Does Catholic Influence Help or Hinder Marriage Equality?

June 6, 2013

marriage equality 4Two news items this week seem to contradict each other, though the contradiction reminds us to keep working a hope-filled way for equality.

Over the past weekend, a news story about Rhode Island’s marriage equality victory toted that the win for equality highlighted the fact that the Catholic hierarchy is losing its influence in politics in New England and other parts of the United States.

Yet, just a few days later, news broke that the marriage equality bill in Illinois ended up being scuttled, and the Catholic Conference in that state was one one of the strongest opponents of the proposed law.

So, what’s the deal?  Is the Catholic hierarchy losing power or does it still have influence?  Let’s look at some of the different facets of these stories.

According to an Associated Press story which appeared in The Guardian,  the Rhode Island marriage equality victory was a watershed of sorts:

Rep. Frank Ferri

Rep. Frank Ferri

“Frank Ferri made peace with God years ago. Last month, Ferri defeated the Roman Catholic Church.

“The openly gay state representative led the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in what may be the most Catholic state in the nation’s most Catholic region.

“In early May, Rhode Island became the sixth and final New England state to allow gay couples to marry. The Democratic-dominated Legislature, led by an openly gay House speaker, overcame years of successful lobbying by the Catholic Church.

” ‘They put the fear of God into people,’ Ferri said, claiming that ‘the influence of the church’ had been the primary stumbling block as every other neighboring state, and many people across the country, started embracing gay marriage.

“Ferri’s victory marked the Catholic Church’s most significant political defeat in an area where more than 40 percent of the population is Catholic.”

Of course, the reason for the defeat is something that is starting to become a well-known fact:  Catholic lay people do not follow their bishops’ opposition to marriage.  The news story quotes some new statistics:

“In March, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that a majority of Catholics, 60 percent, felt the church was out of touch with the views of Catholics in America today.

“A CBS News/New York Times poll in February found that 78 percent of Catholics said they were more likely to follow their own conscience than the church’s teachings on difficult moral questions.

“That poll highlighted several areas where most Catholics break with church teachings: 62 percent of American Catholics think same-sex marriages should be legal, 74 percent think abortion ought to be available in at least some instances and 61 percent favor the death penalty.”

And the story cites a well-know Catholic politician with her analysis of the situation:

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a member of one of the most storied Catholic families in American politics, says she’s encouraged by Francis’ early leadership. But she says the church’s political influence will continue to wane unless it adapts.

” ‘Gay marriage is part of a larger refusal on the part of the church [meaning "hierarchy"] to listen to, and to understand, the people in the pews,’ said Townsend, who regularly attends church and wrote the book, ‘Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Are Mixing God With Politics and Losing Their Way.’ “

So, the lesson here is that Catholic lay people are leading the way in the struggle for marriage equality.  Their support for the cause is trumping the bishops’ opposition to it.

Yet, in Illinois, the report this weeks seems to contradict such a trend. NewsInfo.Inquirer.net reported that the Illinois marriage equality bill, which had passed the Senate, and which had the backing of President Obama, did not make it to the floor of the House because there were not enough votes.  The successful opposition was strongly backed by the Illinois Catholic Conference.  The news report states:

“The Catholic Conference of Illinois, which opposes gay marriage, said in a statement that the state’s bishops were ‘profoundly grateful’ that lawmakers ‘listened to their constituents and declined to consider legislation that would redefine marriage in Illinois.’ ”

I think the Catholic Conference has it wrong.  I think the lawmakers didn’t listen to their Catholic constituents, but to the Catholic hierarchy.  After all, the states’ Senate passed the bill.  Or perhaps the problem was simply that other denominations opposed the bill, too.  The Washington Post reported:

“The state legalized civil unions for gay couples two years ago, but the marriage initiative has run into opposition, led most notably by African-American and Catholic churches.”

