SYNOD: New Ways Ministry Welcomes Church’s New Approach to Gay and Lesbian People

The Synod

The Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family has released a relatio, its mid-term report, and it has encouraging statements. You can read the entire text of the relatio by clicking here.  Below is the response of New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, to this news:

“The relatio offers some very hopeful directions in the way that Church leaders should address lesbian and gay people and their families.  I hope that local bishops and pastors will respond to the relatio’s challenges with new ways of welcome and acceptance.

“The most significant aspects are that Catholic communities are offered the challenge of ‘accepting and valuing’ lesbian and gay people’s sexual orientation, and the recognition that lesbian and gay people ‘have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.’    These recognitions are total reversals of earlier church statements which labelled such an orientation as “objectively disordered” and which viewed gay and lesbian people in faith communities as problems and suspect persons.  Though the relatio also speaks about the importance of not ‘compromising Catholic doctrine on family and matrimony,’  the move toward accepting and valuing the gifts of gay and lesbian people is a major step forward.
“Although same-gender marriages are not recognized–which is not a surprise–it is very significant that the relatio recognizes that gay and lesbian couples offer one another ‘mutual aid to the point of sacrifice [which] constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.’  This recognition of the holiness of gay and lesbian couples is an important development, and I think it can lead to further developments of full recognition in years to come.
“What is also significant and hopeful is what is not said.  In stating that same-gender marriages are not accepted by the hierarchy, there is no vicious condemnation of them, as previous hierarchical statements have.  We don’t see the gloom and doom and apocalyptic horror that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and their followers have foretold because of the advent of same-gender marriages.
“Most worrisome, however, is the suggestion that international bodies should not ‘pressure’ pastors to accept ‘gender ideology.’   Gender ideology is an empty, catch-all phrase to mean anything that church leaders don’t want to accept about gender.   Yet, the influence that many international bodies are trying to exert is that of protecting the civil and human rights of LGBT people, so that their identities are not criminalized, and so that they don’t suffer penalties and violence.   It’s very disappointing that the relatio doesn’t make this distinction and that the human rights of LGBT are not explicitly mentioned as worthy of defending.  Defending LGBT human rights is a pro-life and pro-family measure.
“I hope that the statement of accepting the children of lesbian and gay couples will trickle down to parishes where such children have been excluded from sacramental life and educational opportunities.
“Perhaps the most welcome statement, in terms of general approaches to marriage, family, and sexuality, is the admonition: The indispensable biblical-theological study is to be accompanied by dialog, at all levels.’
“This call to dialogue has been absent in church discussions of sexuality for way too long.  It presents the hope that future changes that are even more welcoming and accepting of lesbian and gay people and their families can develop down the road.  Once church leaders engage in dialogue with lesbian and gay Catholics, I am confident that these leaders will see the deep faith, love, and witness to the Gospel that is active in their lives and loves.”
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

19 Responses to SYNOD: New Ways Ministry Welcomes Church’s New Approach to Gay and Lesbian People

  1. Barry Blackburn says:

    Indeed a great step forward! The “mustard seed” is growing into a bush! Perhaps this beginning dialogue will grow into a deepening theology of love, sexuality and marriage to the eventual conclusion that LGBTQ Folk are equal partners in the Church and society. Equal partners will also mean equal marriage. We must all work towards this goal of a “better Church” ie a Church with a wider vision (and more ecumenical).

    • Barry Blackburn says:

      I’d like to make one more point re the above: we musn’t fall in to the trap of living for change and anticipating it. This is like waiting for “Godot”. We live the Kingdom/Reign of God daily and as we “wait for the Lord”, we build the Kingdom ie we don’t put our lives on hold until full equality in the Church. As we are, we are the Church building, with the Holy Spirit, a better one!

  2. […] The harsh treatment of LGBT Catholics may see a decline, though, in the wake of Monday’s document. Relatio shifts the focus from doctrine to pastoral practice, which could impact the reception of gays in the Church, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo suggested in a response emailed to The Huffington Post: […]

  3. […] The harsh treatment of LGBT Catholics may see a decline, though, in the wake of Monday’s document. Relatio shifts the focus from doctrine to pastoral practice, which could impact the reception of gays in the Church, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo suggested in a response emailed to The Huffington Post: […]

  4. […] The harsh treatment of LGBT Catholics may see a decline, though, in the wake of Monday's document. Relatio shifts the focus from doctrine to pastoral practice, which could impact the reception of gays in the Church, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo suggested in a response emailed to The Huffington Post: […]

  5. […] The harsh treatment of LGBT Catholics may see a decline, though, in the wake of Monday’s document. Relatio shifts the focus from doctrine to pastoral practice, which could impact the reception of gays in the Church, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo suggested in a response emailed to The Huffington Post: […]

  6. tomfluce says:

    Dear Francis and New Ways MInistry,

    A year ago now I was preparing my entrance into Deism and exit from my religion 50 years after I was ordained in Rome to the priesthood flush with Vat II inspiration. I’ve announced this to my classmates, family and friends and I am doing what I can to promote the development of spiritual, moral, social justice centered communities based on love, responsibility, sharing, equality…. And I’m pushed to this because of the fate of LGBTQI people still persecuted by religions throughout the world.

