Take a Moment to Open Your Heart

December 3, 2013

Today, we conclude our posts about the 2nd anniversary of Bondings 2.0, and we do so asking for your financial support for this endeavor.   We do so on “Giving Tuesday,” a sort of new “holiday,” set off as a time to allow people to make a contribution to their favorite charities or causes.

As some of you may know, the blog is a project of New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT Catholics and the wider church community.  New Ways Ministry relies primarily on individual donations from Catholics across the nation and around the globe.  Bondings 2.0 is just one of our many projects and resources geared toward making the Catholic Church a more welcoming and just place for LGBT people.  Among our many other projects are ones dealing with marriage equality, gay-friendly parishes and schools, lesbian nuns and gay priests, connections between sexuality and spirituality, and outreach to colleges and young adults.

This blog is an integral part of our work because we believe that the Catholic Church can change if people are given information, resources, and tools to make changes in their local communities.  So, we focus here on news stories and opinion pieces which we hope will empower people to take action wherever they are.  New Ways Ministry’s main mission has always been education because we believe that education is the key to any kind of social or institutional change.  With Bondings 2.0, we try to provide information and perspectives that we think will help people formulate their own arguments, opinions, initiatives, and projects.  (Are you curious about how “New Ways Ministry” and “Bondings 2.0” got their names?  Click here for an explanation.)

We are probably more surprised than anyone at how this blog has taken off.  We get new followers every week and new readers every day.  At last count, people from over 160 nations around the globe read our content.  And our material has been picked up by major publications.  For example, Bob Shine’s October 10, 2012 post entitled “Pope Francis’ Letter-Writing Revolution Requires Our Involvement”  was picked up and reprinted by The National Catholic Reporter.    That version of the post was excerpted in one of the U.S.’s leading news magazines, The Week, where it was quoted in a story entitled “The ‘Francis effect': 5 ways the pope is resuscitating the Catholic Church.”

Bondings 2.0 is a free service, available to all.  Like public radio and television, anyone can share in this resource.   And like public radio and television, we rely on the generosity of our audience to keep the project going.  We have made a commitment to only ask twice a year for funds: once around our annual anniversary (late November) and once in June, about six months later.  We don’t want to bother our readers with requests for funds, but at the same time, we need to make these two appeals to make sure that we have the resources to keep the blog viable.

So, on this Giving Tuesday, would you consider making a donation to New Ways Ministry to support Bondings 2.o?  We appreciate any amount you would like to give.  As a suggestion, why not think of donating $5o, 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!

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 are two other ways you can help us:  1) Take a few minutes to complete our survey of readers.  This will help us better serve you with the material we present;  2) Tell your friends about this blog.  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

 

 


Are You Ready to Rejoice?

December 1, 2013

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 2:1-5; Psalm 122: 1-9; Romans 13: 11-14; Matthew 24: 37-44.  You can read the texts by clicking here.

“I have issues with anyone who treats God as a burden instead of a blessing.  You people don’t celebrate your faith; you mourn it.”

A heavenly-muse-turned-stripper named Serendipity made these observations in Dogma, a 1990s satirical film about two renegade angels banished for eternity to Wisconsin.  Her point was that many Christians understand their relationship with God in terms of rules, judgment, and punishment, which produces a rather grim spiritual life and an outward emotional disposition to match.  Fewer Christians appear to understand their relationship with God as a source of love, acceptance, and freedom, which can cultivate an exterior joy that is difficult to miss. 

Pope Francis echoed the sentiments of this stripping celestial being earlier this year when he lamented sour-faced Christians whose hearts have “grow[n] old and wrinkled” and inhospitable to others.  If we are grim and pessimistic Christians, what does that say about the God we proclaim?  How will others come to experience and trust in God’s love if we are miserable?  Unfortunately, gloominess is a terminal illness for our spiritual life. 

Our cure is in the readings for the first Sunday of Advent, which remind us of God’s ever-increasing nearness.  The psalmist calls us to “go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” to celebrate God’s presence among us – indeed, we will soon celebrate the Incarnation of God-with-us during Christmas.  We must “stay awake” for God “is nearer now than when we first believed.”  How can we be gloomy Christians if we truly believe that God has become one of us and continues to be with us now?

