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    High Pontiff James II
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  1. James II reviews the paper in his morning briefing, remarking “It is a fine thing to see healthy, constructive criticism of the Church’s policy. I am loath to meddle too much in temporal politics, for fear of inciting a worldly attitude amongst the priesthood—yet applied judiciously, Laurence’s strategy could be an effective tool against secularism.”
  2. It’s really not that deep. I’ve had people be homophobic to me in real life, I’ve seen people be homophobic in roleplay, and I’ve seen people be homophobic in roleplay in a way that is obviously motivated by real life homophobia. I have had people be homophobic to me OOCly on Discord, and I’ve seen IC forum posts that were clearly just veilled OOC homophobia. I reported the people in both cases, and action was taken. Prejudice is a real thing, and there are plenty of good stories where it is depicted. LoTC has both tolerant and intolerant countries in which to roleplay. If you want to play a closeted person struggling with their sexuality in an intolerant country, you live in Oren or Haense or Haelun’or, depending on what you prefer. If you want to play a person who is gay in a country where it is legal but still unpopular, you go to to Norland. If you want to play a person who is gay in a place where that’s perfectly legal and acceptable, you go to Sutica. If none of those are satisfactory, you band with like-minded people and create a new settlement, just like with any other story preference. From what I can see, Oren at least is enjoying the roleplay of incremental social progression: women and racial minorities are acquiring new rights and becoming more important in their society, and it is fun to see the development. I am gay and I’m enjoying the roleplay surrounding MissToni’s attempts to integrate homosexuality into Canonism; I counselled her OOCly on scriptural ways to support it, and the clergy have spoken both ICly and OOCly about if such reforms are advisable, and how they are religiously possible. None of that roleplay would have been possible if IC prejudice was against the rules in all cases. Honestly, as a real life atheist, I think it would be difficult to roleplay any kind of conservative society or religion if roleplay was never allowed to resemble OOC bigotry. I think the difference between larping Nazism and roleplaying prejudice is pretty obvious, and I also think it’s inconsiderate to imply that anyone who wants their story to involve prejudice is actually just trying to express their secret bigotry. There are people on this server who roleplay suicide, and there are people on this server who have had real-life suicide attempts. There are people who roleplay sexism and some of those people are women who have experienced sexism in real life. All subjects can be triggering to people in certain contexts. You have to draw the line somewhere, obviously: I don’t think we need to be roleplaying death camps. And no one is obliged to participate in roleplay that they don’t want to. As above, there are options for settlements with all kinds of different cultures surrounding gender, race, and sexual orientation, and you can always go into OOC and say “I’m not comfortable with this, I’d like to void it and just SS out.” But just outright banning any roleplay that resembles real-life intolerance is bad practice and bad writing IMO.
  3. I think I should weigh in here since the majority of homophobic roleplay is associated with Canonism, and I was one of two writers of its Holy Scrolls. I’d echo earlier points made, that homophobia (or bigotry in general) is an acceptable facet of a character or society, but not as its sole focus. In real life, I’m not just gay--I’m polyamorous and in a relationship with two other men. I don’t find anything problematic in roleplaying a character who would condemn me for this. Canonism is both heteronormative and actually more monogamy-oriented than RL Abrahamic religions, because Canonism’s original sin (for mortals) was polygamy. These doctrines developed naturally according to the standards of the time when the religion was written, and I think they are realistic given the original Four Brothers narrative, wherein bloodlines are of supernatural importance. Because I was aware that IC homophobia can be motivated by OOC homophobia, I specifically did not put anything in the Holy Scrolls that explicitly condemns homosexuality. Unlike real world religious texts, the Scrolls intentionally do not linger on the subject of what sex is appropriate and with whom: there is only one verse that specifies sex is for marriage and that marriage is for a man and woman of the same race. This verse is also intentionally ambiguous, as many of the Scrolls’ verses are, because I wanted to leave room for the religion to develop, and not be an eternal cudgel for OOC bigots who just want an outlet. I think it would do a disservice to years of cooperative writing to force certain beliefs/behaviors ICly in order to better mesh with our OOC morality. All bigotry is intolerable in real life: religious, racial, or gendered prejudices shouldn’t be acceptable either. But it undermines the realism of the world to excise these elements. Murder, I would say, is worse than bigotry--but having played a priest and received confessions, I can tell you IC murder confessions are (hilariously) among the most common you hear. In summary, do be cautious that your IC prejudices are not misconstrued as reflecting your real views. It is already a fairly common practice to PM someone after a heated roleplay session to ensure there isn’t any bad blood out of character; this can also be extended to the roleplay of prejudices. (And, of course, remember to exercise restraint in your roleplay about nasty things like bigotry or murder. These are sensitive subjects, and not writing about them at all is better than writing about them poorly.)
