can't participate in an amiable discussion are free to find something else to discuss.







Today I have assembled a compendium of three stories drawn from religious sources for your perusal. It should never be forgotten that every theme of life is tinged with difference by the transgender perspective.

The North American Old Catholic Churchis not your usual religious organization. Founded in 2007 the NAOCC claims to follow the teachings and decisions of the Union of Utrecht, which is a confederation of Catholic churches which seceded from the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of Papal infallibility in 1889 and joined in communion with the Anglican Communion to form the Episcopal Church. The NAOCC is not, however, recognized by the Union of Utrecht.

Currently the NAOCC is busy trying to train priests and increase its number of parishes from the current 21.

The NAOCC does not submit to the authority of the Pope and officially rejects all doctrines promulgated by Rome without support from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Anglican Communion, or the Old Catholic Church. As such, the NAOCC only recognizes the First seven Ecumenical Councils.

On January 19 the NAOCC will be ordaining transman Shannon T. L. Kearns, who will be responsible for starting a new parish in Minneapolis.

Founded in 2007, the North American Old Catholic Church has a mission of social justice, does not submit to the authority of the Pope, and is open to female and LGBT clergy.

Bishop Benjamin Evans will be presiding over the ordination.

The North American Old Catholic Church looks forward to establishing a presence in Minneapolis with the ordination of Father Kearns. God’s Holy Spirit continues to bless us with growth.

--Bishop Evans

Kearns transitioned while studying at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

I am honored and humbled to have my calling to ministry affirmed by the North American Old Catholic Church. I look forward to many years serving as a priest.

--Shannon Kearns

The National Catholic Reporter published an essay on the transgender experience by James and Evelyn Whitehead for Epiphany.

Many Catholics regret that official statements of the Catholic church continue to support rigid notions of human nature, especially in regard to male and female gender. Here church leaders, consciously or not, continue a strategy that distances them from the genuine experience of many active church members. Official statements often mention the extravagant conduct of sexual exhibitionists or drug-addicted sex workers as typical of transgender persons. Hiding in plain sight are the many mature transgender Catholics in our own parishes. To remain willfully ignorant of, or contemptuous toward, this part of the human community exhibits a startling lack of compassion.

Let us pray that in the months ahead each of us -- whether transgender or otherwise -- may experience the grace of epiphany. May we meet one another in shared humanity, ready to move beyond hesitancy and suspicion on all sides. In the grace of these encounters we are likely to be surprised; we may at first feel uncomfortable. But these, perhaps, are marks of an epiphany. And if we stay alert, we may soon recognize here the splendid diversity of the body of Christ.

Religion and Politics published a recent article on the journey of the chaplain at Boston University, Cameron Partridge.

Partridge grew up in a conservative church in California. He came out as gay during his sophomore year at Bryn Mawr. Feeling called to the ministry since he was a teenager, he enrolled at Harvard Divinity School and received his Master of Divinity degree in 1998.

In 2001, at the age of 28, he informed his bishop, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, that he would be transitioning from female to male. Shaw admits that this made him uneasy.

I’m old enough now that when I feel discomfort that probably means God wants me to pay attention to this.

In 2005 Partridge was ordained as an Episcopal priest. He received his Doctor of Theology degree from Harvard Divinity in 2008. And in 2011 Shaw appointed him as chaplain at BU.

He became one of the first transgender chaplains at a major university. He is one of only seven openly transgender Episcopal clergy. He continues to teach and has now found himself "engaged in more advocacy and political activity".

I seemed to need to pass through certain kind of fear before I could embrace a fuller vocation to contribute to conversations on trans and wider LGBT equality in and outside ecclesial contexts, as well as to explore these themes in academic contexts.




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Wow! This is great!

type1error's picture

I had never even heard of the NAOCC. Thanks for the post, Robyn.

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