New Ways Ministry Builds Bridges with Archbishop Cordileone

December 16, 2014
Sister Jeannine Gramick, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry

Sister Jeannine Gramick, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry

Fulfilling a promise he made last summer, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco met with New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick on Monday, December 15, 2014, to help enrich understanding of each other’s approaches to marriage equality and LGBT issues.

In June of 2015, New Ways Ministry joined a group of LGBT equality organizations in an open letter asking Cordileone, who heads the U.S. bishops’ committee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage,  not to speak at the March for Marriage rally in Washington, DC, organized by groups which oppose marriage equality, some of which were known to have a strong record of statements and actions that were harmful to LGBT people.  In response, Cordileone issued an open letter explaining why he would speak, and also agreed to meet with any of the signers of the original letter as a way to better understand one another.

Two groups took Cordileone up on his offer for a personal meeting: New Ways Ministry and DignityUSA. Earlier this autumn, Cordileone met in San Francisco with representatives from Dignity. New Ways Ministry’s meeting occurred on December 15th at our offices in Mount Rainier, Maryland, while the Archbishop was in the Washington, DC area on other church business.

DeBernardo met Cordileone and drove him to our offices. Gramick introduced herself, while Matt Myers and Bob Shine, two New Ways Ministry staff members, were also on hand to greet the archbishop and serve a light lunch of sandwiches. After the archbishop opened with a prayer, Cordileone, DeBernardo, and Gramick shared some of their life stories and experiences. Both Cordileone and DeBernardo have similar backgrounds, sharing an Italian heritage, and having attended public schools while being very much involved with the Catholic Church. Gramick talked about her Polish roots as an only child in a non-practicing Catholic family, but surrounded by Catholics until graduate school when she was first introduced to the gay community.

As the conversation progressed, they discussed how Catholic groups with opposing views on marriage can better understand and speak with one another. Cordileone mentioned Pope Francis’ idea of “encounter,” of meeting people where they are and beginning a dialogue with them. Cordileone stressed the importance of breaking down stereotypes on each side of the issue. He noted that both groups sometimes say things that cause harm to the other side, and that the harm is often not intended.

New Ways Ministry asked for advice on how LGBT Catholics and their families can initiate dialogues with their local bishops.  He noted that bishops often have many demands on their time and many requests for appointments.  A more practical route may be for people to request meetings with directors of diocesan ministries, such as family life, or with other chancery officials.

New Ways Ministry asked how a lesbian or gay person could speak to the U.S. bishops at one of their meetings. Cordileone mentioned that a member of the Courage ministry group, which promotes celibacy for lesbian and gay Catholics, has spoken to the bishops’ conference in the past. New Ways Ministry asked if other lesbian and gay persons could speak to the bishops. He considered this and seemed receptive to hearing the perspectives of gay and lesbian parish members.  Cordileone also noted that there is a great need to find ways to reach out to lesbian and gay people who are not close to the Church, including those who have been alienated from the institution.

New Ways Ministry spoke about six Catholic parents who met with Archbishop Chaput in Philadelphia in April to tell their stories about their gay and lesbian children. The parents were enthused and delighted with Archbishop Chaput’s warm reception and invitation to meet again. Cordileone was interested in learning more about the meeting from Chaput.

Gramick mentioned that, although she and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, differed on the issue of same-sex marriage, she and Paprocki had a delightful luncheon together as they shared their common ethnic backgrounds. She asked Cordelione to give her warm regards to Paprocki when they next meet.

Cordileone expressed genuine concern for how to speak about lesbian and gay people in ways that would not compromise his concern for church teaching or would harm lesbian and gay people. New Ways Ministry suggested that he elaborate more on church teaching concerning the human dignity of LGBT people and to show interest in their lives beyond the question of sexual ethics.  DeBernardo and Gramick shared a list of suggestions that were published on Bondings 2.0 in the summer of 2012.

Knowing that he often serves meals as part of the supper ministry of Most Holy Redeemer parish, a gay-friendly church in San Francisco, New Ways Ministry encouraged him to celebrate liturgy with the community, too, and he responded positively.  We also discussed with him some of the other ways that gay-friendly parishes across the nation are reaching out to LGBT people.