So, maybe the problem is that there weren’t enough Catholic voters in the state, as there were in Rhode Island.  In other words, what I think is interesting in juxtaposing the cases of Rhode Island and Illinois is that it shows that when there is a larger population of Catholics in a state, there is more of a chance that marriage equality will become the law of the land.    Rhode Island has more Catholics per capita than Illinois, so it looks like the legislators in the New England state knew that they needed to follow the directions of this large voting bloc.  In Illinois, with fewer Catholics per capita,  Catholic lay support for marriage equality played a smaller role.  Perhaps the Catholic hierarchy in Illinois was politically as ineffective as it was in Rhode Island.

Whatever the cause,  the story of these two cases reminds us that, as Catholics, we need to continue to work to make our voices heard for equality, justice, and fairness in the marriage debate.  We need to keep working to make sure that marriage equality exists everywhere in our nation.  Though we’ve had a string of successes recently, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Yet, the other lesson we can learn is that we can do this work filled with hope because we know that more and more Catholics and more and more Americans each day are supporting marriage for lesbian and gay couples.  It’s only a matter of time.

–Francis DeBernardo New Ways Ministry

Related articles:

May 14, 2013:  Minnesota Becomes 12th US State with Equal Marriage Laws

May 11, 2013: U.S. Bishops Launch Bulletin Insert Campaign as Marriage Equality Spreads

May 4, 2013:  Catholic Rhode Island Becomes 10th State with Marriage Equality


Kathleen Kennedy Townsend–and Other Maryland Catholics–Speak Out for Marriage Equality

August 8, 2012

At the press conference: Jenny and Pat Nugent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Karin Quimby (of Marylanders for Marriage Equality), Erma Durkin, and William Cole IV (Baltimore City Councilperson).

Catholics took center stage in the debate on marriage equality in Maryland yesterday.   Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the state’s former lieutenant governor and the eldest child of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was the featured speaker at a press conference on Catholic support for marriage equality.  The event was sponsored by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition working to insure that the state’s marriage equality law, passed and signed in the spring, will be approved by voters in a referendum this November.

An Associated Press story in The Washington Post quoted from Townsend’s press conference statement:

“All people, gay or straight, should have the opportunity to marry the person they love and raise the family that they want to raise.”

Also speaking at the press conference was Erma Durkin, a Maryland Catholic mother of a gay son, and Patrick and Jenny Nugent, a set of Maryland Catholic parents who also have a gay son.  The Associated Press quoted Durkin:

“I cannot understand how my gay son getting married to the person that he loves can do harm to anyone else’s marriage.”

Durkin’s open letter to the Maryland Catholic bishops was featured in a Bondings 2.0 blog post in December 2011.

The Baltimore Sun’s Maryland Politics blog noted Townsend’s references to her uncle, President John Kennedy,  and her father:

“Townsend, the eldest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, invoked her famous family’s long held views that church and state should be separate. She recalled Tuesday that her uncle, John F. Kennedy, once told Texas ministers that he was ‘not the Catholic candidate for president’ but ‘the Democratic party’s candidate for president who happens to be Catholic.’

” ‘He brought with him the understanding that the church can’t tell you what to do, but the values of the Catholic church, the values of love and faith, can influence what you do,’ she said.

“Also, she referenced an article about apartheid that her father wrote after returning from a trip to South Africa. Entitled ‘Suppose god is black,’ the 1966 piece made a case against that country’s segregated political system.

” ‘I could have said this time,’ Townsend said. ‘Suppose God is gay?’ “

Townsend was a featured speaker at New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium in March of this year, where she first publicly declared her support for marriage equality.  She eventually turned her Symposium talk into an article about   marriage equality as a civil rights issue, which appeared in The Atlantic.

The Owings Mills-Reisterstown Patch carried further elaboration of Durkin’s comments:

“Durkin, 83, a self-described ‘cradle Catholic,’ said she was there to urge her fellow Catholics to vote their conscience and support same-sex marriage.

” ‘To vote to uphold the civil marriage law, for all loving, committed gay and lesbian couples, we should be acknowledging in everyone, including my gay son, the inherent dignity and fairness due them as human beings,’ Dirkin said.

“She said the church, her long service in ministering to the home-bound and as a scripture study leader taught her the importance of the ‘golden rule,’ which should be applied to same-sex marriage.

