The Worst of 2012 in Catholic LGBT News

December 30, 2012

thumbs downAs the year 2012 winds to a close, it’s time to review the news of the Catholic LGBT world of the past 12 months. In today’s post, we will look at the  stories of the worst happenings of the past year, and in tomorrow’s post, we will look at the best stories.  Bondings 2.0 asked you for your feedback on what the worst and best news stories of the past year were, so the ranking of these stories is based on your responses.  The percentage following each story is the percentage of people who chose this item as one of their top five. Thank you to all 311 of you who participated.

The Top Ten

1. The Parliament in Uganda, a pre-dominantly Catholic nation, re-introduces a bill to make the death penalty a possible sentence for lesbian and gay people.  16.34%

2. The Vatican censures the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for, among other things, their support of LGBT issues and New Ways Ministry. 15.69%

3. Pope Benedict opens the year by stating that new models of family are a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity.” 14.05%

4. The Knights of Columbus have contributed $6.5 million to oppose marriage equality over the past seven years, according to an Equally Blessed report. 12.09%

5. A Catholic lesbian woman in Maryland is denied communion at her mother’s funeral Mass. 10.13% 

6. The Vatican censures Sister Margaret Farley, a theologian who has supported the moral goodness of gay and lesbian relationships. 6.86%  

7. U.S. bishops attempt to make religious liberty an issue as a way to defeat marriage equality initiatives. 6.54%

8. Minnesota teen is denied confirmation for supporting marriage equality. 4.9%

9 & 10. TIE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Catholic University of America again denies a request for recognition of a gay-straight alliance on campus. 2.29%                               Several Catholic church employees are fired because of their support of marriage equality. 2.29%

Other items:

In several cases, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development withdraws funding from organizations which support LGBT equality. 1.96% 

Catholic theologian Tina Beattie is disinvited from a fellowship appointment at the University of San Diego because of her support of marriage equality. 1.63%  

The U.S. Catholic bishops investigate the Girl Scouts of America for connections to liberal causes, including LGBT equality. 1.63%  

Minnesota’s Archbishop John Nienstedt instructs his priests not to speak publicly in support of marriage equality. 1.63%

A Catholic high school in Indianapolis refuses to call a female-to-male transgender student by his male name. 0.98%

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Help Us Determine the Worst and Best of 2012!

December 26, 2012

best worstOn the last two days of the year, Bondings 2.0 will review the news of the past year in the Catholic LGBT world by posting “The Worst of 2012″ and “The Best of 2012.”

Please help us prepare for these posts by taking a moment to take the two one-question surveys below.  You can choose up to FIVE responses to each question.  One of those responses can be “Other” where you can write-in your own selection.  Please respond by the end of the day, Saturday, December 29th,12 midnight, Eastern Standard Time.

If you would like to refresh your memory of what happened this past year, just use the tools in the right hand column of this blog to find stories that have been reported on here.  You can search by clicking on a category, by using a search term, or by reviewing posts by month.

Thanks for your help with this project!  We look forward to reading your responses!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Christmas Party for New Ways Ministry Volunteers

December 24, 2012
New Ways Ministry Volunteer Christmas Party:  Standing: Vern Smith, Patrick McNelis, David Lamdin, David Vespa; Seated: Mark Clark, Thom Krupa, Bob Shine, Matthew Myers; Kneeling:  Sister Jeannine Gramick

At the New Ways Ministry Volunteer Christmas Party, staff and volunteers join “Santa” in sending a pro-marriage equality message. Standing: Vern Smith, Patrick McNelis, David Lamdin, David Vespa; Seated: Mark Clark, Thom Krupa, Bob Shine (dressed as Santa), Matthew Myers; Kneeling: Sister Jeannine Gramick

As Christmas draws near,  we’d like to share a little holiday cheer from New Ways Ministry by presenting this photograph of our annual dinner party for our dedicated volunteers.  We took a moment during the party to send a message of Catholic support for marriage equality to all.