The hour-and-a-half meeting was very warm and friendly, and personal respect for one another was very evident throughout the time together. New Ways Ministry appreciated the opportunity to dialogue with Archbishop Cordileone.

The meeting shows that dialogue can happen in our church when both sides are willing to speak with one another honestly and respectfully.  We were edified by this personal encounter which revealed a man who seeks to learn how the Gospel can be proclaimed more effectively. May more bishops follow his lead in personally learning more about Catholic LGBT people and advocates.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Community of Conversation, Community of Support

December 2, 2014

Last Friday was the third anniversary of the Bondings 2.0 blog.  In the post for that day, I reminisced about how the blog began and some of the successes we’ve had along the way.  What we are most grateful for is that the blog has developed a conversation on Catholic LGBT topics involving readers and commenters from around the globe.

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” a sort of new “holiday” which sets aside a day as a way to remind and encourage people to make a financial gift to non-profit organizations.  It’s easy to celebrate this holiday.  There’s no preparation or hassles involved.  You just make a contribution to a non-profit.

We invite you to consider Bondings 2.0 as one of the organizations that you might support today.  As many of you know, this blog is a project of New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT people and the wider Church community.  New Ways Ministry is sustained primarily by donations from people, like yourself, who want to see the Catholic Church be a force for justice for LGBT people.

New Ways Ministry staff are the people responsible for getting the blog posts to you every day.   The “overhead” for the blog is not expensive, so our main cost is staff time for doing the research, reading, writing, and moderating essential to the blog’s life.

While the blog is free for everyone, we rely on the generosity of our readers to keep this resource viable.  Like public television and radio, it is people like yourselves who keep us going.  Unlike public television and radio, we only make requests for donations twice a year:  once on Giving Tuesday which is near our anniversary, and once at the end of May, which is about six months away.

If you enjoy the blog, if you find that it helps keep you informed of Catholic LGBT issues, if you find that it helps clarify your thoughts and helps you develop your involvement in justice and equality work, if you find that it helps you develop spiritually in any way, please consider making a donation today.

We appreciate any amount you would like to give.  As a suggestion, why not think of donating $50, which is less than $1 a week of free posts you receive all year round. That’s cheaper than the cost of most daily newspapers these days!  Of course, our strength has always been people who are able to give whatever they can, sometimes more than we ask, and sometimes less than we ask.  We are grateful for all!

You can donate by clicking here, and you will be brought to New Ways Ministry’s website donation page.  When you fill out the donation form online, please type “blog” in the comments section of the form so that we know that is why you are contributing.   You can also mail a check made out to “New Ways Ministry” to our offices at 4012  29th Street, Mount Rainier, MD  20712.  Or call us during business hours at 301-277-5674, and we can take your credit card donation over the phone.  However you decide to contribute, your donation is tax-deductible.

There is another way that you can help to support the blog:  tell your friends about it!  Have you let others know about this resource?  Word of mouth tends to be our best promoter.  Consider emailing a link to one of your favorite recent blog posts to friends on your email list who are interested in Catholic LGBT issues.

Thanks so much for any way that you can help to support this electronic ministry.  We are deeply grateful for your support, and we will continue to offer prayers of gratitude for all that you do for us and all that you do for the Catholic Church’s LGBT brothers and sisters.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Without An Experience of Extravagant Love, We Have No Hope to Become Better

November 30, 2014

For the four Sundays of Advent, Bondings 2.0 will feature reflections on the day’s Scripture readings by two New Ways Ministry staff members:  Matthew Myers, Associate Director, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, Co-Founder.  The liturgical readings for the First Sunday of Advent are Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19; 64:2-7; Psalm 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9; Mark 13: 33-37.  You can read the texts by clicking here.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Advent originally was a 40 day fast that helped Christians to prepare for Christmas.  While most Catholics have dropped the penitential fasting, we have retained a mood of sober reflection.  In the excitement of shopping and planning holiday parties, the readings for the first Sunday of Advent – in particular, the first reading by Isaiah — give us a space to reflect briefly on our need for God’s extravagant love.