    Yes, a little slow, but also wanting to be respectful of my given heritage, trying to reform it from within, I have found that this reform cannot/should not be done within a patriarchal, self-proclaimed God-endorsed truth monopoly. So as the new pope has arrived and the Catholic church, conservatives as well as progressives are going along with the establishment, one side rejoicing in papal pronouncements–even Synod “relatio’s”– pastorally loving of LGBTQI folks, others trying to hang on to “doctrine”, I’m feeling all the more that this religion thing has to disappear.

    Probably the most piercing pain I suffer today is because in over 76 countries we LGBTQI folks are being killed in the name of religion–Christianity and Islam. Families and communities are stoning their own children to rid themselves of the devil. And I don’t see any of the now pastorally inclined church leaders condemning this situation. A Catholic, Eric Lembembe, of Cameroon was brutally murdered last year, a well respected journalist and advocate for LGBTQI folks. And no religious leader including Brother Bergoglio spoke out against this. Only secular groups, local and international demanded that the Cameroonian government do something about this only too common ending for LGBTQI people.

    If I had been born a slave (being Irish I can really envision this at the hands of Cromwell) would I be content to allow slavery to go on for centuries while the Pope and church authorities condoned it and centuries more for the God-endorsed doctrinal police to figure out that slavery was wrong? I hope not. And so it isn’t any different with the enslavement/torture/killing of LGBTQI folks far less privileged than I as a 76 year old white guy thankfully on a teacher’s pension and surrounded by loving family in the US. Yeah, friends, I do understand the adherence to religion–in our case Catholicism– but I am also calling on everyone to stop perpetuating such an evil system. It will cost, as it did for Thomas Paine, our status, loss of friends. I just can’t in conscience continue to support religion because of the good it does while at the same time its structures continue to do deadly harm to my people.

    I do love you all, Francis, Paul, Jeannine. I’m working all my stuff on a Weebly blog Thanks. Tom

  7. […] New Ways Ministry has issued a statement welcoming the document, which the veteran Vatican watcher John Thavis has described (quite appropriately) as a “pastoral earthquake at the synod“, not only for the change of tone on lesbian and gay Catholics, but also for many other aspects of ministry to families. (A further sign of the hope contained in this document is that the conservative, holier than thou rule – book Catholic blogs are squawking in horror). […]

  8. […] New Ways Ministry has issued a statement welcoming the document, which the veteran Vatican watcher John Thavis has described (quite appropriately) as a “pastoral earthquake at the synod“, not only for the change of tone on lesbian and gay Catholics, but also for many other aspects of ministry to families. (A further sign of the hope contained in this document is that the conservative, holier than thou rule – book Catholic blogs are squawking in horror). […]

  9. Bill Freeman says:

    Does that mean the many gays and lesbians who have been fired by the Roman Church for entering a civil marriage will be rehired? Will that practice stop from this time forward? What about the attack on gay civil rights, will that stop? How about the incendiary language? Nice language without committed action mean nothing.

  10. Friends says:

    I guess now we understand why the arch-enemy of loyal GLBTQ Catholics, Cardinal Burke, was throwing a hissy-fit over the past couple of days! He had seen the advance draft of this document, and he was having none of it. Too bad for him. Pope Francis is his boss, and Francis obviously authorized the release of this amazing statement, or it would never have seen the light of day. I’m thrilled to appreciate such a clear confirmation that the Holy Spirit — the Third Person of the Divine Trinity — is still alive and well in the Life and Mission of the Church.

  11. john says:

    This Synod was always about the Family and its varying aspects.

    Attitude towards the individual has (provisionally) improved. But to hope for recognition of gay marriage will not happen. Francis has never contradicted anything Benedict or St John Paul has said. He is a self-professed Child of the Church.

    And in terms of dismissal because of employment requirments. Go into work, read staff handbook, find something you disgree with and make a fevent, public stand about disagreeing with it. What will happen.?

  12. […] Blessed, a coalition of Fortunate Families, DignityUSA, Call to Action, and New Ways Ministry that advocates for LGBT justice and equality in the church, said in a […]

  13. amagjuka says:

    It is time to stop firing LGBT people who have given their talents in public schools and parishes. It is time to stop all name-calling (“intrinsically disordered”), marginalizing (you are not welcome at the Table of the Lord), and judging. WE are the church. We are the Body of Christ, and our LGBT brothers and sisters are part of us. When we harm them we harm ourselves. We must be the church Christ demands us to be. If you are in a parish where a priest tries to deny a LGBT person a host, break yours in half and share as Christ demands. If your parish fires a LGBT teacher or staff person, start a protest outside of the school until the person is reinstated. WE are the church, and all who know the truth through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit must ACT.

  14. […] opened, we started hearing positive messages from participants and observers.  And then came the mid-term report, with its strongly worded affirmations of lesbian and gay people.  Our hopes, it seemed, were […]

  15. […] would be a violation of their consciences–or will they be welcome as they are with their “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community” that last year’s mid-term synod report […]

  16. […] exhortation concerning LGBT issues.  Despite these topics making a big splash in the media halfway through the 2014 synod, by the time the 2015 synod came around, LGBT issues seemed to have taken a back seat, with concern […]

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