As LGBT Catholics and allies, we have many reasons for gloominess.  Numerous LGBT church workers have been fired from Catholic institutions for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and beliefs about marriage equality.  Our bishops take every opportunity to oppose state and federal legislation that ensures employment non-discrimination and marriage equality for LGBT people.  If the story stopped here, then we would have good reason to be gloomy Christians.

However, our story continues with many reasons to rejoice.  Pope Francis has made several positive remarks about LGBT people.  More and more LGBT Catholics (including priests and nuns!) are leading lives of fullness and integrity by coming out to their families, friends, and faith communities.  More parishes than ever are welcoming LGBT people and their families as active members of the community.  As we build a more inclusive and loving Church, God is able to draw nearer and nearer to us.  Indeed, we are incarnating God for one another!  What an awesome reason for rejoicing! 

Perhaps Dorothy Day is helpful to us:  “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us?”  Our work to create a more welcoming Church is difficult, but as LGBT Catholics and allies, our task is to be joyful people.  Others may disagree with us about LGBT issues, but they will see our love and joy — and see God in us.  If we are joyful witnesses, not gloomy and sour, then others will recognize the beauty and love that LGBT people bring to our Church – and we will transform it!

Let us resolve this Advent season to be joyful Christians.  If we focus on reasons to rejoice and celebrate our faith, not mourn it, then we will transform ourselves and touch the hearts of others.  

–Matthew Myers, New Ways Ministry

 


Catholic–And Cosmopolitan–Responses to the Pope’s Gay Statement

July 31, 2013
Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Since starting this blog over 18 months ago, I have never had such a hard time keeping up with Catholic LGBT news and commentary than in the last two days as articles keep popping up about Pope Francis’ statement which was heard around the gay and Catholic world.  Not even the Supreme Court’s marriage decisions in June generated this much electronic “ink.”

Yesterday, we supplied you with the first round of comments from Catholic writers and organizations.  Today we will try to continue that sampling from some of the best that we have seen from Catholics–and one “cosmopolitan” response that you will have to read to the end to discover!

Like yesterday, you will probably notice a range of opinions, though mostly people are positive.  Let us and others know what you think by posting your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.

Richard Galliardetz

Richard Galliardetz

One of the common themes of the commentary I read was whether Francis’ change in tone is really significant?  Professor Richard Galliardetz of Boston College, who this year serves as President of the Catholic Theological Society of America,  answered both of those quandaries in a Religion News Service article:

‘This may be a matter of “style” in some sense, but in this case style matters,’ Gaillardetz explained in a statement that echoed the poet Robert Frost. ‘One can appeal to our doctrinal tradition in order to justify moral rigidity and exclusionary attitudes or one can appeal to our doctrinal tradition as a call to be instruments of mercy and compassion. Francis has chosen the latter course and it has made all the difference!’ ”

Mary Hunt

Mary Hunt

Catholic lesbian theologian Mary Hunt was more guarded in her praise of Pope Francis’ comments, noting particularly that the interview in which he made the statement about gay priests also contained a strong denial of the possibility of ordaining women to the Catholic priesthood.  Hunt’s conclusion in a Religion Dispatches essay:

“The proof of whether this off the cuff press conference, following a well-staged week in Brazil, signals real change will unfold in the months ahead. Will there be stirrings of democracy, a Vatican spring complete with líos [translated: "mess," referring to the pope's statement to young people to "go, make a mess" in the world] in every diocese capable of upending a kyriarchal church and letting a mature, diverse community emerge? Will women finally and definitively share power with men in a democratic church? Or, will there simply be a little tweaking of the rules to make sure that a few favored sons who happen to be gay can remain in power?”

One person who is uniquely qualified to comment on the pope’s comment is Fr. Gary Meier, a St. Louis Archdiocese priest, who came out publicly as gay earlier this spring.  In a CNN blog post, Fr. Meier expressed cautious optimism about the news:

Father Gary Meier

Father Gary Meier

“I am optimistic, that our Pope’s comments can lead to greater love and acceptance of the LGBT community. And at the same time, I am cautious – cautious that the change in tone and attitude represented by the Pope’s statement will not lead to a change in theology and doctrine which so desperately needs to change.

“My prayer for the church is that we might take this opportunity to stop causing harm, to stop being judgmental and to become more welcoming; more inviting; more loving towards all people, especially those who are marginalized and ostracized.”

Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata

Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata

Speaking from the perspective of parents of LGBT people, Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata of Fortunate Families welcomed the pope’s statement.  A WHEC.com news story noted:

“Casey Lopata said, ‘This has opened a door. It seems to signal a willingness to dialogue.’

“Casey Lopata says it is reminiscent of something that happened in Rochester 16 years ago.

“ ‘Back in 1997, here in Rochester, Bishop Clark said a mass with gay and lesbian people, family and friends at the time a lot of people weren’t very happy with it and he later wrote an article in the Catholic Courier and title of the article said, ‘Listen, leave the judgment to God’ and that’s exactly what Pope Francis said today.’”

Mary Ellen was quoted in an NBCNews.com story:

“I sense what he is saying is that we are all children of God and we need to treat each other that way regardless of our sexual orientation,” she said. “If that is indeed what he is saying, I think that is a good step forward for reconciling with gay and lesbian people around the world, and also their families.

“Much that’s been said in past years by church leaders has been very hurtful not only to gay and lesbian people but to their families as well.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke

Marianne Duddy-Burke

That same NBCNews.com story also provided the perspective of LGBT Catholics themselves through the voice of Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA.  Beginning with a quote from Francis’ statement, Duddy-Burke said:

“ ‘If someone loves the Lord and has goodwill’ [Francis' statement] — the reality of that describes an awful lot of LGBT people,’ she said. ‘There are a lot of LGBT people of faith who are working very hard to hold onto their faith and I think it would be important for us to bring our stories to the pope and other church leaders to move this conversation forward.’

“A key step would be bridging the gap between some church leaders who engage in anti-gay rhetoric and their parishioners, many whom support LGBT rights, Duddy-Burke said. Fifty-four percent of Catholics support same-sex marriage, according to a Pew Forum poll released earlier this year.

“ ‘If Francis can be an instrument in healing that divide, we would certainly welcome that and are happy to partner with him,” she said, while noting that only time would tell what impact his remarks would have on daily life.’ “

Sister Marian Durkin

Sister Marian Durkin

The perspective of a pastoral minister who works with lesbian and gay Catholics was offered by Sister Marian Durkin, CSA, in The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

” ‘I appreciate Pope Francis’ compassionate look at homosexuality in the church,’ said Sister Marian Durkin of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. ‘There are gay men in the priesthood, there always have been. And they serve God’s people with great integrity and love.’

“Durkin has worked in a local outreach ministry for gay Catholics for 20 years. She holds an annual retreat for homosexual Catholics and their parents at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma.

“ ‘I’m delighted whenever there’s good press about gays and lesbians,’ she said. ‘Francis is a breath of fresh air.’ ”

Stephen Pope

Stephen Pope

Portland, Maine’s Press Herald offered the perspective of a theologian who notes the pragmatic effect the pope’s statement can have:

“Stephen Pope, professor of theology at Boston College, said Francis’ comments were consistent with his other efforts to address declining church membership by reaching out to a more diverse audience.

“That approach stands in stark contrast to that of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, he said.

” ‘I think Pope Benedict’s philosophy was to say, “Let them go. We’ll have a smaller church but more pure,” ‘ Pope said. “Pope Francis has sort of adopted this strategy of meeting people where they are and looking for commonality.’ “

Chad Pecknold

Chad Pecknold

Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, noted, in a Baltimore Sun article, that the pope’s statement was not really “off the cuff,” and was, in fact, an invitation to dialogue:

” ‘The message of mercy, I think, is one he is sounding out on every single issue that the culture has identified as one it rejects the church’s teachings on,’ Pecknold said. ‘What Francis wants to say is, “Let’s talk.” ‘

“The pope offered his thoughts in a remarkably open news conference in response to questions about rumors of a ‘lobby’ of gay priests seeking to influence the Vatican. He said he disapproved of any such lobby or influence, but distinguished influence-seekers from priests who might happen to be gay.

“Pecknold said it was important to consider that context when reading the pope’s comments, but he also said the pontiff would have been aware that his comments to international journalists about homosexuality would have been viewed in a broader context.

” ‘We’re going to hear this over and over and over again,’ Pecknold said. ‘The way in which Francis wants to initiate a conversation, the way in which he wants to invite a conversation, is through this message of mercy.’ “

James Salt

James Salt

The youth perspective was offered by James Salt of Catholics United, a political organizing group, in an Agence France-Presse article:

“. . . Catholics United, which has been very critical of Church leadership, said Francis’ comments ‘speak to what every young person knows: God loves gay people, and so should the Catholic Church.’