Isaiah mourns the sinfulness of his people.  He claims they have strayed so far from God that they are like “withered leaves” without life and that their “good deeds are like polluted rags.”  But “no ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen” such greatness as God.  Isaiah praises God’s true greatness by starting and ending his lament with the bold proclamation that God remains the people’s loving parent despite their hardened hearts.  Though the people stray from righteousness, God waits with outstretched arms to embrace them like a father or mother would embrace a beloved child.

In a similar vein, Pseudo-Dionysius, a 6th century Christian author, creates a humbling picture of God’s extravagant love and desire for relationship with us as revealed through Jesus:

“Jesus clings lovingly to those who even depart from him… [He] makes excuses for them, and further promises to serve them, and runs towards and meets even those who hold themselves aloof… when his entire self has embraced their entire selves, he kisses them, and does not reproach them for former things, but rejoices over the present, and holds a feast, and calls together friends…”

I cannot help but to think of God’s extravagant love made manifest between human beings in the scene from Les Miserables where Valjean is given a meal and place to sleep by an elderly bishop.  In the middle of the night, Valjean steals the bishop’s silver, strikes the old man when confronted, and flees into the darkness.  When Valjean is apprehended the next morning and returned to the bishop’s residence, the bishop dismisses the police and helps Valjean to pack up the rest of the silver.  The bishop realizes that, without an experience of extravagant mercy and love, Valjean has no hope to transform into someone better.

I think it is the same for us – without an experience of extravagant love, we have no hope to become better than we are.  In the midst of making Christmas present lists and writing cards, perhaps each of us might reflect on how we have experienced God’s extravagant love in our own lives, give thanks for that experience, and, like the elderly bishop from Les Miserables, find ways to share that same love with others.

–Matthew Myers, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


Three Years and Counting!

November 28, 2014

Today marks the third anniversary of Bondings 2.0!  Wow!  Does time fly by when you’re having fun!

When I wrote the first blog post on November 28, 2011, I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I hoped that I would be able to do blog posts about three times a week.  Well, since that late November Monday, not one single day has gone by where we haven’t been able to find something worth blogging about.  That says less about our determination and more about the fact that there is so much news about Catholic LGBT issues around our country and around our world.

This past year has been particularly plentiful with news, mainly because of Pope Francis and the synod, which kept Bob Shine and me very busy for most of the month of October. We tried to provide our readers with the best of what we were reading about the synod, not just to keep you informed, but so that you could share your own ideas about the event.  Though the synod kept us busy, it was a “good” busy, and it is much more enjoyable to work late to get out good news than to get out bad news.

Unfortunately, there has been bad news this year, too.  At the top of the negative list have to be the firing of so many LGBT people and supporters from Catholic institutions, and also the increase in repressive anti-gay laws around the globe.   While we like to let our readers know about positive developments, it’s also our job to keep you informed about these troublesome events, too.

When we report bad news, we try to offer our readers some actions they can take to respond positively to such events.  This year, we have encouraged Catholics to promote the idea of employment non-discrimination policies in their schools and parishes to help end the firings of LGBT people.  We also instituted the #PopeSpeakOut campaign to encourage Pope Francis to raise his voice against repressive anti-LGBT laws.

This blog truly is social media.  It is not just a one-way flow of communication from us to you, but involves you as commenters and as action-takers, too!  And we greatly appreciate the many “tips” and “leads” that people send us about news and happenings.

We will have one more post next week about other ways that you can help to support the blog.  Hint:  the post will appear on what has become known as “Giving Tuesday.”   But donations are not the only way you will be asked to help.

So, happy birthday to us all!  And watch out for us in the coming year! Just remember how inquisitive and precocious three-year olds can be!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 


Will Bishops Elected to Synod 2015 Be Good for LGBT Issues?