” ‘What we’re debating here in Maryland is whether gay couples can go to the court house and get a marriage license. What churches decide to do, which marriages they decide to solemnize or not is up to them, and that’s the way it should be,’ Dirkin said. ‘I can guarantee you my late husband and I would not want anyone telling us we could not marry. It’s the golden rule again coming up, we should treat other people the way we wish to be treated.’ “

At the press conference: Pat and Jenny Nugent

At the press conference: Pat and Jenny Nugent

The Patch  also quoted Jenny Nugent:

“Jenny Nugent said she and her husband had never paid much attention to gay or lesbian people before she started to take care of them as a nurse. She then saw gay people who had no support and had been ostracized by their families. She said seeing that had reinforced something she knew as a mother—that every child is special and deserves to live a full life, including marriage.

” ‘I never want our son or any of our children to be alone in sickness or in health. I want each of them to have the security and joy of a family that they create, and for that family to have the legal protections that come with civil marriage,’ Jenny Nugent said. ‘That’s why, for myself as a Catholic, I’m going to vote my heart and my conscience and support marriage equality.’ “

In June, Bondings 2.0 reported on the efforts of Catholics for Marriage Equality Maryland to organize Catholics in the state to support same-gender marriage in the upcoming referendum.  We will continue to bring you news on Catholic programs and projects in Maryland, and in other states (Maine, Minnesota, Washington State) where the issue will be on the November ballot.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Uganda’s Catholic Bishops Reverse Their Stance to Support Anti-Homosexual Bill

June 11, 2012

The Daily Monitor, a newspaper from Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, is reporting that the nation’s Catholic bishops have reversed their decision and now support an anti-homosexual bill, which at one point called for the death penalty for lesbian and gay people. Along with other religious leaders, they are now calling for the criminalization of homosexuality bill to be revived.

The article states:

“Speaking after their recent annual conference organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the bishops resolved that the parliamentary committee on Gender should be tasked to engage the House on the Bill which is now at committee level.

Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

“ ‘We also ask the Education committee to engage the Ministry of Education on the issue of incorporating a topic on human sexuality in the curricula of our schools and institutions of learning,’ the resolutions signed by archbishops Henry Luke Orombi [Anglican], Cyprian Kizito Lwanga [Roman Catholic] and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga [Eastern Orthodox], indicated.

“The clerics also appealed to all the churches in the country ‘to remain steadfast in opposing the phenomena of homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex union.’ ”

The website Care2.com carries an article which highlights the Catholic reversal on this bill, noting:

“The Catholic Church had previously been the sole major religion in Uganda in opposition to the bill. . . .

“The Vatican came out strongly and publicly against the bill and, Wikileaks revealed, even lobbied against it. Uganda watchers say that the change by the Ugandan Catholic church is ‘very serious’ and that the UJCC resolution was pushed by an Anglican Bishop.”

An earlier version of this posting, based on a report from an African news source, suggested that the bill contained the death penalty as punishment for homosexuality, as it originally had.  A later report indicated that the death penalty has been removed from this bill.

Five previous Bondings 2.0 posts have dealt with the situation of lesbian and gay people in Uganda:

December 23, 2011:  A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen

December 26, 2011: Breaking the Catholic Silence on LGBT Human Rights Violations

January 26, 2012: NEWS NOTES: January 26, 2012

March 4, 2012: When Will the Pope Speak Out, Too?

March 29, 2012: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s ‘Case for Gay Acceptance in the Catholic Church’

International outcry, starting with the Vatican, can help to sway Uganda from undertaking this gross human rights violation.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s ‘Case for Gay Acceptance in the Catholic Church’

March 29, 2012

Two plenary speakers from New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium once again made headlines in national publications, spreading their message of the Catholic call for LGBT equality to a wider and broader audience.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend speaking at New Ways Ministry's Seventh National Symposium. (Deborah Winarski Photo)

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, whose Symposium talk was a rousing inspiration at the end of the meeting, condensed her themes into an essay entitled “The Case for Gay Acceptance in the Catholic Church” for The Atlantic magazine.  After describing her experience of meeting Catholics of all stripes at the New Ways Ministry Symposium, Kennedy Townsend introduces the main point of her argument:

“New Ways Ministry has a critical mission, since changing the Church will help those who suffer from ill treatment not only here in the United States but around the world, where the Church has so much clout. The Church has millions of members in Africa and South America, where being gay or lesbian can lead to a death sentence.

