Tag Archives: New Ways Ministry

Proudly Blogging Catholics—Sharing the LGBT Good News

An opportunity to share and discuss views and perspectives with two gay Catholic bloggers from either side of the Atlantic.

Proudly blogging Catholics

Frank DeBenardo, director of New Ways Ministry and the editor of Bondings 2.0 will be in London for a few days next month, together with Sr Jeannine Gramick, the celebrated founder of New Ways. On Monday 13th June, Frank and I  will be at the Mount Street Jesuit centre, 114 Mount St, London W1K 3AY (the parish hall for the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm St) to discuss the joys and challenges of being openly both gay and Catholic.

Hosted by the Westminster LGBT Catholics Pastoral Council, refreshments will  be served from 6:30pm – specifically to enable those working in London, to come on to the venue directly from work.  Take this invaluable opportunity also for discussion and also to meet with Sr Jeannine and Frank.

(Image taken from Bondings 2.0)

LGBT Pilgrims Get VIP Seats for Papal Audience

ABC News reports:

The Vatican did something it has never done before by giving a group of U.S. gay and lesbian Catholics VIP seats at Pope Francis’ weekly general audience Wednesday.But in a sign that the welcome wasn’t all it could have been, the New Ways Ministry pilgrims were only identified on the Vatican’s list of attendees as a “group of lay people accompanied by a Sister of Loretto.”And not even that got announced: When a Vatican monsignor read out the list of the different groups of pilgrims in attendance in St. Peter’s Square, he skipped over the group altogether. Francis didn’t mention them, either.Even without a papal shout-out, New Ways Ministry officials were nevertheless pleased that they had been invited to sit up front by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, the prefect of the papal household who dispenses the coveted reserved tickets for Francis’ audiences.

Gaenswein for years has also been the top aide to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. When Benedict headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he permanently prohibited the New Ways Ministry co-founders, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and the Rev. Robert Nugent, from ministering to gays after determining in 1999 that they didn’t sufficiently adhere to church teaching on the “intrinsic evil” of homosexual acts.

Nugent abided by the directive and died last year. Gramick has continued her ministry, changing religious orders to the Sisters of Loretto, and was on hand for Wednesday’s audience.

“Pope Francis gives me hope,” she told The Associated Press. “To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness he has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church.”

The group’s executive director, Francis DeBernardo, said New Ways Ministry had tried unsuccessfully under the previous two popes to get VIP seats for its Rome pilgrimages.

This time, the Vatican ambassador in Washington and the archbishop of San Francisco forwarded their requests onto Rome, a sign that Francis’ call for the church to be more welcoming to gays has filtered down to local church leaders.

via Gay Catholics Get Vatican Welcome, but No Papal Shout-Out – ABC News.

Gay Catholics find a new tone under Pope Francis, and from their own bishops – Religion News Service

LGBT Catholics from Westminster diocese received a parting greeting and blessing from their cardinal Archbishop, Vincent Nichols – and across the Atlantic, a similar but larger group of Americans have found their path this year substantially easier then in previous occasions, thanks to help from some senior prelates. (Help received from Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is particularly notable in this respect: he’s positioned himself as a leading opponent of marriage equality, and his record on gay inclusion in Church has previously been less than salutary). Continue reading Gay Catholics find a new tone under Pope Francis, and from their own bishops – Religion News Service

London Cardinal's Blessing for Departing LGBT Pilgrims

As a London group of LGBT Catholics were preparing to depart on a Lentent pilgrimage to Rome, they received a blessing, greetings and  support from their Cardinal,  Vincent Nichols:

