A New Look for New Ways Ministry’s Bondings 2.0 Starts Today!

By Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, October 1, 2016

Starting today,  Bondings 2.0 will have a new look.  We hope that this new look will enhance your reading experience. Nothing has changed editorially  in terms of content.  We will still be striving to provide our readers with the best and most important Catholic LGBT news and opinion from around the globe.    Please let us know what you think through the “Comments” section of this post.

Now is a good time, too, to review some of blog’s policies concerning “Comments.”  We welcome and encourage comments from readers.  The blog’s editors view this venue as a community of discussion, not just a place for us to provide information.  To keep the discussion safe for all, we have developed a set of guidelines which we use to moderate comments from readers.  Some of these guidelines are very common to many blogs and some are particular to ours:

Common to many blogs:
1. No obscenities or anything offensive
2. No personal attacks or name-calling
3. Be relevant to the material posted
4. Argue politely
5. Avoid sarcasm
6. Nothing that is patently self-promotional

Particular guidelines for our blog:
1. Nothing that would be pastorally harmful to our readers (e.g.,  “you are going to hell,”  “gays are evil,”  etc.)
2. No condemning people–even people who are anti-LGBT
3. No blanket calls to leave the Catholic Church, or invitations to join other churches (e.g.. “I can’t believe any sane LGBT person remains Catholic” or “If you don’t like what the Catholic Church teaches, you should just go and find a different church.”)

We also would like you to know that the editors welcome submissions for guest blog posts from our readers.  Posts should be between 650-900 words and should be on topics which are both Catholic and LGBT in content.  We welcome all sorts of genres:  opinion pieces, news reports, spiritual reflections, personal stories, and other forms, too.  You can send any submissions to director@NewWaysMinistry.org.

Please know that if you ever want to support this blog financially, it’s as easy as clicking on the “Contribute” tab at the top of this page and filling out the donation form.  In the comments section of this form, please write the word “blog,” so that we know where you want your donation to go.  We appreciate any gift you would like to make.  If you want to contribute now, just click here.   If you want to donate by check, please send a check made out to “New Ways Ministry” to 4012 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712.  To contribute over the phone, please call 301-277-5674.  All contributions are tax-deductible.

You can also support the blog by letting your friends know about it.  Please encourage them to follow the blog by entering their email address in the “Follow” box at the top of the column on the right side of this page.

Finally,  please know that we greatly appreciate your support, in whatever form it takes, and we are inspired by the many diverse ways that you are helping to build a more welcoming, just, and equal church for LGBT people. Your energy and interest is what inspires us to do the work of providing you with blog posts every day. God bless you!

Fr. James Martin to Receive New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award

For an updated version of this page, please click here. 

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Fr. James Martin, SJ

New Ways Ministry is proud to announce the presentation of our Bridge Building Award to Father James Martin, SJ, in recognition of his ministry of communication which has helped to expand the dialogue on LGBT issues in the Catholic Church.

The award will be presented at a ceremony on Sunday, October 30, 2016, 2:00-5:00 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 1726 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, Maryland, 21208 (near Baltimore).  Immediately following the presentation Fr. Martin will offer remarks.  An hors d’oeuvre reception will conclude the event.


For information on attending the award ceremony for Fr. Martin, click here

For information on honoring Fr. Martin on this occasion, click here.


Fr. Martin serves as Editor At Large for America magazine, the national Jesuit opinion journal.  In addition, he is one of the most widely recognized Catholic personalities on social media, with a Facebook following of close to half a million people.  Fr. Martin has used his communication skills and channels to allow for an extensive discussion of LGBT issues among Catholics of varying ideologies.

To read all of Bondings 2.0 blog posts which refer to Fr. Martin, click here.

New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award honors those individuals who by their scholarship, leadership, or witness have promoted discussion, understanding, and reconciliation between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church. The award was first given in 1992 to Father Charles Curran, a renowned moral theologian. Other awardees were: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (1995);  Sister Margaret Farley, RSM (2002); Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata (2005); John J. McNeill (2009).

The October 30th award ceremony and reception are open to the public. A suggested donation is $35 per person (all are welcome regardless of ability to donate). If you would like to attend the event, please click here, and fill out the form by October 20th.