“Worse, the Church’s own teaching encourages bigotry and harm. Just last year, my father’s memorial, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, gave its human rights award to Frank Mugisha, a gay activist in Uganda whose good friend had just been brutally killed in his own home. American missionaries have encouraged the discrimination Mugisha suffers. Refuting their religious arguments is critical, and so is making a moral and religious case for gays. What we need is a transformation of hearts and minds, not merely a change of laws.

“The Catholic Church’s attitude towards homosexuality is at odds with its tradition of tolerance and understanding. The actual practice of the Church is true to this tradition. What other institution separates men and women and encourages them to live together in monasteries and convents where they can develop deep relationships with those who share their kind of love?

“The fight for the dignity of the LGBT community is a fight for the soul of today’s Church. “

Kennedy’s argument is spot on.  Catholics who support LGBT rights are doing so not in spite of being Catholic, but because of being Catholic.  They are doing so not to destroy their church, but to build it up.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (center) with New Ways Ministry's Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick. (Deborah Winarski Photo)

As the daughter of the late Senator Robert Kennedy, one of America’s greatest Catholic civil rights leaders,  Kennedy Townsend knows how important the role of religion is in the struggle for the expansion of justice:

“My father grasped, as did John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, that in America the leader who wishes to enlarge freedom’s sphere must appeal to an audience’s religious beliefs as well as to their understanding of American liberty.”

A decade later, however, things had changed:

“. . . in the 1970s, feminists and gay rights activists did not adopt the same strategy and tactics. I think this happened because their movement grew out of the non-religious part of the civil rights movement. Recall that the civil rights movement was split between the followers of Reverend Martin Luther King on the one hand and Stokely Carmichael and the Black Panthers on the other. The latter group felt that religion was weak. Why turn the other cheek? Why not fight back? This secular strain also attracted many intellectuals who were, to put it bluntly, uncomfortable with religion.”

I’m glad to note here that those 1970s attitudes have been eroding in recent years. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD),  and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have recognized the role that religion must play in the secular and political debates about LGBT rights.   All these national organizations have developed very strong programs to amplify religious voices on LGBT issues: HRC’s program can be accessed here; The Task Force’s program can be accessed here; GLAAD’s program can be accessed here; PFLAG’s program can be accessed here.

Kennedy Townsend notes that while some progress has been made on women’s issues in the church, we still have a way to go when it comes to LGBT issues.  But she has not given up hope. Quite the contrary.  Having seen how changes occurred in other areas of church teaching, and how strongly Catholic lay people support LGBT rights, Kennedy Townsend is optimistic:

“That history can continue with its position on gays — and the laity has a critical role to play in pushing for these changes. As Cardinal John Henry Newman, the foremost 19th-century Catholic theologian asserted, bishops have at times ‘failed in their confession of the faith.’ There can be instances of  ‘misguidance, delusion, hallucination.’ He said that the body of the faithful has the ‘instinct for truth.’

“Already, I have witnessed that instinct for truth in the argument over contraception. Despite the hierarchy’s position, 98 percent of Catholic women in the United States use contraception. I believe that Human Vitae was the Holy Ghost’s way to teach us that we must use our conscience, and not lazily rely on the hierarchy when it is in error.

“At this time, when the hierarchy does not want to recognize that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and that the one of the two most critical commandments is to love one another, it is critical to assert that God loves the LGBT community equally. Sometimes the Church moves slowly, sometimes quickly. The point is to make sure the voices of dissent are not quiet and the Holy Spirit can be heard.”

For me, the key points here are that we must use both our consciences and our voices for the Holy Spirit to be heard.  If we really believe that the Church is the entire People of God, then we need to accept confidently that, as Newman pointed out, that the Holy Spirit moves among the laity.

The second Symposium speaker in the news again was Bishop Geoffrey Robinson.  When he left the Symposium, he embarked on a U.S. speaking tour to Philadelphia, New York, New Haven and Fairfield, CT, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Santa Clara, CA, which New Ways Ministry organized.