You are at the threshold of Lent. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. What an excellent time to be on pilgrimage in Rome! You are at the thresholds of the Apostles. What an excellent place to be on pilgrimage at the beginning of Lent. May Saints Peter and Paul, and indeed all the Apostles, be your constant teachers, guides and companions throughout your stay in Rome – and when you return. Their heroic witness to the life, death and resurrection of the Lord is an inspiring example for us all. May their prayers again turn your gaze to the merciful face of Jesus, who calls out to you in unfailing love. He will give you grace to be his faithful missionary disciples. May you bring others into the family of the Church, founded on the Apostles, teaching us how to follow the pathways of faithfulness to Jesus in all the different aspects of our lives. In this way may your lives be a true witness to all who are striving to find God’s love. Only Jesus can truly bring us the joy and fulfilment for which we all yearn. Let us be close to him. Be assured of my prayers for each and every one of you. Please pray for me at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, and at all the holy places you visit. Have a wonderful pilgrimage. God bless you all. + Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Continue reading London Cardinal's Blessing for Departing LGBT Pilgrims

Jesuit Priest Endorses Students ‘Making a Mess’ in Seattle

From Bondings 2.0 (New Ways Minsitry):

#KeepMrZ2013 is a movement of high school students in Seattle organizing for their gay vice principal fired for marrying his husband.  Now one more voice is speaking out in support of these youth.

Father John Whitney, SJ, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Seattle, spoke about the students from Eastside Catholic High School in his homily earlier this week.  He begins by describing the conflict in early Christianity about whether to accept Gentiles as members or only Jews, and he reflects on how this controversy was resolved:

“We must imagine the scene: the Church, still subject to occasional bouts of persecution and yet growing feverishly among both Jews and Gentiles alike, faces a great conflict—how are Gentiles to be admitted into the community?…

“What is most amazing about this moment in the Church is how the community comes to decide, together, what is to be done. There is debate and disruption, but it is not seen as division; rather, it is the way the Holy Spirit is working within the community. Further, this debate is grounded on human experience, and not on tradition or on the power of office. Rather than beginning with Scripture—with the Torah or the Prophets—the community begins with the experience of the faithful: with the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas—none of whom claim special authority in the face of the communal discernment, but all of whom, instead, simply testify to the way in which they have seen the Gentiles touched and filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit….Here is diversity without division, complexity with separation, debate and dissent without the need for punishment or condemnation. In listening for the living Spirit of Christ Jesus, the Church begins by listening to the sinners and seekers who are his body in the world.

“I have thought often of this scene in Acts, over the last year, and especially as I have listened to Pope Francis speak of the need for “uproar” by religious, or call young people to make “a mess” in their dioceses. Like many, I have been refreshed and renewed not by some great doctrinal changes, but by the absence of fear expressed in the words of the Holy Father; by his trust in the workings of the Holy Spirit and his passion for courageous acts of faith—even acts that risk error or end in failure. For Francis, it seems, the timidity of tightly held borders, the safe-harbor of accepted opinion and doctrinal purity risks a greater sin—a greater loss to the Church—than the dangerous paths of love and welcome….

“In the last few weeks, the students of Eastside Catholic High School, and their companions from other schools in the area, have given us an example of the kind of passionate discernment, motivated by the Gospel, that characterizes an important dimension of Catholic education—and, indeed, should characterize our faith both in and out of school. Regardless of the particulars of this situation (and personnel issues may have complexities I do not know), these students have spoken up as products of Catholic education, as women and men motivated by the Spirit and by their own experience of grace. Though it is a painful time, their teachers and their parents should be proud of the Gospel spirit that has been planted in these young hearts. Likewise, we in the broader Church should be grateful for the mess these young people bring, and should listen with compassion and openness to the Spirit that moves within them. Their love, their gentleness, their quest to make of the Church “the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” demands more than the silence of authority; it demands communion and engagement with the Church—i.e., education, direction, dialogue—since their spirit is a sign of the Church and is life-blood for the Church. May we engage, with fearless love, at the side of our younger sisters and brothers; and may trust in the God whose Church we are all becoming.”

You can read the reflection in full by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

via Bondings 2.0.

 

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Bishop Walter Sullivan: “A New Saint in Heaven”

With a heavy heart, we report the passing of Bishop Walter Sullivan, retired Ordinary of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia.   As a past president of Pax Christi USA, Bishop Sullivan is best known for his work on peace issues.  However, no less significant is Bishop Sullivan’s contributions to LGBT equality.