” ‘Pope Francis’ call for the acceptance of gay priests is a direct repudiation of the backward beliefs of many ultra-conservative ideologues in the Church,’ the group’s leader James Salt said in a statement.

” ‘This statement on gay people, while largely symbolic, is a big step in the right way.’ “

CosmopolitanAnd we close out with a decidedly non-Catholic perspective: Michelle Ruiz, a blogger at Cosmpolitan magazine:

“A lot of arguments against gay marriage and even homosexuality in general point to religion: ‘The Bible says God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,’ anti-gay groups have been known to say. But now the leader of the Catholic church himself, Pope Francis, is coming out in support of gays. Can we get a Hallelujah?

” ‘If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?’ Francis told reporters yesterday while on an overnight flight from Brazil (for his first foreign trip) back to Rome.

“Francis was responding directly to a question about gay Catholic priests, and his answer is groundbreaking because his more conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was so against gay clergy, he signed an official document in 2005 saying homosexual men should not be allowed to serve the church.

“So if Francis is cool with gay priests, perhaps gay marriage has a prayer in the church? “

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


How Did Catholics Fare in Pew Survey on LGBT People and Religion?

June 19, 2013

cross and gender symbolsThe Pew Research Center released a report last week about a survey they conducted of LGBT people in the United States, including their participation and attitudes toward religious institutions.  The major finding, which grabbed the headlines, is that LGBT people find religious institutions unfriendly towards themselves, and many are alienated from these organizations.

A Religion News Service article which appeared on The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog highlighted the following findings:

“Gay Americans are much less religious than the general U.S. population, and about three in 10 of them say they have felt unwelcome in a house of worship, a new study shows.

“The Pew Research Center’s study, released Thursday (June 13), details how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans view many of the country’s prominent faiths: in a word, unfriendly.

“The vast majority said Islam (84 percent); the Mormon church (83 percent); the Roman Catholic Church (79 percent); and evangelical churches (73 percent) were unfriendly. Jews and nonevangelical Protestants drew a more mixed reaction, with more than 40 percent considering them either unfriendly or neutral about gays and lesbians.”
Marianne Duddy-Burke

Marianne Duddy-Burke

Those statistics are not very good for Catholics.  It shows that we have a terrible image problem in terms of how LGBT people perceive us.  Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, in a HuffingtonPost blog noted the difficult challenge that this presents our church:

“The Pew Survey should serve as a wake-up call to Catholics — not only those supportive of LGBT equality but all those who in conscience disagree with the bishops on a broad range of issues related to gender and sexuality, from women’s ordination to birth control. We need to grapple with the fact that our bishops are defining Catholicism in a way that is directly opposed to what most Catholics believe and want our church to be. We have a worse brand-identity issue than J.C. Penney!”
The Washington Post story offered the perspective or Ross Murray, director of faith and news initiatives at GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) who suggested a reason for the negative attitudes LGBT people have of religion:
Ross Murray

Ross Murray

“[Ross Murray] thinks the sense of unfriendliness comes in part from the loudest voices of faith speaking through an anti-gay frame. Religious groups that support gays and lesbians, as a GLAAD study found last year, get far less media attention.

“ ‘The leading anti-gay voices always put it in religious terms, which taints how people view religion,’ Murray said.”

The statistics for how unwelcome LGBT people feel by religious institutions are staggering.  The Washington Post article states:

“Almost 50 percent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults say they have no religious affiliation, compared to 20 percent of the general population. One-third of religiously affiliated gay and lesbian adults say there is a conflict between their faith beliefs and their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

And for Catholic LGBT people, a super-majority of them feel unwelcome.  The Deseret News reports:

“Among LGBT Catholics, two-thirds (66 percent) say the Catholic Church is unfriendly toward them. . .”

Clearly, religious people have their work cut out for them if they want to make sure that LGBT people feel welcome in their communities.  Duddy-Burke offered some suggestions:

“There are many options for Catholics troubled by the findings of the recent Pew survey. Most effective would be ensuring that anytime a church leader says something untrue, unkind or unwarranted about LGBT people; fires someone due to sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or an expression of support for LGBT people; or takes a position on a public matter that upholds institutional discrimination, call him out on it. Let him and others know that he is speaking only for a minority of Catholics.

