NEWS NOTES: April 19, 2014

April 19, 2014

NewsHere are some items that you might find of interest:

1)  The Montana Standard reported that Shaela Evenson, a lesbian teacher who was fired from a Butte, Montana Catholic school because she became pregnant while unmarried, has given birth to a baby boy.  Both the school superintendent and Evenson’s lawyer agree that it was the pregnancy and marital status, not sexual orientation, which was the cause of the firing.  Evenson, who lives with her partner Marilyn Tobin, has filed a discrimination case with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

2) Michael Coren, a columnist for Canada’s The Toronto Sun reported that the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association has decided to march in Toronto’s World Pride parade in June.  The organization 45,000 teachers.

3) The Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a brief against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester in the discrimination suit brought against them by a married gay couple who said the diocese refused to sell them a real estate property because of the couple’s sexual orientation.

4) Insight Newspaper reported that Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of Monrovia, Liberia, has told Catholics in that African nation not to support same-sex marriage.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: April 18, 2014

April 18, 2014

NewsHere are some follow-up news items to previous posts:

1)  The Tablet reported that Conor Burns, a Catholic member of the British Parliament, said he does not feel welcome to receive communion in his diocese because his bishop  had suggested that Catholic Members of Parliament who voted for last year’s marriage equality law should not be allowed to receive communion.  Though Bishop Philip Egan had suggested banning these Catholic politicians from communion, the Catholic Conference of England said they have no plans to follow such a policy, according to Gay Star News.

2)  Following a heated meeting of parents who were upset that a nun with an anti-gay message was allowed to speak at an assembly at Charlotte Catholic High School, North Carolina, Bishop Peter Jugis of the Charlotte Diocese has written a letter “to express my support and encouragement for all the parents, students, staff and faculty at the high school.”   A copy of his letter is available on the WSOC-TV website, which reported this development. 

2)  The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that Ken Bencomo, who was fired from his teaching position at St. Lucy’s Priory H.S. in Glendora, California, for marrying his husband, is suing the school for ” wrongful termination in violation of public policy, violation of the state Labor Code and breach of contract.”

3) Though publicly-identified LGBT groups were not allowed to march in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade last month, the central Massachusetts city of Holyoke welcomed Mass Equality, the state’s LGBT rights organization to march in its parade in honor of the Irish saint, reported WGGB-TV.  The Holyoke High School Gay/Straight Alliance, also marched.  Mayor Alex Morse said it was the first time in memory that LGBT groups participated in the parade.

4) reported that Christopher Karas, a Catholic high school student in Mississauga, Canada, who had been told earlier this year that he could not use a quotation from Harvey Milk on a school poster advertising the students’ gay/straight alliance,  has now filed a complaint with Ontario’s human rights tribunal, accusing the school of systemic homophobia.  His complaint extends beyond the incident with the poster, and includes a history of incidents that Karas said he has experienced at the school.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry




NEWS NOTES: April 17, 2014

April 17, 2014

NewsHere are some items that you might find of interest:

1) The Catholic island nation of Malta passed legislation approving civil unions for same-gender couples, according to Gay Star News.  Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna, a Maltese Catholic bishop, who had at one time spoke favorably about same-gender relationships, was one of the prime spokesperson’s for the local Catholic hierarchy opposing the new law.

2) Catholics in Spain are strongly in support of that nation’s marriage equality law, which was enacted in 2005, according to a new survey.  reported on the survey which also noted that in two Catholic nations where same-gender marriage is not legal, the majority of believers oppose such a policy:  in Italy, 66%;  in Poland, 78%.

Mother Teresa

3) Mother Teresa is featured on the website for the United Nations’ Free and Equal program which supports non-discrimination for LGBT people around the globe.  When one clicks on her image on the homepage, one is brought to a photo of Mother Teresa under the headline “Mother Teresa Helps Us to Remember What’s Important.”   Superimposed over her photo is a quote from the universally-revered champion of the poor:  “What can you do to promote world peace?  Go home and love your family.”  The photo with the quotation can be shared on Facebook and other social media platforms.

4) The National Catholic Reporter noted that the Vatican has appointed a bishop to investigate the sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly the primate of Scotland, who resigned last year when he acknowledged sexual liaisons with men who became priests in his diocese.  O’Brien made headlines for speaking out strongly against marriage equality in Scotland.  The bishop who will be leading the investigation is Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna, mentioned in the first news note above.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


NEWS NOTES: March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014

News NotesHappy St. Joseph’s Day! Here are some items you may find of interest:

1) Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a former Maryknoll priest, expelled for supporting women’s ordination, published an ad in The Boston Globe recently which called on Pope Francis to advance the role of women and LGBT people in the Church. He wrote, in part:

“Let’s face it. Being gay is not a problem with our all-loving God who created everyone of equal worth and dignity. The problem is with Church leaders who view homosexuals as lesser than heterosexuals.”