Here are  a few of his accomplishments:

  • Establishing the Sexual Minorities Commission, the first diocesan outreach to LGBT people, back in 1976
  • Writing the introduction to A Challenge to Love:  Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the Church (edited by New Ways Ministry co-founder, Father Robert Nugent, SDS).
  • Hosting the second national convention of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian/Gay Ministries in 1996.  (The organization is now called the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry.)

Also in 1976, Bishop Sullivan spoke out in support of lesbian/gay civil rights, stating in the Richmond News Leader:

“The issue before our community and the [human rights] commission, however, is not the morality of a person’s sexual orientation, but rather a person’s rights and protection under the law.  We believe that a person’s sexual orientation, whether it is one we approve or disapprove, is not a proper ground for depriving  that person of the basic rights and protections that belong to all human beings. “

From a statement such as this, we can see that Bishop Sullivan was one of the first Catholic bishops to apply the church’s social justice and human rights traditions to the LGBT community.

Bishop Sullivan was not averse to applying that tradition to church structures, too.  In his introduction to A Challenge to Love, he stated:

“. . . we cannot remain satisfied that, once we have clearly articulated the official Church position on homosexuality, nothing else remains to be done in the area of pastoral care for homosexual people and education on this topic for the larger human community, including the families and friends of homosexual people.  This is especially true in those cases where the teaching of the Church itself has been presented in such a way that it has been the source or occasion of some of the pain and alienation that many homosexual Catholics experience.  We cannot overlook those injustices, including rejection, hostility, or indifference on the part of Christians, that have resulted in a denial of respect or of full participation in the community for homosexual people.  We must examine our own hearts and consciences and know that each of us stands in need of real conversion in this area. “

Bishop Sullivan was a good friend of New Ways Ministry over the years.  When he first established the Sexual Minorities Commission, he invited our co-founders, Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Nugent, to lead the first retreat for the commission members.

I had the good fortune to meet Bishop Sullivan on several occasions, both in the context of peace activities and LGBT ministry.  He always had a warm smile and a joke or two to share.  His good humor and expansive spirit was remembered by others in a National Catholic Reporter article about his life and his death:

Sullivan will be remembered as ‘a happy and tireless warrior for justice and peace,’ said retired Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Houston, a former president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

‘He truly believed in the priesthood of the laity and their essential role in the life and mission of the church,’ Fiorenza told NCR.

Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, a longtime observer of the Catholic scene in the country, concurred.

 ‘It would be hard to find anyone like Sullivan in the American hierarchy today,’ Reese said. ‘He was a liberal bishop passionately committed to social justice and peace.’

Though, as Fr. Reese notes, there are no other current bishops who share Bishop Sullivan’s passion and spirit, those of us who mourn his passing can take comfort in the fact that we now have a new saint in heaven to intercede for us in areas of peace, church reform, and LGBT equality and justice.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 Bondings 2.0.

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Rest in Peace: Bishop Walter Sullivan

With a heavy heart, we report the passing of Bishop Walter Sullivan, retired Ordinary of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia.   As a past president of Pax Christi USA, Bishop Sullivan is best known for his work on peace issues.  However, no less significant is Bishop Sullivan’s contributions to LGBT equality.

Here are  a few of his accomplishments:

  • Establishing the Sexual Minorities Commission, the first diocesan outreach to LGBT people, back in 1976
  • Writing the introduction to A Challenge to Love:  Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the Church (edited by New Ways Ministry co-founder, Father Robert Nugent, SDS).
  • Hosting the second national convention of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian/Gay Ministries in 1996.  (The organization is now called the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry.)

Also in 1976, Bishop Sullivan spoke out in support of lesbian/gay civil rights, stating in the Richmond News Leader:

“The issue before our community and the [human rights] commission, however, is not the morality of a person’s sexual orientation, but rather a person’s rights and protection under the law.  We believe that a person’s sexual orientation, whether it is one we approve or disapprove, is not a proper ground for depriving  that person of the basic rights and protections that belong to all human beings. “

From a statement such as this, we can see that Bishop Sullivan was one of the first Catholic bishops to apply the church’s social justice and human rights traditions to the LGBT community.

taken from Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

more at  Bondings 2.0.