“If you know LGBT people in your parish or faith community, tell them you’re glad for their presence and gifts. Ask if they find the community supportive, or if they find anything that happens there discomforting. If a priest delivers an anti-gay message, let him know you find it problematic, given Jesus’ model of broad inclusion.”

Is there any good news in this survey?  There might be one small glimmer for Catholics.  The Huffington Post news story about the survey cited some interesting data comparing church affiliation of LGBT people to the church affiliation of the general adult population.    14% of LGBT people identify as Catholics, while 22% of the general population do.  That means that the discrepancy between LGBT Catholics and general population Catholics is only 8%, which is not anywhere near the discrepancy for Protestants generally (27 % of LGBT people identify as Protestants, compared to 49% in the general population.)

This statistic is cold comfort, however, when we realize how many LGBT Catholics feel alienated from their church and how many LGBT people view Catholicism negatively.  I think the reason we have a smaller discrepancy has to do more with the loyalty that LGBT Catholics feel toward their church, rather than anything positive that the church is doing for them.

GLAAD’s Murray also offered some hope for the future by noting in The Huffington Post:

“I think that relationship is going to mend, but it will happen slowly … I hope that inclusive faith communities are able to get their message out even better, so that there can be better trust between LGBT people and religion.”

At New Ways Ministry, we see the relationship between LGBT people and the Catholic church developing every time we add a new parish to our gay-friendly parish list or a new campus to our gay-friendly Catholic college list.  But the Pew Report reminds us how much work we still have ahead of us.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Help Keep Bondings 2.0 Strong!

June 3, 2013

We hope that you find Bondings 2.0 a useful resource for you.  Our desire is to put out quality material of news and opinion on Catholic LGBT issues to help inform readers of what is going on, good and bad and in-between, in regard to these issues.  Our hope is that this information will help readers develop intellectually and spiritually, and that this resource may support them in their ministry, their activism, and their relationships.

donationsTwice a year, we come to our readers in a single post (this is one of them) to ask for financial support for this blog.  The last time we did so was six months ago on our one year anniversary.

We like to think of the blog in the same way that we consider public radio or public television.  The resource is free for the public to consume, but we rely on the generosity of some of our “consumers” to keep the material free and available to all.  Would you be able to be one of those generous people this time around?  You can donate by clicking the “Contribute” tab at the top of the blog page  or simply click here.  Please write “blog” in the comments section of the donation page, so we know where you want your gift applied.

If you prefer to donate by check, you can mail the gift to:

New Ways Ministry
4012 29th Street
Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712
Please write the check to “New Ways Ministry” and write “blog” in the memo line.

The world of Catholic LGBT issues is moving so fast.  When we began this blog a year and a half ago, we made a commitment to try to post something once a day.    In fact recently, we often find that we have to post twice or three times a day, just to keep up with the volume of news and perspectives that we find occurring. We have been faithful to that daily commitment for over 18 months now, and we hope we can keep it going in the future.

We try to give you the gist of each story so that you don’t have to read a whole article yourself if you don’t have time, but we also provide you with the link to the complete text if you do want more information.   We also try to give you multiple sources for each topic, when available, so that you can see things from a variety of perspectives, and get the best of each news organization’s reporting.  And we also offer our perspective on new developments and opinions.

A blog is social media, however, so in addition to giving our perspective, we and our readers benefit from learning your perspective, too, when you post your responses and reactions in the “Comments” section of each post.  I’m always amazed at how much I learn from the intelligent and compassionate responses of our readers.

donations thanksA donation of $50 is less than one dollar per week of news and information that you receive here.  If you donate $50, we will send you a complimentary copy of New Ways Ministry’s Homosexuality: A Positive Catholic Approach as a thank-you gift.  You can donate by clicking here or by mailing a check to the address provided above.  Please write “blog” in the comments box of the electronic donation page or in the memo line of the check.

So, please help keep Bondings 2.0 strong in the future.  A small donation on your part goes along way to helping New Ways Ministry help thousands of LGBT people, families, ministers, advocates, and scholars aware of the many new developments in the area of Catholic LGBT news.