Almost every Tuesday evening, a group of volunteers from the local Washington, DC metropolitan area stop by New Ways Ministry’s offices in Mount Rainier, Maryland, to help us prepare the bulk mailings that we send out to our constituents and supporters.  Without these volunteers,  our communications folks around the country and the globe would be much slower and more expensive.  These stalwart worker help spread the word about our programs of education, spiritual development, and advocacy on Catholic LGBT issues.

We are extremely grateful for their service.  If you live in the DC metro area and are interested in volunteering some time, please contact New Ways Ministry either by phone, 301-277-5674, or email, info@NewWaysMinistry.org, so that we can let you know what the upcoming schedule is.

The work is not difficult, and it’s a great way of spending an evening together with like-minded souls.  We always end each evening with pizza and soda as refreshments.

We’d love to see you some volunteer night in 2013!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Blog Birthday Redux

December 13, 2012

At the end of last month, we celebrated the first anniversary for the Bondings 2.0 blog, with several posts marking this milestone.

New Ways Ministry co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick poses with Bondings 2.0's birthday cake!

New Ways Ministry co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick poses with Bondings 2.0′s birthday cake!

Here at New Ways Ministry, we also had some “offline” celebrations, including a birthday cake for the blog!

If you are able to support the blog into the new year, we suggest two different ways:

1) Make a contribution to the blog by clicking the “Contribute” tab above.  Please make sure to write the word “blog” in the “Comments” box of the donation form to which you will be directed.

2) Take a moment to complete our survey of Bondings 2.0 readers by clicking the “Reader Survey” tab above.  Your answers will provide us valuable information so that we can make the blog more effective, meaningful, and convenient for you and other readers.

Thanks for your continued support of this blog and of LGBT Catholic issues!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Dignity Chapters in Washington, DC and Boston Each Celebrate 40 Years

December 3, 2012

Two East Coast chapters of DignityUSA, Washington, DC, and Boston, have both recently celebrated their 40th anniversaries.

In addition to being among the oldest chapters in the national organization, both are among the strongest chapters, too.

The Washington chapter hosted its 40th anniversary Mass on Sunday, December 2, 2012, with Sister Jeannine Gramick, a co-founder of the Washington chapter, as well as New Ways Ministry, as the guest homilist.

A Washington Blade article recounts some of the chapter’s history:

“Dignity/Washington started with a group of about 20 at its first Mass. It moved from twice-monthly to weekly Mass in 1976. Membership and Mass attendance peaked at about 500 and 350 respectively in the late ‘80s. By late 1990, it had become the largest Dignity chapter in the U.S., a feat it maintains to this day, though membership is now about 200 with an average of 90-100 believers attending weekly Dignity Mass in D.C. “

Sister Jeannine recounted the initial meeting of the chapter which took place “in the cafeteria of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with five others in 1971.”

Tom Bower, a co-chair for the 40th anniversary events reflected in the article on some of the chapter’s purposes:

“The official church would very much like us to disappear. We show that you can be gay and Catholic at the same time and happily so and despite the major efforts of a much bigger organization to throw us out. We’re part of a national organization and when the Pope comes out against something gay, we’re able to say, ‘No, that’s wrong.’”

Bower and Bob Miailovich, another long-time member of the chapter, also commented on the challenge of remaining in the Catholic church as gay men:

“ ‘People think, “Oh, why do you keep banging your head against the wall?’” Bower says. ‘That’s why we call it faith. It’s a belief that there is within the larger view of what it means to be Catholic, there’s something there that you just don’t have with other groups.’

“Miailovich says despite the anti-gay teachings, he still ‘find(s) more truth in the Catholic Church than I do in other religions. It’s not perfect and I don’t buy everything at the end of the day but from what I know of other religions and what they teach and believe, I find more truth on the Catholic side than elsewhere else.’ ”

Miailovich continued in this vein:

“ ‘The church really is the people of God,’ Miailovich says. ‘It’s a horizontal assembly, not some vertical thing where you have the Pope at the top and an triangle going down with everyone else. Out there in the pews, there’s a great deal of support for a more progressive agenda, for women’s ordination, for married priests, you have the nuns on the bus for social justice. Everybody in the church does not believe 100 percent of everything that may be promulgated from on high.’