November 16, 2014

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meeting this week ended with the announcement of the names of bishops elected to represent the United States at the synod on marriage and family to be held at the Vatican in October 2015.  What will this election mean for LGBT issues?

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz

The four main delegates elected were Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston (who are, respecitvely, president and vice president of the USCCB), Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.

Selected as alternates were Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop-elect Blase Cupich of Chicago.  Both Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC may also be attending the meeting because they are part of the synod planning committee.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo

David Gibson of Religion News Service described the choices as a “mixed slate,” noting that it included some “outspoken culture warriors who are sometimes viewed as out of step with Pope Francis’ priorities.”

For LGBT issues, perhaps the most worrisome of these choices are Chaput, Gomez, and Cordileone.  Chaput has been a vocal opponent of this past month’s preparatory synod, saying that it caused confusion and that confusion is “of the devil.”

Gomez opposed the teaching of LGBT history in California public schools.  He also opposed the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it now includes ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as protected classes.

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Cordileone is the USCCB’s chairman of the Defense of Marriage Committee, and a vocal opponent of marriage equality.

Gibson quoted Fr. Thomas Reese’s comments about the election:

“ ‘If they wanted to send the people closest to the pope they would have elected Sean O’Malley and Blase Cupich. But they didn’t,’ said the Rev. Thomas Reese, an analyst for National Catholic Reporter who first reported the slate of names.

“ ‘It is just where they are right now,’ Reese said. ‘The majority of the conference doesn’t know what to do with the pope. The bishops are like deer in the headlights, and they don’t know which way to jump.’ ”

(You can read Fr. Reese’s full evaluation of the bishops’ meeting by clicking here.)

Archbishop Jose Gomez

Archbishop-elect Blase Cupich is perhaps the best choice they made in terms of LGBT issues.  He is widely viewed as a moderate, and when he was appointed as head of the Chicago archdiocese, this blog welcomed the decision as a fresh change from Cardinal Francis George who was, at times, openly antagonistic to the LGBT community.

So, should we give up hope for any positive changes at next year’s synod?  No.  Certainly, not yet.  First of all, this slate must first be approved by the Vatican.  And even if it does get approved, we need to remember that the Americans will only be a tiny percentage of the other bishops there, and we don’t know yet who they will be.

This news, however, should be a wake-up call to Catholics in the U.S. who support LGBT equality.  We need to make our voices heard to our local bishops who can let these representatives know what American Catholics believe.  The church is not a democracy, but its leaders do have a responsibility to consider the opinions of the laity on matters where the laity have expertise.  Marriage, family, and sexuality are certainly within that purview.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related articles

CruxNow.com: Report: US bishops elect delegates to 2015 Synod on the Family

 

 

 


NEWS NOTES: Synod Perspectives from Catholic Writers and Commentators

October 27, 2014

News NotesContinuing to follow-through on our promise to provide links to the wealth of opinion and analysis that the synod on the family has generated, we offer these links to articles from the Catholic press or by Catholic authors and commentators:

1.  In The Washington Blade, Kathi Wolfe offers her views on the synod, noting that Catholic feminist theologian Mary Hunt pointed out an important shortcoming of the synod participants who were all celiibats men: “They don’t make the mature adult decisions that you make when you’re part of a family unit – with spouses and children.”

2.   Women-Church Convergence, a coalition of feminist Catholic groups, issued a statement affirming the holiness of all families, and criticized the synod for failing to include the voices of women in the decision-making process, saying in part: “A group of men who fail to protect the children of our Church from sexual abuse, and who repeatedly sacrifice children to shield the offenders, has no credibility saying anything about what families need. A group of men who have no need for contraception has no standing to deny women access to appropriate reproductive health services. A group of men without experience of wedded life has no right to legislate who should and should not be married. The egregious omission of women and families in forming Church policy has a devastating impact on Catholics and others worldwide.”

3.  Writing at AlJazeera.com, Nathan Schneider observes that part of the reason LGBT issues were not more positively accepted at the synod is because the call for equality still remains a Western value: “The conversation about same-sex partnerships has hardly even begun on the Catholic time scale, and in the context of a global church. Just because some of us in certain parts of the world are sold on an idea doesn’t mean we can impose it on the whole church; that’s a habit of the church’s colonizing past that needs to be put to rest. The Roman Catholic Church has stretched over the centuries to incorporate the gifts of non-European cultures, and it still has much stretching left to do.”

