U.K. Catholic LGBT Leaders Meet With Cardinal Turkson While on Pilgrimage

As we mentioned before, when New Ways Ministry was on pilgrimage in Italy last month, another group of LGBT Catholics were also there.  The second group was from the United Kingdom, hailing from London’s Farm Street Jesuit Church (Immaculate Conception parish), where the Diocese of Westminster houses their official outreach ministry to LGBT people, known as “LGBT Catholics Westminster.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson
Cardinal Peter Turkson

Two of the members of this U.K. group also had the opportunity to meet with Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and his, Fr. Michael Czerny S.J., Secretary of the same Council.  The British representatives asked for the meeting on behalf of the Catholic members of the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christian Groups.  A press statement summarized the meeting:

“The discussion on 21 February 2015 included an exchange of views about the global impact of criminalisation on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Cardinal Turkson reaffirmed his opposition to the criminalisation of homosexuals for who they are, while also urging that neither people nor states be penalized for not embracing such behaviour.

“The Lineamenta for the 2015 Synod on Marriage and Family, with particular reference to its paragraphs (55 & 56) dealing with same-sex relationships, also came up, with the hope that the pastoral needs of LGBT Catholics, their parents and families, including those of children in same-sex families, would meet with informed discussion during next October’s Ordinary Synod of Bishops.”

New Ways Ministry pilgrims with LGBT Catholic pilgrim group from UK
New Ways Ministry pilgrims with LGBT Catholic pilgrim group from UK

The U.K. pilgrims met with New Ways Ministry’s pilgrims for Eucharistic liturgies at St. Albert’s International Carmelite Center and Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) Basilica.

The U.K group also held Evening Prayer in Rome’s ancient San Bartolomeo Church, now dedicated to the memory of modern martyrs. The moving liturgy remembered the lives of victims of homophobic and transphobic violence, as well as those who had given their lives in witness to LGBT concerns.

While attending the papal audience on Ash Wednesday, the U.K. pilgrimage group was the first of the English language groups announced

LGBT Catholics Westminster  Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square
LGBT Catholics Westminster Pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square

at the event, identified as a pilgrimage group from Immaculate Conception parish, London.

They also celebrated Mass at San Alfonso Church, the titular church of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who heads London’s Diocese of Westminster.  Nichols also sent the pilgrims off with a special prayer and blessing:

You are at the threshold of Lent. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. What an excellent time to be on pilgrimage in Rome! You are at the thresholds of the Apostles. What an excellent place to be on pilgrimage at the beginning of Lent.
May Saints Peter and Paul, and indeed all the Apostles, be your constant teachers, guides and companions throughout your stay in Rome – and when you return. Their heroic witness to the life, death and resurrection of the Lord is an inspiring example for us all. May their prayers again turn your gaze to the merciful face of Jesus, who calls out to you in unfailing love. He will give you grace to be his faithful missionary disciples. May you bring others into the family of the Church, founded on the Apostles, teaching us how to follow the pathways of faithfulness to Jesus in all the different aspects of our lives.
In this way may your lives be a true witness to all who are striving to find God’s love. Only Jesus can truly bring us the joy and fulfilment for which we all yearn. Let us be close to him. Be assured of my prayers for each and every one of you.Please pray for me at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, and at all the holy places you visit.
Have a wonderful pilgrimage. God bless you all. 
+ Cardinal Vincent Nichols.”
The U.K. and U.S. pilgrimages also met for an evening of discussion and interchange with members of Nuova Proposta, a Christian LGBT organization in Rome.  They shared ideas and models of LGBT pastoral ministry with one another.
I can speak for New Ways Ministry when I say that the encounter and collaboration with the U.K. pilgrims made our journey to Rome so much the richer.  Meeting with Nuova Proposta, the Roman group, and Kairos, an LGBT Christian group in Florence, also provided us with deeper understanding of the joys and challenges that our peers encounter in Italy.
New Ways Ministry is also very happy and excited that the meeting with Cardinal Turkson occurred.   May the conversation with this Vatican official bear fruit in terms of greater justice for LGBT people around the world!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

7 thoughts on “U.K. Catholic LGBT Leaders Meet With Cardinal Turkson While on Pilgrimage

  1. pjnugent March 4, 2015 / 11:19 am

    Frank you note: “Cardinal Turkson reaffirmed his opposition to the criminalisation of homosexuals for who they are, while also urging that neither people nor states be penalized for not embracing such behaviour.” That seems to imply that he does not oppose criminalization of “homosexual acts” or advocating on behalf LGBTQ people. Is that a valid interpretation?

    • newwaysministryblog March 4, 2015 / 12:33 pm

      Patrick,

      I don’t know what the Cardinal meant. My hope is that he did NOT support the criminalization of homosexual acts or penalizing advocacy for LGBTQ people.

  2. recorder169 March 4, 2015 / 11:44 am

    Reblogged this on .

  3. Ghosty Wolfe March 4, 2015 / 5:38 pm

    The comments you might be wondering about make a lot more sense when you realize Turkson said those things 2-3 years ago when he was defending Uganda’s kill the gay bill. He has been a vicious opponent of LGBT rights for as long as I can remember and I know people who lost sleep over this man when it became apparent he might actually become Pope at the last conclave (thankfully Francis got it instead). He most certainly DID support the “kill the gay bill” in Uganda initially.. Then Uganda passed the modified version of the bill (instead of killing them LGBT are given life in prison) Uganda found the World Bank put a hold on the 90 million dollar loan they were about to hand them. Uganda also found that a lot of countries that had been giving them money were now reconsidering giving them any more assistance. Several imposed sanctions on Uganda because they didn’t want to support the torture and abuse of innocent LGBT people. Not long after these countries enacted the sanctions, etc… Turkson flip flopped on the criminalization of LGBT people saying LGBT weren’t criminals but regardless .. Other countries should continue (or resume) sending Uganda support.
    Here’s a quote from the Huffingtonpost (3-4-2014) –
    Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Tuesday that “homosexuals are not criminals” and shouldn’t be sentenced for up to life in prison. Turkson then said the Vatican also calls on the international community to keep providing aid.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/cardinal-turkson-uganda-gay-law_n_4897391.html
    His blatant hypocrisy is enough to make one ill..
    He’s a terrible man and I’d like to know more about this meeting they had with him. If I were there I would directly ask him about his flip flopping on these issues. I would also ask him if he is going to continue to insist that unhealthy aspects of African cultural behavior is more important than the murder of innocent LGBT people.
    Just my two cents worth.

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