“He also says there’s an ‘attitude that it’s my church and you can’t take it away from me.’

“ ‘I can’t leave what is mine and that leaves you with a sense that some day, somehow, change will be made. You’re right, there are people who’ve said, “Why spend a lifetime working with these people, let’s go start our own thing and not worry about what’s left behind.” But I’m not going to change. This is who I am. This is how I pray and how I worship and here I am. We pray for our church leaders because we feel they need enlightenment.’ ”

A blog post on Boston.com offers a bit of the origin’s of the Boston chapter:

“Dignity/Boston grew out of a short-lived group called Interfaith, started by a local diocesan Holy Cross priest, the late Father Tom Oddo, along with former Holy Cross seminarians Ray Struble and Jim Andrews, and Ralph Fuccillo, among others, according to Struble. Another priest instrumental in Dignity’s growth during the 1980’s until his death in 2005 was the Rev. Dr. Richard Rasi, a priest with the Melkite Catholic rite, who frequently presided at Mass and established a popular ministry in Provincetown.
“The local chapter first met on December 3, 1972, at the Randolph Country Club. The next year, Dignity moved to St. Clement’s Church where it remained until 1977 when the local chapter moved to Arlington Street Church. In 1988, Dignity/Boston moved to St. John the Evangelist Church, located in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, where it remains today.”

The post also describes the distinguished history of activism and advocacy that the Boston chapter has:

“Politics and religion mixed well in the organization’s early years. ‘Dignity represented —for those of us who were Catholic — our political family, because [secular gays wanted] nothing to do with the religious crowd,’ said Struble. Keep in mind, he continued, ‘Boston was one of the most politicized gay cities in the country and one of the most Catholic.’

‘Dignity gave voice to the political piece that people of faith were trying to get into the public square,’ he explained. ‘We had push back from secularists. We were looked at as compromising.’ ”

‘But politics was only half of the Dignity equation.

“ ‘For those of us who were coming out of Vatican II and coming to terms with gayness, and what I learned in the seminary, I felt [the need] to be doing Christ’s work in the world,’  Struble said. ‘For those of us in the seminary, this was our calling.

“ ‘We took the social action of Jesus’ message to heart to be religious activists. That meant accepting everything, including women at the altar,’ he explained. ‘The sacrament [of the Eucharist] was the affirmation of us as one.’ “

But ecclesiastical and secular politics are not the full picture, as one of Boston’s younger members, Steven Young, points out:

“I don’t think I know God’s will better than anyone else. But I know what I know, and the truth I have about who I should love and whether that is sinful or not. I feel it deeply in my soul that being gay is not wrong [and] that I have to share with the rest of the Church. If people are blind to that—all the more reason for sharing that truth with others.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, a Boston member, who is also the Executive Director of DignityUSA, agrees:

“ ‘Faith, community, vision, and courage,’ said Duddy-Burke. ‘That’s what we offer to the LGBT movement and the church.’ ”

Like Dignity chapters across the country, these two communities offer vibrant opportunities for spiritual development, community, service, and support.  As Sister Jeannine Gramick said at the close of the Blade article:

“They’ve had a marvelous ministry here for 40 years ministering to local LGBT Catholics. It’s really a time to rejoice.”

And we add our own message to both chapters:  “Ad multos annos!”  (“Many more years!”)

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Happy Anniversary!

November 28, 2012

Today marks the first anniversary of Bondings 2.0!

One year ago today, I came to the New Ways Ministry office and typed the words “how to start a blog” into Google, and by the end of the day, I had a blog post. A few more days followed the same pattern of just taking a stab at writing, and before I knew it, I had not just blog posts, but an actual blog!