Thanks so much for your generous support!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


ALL ARE WELCOME: Lesbian Young Adult Balances Faith and Exclusion

February 10, 2013
Kate Childs-Graham

Kate Childs Graham

The ALL ARE WELCOME series is an occasional feature  which examines how Catholic faith communities can become more inclusive of LGBT people and issues.  At the end of this posting, you can find the links to previous posts in this series.

For most Catholics, experiences of inclusion in our local parishes during liturgy or various social events are central elements tying us to the faith. A supportive, positive local community can build us up in the face of a wayward hierarchy or, alternatively, tear us down with its rejection.

Kate Childs Graham writing in National Catholic Reporter highlights the experiences of one young adult struggling to find welcome in the faith she loves. Kate narrates the story of Danielle, a college student in Texas who grew up in the same parish, St. Phillip’s, where she now mentors as a peer educator. Kate continues:

“Danielle came out of the closet at 15. The director of religious education at St. Philip’s was one of the first people to accept her.

“She told me, ‘That’s cool,’ Danielle recalled. ‘Just don’t be too gay.’

“So she continued to educate and walk with ‘her kids’ — as she calls them — in the confirmation class. But then, the parish got a new priest and a new director of religious education.

“’He said that being gay is bad,’ Danielle said. ‘I never heard any priest I knew talk like that.’”

After finding welcome, Danielle suffered rejection as a Catholic lesbian due to parish staffing changes. Motivated by fear that she would be asked to stop peer education or be unable to assume leadership of the mariachi choir her family ran since 1969, Danielle went back into the closet.

Danielle’s new personal ministry to attend Mass with LGBT young people who were thrown out of  Confirmation class for their identity, and then plays music at four separate parishes on Sundays. For now, Kate writes:

“Danielle knows the church she loves has a long way to go, but her prayer is pretty simple: ‘I just want my parish to be a bit more accepting.’”

Positive parish-level responses to LGBT individuals and families are sometimes the simplest acts with the greatest effect we can have for our communities. New Ways Ministry maintains a national Gay-Friendly Parishes and Faith Communities list in attempting to identify those communities who strive for welcome and inclusion.

Bondings 2.0 is curious about our readers’ experiences.

  • Is your Catholic parish accepting of LGBT individuals and/or families?
  • What do professional ministers and lay leaders enact that creates a better atmosphere?
  • In your experiences, what are common obstacles to changing a parish’s culture?
  • What are good strategies?

We welcome you to leave your answers to these questions and more below in the “Comments” section.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


NEWS NOTES: January 31, 2013

January 31, 2013

News NotesHere are links to Catholic LGBT news items that might be of interest to you:

1) Archbishop Victor Tonye Bakot of Yaounde, Cameroon called same-sex marriage a “serious crime against humanity,” according to Reuters. His comments intensify ongoing debates over legal equality in Cameroon, where youth are agitating for LGBT rights in a nation that has criminalized homosexuality.

2) The Telegraph reports that Scottish regulators recently ordered a Catholic family services agency to end discriminatory adoption practices that favored couples married for at least two years. Scotland is moving towards marriage equality, but for now the regulators gave the agency until April 22nd to end their policy.

3) Hackers downed an anti-gay Catholic blog in Italy for 25 days because it advocated a ‘cure’ to homosexuality and posted comments that blamed domestic violence victims for their abuse.  Pink Star News reports that, unfortunately, the site is now up again.

4) The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed legislation that would grant same-gender couples marriage rights and, as expected, the Catholic bishops in that state have opposed it. The Providence Journal reports that the Rhode Island Catholic Conference director claims marriage equality undermines the common good.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Bishops in France Release Hopeful Statement on Same-Sex Relationships

January 25, 2013

Catholic Bishops of France

Catholics bishops in France have released a positive-leaning document amid that nation’s intensifying marriage equality debate. The document, from the national episcopal conference’s Family and Society Committee calls for dialogue about same-sex relationships and severely condemns homophobia.  This document seems an acknowledgment by the bishops that current episcopal practices and teaching fail a pastoral, and perhaps, theological test.

The writers at Bondings 2.0 will continue seeking an English translation for further commentary, but until then the bishops’ writing is available in French here.

