Philly Archbishop Evicts LGBT Events Scheduled for World Meeting of Families; New Ways Ministry and Equally Blessed Respond

New Ways Ministry’s workshop,  “Transforming Love:  Gender Identity from Catholic Perspectives” workshop, which was scheduled to take place at St. John the Evangelist parish, Philadelphia, on September 26, 2015, has been evicted from the space by Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Philadephia Archdiocese.

The Moderator of the Curia of the archdiocese phoned the parish’s pastor, Fr. John Daya, OFM Cap, to tell him that the archbishop had seen a brochure for the program and did not want it to take place. Fr. Daya informed New Ways Ministry of the decision.

Additionally, programs that were also scheduled at the parish by the Equally Blessed coalition have also been cancelled.  The parish was to be a hospitality center for the Equally Blessed pilgrims, 14 families with LGBT members, who are attending the week-long World Meeting of Families.   The Equally Blessed coalition consists of Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.

Organizers are working on re-scheduling both the New Ways Ministry and Equally Blessed programs to the nearby Arch Street United Methodist Church, Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer carries a news story today about the cancellations, and you can read that account by clicking here.  The following are two statements, one from New Ways Ministry and one from Equally Blessed, in response to the cancellations.

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

nwm-logo-highres.jpgNew Ways Ministry is very disappointed that our workshop, “TransForming Love:  Exploring Gender Identity from Catholic Perspectives,” was removed from St. John the Evangelist parish, Philadelphia.  We were informed about the decision by the pastor, Fr. John Daya, after he had been told by the Moderator of the Curia of the Philadelphia Archdiocese that Archbishop Charles Chaput was not allowing the workshop to take place.

I am very sorry that Archbishop Chaput did not seek to speak with New Ways Ministry about the nature of the program, which consists of transgender and intersex persons and a family member telling their personal and faith journeys.  There is a lack of information in the Catholic Church about gender identity, and this workshop was designed to provide information based on personal experience.  There was no plan to have a theological discussion about gender identity.

The workshop fills a void at the World Meeting of Families, which comes to a close just before New Ways Ministry program is scheduled, Saturday, September 26, 2015.  No speakers at the World Meeting will address the topic of gender identity, yet this is an issue that is being faced by more and more Catholic families and communities in the U.S. 

St. John’s parish had seen fit to offer space for the program based on their pastor’s and community’s belief that “All are welcome” in the parish.  It is very disappointing that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia did not have the same spirit of Christian hospitality.   

How are LGBT people supposed to feel welcome in the Catholic Church when church officials will not allow them to speak?

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 Statement of the Equally Blessed coalition

Equally Blessed LogoEqually Blessed, a coalition of Catholic organizations committed to equality for LGBT Catholics and their families, is saddened, frustrated, and deeply disappointed not to be able to host our educational and outreach events at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church during the upcoming World Meeting of Families. Archbishop Chaput’s order that a New Ways Ministry workshop on gender identity not be held at the church, creating a subsequent need to relocate Equally Blessed’s activities which were also scheduled to be held there, run contrary to Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?” and the belief most Catholics have that our Church must embrace LGBT people and families.

Unfortunately, this is yet another instance of the kind of exclusion LGBT Catholics and supporters have endured for decades. Bishops have refused to allow us to meet in our own Churches, retreat centers and colleges. In every instance, we have been blessed to find gracious welcome from members of other denominations and communities, just as we have from Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. The Spirit has provided for us and will continue to lead us forward.

While we know the Church is the people of God and not a building, it is still very painful to be told we or our loved ones are not welcome in our own home. Actions like the Archbishop’s strengthen our resolve to keep working for the day when Catholicism is truly a Church for all people. We are excited that our pilgrimage will move forward as a witness to a Church where all are welcomed, valued, and empowered.

The official World Meeting of Families program provides no realistic presentation about the reality of LGBT Catholics and our families. In step with the intentions of the upcoming Synod on the Family, we believe Catholics need space and time to talk openly and honestly about how to reconcile Church teaching and the need of our LGBT family members to live full, authentic lives. The upcoming Equally Blessed pilgrimage will provide avenues for this dialogue.

As Catholics who love our Church and our families, we appreciate the support we’ve received and look forward to giving witness to a church for everyone at the 2015 World Meeting of Families.