4.  Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a commentator for America magazine, wrote about “The Promise of Synod 2014,” pointing out a number of important contributions the synod process made, including these three:

  • “The 2014 Synod elevated the conversation. Whispered questions about why Aunt Jane never goes to Communion and why Uncle Jack never married have made it into the parlor. The presence in the church community of people who divorced and remarried without an annulment and lesbians and gays found a healthy acknowledgement. . . .
  • “The church acknowledges there may be pastoral solutions to long-standing problems. Nothing heals better than fresh air. For many, the pain silently endured by people forced to the fringes has developed individuals beloved in their families for their generosity and kindness and particular sensitivity. Now they just might receive some of the generosity, kindness and sensitivity they’ve offered others for years.
  • “There is proof that doctrine is not dead. What’s dead does not change; what is alive does. So long as doctrine addresses current reality it shows it is alive and holds meaning for people today.”

5.  At Crux.com, Michael O’Loughlin presented a variety of opinions about the synod from Catholics concerned about LGBT issues, including Deb Word, president of Fortunate Families, who said:  “The conversation that began at the Synod on the Family isn’t over — in fact it’s just beginning. . . .[P]ro-gay Catholic groups will keep reaching out to the bishops to offer suggestions about how the Catholic Church can better minister to Catholic families like mine.”

6.  Jesuit Father James Martin has been quoted widely in the religious and secular press on the synod’s report and processes.  In addition, he has written two online essays which provide insights:

  1. In an America magazine blog post, “Five Things the Synod Just Did,” Martin notes that the meeting brought a new conversation to the Church, and that the pope’s process very much reflects the Jesuit value of “discernment.”
  2. Fr. Martin elaborated on the above theme in a separate essay for Reuters.com, in which he discussed “What the Synod of Bishops that discussed divorced, LGBT Catholics did – and didn’t – do.”  In both essays he stresses the point that the real answers will be discussed at the 2015 synod.

7.  In a National Catholic Reporter blog post which carries the opinions about the synod from three Catholic academics, Julie Hanlon Rubio of St. Louis University, author of Family Ethics: Practices for Christians, stated: “The major shifts I see at work in the document released today are these: a willingness to see the diversity of Catholic families and listen to their ideas, a desire to find creative pastoral solutions that allow the church to welcome everyone, and a willingness to see good in the imperfect. All of shifts seem rooted in a more fundamental move to imitate Jesus, especially embracing his call for mercy.”

8.  The Baltimore Sun reported on a group of about 30 Catholic LGBT advocates who held a prayer vigil at the city’s Basilica of the Assumption of the BVM on the day that the synod’s final report was issued.  The event was organized by the Human Rights Campaign and Call To Action.

9.  During the synod, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) ran a series of blog posts written by Catholic leaders about their hopes for the meeting and the future of the Church.  These posts were written by HRC’s Lisbeth Melendez Rivera,  the Pacific School of Religion’s Bernard Schlager, DignityUSA’s Jim Smith, Call To Action’s Ellen Euclide, transgender leader Hilary Howes, Cincinnati’s Anna Brown, and  New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo.

10.  In a National Catholic Reporter blog post.  Sister Christine Schenck, CSJ, former executive director of FutureChurch, offered this suggestion: “It is my sincere hope that church leaders will actively seek out the lived experiences of divorced and remarried and gay and lesbian Catholics before making any decisions about pastoral practice. They should also listen carefully to Catholic parents using unapproved methods of family planning.”

11. Catholics in San Antonio, Texas, responded to the synod in an article in The San Antonio Express-News.  Members of the local Dignity chapter expressed their views, and Fr. Stephen Bernal, a local pastor offered the hope:  “We believe the Holy Father is very simply wanting us to look at all people the way God looks at them — with love and understanding and compassion — that everyone is a precious gift.”