Terence Weldon at Queering the Church makes the following preliminary observations based on his translation:

“Based on my reading, these are the features of the document that make it really worth careful attention:

  • the simple fact of a call for constructive dialogue – together with a genuine attempt to begin it.
  • a firm rejection of homophobia in any form, and insistence on respect for all
  • a call to listen attentively to the concerns and needs of homosexual people themselves
  • thoughtful attention to the findings of science, leading to -
  • the recognition of the value of loving and committed same – sex partnerships.
  • an acknowledgement of the value of the symbolism in marriage, and the weaknesses of civil union legislation.
  • a proposal to strengthen the existing civil unions legislation, to improve the symbolic value, and repair its weaknesses.”

Weldon contrasted the different tenor in this document from typical writings over marriage equality from the Church hierarchy, as both part of a growing trend towards civility and compromise and a leap from precedence:

“One of the tragic features of so much of Vatican and episcopal responses to marriage equality, is that it has too often been couched in language so extreme, or made such outlandish and completely unsubstantiated claims, that it is too easy to dismiss it as being on the outer fringes of crazy town – and has left little room for serious, constructive debate…

“There have been some exceptions. One of the few silver linings in the dark cloud of the recent Vatican onslaught on marriage, is that the attacks have been specifically on extending to us the word “marriage”, while refraining from attacks on our relationships themselves. As a tactical device, some bishops have notably even supported civil partnerships or civil unions, which they had previously opposed, as a more palatable alternative to full marriage equality…

“This latest move by the French bishops is part of a trend – but in fact, it goes further – much further, and deserves close attention.”

If indeed the French bishops seek reconciling dialogue over same-sex issues that respects gay and lesbian voices and acknowledges the good found in committed relationships, this would be a major forward step for the Catholic hierarchy. Further admissions that the Church fails LGBT persons by discriminating against them and  by not forcefully acting against homophobia would be equally welcomed.

Bondings 2.0 previously reported here and here on the actions French Catholics have engaged in from both sides of the marriage equality question .

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


What Will Be Archbishop Cordileone’s Legacy in San Francisco?

January 24, 2013
Credit: Dustin Aksland

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was recently profiled in San Francisco Magazine as he completes his first months as a radically traditionalist leader amid one of America’s most inclusive cities. The long-form piece reported on many areas of Cordileone’s life, none more so than his vigorous opposition to gay and lesbian equality, especially marriage rights.

Cordileone’s prominence in the marriage equality debate emerged from his pivotal leadership in the passage of Proposition 8 in California that limited marriage rights to heterosexual couples. Now, San Francisco Magazine reports on both the archbishop’s past and his potential future regarding marriage:

“He leads the powerful U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, making him the church’s go-to guy in battling the cresting gay marriage tide…

“There are larger national struggles afoot…Conventional wisdom among conservatives has it that the church must work against more electoral wins for gay marriage. And yet, cautions [Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, Francis] DeBernardo, ‘the polls show that more and more Catholics support marriage equality. It’s a losing battle. At this point, our political campaigns are just speeding up history.’”

To many involved in Catholic ministry, Cordileone’s actions are not surprising and are not limited to marriage rights.

During his tenure as bishop of Oakland, he scrutinized the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM) over whether they were ‘authentically Catholic.’ His repeated attempts to control were met with good faith responses from CALGM. For instance, they reviewed their use of the words “gay” and “lesbian” in light of his preferred “homosexual.” Eventually, he asked for even more restrictions on their decision-making:

“Cordileone then broadened his demands, asking CALGM board members to sign an eight-page loyalty oath that stressed keeping gays and lesbians from communion and holding them to chastity, along with statements supporting ‘traditional’ marriage and condemning cloning. When the board didn’t sign, Cordileone threatened ‘public action.’”

San Franciscan Catholics now attempt to read Cordileone for how he will act in their inclusive diocese, including Most Holy Redeemer parish in the Castro that is a nationally-recognized gay-friendly parish. Opinions from residents are mixed, with some seeing positive common ground with which to build relationships with Cordileone and others writing him off already:

Roz Gallo

“Roz Gallo, a San Francisco Catholic who married her female partner of 20-plus years in 2008, hopes for common ground. When she heard about Cordileone’s appointment, her first thought was to welcome him. ‘There’s room for dialogue,’ says Gallo, an office manager at a Peninsula law firm. ‘Immigration, social justice, those are my concerns, too. I’m also Sicilian and raised in Southern California. Perhaps I’m Polly-annaish, but I think that if [the archbishop and I] met, if he heard my views, we could change his mind’…

Hugh Mallaney

Hugh Mallaney

“It’s simple, said Hugh Mallaney, a 60-year-old openly gay member of Most Holy Redeemer, sitting at a round table crowded with friends. ‘He does his thing, we do ours.’ After a pause, he added, ‘I mean, the church is for us, too. We’ve built this community, and I feel more at home here than anywhere. Someone can try and come in and change that. But we will outlast them.’”