  4. High Pontiff James II celebrated the sacrament with appropriate solemnity. He had grown accustomed to such reluctant matches—common among the nobility—and thus developed an attitude of not prying too much about couples’ enthusiasm. In the first few years after his ordination, he often worried at the morality of celebrating such unions. Yet upon becoming Bishop of Reza and later the Vicar of God, the aged priest saw their necessity. After all, had not his own office (and all its consequent limitations) likewise been thrust upon him? He excused himself almost immediately after proclaiming the couple to be wed. It was no longer the Pontiff’s custom to linger at public engagements; even the minor exertion of officiating a ceremony would cause his palsy to intensify and become unseemly. Just before departing for his office, James II prayed that true love would develop between this pair.
  5. James II reads the thesis favorably, directing that it be associated with the relevant topic in the Pontifical Library. He discusses it briefly with his Secretariat “Cardinal St. Julia handles this matter with the tact and tender care I have come to expect of him. We should remain patient with those who are wracked by temptation--we all fall short of God. Yet we cannot tolerate error in the proper understanding of the faith itself. He balances these twin concerns very well.”
  6. [!] Letters bearing the pontifical coat of arms are delivered to the priesthood, inviting them to correspond with the Holy See and each other, in preparation for an ecumenical council. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL ON ANGELIC INTERCESSION, SPIRITUAL APPARITION, AND AZDRAZISM Brothers, Our Auditor of the Tribunal, Alfred Cardinal Jorenus, has recently authorized the veneration of the angel Xan (in Flexio, Janus) by Canonists, and the subsequent receipt of supernatural powers from him. Our initial reading of Cardinal Jorenus’ report was favorable, and we gave our imprimatur for this practice among Canonists. However, we have lately received some complaints from laity, and one particular complaint from within the priesthood: 1) this practice may stray into idolatry, and 2) the angel in question may not serve God’s purposes. The latter issue is particularly concerning, for the Et Principia Ecclesiae Dogma published in 1570 reports that angels are instruments of divine will, and lack the ability to defy God; yet the Catechism of the Canonist Church first published later that same year reports that angels possess free will. Generally, I am inclined to believe that angels are instruments of divine will, but that to serve their wicked purposes, some Daemons disguise themselves as angels: the dogma are infallible, and so it is not possible that the Et Principia was errant in its description In addition, the realms of humanity have received an unusual number of visits from the dead. Haense in particular currently hosts many spectres. This is an issue for which we have no strong, defined doctrine. We are aware, for example, that saints occasionally appear as miraculous apparitions to believers--yet many of these recent spiritual appearances seem more enduring, mingling freely among the common populace of the region as if they still lived. This is worrisome because it indicates that some dead are not passing on into their next life (or lack thereof, in the case of the those bound for the Void). Finally, we are aware of the practice of Azdrazism, whereby the servants of the dragon Azdromoth are transformed into draconic humanoids capable of numerous magical feats, including polymorphing into many forms, breathing fire, and supernaturally regenerating. This is concerning because it likely involves the worship of Azdromoth as an idol; tolerable for the gentile races, but intolerable for humans. It is entirely possible that these Azdrazi, using their ability to polymorph, now live covertly in our society. Thus we are faced with several supernatural matters which are pending our decision. Because of the ongoing Inferi threat, it would be inadvisable for you to leave your dioceses for the duration necessary to fully discuss all of these issues in-person. I have called this council via encyclical, whereby each of you will send letters to the Holy Palatinate, and the pontifical scriveners will in turn deliver copies of all correspondence to each of you. In order to ensure our decision is indisputable, we will, at the conclusion of the encyclical correspondence, meet in person for a final discussion and vote. I invite each of you to provide all information you possess on these topics in your first letter. You may also open with arguments for the resolutions you favor. At the moment, the matters requiring our attention are: The extent to which the veneration of angels and receipt of magickal powers from them is licit; The apparent conflict between the Catechism and the Dogma regarding angelic free will; The nature of the spiritual apparitions across Haense; Guidelines for distinguishing a genuine saintly apparition from a ghostly haunting; and doctrine concerning the status of the Azdrazi in Canonism. Deo Gratias, James II ((Please do not respond to this thread unless you are listed below among those who were sent a letter.))