12. In a very tongue-in-cheek essay on Philly.com, Orlando Barone says that the synod’s unfinished business leaves him in a quandary about whether or not he should invite lesbian/gay people and divorced/remarried Catholics to his Thanksgiving dinner.  He ends, however, on a very serious note:  “My imagination falters in its efforts to conjure anything more awful than lifting the Bread of Life and turning it into a rock to throw at the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the woman caught in adultery. I could never allow such a horrible thing to happen at my Thanksgiving table. I pray the church, following its pope’s lead, will not allow such a thing to happen at its Thanksgiving table, the Table of Jesus, the Bread of Life.”

13. Fordham University theology professor Patrick Hornbeck penned a CNN.com essay in which he explains that neither the first draft nor the final report of the synod went far enough in dealing with LGBT issues.  He concluded:  “Many believe that the synod reversed course with regard to LGBT people and same-sex unions. But that reversal seems much less dramatic when one considers the full implications of the synod’s much-celebrated initial document. Far from accepting and celebrating same-sex relationships as the signs of divine and human love that so many people — gay, straight, Catholic, non-Catholic — are finding in them, that document actually charted a path where those relationships could at best have only been tolerated in the church. It is clear that by avoiding a more searching examination of the presumptions about gender and sexuality that Catholic theology has inherited, the synod members did not fully confront the truly seismic anthropological, cultural and theological shifts that have occurred in the past few decades.”

14. In an essay on NJLive.com, Father Alexander Santora, a pastor in Hoboken, praised the synod’s attempts to affirm LGBT people, and noted that though a rocky road is still ahead, there is reason for hope:  “. . . [T]his process is filled with land mines, most notably some conservative prelates, even in the Vatican curia, who do not want any change in tone, theology or teaching. But that also happened at the Second Vatican Council and St. John XXIII dispatched them graciously. Francis has been compared to John and some see his two-year synod process as almost important as the teachings that emanated from Vatican II.”

15. Dignity/New York voices were featured in a CBSNews.com report on synod reactions, including the opinion of longtime member Brendan Fay, who said: “We may not personally need the affirmation [of Vatican bishops] because we have found that among ourselves.”

16. Though much of the synod headlines focused on LGBT issues and divorce, National Catholic Reporter columnist, Jamie Manson, a Catholic lesbian, asks the question: “Why isn’t anyone talking about the synod’s paragraphs on contraception?”

17.  Gay Catholic blogger Terence Weldon, who posts at  QueeringTheChurch.com, summed up the synod with the headline: “For Gay Catholics, Nothing Has Changed – Everything Is Changing.”  At the conclusion, he notes: “Above all, what has changed is the simple fact that what for so long was presented as “constant and unchanging tradition”, delivered from on high to a meek and acquiescent laity, is now firmly up for frank discussion. That has already occurred at the synod in a manner that would have been unthinkable under the previous two popes, and will now be starting worldwide, at all levels of the Church.”

18. USA Today queried college students about the synod in an article entitled “New Vatican document stirs discussion and hope among Catholic students” and found that they welcomed the meeting and its open discussion.
19.  New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and DignityUSA’s Marianne Duddy-Burke gave their responses to the synod’s final document in an article by The Advocate entitled “After Catholic Synod: Disappointment, Yet Hope Remains.”
20. New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo gave further reactions to the synod when he appeared on MSNBC’s News Nation with Tamron Hall.  You can view that segment by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 


SYNOD: London Cardinal Voted Against Synod’s Gay Paragraphs Because Welcome Was Absent

October 20, 2014
Cardinal-elect Vincent Nichols

Cardinal-elect Vincent Nichols

Was the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops a win, a loss, or something in the middle? In the day or so since the final report was released, LGBT advocates and Catholic commentators have prolifically tried to discern just what to make of these last two weeks. Bondings 2.0 offers a first round-up of reactions today, with links provided for further reading.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster (London) made news in a post-synod interview, claiming some bishops voted against the paragraphs on welcoming lesbian and gay people because they were not inclusive and welcoming enough. Queering the Church reports:

“Vincent says he can’t remember how he voted (there were 60 votes in under an hour), but that – reflecting the policy in his own diocese of Westminster – he felt the wording didn’t go far enough, because the key words ‘welcome’, ‘respect’ and ‘value’ were missing. The cardinal hopes the next stage of the Synod will encourage a more welcoming attitude to LGBT people.”