Bourgeois also asked Catholics to write to the pope and local Church leaders asking them to reverse the teaching on homosexuality and recognize same-gender marriages. You can read the full letter here.

2) Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar of Spain, who was recently appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis, is being investigated by Spanish authorities for “inciting hate and discrimination.” The New Civil Rights Movement reports that Aguilar’s interview with a newspaper in which he stated “homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality” and  that it should be corrected as much as possible. There is no update on whether charges will be filed against the cardinal.

3) The Scottish Catholic Education Service, which oversees that country’s 366 parochial schools, is protesting new government guidelines about sexual education. The drafted guidelines would require religious schools to teach about homosexuality and contraception equivalent to what and how these topics are taught in public schools, reports the Scottish Express.

4) St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Washington, DC hosted the second annual memorial for Deoni JaParker Jones, a transgender women murdered nearby in 2012. More than 100 people, including the mayor and city council members, were in attendance at the event organized by Jones’ family. Washington Blade reports that a new foundation working to end anti-LGBT violence was announced that evening.

5) Catholic television network EWTN will boycott planned coverage of the Divine Mercy Conference in Dublin after Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, the former head of the Dominicans, was announced as a keynote speaker. EWTN has criticized Radcliffe’s pastoral outreach and vocal support of LGBT people, which one network host said was “at sharp variance to Catholic teaching.” The criticism included his participation in the Soho Masses sponsored by the London archdiocese, as well as Radcliffe’s view that same-gender committed relationships should “be cherished.” Last December, he also called for “new ways of being church.”  The full story is available at The Independent.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: January 28, 2014

January 28, 2014

News NotesHere are some items that you may find of interest:

1) At the end of 2013, Bishop Casimiro Lopez Llorente of the Segorbe-Castellon Diocese, Spain, wrote a pastoral letter entitled The Good News of Marriage and the Family, in which he denounced same-gender marriage. He claimed that same-gender marriage, which has been legal in Spain since 2005 has been “weakening the lasting love between spouses, maternal and paternal love, familial love, the significant increase in children with severe disturbances of personality and the development of a climate that often ends in violence,”  according to On Top magazine.

2) Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, China, eliminated all negative messages about same-gender couples from his Christmas message in 2013, though he was extremely strident against gay and lesbian couples in his 2012 message.  Columnist Alex Lo of the South China Morning Post believes the change in tone is due to Pope Francis’ more accepting attitude toward sexual minorities.

3) The Boy Scouts of America’s new policy of accepting gay youth as members went into effect on January 1st, and the organization reports that there has been no mass exodus of members or sponsoring organizations, which include hundreds of Catholic parishes.  The Sheboygan Press explains the details of the new policy.

4) Irish Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery,  who attracted the ire of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) because of his progressive views, including support of gay and lesbian couples, said that though he is hopeful about the papacy of Pope Francis, he recognizes that the CDF’s ban on his public ministry as a priest will likely not be lifted.   Flannery, who foundered Ireland’s Association of Catholic priests, is beginning a speaking tour in that country, according to The Irish Times.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

News Notes: January 9, 2013

January 9, 2014

News NotesHere are some stories you may find of interest:

1) Croatians overwhelmingly voted to constitutionally ban marriage equality in early December, with backing largely coming from Catholic leaders. In response, the government released a law legalizing same-gender partnerships and granting them equal rights, aside from adoption. It is expected to pass Parliament, and many have questioned whether the anti-marriage referendum is truly indicative of where heavily-Catholic Croatians really stand on LGBT matters.

2) Pennsylvanians working for an LGBT non-discrimination law have a new ally in their Catholic governor, Tom Corbett, who has promised to sign any bill passed by the state’s legislature. That said, Corbett remains opposed to equal marriage rights for same-gender couples. The governor has continued defending the state’s marriage equality ban in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn it, even after the state’s Attorney General refused to do so.

3) Portugal’s bishops have been criticized by Rumos Novos, an association for LGBT Catholics in that nation, after releasing a letter which called same-gender relationships “sinful.” Rumos Novos claims the Portuguese Episcopal Conference published the letter to foster anti-gay attitudes at a time when Pope Francis is seeking to open the Church up, and more concretely, solicit input for next fall’s Synod on Marriage and Family Life.

4) Gay soccer star Robbie Rogers, who is also a devout Catholic, is set to release a book this year about his life titled Coming Out To Play. Rogers has previously spoken about how his faith impacts his identities as a professional athlete and a gay man, and it will be interesting to see what appears in this book.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: November 20, 2013, Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2013

NewsHere are some items you may find of interest:

1) Today is the National Transgender Day of Rememberance, which commemorates those transgender people who have died from transphobic violence. The official website for this day features some of the hundreds of transgender people murdered world wide in 2013, with more than one dozen having died in the U.S.

