NEWS NOTES: Hopes and Controversies About the World Meeting of Families

There has been so much news and commentary concerning LGBT issues and the World Meeting of Families (WMF) that it has been very difficult to keep up with it all!

The Vatican-sponsored WMF is set to take place in Philadelphia next week.  LGBT issues have been a source of discussion since the program includes only one workshop where LGBT issues will be discussed:  Ron Belgau, a celibate gay Catholic, will be joined by his mother on a panel.

Additionally, because Archbishop Charles Chaput, the WMF local host, said that LGBT people would be welcome, but warned them against protesting, many Catholics felt they were actually being shunned and silenced. Additionally, Fortunate Families was denied exhibit 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 also caused much harm.

Despite these controversies, Catholic LGBT programming surrounding the WMF is plentiful, and you can learn more about the events by clicking here.

What follows is a list of articles and essays concerning LGBT issues and the WMF.  Click on the link in each citation to read the entire article.

1) In a commentary for Religion News Service, Tom Krattenmaker examines some of the mixed messages and “The paradox at the heart of Catholic World Meeting of Families.”

2) The fact that the World Meeting of Families will be hosted in the U.S., which this summer legalized marriage equality, across the nation, creates an interesting situation.  This theme is analyzed by David Crary of the Associated Press in “Ahead of pope’s visit to U.S., friction over same-sex marriage.”

3) The Southern Poverty Law Center website carried an article, “Pope to Attend Major Catholic Gathering Featuring Supporters of Ex-Gay Therapy,” listing speakers at the World Meeting of Families with connections to reparative therapy groups.’s article ““Ex-Gay” Therapy Advocates To Play Key Role During Papal Visit” covers similar material.

4) Loretto Sister Maureen Fiedler, in a National Catholic Reporter blog post, says the Church should “Welcome LGBT families to Philadelphia.”

5) The World Meeting of Families’ controversies began when Fortunate Families was denied exhibit space at the event, and when the Fortunate Families president, Deb Word, was not accepted as a speaker.  Rolling Stone examines the whole list of WMF controversies in an article entitled “LGBT Catholics Disappointed on Eve of ‘Liberal’ Pope’s U.S. Visit”.

6) “LGBT Catholics say world meeting is missing an opportunity” is the title and theme of  Philadelphia Inquirer article which looks at why Catholic advocates for LGBT people want from the World Meeting of Families.

7) Ryan Hoffman, communications director of Call To Action offers excellent commentary and perspectivein Christian Today’s article, “What’s actually happening with LGBT Catholics in Philadelphia?”

8) Tony Garascia, Fortunate Families board president reflects on the World Meeting of Families and the Holy Family in a blog post entitled “On Pilgrimage, What is ‘Normal’ and Variation”

9)  columnist Ivey DeJesus points out an important contrast, which is the title of her essay: “Pope Francis embraces gays, lesbians, but church remains divided over LGBT issues”

10) “Gay and celibate, Ron Belgau is the official face of gay Catholicism for Pope Francis’ visit” is a Religion News Service’s profile of the only openly gay speaker at the World Meeting of Families.

11) The controversy of LGBT programs being evicted from a Philadelphia Catholic parish gets examined in:

“LGBT equality groups getting shut out of Pope Francis meeting in Philadelphia.”  (Washington Post)

“LGBT Catholics can’t lobby or use local parish facilities during Pope Francis’ visit” (Reuters/Religion News Service)

“Gender identity workshop booted from Catholic parish in Philly” (Crux)

“LGBT groups criticize decision to eject them from church near World Meeting event” (Religion News Service/National Catholic Reporter)

“LGBT Group Rejected By Philadelphia Archdiocese Won’t Back Down” (Huffington Post)

“Philadelphia Catholic Parish Reneges on Hosting LGBT Events” (

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


8 thoughts on “NEWS NOTES: Hopes and Controversies About the World Meeting of Families

  1. Brian Kneeland September 16, 2015 / 4:40 am

    There could also be one of being gay and married and the consequences in the Catholic church. Sadly – we know the consequences are not good!

  2. Friends September 16, 2015 / 9:56 pm

    This is probably as good a place as any to post the link to an exceptionally interesting and thoughtful radio conversation between NPR’s Terry Gross and her Wednesday guest: journalist Paul Vallely. On the eve of the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia, they discuss in some detail what Pope Francis is all about — especially with regard to the paradoxes and the fascinating ambiguities of his Papacy. It’s a half-hour segment — and it’s well worth listening to:

  3. Loretta Fitzgerald September 17, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    Todd Brewster, author, was in Winston-Salem this past weekend as part of a Book Festival. In the beginning of his talk he referenced Mike Huckabee’s incorrect reference to the constitution. The context was his support of Kin Davis. He said that he put his opine in the New York Times. Has anyone seen it? I thanked him after his talk for using his knowledge of the constitutional law to correct those who would use it to denounce the gay community.

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