When I started, I didn’t know which direction the blog would go in other than that I wanted it to contain material that would interest people who follow Catholic LGBT issues.  Over the past year, we have kept to that direction with a  mixture of news stories, opinion pieces, personal reflections, and spirituality.

Our aim evolved into providing readers with important information, but also with a perspective designed to build up the Catholic Church and the growing movement of Catholics who support LGBT equality and justice.  For the past full year, we have posted something every single day, some times twice or three times a day, when the news was lively.  I mention this not as a point of pride, but as evidence to the fact of how important the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBT issues is.  There has been something important to write every single day about this relationship, and it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down any time soon.

What does our blog contain?  In addition to daily updates of news, opinion, theological and spiritual reflections, we also have developed some occasional features:

  • ALL ARE WELCOME:  a series which focuses on Catholic gay-friendly faith communities
  • NEWS NOTES: an occasional feature which provides brief summaries of news articles with links to the original sources
  • QUOTE TO NOTE: an occasional feature which provides witty or insightful quotations from news articles
  • CATHOLIC LGBT CALENDAR: a listing of Catholic LGBT events around the U.S. and the globe
  • CAMPUS CHRONICLES: a series which focuses on Catholic LGBT issues on college campuses.

Some interesting data about the blog and our readers:

I started out as the sole contributor to this blog, but since its beginning, we have had a few guest contributors, and we have added a new regular contributor, Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry’s Coordinator of Young Adults and Social Media.   Bob covers general news stories, as well as news about LGBT issues on Catholic college campuses.

One year ago, I started out on this venture, not really knowing what I was doing.  (Some might justly argue that I still don’t know what I’m doing!)  I started out having fun, learning a new skill, and, building on some older skills.  I thought I was helping to build a resource of information and opinions for people interested in Catholic LGBT issues.

It seems, however, thanks to the magic of social media, that what has emerged is a community of people who are eager to share ideas and perspectives, passions and reflections.  I have benefited immensely by the experience of being a part of this community, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with all of the wonderful readers and commenters.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


For Giving Tuesday, Keep Bondings 2.0 Going Into the Next Year!

November 27, 2012

As mentioned in the previous post, Bondings 2.0 completes its first full year today!  Response to this blog has been so overwhelmingly positive that we are delighted to keep it going.  Your readership and advocacy make the work to produce this blog easy and enjoyable.

It has been a thrilling experience to prepare and present news, opinions, and reflections on Catholic LGBT news to you, our readers.  We’ve done so consistently every single day for the past 366 days (2012 was a leap year).And we intend to keep on going! We seek your assistance to make sure that this blog can continue.

A blog is an inexpensive item to produce in terms of materials and distribution.  However, the cost comes in terms of the staff time it takes to produce, post, and publicize the material. Today is “Giving Tuesday,” a day set aside to remind us all about the possibility of donating to charities and causes that are important to us.  Today, we come to you, the readers, to ask for your financial support of this blog.  We like to think of this venue sort of like public radio or television:  the content is here for all to partake of at no cost. Yet there needs to be, of necessity, the loyal supporters who regularly use the service whose financial contributions allow the material to be available for all.

If you find the material on this blog helpful to you, and if your financial means allow, we ask that you consider making a contribution to this blog by clicking here.  You will be brought to New Ways Ministry’s donation page.  Please fill out the information requested and write “blog” in the “Comments” section of the form so that we know how you want your contribution to be used.

Alternatively, you can mail a check made out to “New Ways Ministry” to office at 4012 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712.

However you decide to contribute, your donation is tax-deductible.

Just like public radio or television, we would like to offer you a premium for your donation to the blog.  If you contribute $50 or more, we will send you a free copy of our publication Homosexuality: A Positive Catholic Approach, a good way to understand LGBT issues in the Catholic Church from the perspective of thinkers and pastoral ministers who are working for equality and justice.