2) Archbishop Jozef Michalik, president of Poland’s bishops’ conference, blamed the scourge of child abuse on societal acceptance of same-gender couples, reports The Telegraph.   His statement to this effect came only a week after he also identified pornography as the main cause of child abuse.

3) In an op-ed essay in Portland’s Press Herald Mike Michaud, a Catholic gubernatorial candidate in Maine, came out as a gay man.

4) A  student at a Catholic high in Bronx, N.Y., has filed suit against the school, claiming she was expelled because she is a lesbian, reports The New York Post.

5) The heavily Roman Catholic Mexican state of Jalisco has legalized civil unions for lesbian and gay couples,  according to

6) Following up on the controversy of distributing tickets to a Macklemore concert at Jesuit-run Creighton University, reports on how Catholics in that Nebraska city are open and welcoming of gay and lesbian people.

7)  Lesbian and gay couples who are getting legally married have a variety of ways of planning and structuring their rituals, according to a Religion News Service article on the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog.  Catholics are among those making intentional and creative decisions about their ceremonies, notes DigntyUSA’s Marianne Duddy-Burke.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013

News NotesHere are some items that you might find of interest:

1)  The Tablet reported that Australian former priest Greg Reynolds, whose support for same-sex marriage was reported to have been part of the reason that the Vatican laicised and and excommunicated him, has revealed that the main reason for these actions was because of an incident where a piece of host was given to a dog as part of a liturgical service at the “Inclusive Catholics” community that Reynolds established after he resigned the priesthood in May 2011.

2) The ministry and mission of Dignity/San Antonio was profiled on   Members from this Texas chapter of DignityUSA, a national organization for LGBT Catholics, are reported as being cautiously hopeful about Pope Francis’ recent positive comments about lesbian and gay people.  “Personally, I felt encouraged by it. I think we’re all hopeful because it’s a significant change in tone,” said Chris, a gay man and Dignity leader. “But we’re also not naïve to think it represented substantive change.”

3)  A priest in Worcester, Massachusetts, who this past summer cut parish ties to the Worcester Art Museum because they started renting their facility for same-sex wedding ceremonies, has  admitted to embezzling almost a quarter of a million dollars from his parish and school, reported Justice For All.

4)  The Catholic hierarchy and conservative politicians in Peru, a heavily Catholic nation, are opposing a recently introduced national bill to establish civil unions for lesbian and gay couples, reported  The bill will be debated by the nation’s congress in March of next year.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: October 23, 2013

October 23, 2013

News NotesHere are some items you might find of interest:

(1) The Archbishop of Lima, Peru, has publicly implied a legislator in that country is gay. Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne was speaking on a radio program when he attacked the Carlos Bruce, who is the legislator behind a bill legalizing civil unions. Gay Star News quotes the cardinal as saying, “If a person has made some alternate choices, that’s their problem and he can do whatever he wants on his own.” Bruce chose not to reply to the comment.

(2) As marriage equality becomes law in Scotland, the Catholic hierarchy is warning it may imitate the French model and separate sacramental marriages from civil licensing. Archbishop Leo Cushley and the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said legal concerns are to blame, as they fear priests could be liable if they refuse to marry a same-gender couple. Pro-LGBT groups claim this is just politicking, and the Scottish government confirmed religious institutions would not be forced to provide same-gender marriages, according to The Scotsman.

(3) Bishops in Nigeria issued a statement at the conclusion of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria meetings that decried foreign organizations who are promoting marriage equality, along with condemning condom usage. Gay Star News reports that anti-gay legislation is increasing in the nation which has passed a “Jail All the Gays” law and banned diplomats with same-gender partners.

(4) Rosario Crocetta is seeking to clean up waste and corruption in Sicily, which is languishing amid debt and the Mafia. The New York Times offers an in-depth profile of this Italian politician who is the region’s leader, and who also happens to be a gay Catholic, in which he discusses faith, sexuality, and conflicts with local clergy.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: October 1, 2013

October 1, 2013

News NotesHere are some items you might find of interest:

1) Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s executive director, has penned a beautiful, reflective Huffington Post essay on 15-year Catholic marriage to Becky Duddy-Burke.

2) Joseph Gentilini, whose new book Hounded By God: A Gay Man’s Journey to Self-Acceptance, Love, and Relationship, is interviewed about the connections between sexuality and spirituality in The Columbus Dispatch.

3) Maurice Monette’s new book, Confessions of a Gay Married Priest: A Spiritual Journeyhas won the 2013 Global Ebook Award for best LGBT nonfiction, reports

4) Croatia, a largely Catholic European nation, is poised to institute civil unions for lesbian and gay couples, reports Gay Star News.  Catholic church officials had organized a 750,000 signature petition to constitutionally ban same-gender marriage, though there were reports that some of these signatures were not collected fairly.

5) The Ukranian Catholic Church’s hierarchy is among many religious leaders in that nation to reject the European Union’s demands for new gay rights laws, reports London’s Catholic Herald.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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