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–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

32 Responses to Philly Archbishop Evicts LGBT Events Scheduled for World Meeting of Families; New Ways Ministry and Equally Blessed Respond

  1. The first response must surely be to make sure that this information is passed on to Pope Francis – perhaps with Cardinal O’Malley, the US member of his “cabinet” of cardinal special advisors, as an intermediary.

  2. jono113 says:

    I saw this coming when the program was first announced. These events are usually kicked out of “Catholic” spaces one or two days before. What would the Arch do if the event went on where scheduled?

  3. Jane Paris says:

    Call the Franciscans in the area!

  4. FR Anthony says:

    Good, when we fight we become more committed and stronger. What a headache Francis must have, but the day will come when Truth must win out. Truth rooted in Love which Chaput does not have. As was said, The Spirit will Provide and lead us forward

  5. tom shea says:

    another very sad commentary on our US church leadership!!!

  6. Sharon Willey says:

    I hope a welcoming Protestant church will step up to offer space as was done in Minneapolis recently. Pope Francis asked for us to pray for a miracle when he was in South america. Let us keep praying for a miracle while living the love Christ wants of us.

  7. paularuddy says:

    Courage in the face of the opposition of the archbishop of Philadelphia. A large contingent of the U.S. Catholic Church is behind you.

  8. John Hilgeman says:

    I think it is time for us to get a message to Francis through someone who has his ear that we will NOT be silenced or marginalised or disrespected or demonised by anyone, no matter who they are or what position they hold. We have the right to speak and be heard and responded to as equal members of the church. We will speak out in whatever forum we need to and we WILL make our voices heard. We have lessons to teach to the church and the world.

  9. I will reuse my comment left on a friend’s FB page:
    Matthew 25 redux…
    JESUS: When I was LGBTQ, you kicked me out.
    THE PEOPLE: When were you LGBTQ? We never saw that.
    JESUS: Yes, I know. *sigh* (and then he wept for they did not know what they had done – and many never would.)

  10. Loretta F itzgerald says:

    Finding the silver lining. Two thoughts: One, It seems to me that by virtue of Chaput’s words and actions he is clearly demonstrating that we are getting under his skin. That’s actually a good thing. Being ignored is not. It is reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement, like the Freedom Rides. The adverse reaction and hate shown towards the Riders actually got the people on the sideline outraged and that helped many otherwise complacent whites to change their minds and many to get involved.
    Two, is Chaput our Trump? In other words, those who line up behind Chaput against LGBT folks (or Trump against immigrants particularly) are showing their true colors, or should I say, feelings. Hate cannot last. Love endures. In summary, we’re making progress. Keep the faith. Thanks for listening.

  11. The Holy Spirit is at work in our world and church. The majority of Catholics know that the discrimination against LGBT people is counter to what Jesus teaches. The faithful must speak up for our LGBT brothers and sisters, and we will speak up. We cannot let Chaput or anyone else discriminate in our names. We will not be complicit with this behavior. We must speak up, and speak up, and never stop speaking up until there is justice, dignity and equality. I hope the press will cover Chaput and his severe reactions to LGBT people, most of whom are gentle souls who are trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Catholics of conscience must say NO–we will not allow Chaput to keep harming LGBT people and our church. We will keep protesting, withholding contributions, and publishing articles. We will tell all the Catholics we know what is happening. We need a church that welcomes all, and should settle for nothing less.

  12. Friends says:

    Everyone with living connections to the “Jesuit Mafia” — the humorous term for the network of educational institutions which are staffed and sponsored by Pope Francis’ own Jesuit religious order — needs to get busy, and contact the leaders of their affiliated institution, typically a high school, college or university, and urgently request that their alma mater’s administrators MAKE SOME NOISE in Rome about this outrage that Chaput is perpetrating. EVERY ONE of those institutions has gay and lesbian Catholic alumni, who still love the Church, and who are deeply wounded by Chaput’s abject hatefulness. I don’t see how he can get away with this abominable behavior, in the long run.

    • jono113 says:

      Bishops will continue to misuse their authority as long as they get away with it. If the parish hosted the event, what would Chaput do? Call the cops? Stand in the church doorway? Excommunicate everyone? Whatever he did would certainly get Rome’s attention, but, more to the point, would send a clear message that this kind of leadership will no longer be tolerated.

      • FR Anthony says:

        What he would do is transfer the clergy there and put in new priests. It’s a problem. Dissent has to come from the parishioners over whom he has no control.