If you would like to honor Fr. Martin’s achievements in a special way, New Ways Ministry invites you to have your name or your organization’s name listed in the program booklet for the event.  You may choose to be listed in one of the following categories:

  • Patron ($1,000 donation)
  • Benefactor ($500 donation)
  • Supporter ($250 donation)
  • Contributor ($100 donation)
  • Friend ($50 donation)

To have your name or organization’s name listed, please click here and fill out the form by Ocvtober 7th.

If you have any problems with the online form, please contact New Ways Ministry at 301-277-5674 or info@NewWaysMinistry.org.

Father Martin is the author and editor of numerous books including Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus, and The Abbey: A Story of Discovery. His 2014 publication  Jesus: A Pilgrimage was a New York Times bestseller and won both a Christopher Award and a Catholic Press Association Award. Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life was named as one of “Best Books” of 2011 by Publishers Weekly.

His book on Jesuit spirituality The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, a New York Times bestseller, was awarded a 2010 Christopher Award, and was also a number one bestseller in Catholic books.  His memoir My Life with the Saints (Loyola, 2006), which received a 2007 Christopher Award, was named one of the “Best Books” of 2006 by Publishers Weekly, and also received a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association.  Together on Retreat: Meeting Jesus in Prayer is an e-book that uses the technology of the e-reader to lead readers on a guided retreat.

For further information call (301) 277-5674 or email info@NewWaysMinistry.org

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Gay Priest Already Fired from Job, Now Suspended from Ministry by Archdiocese

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Fr. Warren Hall

Fr. Warren Hall, an openly gay priest who was fired from Seton Hall University last year, has now been suspended from ministry in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, reported Religion News Service.

Hall was informed that his priestly faculties were being revoked because, according to Newark Archbishop John Myers, his actions were”confusing the faithful.” These actions have included support for unofficial LGBT events at World Youth Day this past July, along with support for PFLAG New Jersey, Gays Against Guns, and New Ways Ministry.

Hall has also publicly supported fired lesbian educator Kate Drumgoole, whom Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey fired last January after her same-gender marriage became known to school officials.

Hall himself was fired as the Seton Hall’s director of campus ministry in May 2015 after posting a NOH8 Campaign photo of himself on social media. He later came out as a gay man, and was assigned to assist at two parishes in New Jersey. Hall commented to RNS:

” ‘The problem is that we have an archbishop who doesn’t believe you can be gay and Catholic. . .Since my firing from Seton Hall and coming out last year I felt an obligation to use this as an opportunity to more directly let people know of God’s love for all of us and that gay Catholics should stay in the church and work for more wider acceptance. . .I do not feel I ever preached or taught anything contrary to the Gospel (and) this is true from my entire 27 years of ordination.’ “

Myers, who turned 75 this year, has already submitted his resignation letter to Pope Francis.  Additionally, the Vatican had already assigned a coadjutor to assist him in administering the archdiocese.  Both Myers and the Archdiocese are defending their suspension of Fr. Hall as consistent with a priest’s vow of obedience.

The following is the statement of New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director Francis DeBernardo on the suspension of Fr. Warren Hall:

“By all accounts, Fr. Warren Hall has been a caring, compassionate, and faithful Catholic priest. But there’s one more important adjective to describe him: courageous. He has courageously stood by the LGBT community, taking personal risks to let them know that God loves them unconditionally.

“Fr. Hall first leaped into the pages of the news in 2015 when he was fired from his chaplaincy at Seton Hal University. His supposed crime: on Facebook, he supported the NOH8 campaign, an LGBT equal rights crusade with a strong anti-bullying focus.

“Later he took a more personal and courageous step by coming out publicly as a gay man. Throughout the media blitz that ensued, he also continually professed his love for the Church and for his priesthood. Fr. Hall has ministered to and with LGBT people in the New York City metro region, being a sign of hope and welcome to many.

“Archbishop Myers’ decision to remove Fr. Hall’s faculties exposes a weakness: by doing so, the archbishop is saying that his church fears associating with LGBT people—a fear which is contrary to the gospel. Myers’ authoritarian style, evidenced by his years as archbishop of Newark, is one that is on the wane in the U.S. church, and around the globe.

“Fr. Hall’s ministry with LGBT people is in line with the Church’s own authentic teaching that its ministers must reach out to all those who have been marginalized. He is in line with Pope Francis’ more pastoral and welcoming approach towards LGBT people.

“It is painful that Fr. Hall has had to suffer such an unjust penalty from an archbishop who is soon to be replaced because of his looming retirement. Our God, who is a God of surprises and blessings, surely has some good in store for this priest who has been such a good and faithful servant to the Church community.