The National Catholic Reporter caught up with him again in Chicago, and reported on his talk there. While at the Symposium, Bishop Robinson focused on rethinking Catholic sexual ethics, in his Chicago talk he highlighted the problems in Catholic law and culture that abetted the sexual abuse crisis:

“. . . other aspects of Catholic culture Robinson said contributed to the abuse crisis are mandatory celibacy for priests, a ‘mystique’ some attach to the priests as being ‘above other human beings,’ and a ‘creeping infallibility’ of papal decrees, which is used to protect ‘all teachings … in which a significant amount of papal energy and prestige have been invested.’

“The application of the church’s teaching on infallibility is a ‘major force in preventing a pope from making admissions that there have been serious failures in the handling of abuse,’ Robinson said.

“Mentioned in particular was Pope John Paul II, who Robinson stated ‘it must be said … responded poorly’ to the sex abuse crisis.

” ‘With authority goes responsibility,’ Robinson said. ‘Pope John Paul many times claimed the authority, and he must accept the responsibility. The most basic task of a pope is surely to be the “rock” that holds the church together, and by his silence in the most serious moral crisis facing the church in our times, the pope failed in this basic task.’ “

In his Symposium talk, Bishop Robinson was clear that changes in sexual ethics need to be accompanied by changes in how the church is governed.   Bishop Robinson’s insights are a breath of fresh air in a Catholic atmosphere which has been much too stale.

For summaries and analyses of the Symposium talk, with links to articles about and the text  of his Symposium talk, check out these Bondings 2.0 posts:

March 28:NCR Editorial and Columnist Support Bishop Robinson’s Symposium Call to Re-think Sexuality

March 22: Symposium Provides “Shot in the Arm” for Participants

March 17: Bishop, Governor, and Theologian Highlight Symposium’s Second Day

Additionally, the blog QueeringTheChurch.com has a five-part analysis of Bishop Robinson’s Symposium talk:

March 20: Robinson: Hetero/Homo, Catholic Sexual Teaching Stands (Or Falls) Together

March 21: Bishop Robinson on “The Offence Against God”, “God’s Purpose”

March 22: Bishop Robinson: Catholic Assertions, Not Arguments

March 23: Bishop Robinson: Sexual Acts, or Relationships?

March 26: Bishop Robinson: The Middle Ground

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Barbara Johnson’s Symposium Appearance Is Highlight of the Closing Day

March 18, 2012

New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, From Water to Wine:  Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships, ended on St. Patrick’s Day, with plenary talks by Luke Timothy Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who each received richly-deserved standing ovations from the assembled participants.

The largest ovation, however, was reserved for the appearance of Barbara Johnson, the Catholic lesbian woman who had recently been denied communion at her mother’s funeral.

Ms. Johnson thanked the participants for the outpouring of support that she received from them and from Catholics all over the country.
She told how throughout the ordeal she felt the love of her mother leading and guiding her.  She told how faith in knowing of God’s love for her and her family kept her strong when the going got rough in recent weeks–including times when she received hate-filled and threatening messages from detractors who were purportedly “defending” the church. Bondings 2.0will provide excerpts from the text of her talk and photos of the event when they become available to us.

After her remarks, Ms. Johnson was joined on the Symposium stage by her partner, and both received a blessing from the assembled participants.  The text of the blessing follows:

“For you, Barbara, your partner, and your family, we, the People of God, the Church, raise our hands in blessing.

“We believe our Life-Giver and Love-Maker God is present; may every breath we take, flow into our world full of peace, hope, compassion and courage. Amen.

“We believe that Jesus’ love can heal all our hearts and all our losses. May we be open to the gifts of new life that the Resurrected Christ wants to share with us.  Amen.

“We believe all are welcomed and invited in this space and around this table of sharing; may we all become the Church inclusive, where the outcast and the stranger bear the image of God’s face. Amen.

“Go now, in the name of Jesus, Our Christ, who said ‘follow me’ without saying where he was going, just promising transformation and relationship with the Triune God along the way. Amen.