  13. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    More Catholics are questioning who has authority concerning our Catholic identity. More of us are asserting that the individual Catholic does that, not the hierarchy. An archbishop can decide who occupies archdiocesan property because, on paper, he has the title to the property. But he can’t claim Catholics, Catholic communities and Catholic teachings as property. We exist and the teachings are our living birthright despite any petty tantrums and bullying.

  14. Rev. John P. Alvarado says:

    What does this say to the world of who we are as a “Catholic Family”?

  15. bwelch3 says:

    Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love, has declared that not all are welcome in this place of the upcoming World Meeting of Families. Some Catholic people and families of God are unwelcome. I suspect that members of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and citizens of, and visitors to the city, are more than unhappy, they are distressed and rightfully angry about the declaration coming from this Catholic leader, shepherd of the archdiocese, and purported pastoral minister.

  16. bob burns says:

    as a member of the archdiocese of phila who had a meeting with ab chaput and a father of a gay son and a practicing catholic. What did you think chaput would do.(no surprise) The archdiocese is a dictatorship.

  17. paulaczech@comcast.net says:

    Can this be taken care of by someone in Rome?  What a slap in the face to all GLBT Catholics and their families.  As the mother of a good Catholic gay son, my patience with the hierarchy is wearing very thin.   Paula Mattras

  18. Anton says:

    I looked up Chaput’s episcopal coat-of-arms and his motto: AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH. I have no idea what version of THE GOOD NEWS he quoted that from, but it seems to me it’s time for him to live up to his motto/his mission or change it. When Jesus accepted a dinner invitation from Simon THE PHARISEE (Luke 7:36-50) he was looked down upon for allowing a woman “like THAT!” to wash his feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair and then using her precious ointment to anoint them. Jesus didn’t push her away but praised her for showing such great love. LGBT people throughout the centuries were attracted to Jesus and performing the same service and are still doing so, but people like Chaput are not allowing “such people” to approach the pope, but treating them as aliens. And even Moses told the people to treat aliens as fellow-citizens, amazingly in that same Book of Leviticus 19:33-34. Of course, the law makers only remember Leviticus 20:13, the bed scene, even when they break THAT law themselves. Many years ago Bishop Stephen Blair preached in CA at a Mass for persons with AIDS. He told the story of visiting a patient in the hospital to give him his blessing. When the gay man told him his story of faith, the bishop knelt at the man’s bed and asked for HIS blessing. Why is there such a reversal, no longer loving “as Christ loves”? No doubt, it is more important to follows the prescription of Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel regarding the scribes and pharisees: “do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, BUT DO NOT FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE. For they preach but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. …” God bless LGBT people who are not not afraid to keep lifting their fingers and hands to relieve the weight off people’s shoulders, even when they are forbidden to do so.

  19. Anton says:

    OOPS! That’s today’s gospel for Saturday not tomorrow’s Sunday.

  20. bwelch3 says:

    From the outset of the archdiocesan planning activities for the event, it became evident to me that Archbishop Chaput and the planners of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office For Life and Family were hellbent on the absolute control on the limits, contents, who participates, what is said and who says it during the event.

    Early on, the archbishop announced there would be no presentations, panels, formal or informal discussions on LGBT issues, ministry, pastoral concerns, or families with LGBT children or other family members.

    Let it be known that Archbishop Chaput and the Office for Life and Family have their own agenda. While planning for and executing the World Meeting of Families, so is a mission of advocacy for and support of Courage International, also known as Courage Apostolate, an approved apostolate of the Catholic Church, which “ministers to those with homosexual or same-sex attractions.

    Here is an excerpt from the Office For Life and Family webpage of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia website.

    “Courage/Encourage”
    “About our Chapter”.

    “Courage of Philadelphia is a local chapter [ of Courage International [- brackets mine] serving Catholic men and women in the Philadelphia & Southeastern Pennsylvania area under the guidance and support of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia”.

    Courage International operates as a Twelve-Step Program, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other organizations. Courage and Encourage chapter 12-step meetings are held twice monthly in an undisclosed location in Center City Philadelphia.

    Members of Courage International and local Courage chapters are called to a lifetime commitment to celibacy. Forming friendships with others, especially of the opposite gender, are encouraged.

