View from back of church up main aisle toward altar

Detroit Catholic LGBTQ group grapples with isolation beyond COVID-19

As Detroiters self-isolate to prevent the spread of  COVID-19, the Archdiocese of Detroit has isolated a longstanding  LGBT Catholic advocacy organization, ordering it off Catholic grounds. Bishop Gerard Battersby wrote a letter which was sent to all diocesan clergy on March 9 forbidding Dignity/Detroit gathering on archdiocesan grounds. “Dignity/Detroit has long operated its ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit while rejecting some of the church’s teachings on sexual morality,” Battersby wrote. “These teachings, though challenging, promote human flourishing and bring joy when received with open hearts. This situation is thus a source of sadness, for those who reject the teachings deprive themselves of the blessings that come with living a life in Christ.”

Dignity/Detroit, an affiliate of DignityUSA, has been active in the city since 1974.

Shelters worry isolation will empower abusers

As Michiganders cope with the coronavirus pandemic by social distancing, domestic violence shelters continue to serve survivors of relationship violence and sexual assault.

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urges those who can work remotely to do so, this option is not available to those who work in shelters. 

Aimee Nimeh is president and CEO of HAVEN, a women’s shelter in Pontiac. Situated in Oakland County, which as of March 26. has 553 confirmed cases of COVID-19, HAVEN provides survivors of abuse with transitional housing and counseling. Nimeh said workers at HAVEN have had to grapple with the pandemic as individuals and as staff members. “As just a person, a community member, me and everyone else here is trying to keep our families safe, and as professionals trying to maintain services for survivors, we’ve been trying to process what it means for us,” Nimeh said.

Line of students inside hallway

Biden wins Michigan primary; state’s new voting laws get test

Former Vice President Joe Biden was projected to win today’s Michigan Democratic primary as the state tried out its new voting rules. Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose campaign got a lift in the 2016 Michigan primary, found 2020 to be deflating.

East Lansing, including MSU students who were registered on campus, also faced questions about renewing property taxes that support the Capital Area Transportation Authority, Ingham County parks and trails, Potter Park Zoo, special education services and county health care services.

Undercounted groups unite for 2020 census participation

Two groups historically undercounted in the U.S. Census stood together on Feb. 24. The Asian Pacific American Student Organization and the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization held a joint meeting to discuss their communities’ participation in the census. As presenters noted, Asian American and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are underrepresented in census data. This is important, as census counts determine how federal  resources are allocated.

Pope reaffirms ban on female ordination; Catholic women divided

Debrah MiszakLansing Diocese director of consecrated vocations Dawn Hausmann with an image of Pope John Paul II. Considered a saint by the church, he established the “theology of the body,” which states that people have different roles to play in the world according to their biological sex. As American women grapple with their role in society during  a Democratic primary which has featured a record number of female candidates, American Catholic women are struggling with their position in the church. In February, the Vatican released a document summarizing the 2019 Amazon synod — a meeting of bishops and stakeholders in that region. The document did not provide a final answer on the synod’s hottest topics: the ordination of women to serve as deacons and the ordination of mature, married men to the priesthood.

Fair and Equal Michigan works to amend state civil rights law

MSU Alliance of Queer and Ally Students executive board member Jacinda Glover poses in the LBGT Resource Center. Supporters of  a ballot initiative to amend Michigan’s civil rights act to include protections for gender identity and sexual orientation began collecting signatures last week. Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 reaffirmed the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was eventually amended to include protections for discrimination based on height, weight  and pregnancy. In the 44 years since its passage, several attempts have been made to pass amendments that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, especially in employment and housing. The latest to take up the mantle of this cause is Fair and Equal Michigan, which campaigned to put the initiative on the November ballot.

Women religious set 2020 social justice priorities

LANSING — While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops garners much attention as the leading voice of the church in the U.S., the Leadership Council of Women Religious — which represents 35,000 Catholic sisters — is also working on a number of social justice issues. The council holds political power, as sisters take part in legal advocacy and activism which can influence lay Catholics across the country. The council, which is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, is composed of leadership from 300 congregations. As such, it represents 80% of women religious, a term that refers to Catholic sisters, across the country. In the past 40 years, the Council has become much more active both on issues in the institutional Church and in American society.