The Washington Post today carries a front-page story, “Denying Communion: A priest and a lesbian set off a Catholic culture clash.”  The article focuses more on Fr. Guarnizo, the priest who denied Ms. Johnson communion, than it does on Ms. Johnson herself.  Most interesting is a quote from Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, a scholar at the Woodstock Theological Center of Georgetown University:

“If I was Cardinal [Donald W.] Wuerl, I’d buy him a one-way ticket to Moscow. . . .These days, arch-conservative priests feel much more comfortable attacking their bishops than do liberals because they feel they’ll get support from conservative Catholic blogs and maybe some in the Vatican.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Barbara Johnson to Address New Ways Ministry Symposium!

March 10, 2012

Barbara Johnson

New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, From Water to Wine:  Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships, will have the distinct honor of a visit from Barbara Johnson, the Catholic lesbian woman denied communion at her mother’s funeral, whose story made national headlines.

Ms. Johnson will visit the Symposium with her partner on Saturday, March 17, 2012, to address the assembled meeting participants about her recent experiences.  Immediately following her remarks, the participants will confer a blessing upon Ms. Johnson, her partner, and their entire family.

“Barbara Johnson’s faith witness has been strong throughout this whole ugly incident,” said Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director. “We are honored and humbled that she will be with us for the Symposium, and we are sure that all will benefit greatly from her presence.”

The Seventh National Symposium takes place March 15-17, 2012, at the Renaissance Baltimore Innerharbor Hotel, 202 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland.  Other major speakers are: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley; former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Catholic Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Australia; Richard Rodriguez, Pulitzer-nominated writer and commentator; Catholic theologians Patricia Beattie Jung and Luke Timothy Johnson.  For more information and to register, please click here.

You can refresh yourself on the details of Ms. Johnson’s story by reading Bondings 2.0‘s three reports about the event; you can access those posts, in chronological order, here, here, and here.  Ms. Johnson’s experience continues to make headlines.  Just this week, Allen Rose, president of Dignity/Washington, published an essay in DC’s Metro Weekly, a gay news magazine, which touched on this case to call on the Archdiocese of Washington to provide better pastoral care for LGBT people:

Allen Rose

“I believe that all of the national and international attention currently focused on the correct pastoral approach to LGBT Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington might create a grace-filled, teachable moment for this area’s LGBT Catholics, their bishops and priests.”

In calling for dialogue between LGBT Catholics and the archdiocesan administration, Rose suggests a variety of important and urgent topics that could be readily discussed:

“The following could be discussed: developing strategies to prevent bullying and anti-gay violence in Catholic schools, exploring ways to strengthen and expand the HIV/AIDS ministry, and forming a ministry throughout the archdiocese to support families with LGBT members.

“These and other pastoral questions demonstrate the systemic nature of the solutions that are required regarding pastoral care for LGBT Catholics. This would not be a forum to discus politics.”

New Ways Ministry has long-supported the idea of dialogue between church officials and LGBT Catholics, and we think that Rose’s proposal at this crucial time can turn a painful event into a turning point for good.  In addition to LGBT Catholics, we think this dialogue should also include parents of LGBT people and pastoral professionals involved in this ministry.  The time for such a dialogue is way overdue, and the story of Ms. Johnson’s painful experience has illustrated to the world the harmful results that delaying such a dialogue is causing.  We repeat what we and so many others have said about Ms. Johnson’s case: “Never again.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Deadline Approaches for Discounted Symposium Registration

December 21, 2011

December 31, 2011, is the last day to register for New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium to receive a discount on registration fees.

Don’t miss this opportunity to sign up with a more than 15% savings for From Water to Wine:  Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships, which will bring together hundreds of Catholics who are eager to move forward the discussion of LGBT issues in their church.

And Symposium registrations make EXCELLENT last-minute Christmas gifts!  Surprise a friend or family member and bring them along with you to this event which has transformed hearts, minds, and communities!

The Symposium features internationally-known keynote speakers:  Luke Timothy Johnson, Patricia Beattie Jung, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Richard Rodriguez, and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.   Complementing this line-up are focus sessions which cover some of the most important topics in Catholic LGBT conversations.

For more information on the Symposium, and to register today, click here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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