  7. A response is issued, posted on certain churches near her letters, and made available in the Pontifical Library to those who inquire about the topic. “To God’s Faithful Daughter, We commend you for your piety in seeking God’s truth, though we must admonish you to be careful from whom you seek it. Nevertheless, it is good that, in doubting yourself, you have sought answers in the Church. The question you raise is one we are all too familiar with, for many men and women experience the same struggle as you. We have received several confessions regarding this, even by those who hold high offices in the kingdoms of man and in the Church. Our Prelate of the Priesthood, Manfried Cardinal St. Julia, has been in the process of drafting a thesis on this subject. We have directed him to associate it with your letters in our Pontifical Library. We pray that it will be of some use to you in resolving this struggle. Deo Gratias, James II”
  8. James II, having already witnessed the accused’s hanging, nevertheless receives a copy of the ruling. He regards the paper solemnly, filing it into a nearly-overflowing folder of the deceased Boniface’s works.
  9. Full Name of Man - Ruben (formerly Ruthern) Date of Birth of Man - 1751 Name of Woman - Luisa Barclay Date of Birth of Woman – 1760 Location of Ceremony - Duchy of Reinmar Date of Ceremony (Year) - 1789 Name of Clergyman who performed ceremony - James II __ Full Name of Man - Leonid Amador Date of Birth of Man - 1763 Name of Woman - Eleanor Barclay Date of Birth of Woman – 1765 Location of Ceremony – Holy Palatinate of Aquila Date of Ceremony (Year) - 1790 Name of Clergyman who performed ceremony - James II
  10. The High Pontiff reviews the thesis favorably to Johan Cardinal Aquila, “This is an issue that has often been raised, and the provided answers not always satisfactory. Father Ailred has, to my mind, successfully settled the matter--this is an excellent application of reason to Scripture. He is a rising star in the priesthood.”
  11. HIS HOLINESS JAMES II, High Pontiff of the Church of the Canon, Archbishop of Visigia, Successor of the High Priesthood of the Church, Supreme Pontiff of the Church of True Faith, Keeper of the Canon, Missionary to Aeldin, High Servant to the Exalted's Testaments, Humble Servant of the Faithful and Vicar of GOD places his seal of imprimatur upon the document.
  12. A response is issued via letter. “Philip Louis Pruvia, We are pleased to hear that Katherine Clarke has returned from her travels safely. Regardless of the cause, lack of marital consummation is a valid basis for annulment on the application of either party. We see no reason to insist that a marriage continue if there is no intention by the spouses to fulfill this requirement. If it is the case that Edward Galbraith is at fault for the lack of consummation, we would enjoin him to express more loving care for his spouse in any future union. An annulment is a recognition that the union never truly occurred because the required elements were not met. Accordingly, from a legal perspective, she is not entitled to the surname of a man who was never truly her husband. However, the Church is concerned with this matter only insofar as it concerns the sacrament of matrimony; the legalities of surname usage are not relevant to our involvement. If Dr. Katherine wishes to keep the Galbraith family name, we would advise her to pursue this matter in a secular court, consult with Edward personally, or consider adult adoption. I will pray that God grants her whatever aid she requires. Deo Gratias, James II”
  13. Writ of Annulment of Matrimony for Edward Galbraith and Katherine Galbraith née Clarke We find, after reviewing a public letter authored by her, that Katherine Galbraith née Clarke did purposely abandon her erstwhile husband in sailing to Aeldin. We find, upon the sworn affidavit of Edward Galbraith, his lack of marital issue, and his publicly contentious relationship with his erstwhile wife, that their putative marriage remained unconsummated for its duration. This is also affirmed by Renly Galbraith, who in a letter attests that Edward often complained privately to him of their lack of consummation. As she now resides in Aeldin, Katherine Galbraith née Clarke was unavailable to our investigation. Therefore at the humble petition of Edward Galbraith, we pronounce his marital bond with Katherine Galbraith née Clarke to be annulled, and the latter shall return to her maiden surname. Both parties are free to remarry within the Canonist faith. We further enjoin each to seek spiritual counsel, and to express more diligent care in selecting a future spouse. In Nomine Dei et Horenum, High Pontiff James II
  14. An acolyte reads the document to James II while a doctor rolls out the muscles in his palsied arm. Between pained winces the High Pontiff says, “The gall of this man... augh...he presumes upon not only my own office but the office of every other priest—shouting demands from the bottom of the Void, all while as an excommunicant! Pah. When the Darfeyists took Pius II’s laurel, they stole in through a window and slew him. Even they did not have the effrontery—ouch!—to publicly order him about. This is obscene.” He pauses, “And moreover, he did none of this during his time as bishop or auditor. The Kingdom of Kaedrin requested he was removed from his post as their pastor, because he spent all his time shouting at commoners for having a bare shoulders rather than performing clerical duties!” The High Pontiff shudders in pain, seething.
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