“New Ways Ministry is proud that earlier this summer Fr. Hall agreed to lead a workshop on the topic of gay men in the priesthood and religious life at our organization’s Eighth National Symposium on Catholicism and LGBT People, to be held in Chicago, April 28-30, 2017. Because of this latest ordeal, his presentation will further show his strength of character, faithfulness to God, and devoted service to those shunned by dictatorial Church leaders.’

To DeBernardo’s statement I would add that there does not seem to be much good in removing a faithful priest from celebrating the Sacraments or being a positive face for the church in Newark.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 

 

Catholic Priest: Church Cannot Abandon Transgender Catholics

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Fr. Bryan Massingale

The church must not abandon transgender Catholics. This is Fr. Bryan Massingale’s message in his new column published by U.S. Catholic, and it is a poignant message in view of Pope Francis’ recent remarks about gender identity.

Massingale. a professor of theology at Fordham University, New York, begins his essay by referencing a transgender panel discussion in which he participated earlier this year. Hosted by the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the largest annual gathering of Catholics in North America, that panel featured to young trans Catholics sharing their stories. Massingale commented on it:

“I was struck by their heartfelt conviction that accepting their true gender identities led them to a deeper and more authentic relationship with God. Hearing their stories of pain and triumph was one of the most privileged moments I have had in 33 years of being a priest.”

But Massingale notes that he questioned his own participation in the event, especially when friends and family asked him about the risks that identifying with LGBT people can have in the church. He explained:

“Space does not allow me to give my full response. But one reason why I chose to be present is because I have a lot to learn. To be blunt, I was at the panel precisely because of my ignorance and discomfort. Transgender issues were never addressed in either my moral theology courses in the seminary or in my graduate studies in Christian ethics. I—and most priests—have not been trained to specifically minister to transgender members of our parishes or to the concerns of their families.

“My personal ignorance is also shared by the church as a whole. There is much that we do not understand about what is technically called ‘gender dysphoria,’ or the lack of congruence between one’s physical body and gender identity. This ignorance leads to fear, and fear is at the root of the controversies in today’s so-called ‘bathroom wars.’ And there lies a major challenge that transgender people endure and that the faith community has to own: the human tendency to be uncomfortable and fearful in the face of what we don’t understand. It’s easier to ridicule and attack individuals we don’t understand than to summon the patience and humility to listen and to learn.”

The church cannot abandon trans Catholics because, Massingale explains, “Jesus would be present to, among, and with transgender persons.” His table ministry with society’s outcasts teaches Christians that we will be judged on “our compassion for the despised and disdained.” Lack of understanding of or comfort with people does not mitigate the obligation the church has to include them and minister to them.  Massingale also cited the compassionate side of Pope Francis:

“During Pope Francis’ visit last fall, he repeated on at least five occasions: ‘Jesus never abandons us.’ This is the deepest reason why I chose to be with Anna and Mateo, who spoke so eloquently for so many of our transgender fellow Catholics. Jesus does not abandon us. If we claim to be his followers, we cannot abandon them.”

You can read Fr. Massingale’s full essay by clicking here.

Fr. Massingale has himself not abandoned LGBT Catholics. While at Marquette University, he celebrated monthly Masses for members of the LGBTQ communities on campus because, he says, it is important they “have a Mass where they feel welcome and that God does love them.” He challenged Pax Christi USA members at their 2013 annual conference to increase the organization’s defense of LGBT rights, as both a human rights concern and a necessary part of attracting younger Catholics. Massingale also joined other Catholic theologians and officials in condemning proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

Fr. Massingale will continue his call for inclusion and justice in the church when he will be a keynote speaker for New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.” Early registration has now opened if you are interested in attending, and you can find more information by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

LGBT Rights Activist Arrested in Ugandan Police Raid

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Dr. Frank Mugisha

The leading LGBT advocate in Uganda was among those arrested on Thursday following the police raid of a Pride event.

Police arrested about 20 people while raiding Venom, a nightclub in the capital of Kampala which had been hosting the Mr. and Miss Pride Uganda pageant. Those arrested included Dr. Frank Mugisha, a Catholic who is the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), reported Buzzfeed. Everyone arrested was released without charges after a few hours, and other attendees were allowed to leave after a time. But SMUG’s statement reports the violence which occurred in the interim:

“[B]eating people, humiliating people, taking pictures of LGBTI Ugandans and threatening to publish them, and confiscating cameras. Eyewitnesses reported several people—in particular transwomen and transmen—were sexually assaulted by police. One person jumped from a 4 storey window to try to avoid police abuse. This person is now in critical condition at private hospital.”