And just like the pledge drives on public radio and television, we’d like you to think of what a bargain your donation is!  For $50, less than $1 per week, you are helping not only yourself, but loads of other folks each day, to keep up with the important Catholic LGBT news and opinion.

Whether or not you are able to donate, we appreciate your support, and we hope you will continue to read the blog and participate in the discussion by commenting on posts. We thank you for your involvement in Catholic LGBT issues and we praise God for all the good that you are doing to make our church and our world more equal and just places.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Will Maryland Have a Catholic Lesbian Governor?

November 16, 2012

Heather Mizeur (right) poses with her wife, Deborah Mizeur (left) in their Maryland home.

Heather Mizeur, Maryland’s only Catholic lesbian Delegate, is considering running for governor of this state which just affirmed the marriage equality law that she worked so hard to pass.

In an exclusive interview with The Washington Blade, a gay publication, Mizeur discussed her thoughts about a 2014 run:

“I’m taking a very serious look at it. I can’t say for sure what 2014 is going to bring but … I know that I would make a good chief executive. I have good ideas for keeping Maryland moving forward.”

The Blade article also commented on the historical significance of such a possibility:

“A run by Mizeur would mark another key milestone in the LGBT rights movement. If successful, she would be the first to win election as an openly gay candidate for governor in the country.”

The recent elections, she stated, are what have moved her to state her hopes publicly:

“ ‘Right now we’re taking stock of what happened in the last election,’ she said. ‘It was incredible to see a big win with Tammy Baldwin being elected the first openly gay senator and Kyrsten Sinema making history in Congress. It really has inspired us to keep pushing forward. So, yes, I’m seriously considering running for governor because we need more diverse voices at that level of government.’ ”

Mizeur was instrumental in helping to get the marriage equality law introduced and passed, as well as affirmed by referendum.  She has been particularly influential with Catholic audiences, having spoken at New Ways Ministry’s marriage equality conference day in 2011, as well as having written a testimonial for the book, Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach.
Additionally, she engaged in a Catholic vs. Catholic debate on the marriage equality law with another Maryland delegate.  Bondings 2.0 reported on this debate and the post can be viewed here.

She frequently speaks about how her Catholic faith inspires her public service work.  The Blade article noted:

“Mizeur talks openly about her Catholic faith but said she did not encounter any anti-gay sermons over the marriage issue this year because she goes to parishes run by Jesuits who are more progressive. Despite the Catholic Church’s prominent role in funding anti-gay causes around the country, Mizeur contends it’s important not to abandon the church.

“ ‘We have to fight for change from within,’ she said. ‘If all progressive Catholics left, there’d be no reason to live up to the church’s potential.’

“Mizeur was raised in a tiny farming community in rural Illinois called Blue Mound, population 1,100. She’s from a fifth generation farming family, but her father was a factory worker and UAW member his entire career. She spent time with him on picket lines, which helped inspire her pursuit of public service.

“The experience of walking picket lines “taught me the value of sacrifice and hard work and standing up for the courage of your convictions,” she said. “Catholic teachings on social justice also inspired me.”

In July of this year, The National Catholic Reporter identified Mizeur as one of  “12 Catholic Women Under 40 Making a Difference.”

Maryland became one of the first states which voted in marriage equality by a referendum.  Will it also become the first state with not only a lesbian governor, but a Catholic lesbian governor?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Dignity/Chicago Celebrates Four Decades of Ministry

October 29, 2012

Congratulations to Dignity/Chicago, which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary of community, support, advocacy, and ministry for LGBT Catholics and their friends in the Chicago area.

Dignity/Chicago history panelists

The Windy City Times reports that one way this chapter of DignityUSA has decided to celebrate this milestone is with a history panel composed of representatives from each of the four decades:

“Dr. Thomas O’Brien, director of DePaul University’s Center for Interreligious Engagement, moderated the panel of six members, which included Lois McGovern, representing the ’70s; Michael Hogan and previous Dignity/Chicago Board President Kevin Buckley portraying the ’80s; Linda Kelly and Ald. James Cappleman, a past Dignity/Chicago board president, recalling the ’90s; and past Dignity/Chicago Board President Blane Roberts talking about the 2000s.”