    Self-incrimination, self-identity as a person afflicted with same-sex attraction, confessions of powerlessness, admissions of lapses or failures in commitment to lifelong celibacy are techniques of 12-step programs which promote self-loathing and low self-esteem leading to despair, alcohol and drug abuse, family abuse and violence, self-injury, and suicide attempts.

    The volume and content of Archbishop Chput’s remarks on the subject, lead a person to conclude he has a fixation on same-same attraction. He, and other members of the Church hierarchy, categorize same-sex attraction as an affliction or disease similar to alcoholism.

    Other members of the Catholic Church hierarchy have an obsession on homosexuality, defined solely in terms of compulsive, unbridled sexual behavior between persons of the same gender. No consideration is given to life-giving, affirming and sharing dimensions, including spiritual dimensions, of faithful long-term relationships.

    The Catholic Church has an imbedded bastion of aggressive, assertive, power-wielding, control-crazed men. A group of independent, rogue, non-conforming cardinals, bishops and clergy within the Vatican Curia, magisterium, College of Cardinals. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other world-wide conferences. They have their own agendas, operating and governing rules and procedures, and interpretation of Scripture, Tradition, theology, Church teachings and rituals, canon and civil law. Their attitude can be described as “I’ll do it my way and you’ll follow and obey, or suffer the consequences.” These self-proclaimed authorities and defenders of the faith, deem themselves to be the final-word judges and justified in their actions and inactions.

    They have:
    • Perpetuated the descriptive references to objectively disordered and intrinsically evil acts and class of humanity. This in and of itself is an act of violence towards persons with a homosexual orientation.
    • Some have declared that homosexuality is a part of defective creation and that homosexual persons are defective creatures and members of defective humanity. Homosexuality and homosexual persons are a result of original sin. Furthermore, these persons have no claim to rights and privileges in the Catholic Church or society at large.
    • Some have denied holy communion, access to the sacramental life of the Church and Christian burial, based solely on a person’s sexual orientation or affirmation and support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT ) persons and thier access to human and civil rights and protection.
    • Some have warned parents of LGBT persons that advocating for, affirming, and supporting thier children incurs the risk of eternal damnation.
    • Some have resorted to inciting fear, as well as hatred,discrimination, and injury towards LGBT persons, families and loved ones, and spreading lies and falsehoods.
    • Some have denied LGBT children, or children of LGBT parents, access to Catholic educational institutions

    Justice-seeking people of God cannot wait or endure decades and centuries more of the status quo if the Catholic Church is to survive and be an agent of God’s love and presence in the world.

    Pope Francis has expressed the need for a miracle at the synod on the family to be held at The Vatican in October, 2015. Pope Francis has requested prayers towards that end. More than likely, such a miracle needs him as initiator and mover.

    • bwelch3 says:

      The Synod of Bishops on Family and Family Life rapidly approaches. I share another observation.

      Within the imbedded bastion of cardinals, bishops and clergy described above, are a group of celibate men who have categorized Catholic laity as unknowledgeable and or dissidents who have nothing of value to contribute to the discussion on Catholic family or family life. The group of individuals claim to have been given privileged access to, and entrusted with, the Truth of God’s plan of and for creation, family, and family life.

      • jono113 says:

        I recall an ancient group that also claimed to have secret access to “the truth” that was denied to others. They were called Gnostics and were rightly condemned.

  21. […] gender identity workshop and Equally Blessed’s World Meeting of Families programs, which we reported on last week, is included in the middle of this blog […]

  22. […] Street United Methodist Church, 55 North Broad Street, Philadelphia. Despite Archbishop Charles Chaput’s expulsion of this event, (along with other LGBT events) from a Catholic parish, Catholics who are transgender and intersex, and their families will share […]

  23. […] space, as well as having their board president first recruited and then rejected as a speaker. The evictions of a New Ways Ministry workshop and an Equally Blessed program from a Philadelphia Catholic parish […]

  24. […] The event was originally scheduled to take place at the St. John the Evangelist parish, but according to organizers was, “evicted from the space by Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Philadephia […]

  25. […] is worth noting, finally, that this workshop almost did not happen after Archbishop Charles Chaput ejected it and other LGBT-related events coinciding with last week’s World Meeting of Families from a local Catholic parish. […]

  26. […] who are not transgender.  She personally felt rejected when Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia refused to allow a Catholic parish to let New Ways Ministry to hold a workshop on gender diversity in their […]

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