Police claimed the event did not have a permit, and there were reports of a same-gender wedding, but Pepe Julian Onziema of SMUG disputed these claims.

Pride celebrations in the capital have in large part been tolerated the last few years. Mugisha tied the raid to a broader uptick in police activity against Ugandans, in addition to targeting LGBT advocates. Pride 2016 celebrations are now being amended, including the cancellation of a planned Pride parade today because Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo threatened mob violence against any marchers.

Being openly LGBT in Uganda can be dangerous, as this incident makes clear. A report released by SMUG earlier this year, “And That’s How I Survived Being Killed: Testimonies of Human Rights Abuses from Uganda’s Sexual and Gender Minorities,” documented the persecution:

“In this report, based on first-hand testimonies, Sexual Minorities Uganda documented from May 2014 until December 2015 the physical threats, violent attacks, torture, arrest, blackmail, non-physical threats, press intrusion, state prosecution, termination of employment, loss of physical property, harassment, eviction, mob justice, and family banishment that are all too often apart of the lived experience for sexual and gender minorities in Uganda.”

There are 264 verified testimonies in all, about which Dr. Mugisha commented:

“This report is unique and unlike those that have come before it because it elevates the voice of the persecuted. What is inside this report is the human story – that is the lived experience of sexual and gender minorities in Uganda.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 3.32.33 PMUganda is about 40% Catholic, and Mugisha’s advocacy has been directed to church leaders, as well as government officials. Mugisha challenges claims by church leaders and others that homosexuality is a Western import and that Western advocacy for LGBT Africans has triggered a backlash. He criticized Uganda’s bishops for not condemning and even supporting the Anti-Homosexuality Act, colloquially known as the “Kill the Gays” bill, proposed by President Yoweri Museveni.

Last fall, Mugisha appealed to Pope Francis for words of compassion and equality about LGBT people during the apostolic voyage to Uganda, Kenya, and Central African Republic. The pope did not address the issue. He also unsuccessfully sought a meeting with Francis, and like many LGBT advocates, was disappointed at the pope’s silence in a context where LGBT suffer greatly.

Mugisha was the recpient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2011, and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Dr. Mugisha will be a keynote speaker at New Ways Ministry’s Eight National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.” If you are interested attending the Symposium to hear Dr. Mugisha, click here for more information and registration instructions.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NOW OPEN: Early Bird Registration for New Ways Ministry Symposium

Early bird registration has opened for New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.”

Regist early to save on your registration costs. To register, download the Symposium 2017 Flyer, and send completed registration form, along with payment, to New Ways Ministry, 4012 29th Street, Mount Rainier, MD 20712  (electronic registration will be coming soon).

The hotel rate is $124 per night, and rooms are available a few days before and after the Symposium. To make hotel reservations, call the Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare Hotel, phone: 847-678-4488.

Don’t miss what will be our most exciting Symposium ever!

Symposium 2017 Flyer PIc

 

Join a Live Discussion of Catholic LGBT Issues in a Neighborhood Near You!

This summer, there will be several opportunities for Bondings 2.0 readers to meet with Bondings 2.0 staff members and other readers in various parts of the U.S.

We’ve kicked off a series of blog meetups for readers to connect with one another and with our writers to do discuss current Catholic LGBT issues–the substance of Bondings 2.0.  We’ve already hosted two successful meetings in London, England, and Chicago, Illinois, during June.

The third meetup is scheduled for tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio.  See details below.

Come and be part of a live discussion about the issues that mean so much to you!

he following is a schedule of upcoming meetups:

Columbus, Ohio
Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 7:00-9:00 pm
Plaza Lounge of the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square (2nd Floor)
79 East State Street
Columbus, Ohio
Staff moderator: Francis DeBernardo

Atlanta, Georgia
Wednesday, August 10, 2016, 7:00-9:00 pm
Southern Elements Restaurant at Hilton Atlanta Hotel (Lobby Floor)
255 Courtland Street, NE
Atlanta, Georgia
Staff moderators: Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick

Boston, Massachusetts
Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 7:00-9:00 pm
St. Anthony Shrine
100 Arch Street (at Downtown Crossing)
Boston, MA
Staff moderators: Bob Shine