Equally Blessed LogoStill, LGBT advocates inside and outside the church expressed their overall disappointment about the synod’s final report.

Equally Blessed, a coalition of Fortunate Families, DignityUSA, Call to Action, and New Ways Ministry that advocates for LGBT justice and equality in the church, said in a statement that the synod was evidence that “it is past time for the church to reconcile with faithful LGBT Catholics.” The coalition also expressed disappointment at the final report with Fortunate Families President Deb Word saying, in part:

” ‘For Catholics in the pews, LGBT people aren’t just an issue to be discussed and argued over. They are our family members and our friends. They are faithful Catholics who we worship alongside each Sunday…Our church will continue to be broken until we can welcome her lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children as God made them, in His image and likeness.’ “

Jim FitzGeraldCall to Action highlighted the “missed opportunities” at the synod, with executive director Jim FitzGerald telling Religion News Service:

” ‘It’s disappointing that some in the institutional church are not yet ready to welcome all God’s children to the table.’ “

Marianne Duddy-Burke

Marianne Duddy-Burke

DignityUSA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke released a statement, saying in part:

“What we saw through the Synod process is that there are deep divisions in what the Catholics bishops think about LGBT people, even at the highest levels of leadership…We anticipate that significant dialogue and debate at all levels of the Church will continue for the year leading up to the Synod in October 2015.”

The Human Rights Campaign criticized the final document for withdrawing more positive language about LGBT people found in the mid-synod report as “many in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy continue to use heartless and derogatory language in referring to the LGBT faithful.”

Christopher Lamb

Yet, others within the church remain hopeful that this synod was progress and the positive momentum will continue in the coming year. Christopher Lamb of The Tablet said the synod was a “huge achievement in itself” and said further, according to the BBC:

” ‘We have now got an acceptance that we need a new language in the Church when talking about gay couples and homosexuality in general.’ “

Father Thomas Reese, SJ

Father Thomas Reese, SJ

Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese wrote in the National Catholic Reporter that “there is a danger of missing the forest for the trees,” even while changes in language and practice did not transpire. Reese’ evaluation of the synod was more positive than most others:

“The synod was a victory for openness and discussion in the church and the final document is an invitation for everyone in the church to join that discussion. This is exactly what Pope Francis wanted…

“Unlike we journalists, he has not obsessed over the language of the report but has been much more focused on the process. He set the tone at the beginning by encouraging the bishops to speak freely. At the end, in summing up the synod, he showed that he had been listening carefully, and like a good Jesuit discerning the Spirit in the process…The synod was a big win for openness and for Francis.”

Reese also noted that change was evident, like Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama’s clear opposition towards criminalizing homosexuality of which Reese writes, “In Africa, that matters.”

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, who affirmed that doctrine develops and refused to depict same-sex relationships as a black and white issue during the synod, told media: “There have been two steps forward, there may be one step backwards, but certainly not two.”

Adolfo Nicolas, superior general of the Jesuits, told media to “watch for a possible ‘revolution’ a year from now,’ according to Australian outlet 9News.

John Allen

John Allen of Crux looks further out, to the expected apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis after next year’s synod concludes this process, writing:

“At the end of the day, therefore, the only question that really matters is: When this extraordinary two-year process of reflection ends, what will Pope Francis do?”

Bondings 2.0 will continue reporting on the many reactions to Extraordinary Synod of Bishops this week. In addition, we welcome (and not simply provide for, a la the Synod’s language choices) your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.

You can access New Ways Ministry’s statement by clicking here and executive director Francis DeBernardo’s reflection on the synod here. To read Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage from the synod, click the ‘Synod 2014‘ category to the right or click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


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