It appears, as Cordileone often works, that traditionalist changes will be implemented subtly and indirectly. Already, the new priest at Most Holy Redeemer restricted use of parish facilities and made controversial decisions about parish-hosted drag shows. These potentially signal restrictions related to the new archbishop’s arrival, reported in the piece:

“…some congregants and longtime observers of Most Holy Redeemer say that the new archbishop’s presence and his investigation of CALGM have further sent a chill. ‘He’s not going to swoop down to the Holy Redeemer and yell, “Stop your gay outreach!”’ says DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry. ‘It’s far more nuanced than that. People might censor themselves, modify things a bit.’”

Francis DeBernardo continues more hopefully that Cordileone’s history of anti-LGBT efforts need not dictate his future in San Francisco:

“‘We’re at a point in the church where bishops want to stick to their guns on this issue. It’s the tenor of the episcopacy…But maybe Cordileone could surprise us. Perhaps he will imitate Jesus Christ, who bore the brunt of being ostracized for associating with people whom the religious institutions of his day didn’t consider desirable.’”

Perhaps ministering in a diocese that welcomes all will draw Archbishop Cordileone away from his Roman-inculcated beliefs into a more pastoral and loving ministry, perhaps not. Either way, Bondings 2.0 will continue updating our readers on developments in the Bay Area.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Bondings 2.0 and New Ways Ministry In the News

January 13, 2013

newsBondings 2.0  and New Ways Ministry have been in the news three times this past week.

1. Praise from “Across the Pond”

QueeringTheChurch.com, the premier Catholic LGBT blog in the United Kingdom, noted Bondings 2.0’s 500th post milestone with a post of their own commending us for our own blog work.  Editor Terence Weldon offered this evaluation:

“I began following Frank’s blog [Bondings 2.0] soon after [it launched]. Although its focus is heavily on the American church, I still found much of interest and value.”

Coming from Mr. Weldon, one of the pioneers of Catholic LGBT blogging, this praise makes us blush a bit!

He continues by noting the joint effort between New Ways Ministry and London area Catholic LGBT folks in the summer of 2012, when I conducted a “Next Steps” workshop in the UK.  Weldon adds that he continues to discern his next steps with regard to Catholic LGBT ministry:

“I have been contemplating going from a narrow focus on blogging, to a greater emphasis on direct face – to – face work, promoting the Next Steps workshops, and perhaps adopting and adapting some of the other New Ways methods.”

We are very honored that our model of ministry may be replicated somewhat by our friends in the UK.

2.  Bob “Shines” on Another Blog

Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry’s Young Adult and Social Media Coordinator, and a regular contributor to Bondings 2.0, had an essay appear on Catholics United’s young adult blog, OurDailyThread.com.

Shine’s post, entitled “Correcting the Bishops’ Course in 2013,” is a summary of U.S. Catholic bishops’ political involvement in 2012, while it also offers a new course for the coming year:

“The bishops can continue to have their identity be defined by the partisanship, ecclesial legalism, and aberrant traditionalism or they can prepare the way of God anew.”

Among the many topics that Shine covers is the bishops’ campaigns to prevent marriage equality from becoming law in several states.  He notes that the widening gap between the bishops and the Catholic laity and the American electorate on questions of sexual justice hamper the bishops’ ability to speak out on other issues of the day:

“Taken together, the bishops’ deep political investments that failed are deeper losses for their credibility and relevancy in American society. Without swift, major, and lasting course corrections, the bishops will not even be a part of conversations around political matters of great importance. “

Congratulations and thanks to Bob Shine for offering this insightful post on the future of the bishops’  political profile.

3. New Ways Ministry on HuffPostLive

New Ways Ministry’s Co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick and Executive Director Francis DeBernardo were guests on a segment of HuffPostLive this past week.  The topic of of this online talk show was the ordination of women in the Catholic Church.  Both Sister Gramick and DeBernardo spoke in favor of ordaining women.

You can watch the segment by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 

 


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