Chapter President Chris Pett explained that looking backward is a way of preparing for the future:

” ‘The future is what we’re still exploring and understanding, but we got to know where we came from in order to know what our future is about,’ said Pett. ‘It was very powerful. I just think we are, as Christians, we are people of the story. To me, what was so important was to hear that again after 40 years we still maintain our identity, we still consider ourselves to be authentic voices of LGBT Catholics who reach out and want to create a spiritual home for people in general, but especially for LGBT Catholics. As I would put it, to be the church Jesus intended us to be and to not let the hierarchical church define who we are or tell us if we’re catholic or not because we have a right to exist. We do exist, we have existed and we’ll continue to exist.’ “

With such a strong and vibrant history, Dignity/Chicago seems well-placed to go forward to the future with a spirit of courage and optimism.  We pray for continued blessings on their ministry, and we say “Ad multos annos!”

(Dignity/Chicago meets weekly for Mass on Sunday evenings, 5:00 p.m., at Broadway United Methodist Church, 3338 North Broadway, Chicago.)

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


“Choosing My Religion” Segment Features New Ways Ministry

October 26, 2012

Francis DeBernardo

Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, participated in a conversation titled “Choosing My Religion”on HuffPost Live last night. Commentators discussed their experiences as members of faith traditions that held beliefs they personally disagreed with and their choice to remain a practicing adherent seeking reform rather than leaving.

The topic arose after Michelangelo Signorile wrote in Huffington Post about the phenomenon of religious ‘Nones,’ a segment of predominantly young adults who leave religious communities and remain spiritual, and the declining numbers in faith communities. (‘Nones’ refers to the fact that when asked in a survey what their religion is, these people check the option ‘None.’) Other participants included Mansoor Salam, author of Ten Years Older, Rabbi Levi Brackman, a Judaic scholar, and Tresa Edmunds, a feminist Mormon blogger.

Host Janet Varney asked DeBernardo about the state of Catholicism and those being driven from the Church, potentially due to LGBT issues, to which he responded:

“Here at New Ways Ministry our goals is to try to help build bridges between people who might be alienated from Church because of LGBT issues and the institutional structures.

“But, yes, it is a big problem. We are seeing a great exodus of people from Catholicism and it’s a terrible shame. In Maine, since 2009, there’s a figure that 50,000 Catholics have left the institutional church since that time. It’s a big problem.

“As the marriage equality debate and other debates get stronger, I think we’re going to see more people leaving organized religion.”

Other commentators spoke of their respective tradition’s challenges in contemporary society by the ‘Nones’ and by changing cultural trends that affect religion. Amid this conversation, DeBernardowas asked about the Catholic Church’s response to New Ways Ministry’s work. He responded by noting a vital difference in Catholic theology:

“Most people, when they say ‘the Catholic Church’, they think ‘hierarchy,’ but the Catholic definition of the ‘Church’ is ‘all of the People of God’. That’s the official definition…we get great support from grassroots Catholics and from people we call ‘middle managers’ – pastors, heads of Catholic colleges and universities, the women religious – they have been very supportive of our work for the past 35 years.”

Later in the conversation, DeBernardo referenced Vatican II’s call to read the signs of the times and linked it to one reason why people unable to stay in institutional church leave, namely they are impatient that the Church is not reading the signs of the times and responding quickly enough. However, he noted a trend among young adults who are responding to Vatican II’s call:

“It’s disappointing to see so many Catholics leaving…what I’m finding among young Catholics who are staying is that they’re making their own peace with the Church and finding their way within the Catholic Church.

“They’re not casual about justice issues and they are taking reading the signs of the times more seriously. I think it’s a good growing experience in the Church.”

If you would like to view the conversation in its entirety, click  here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 


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