NEWS NOTES: Updates on Previous News Stories

October 16, 2015

News NotesWhile the Catholic world’s attention is focused on the Synod in Rome currently underway, here are several updates on news items about which Bondings 2.0 has previously reported:

1) France has withdrawn their nominee for ambassador to the Holy See, Laurent Stefanini, after the Vatican refused to accept his credentials for nearly ten months, reported The Guardian. Though unconfirmed, it has been speculated that the Vatican refused Stefanini because he is a married gay man while others criticized Pope Francis and the Vatican’s silence on the matter. For more information, click here.

2) A year after trans woman Jennifer Laude was murdered, mourners gathered in the Philippines and abroad to celebrate her life and demand justice, reported Joseph Scott Pemberton, the U.S. Marine charged with Laude’s murder, is using a “trans panic” defense, reported The Advocate. Catholic leaders, including the bishops’ conference and conference of religious superiors, have called for justice and granted Laude a Catholic burial respectful of her transgender identity. For more information, click here.

3) Archbishop Stanislav Zore of Ljubljana backed the movement for a popular referendum that seeks to remove Slovenia’s marriage equality law passed last March. The nation’s Constitutional Court is currently deciding whether a referendum is permissible, Gay Star News reported, and if not, equal marriage rights will remain in the majority Catholic nation.

4) Italian legislators introduced a civil unions bill to Parliament earlier this week, the latest attempt to grant legal rights to same-gender couples in the only Western nation yet to do so. Civil union benefits will not be equal to marriage benefits under Italian law. The bill could come up for a vote in early 2016, reported the Daily Mail. For more coverage on Catholic LGBT issues in Italy, click here.

5) Two Catholic school alumni, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan, involved pled guilty to attacking a gay couple in Philadelphia, but will receive no jail time, according to The Advocate.  Kathryn Knott, the third alleged assailant, refused the deal. Statements from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia regarding the 2014 attack were criticized for refusing to acknowledge this incident as a hate crime or reach out to the city’s LGBT community.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: Teacher, Cardinal, Pope, Transgender

April 22, 2015

NewsHere are some news items that you might find of interest:

1) Patricia Jannuzzi, the teacher at Immaculata Catholic high school, Sommerville, N.J., was reinstated to her job, after having been suspended for one month because of her anti-gay Facebook posts, according to a Religion News Service article.

2) Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland, who stepped down from archdiocesan leadership after it came to light that he had sexually harassed a number of priests and seminarians, has resigned the “rights and privileges” of a cardinal.  O’Brien had been a harsh critic of LGBT equality, having called homosexuality a “moral degradation” and saying that it “demonstrably harmful,”  according to a Religion News Service story. 

3) Three Catholic LGBT leaders spoke on “The State of LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” at a panel presentation sponsored by the Human Rights’ Campaign’s Religion and Faith program.  The presenters wer transgender Catholic activist, J. Nicholas Stevens, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Mary Hunt, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER); and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry. Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of HRC’s Latina/o and Catholic Initiatives, moderated the discussion.

4) J. Nicholas Stevens, one of the panelists mentioned in number 3 (above), has penned an essay about his faith journey and his transition for, entitled “I’m Proud To Be a Transgender Catholic.

–Francis DeBernardo


NEWS NOTES: March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015


Here are some items that may be of interest:

1.Police are investigating homophobic messages spray painted on the parking lot of a Canadian high school, a follow-up to hateful online comments dating back to last fall. The graffiti appeared the day after students at St. Anne Catholic High School in the Windsor-Essex Catholic School district wore t-shirts to support LGBT community members, reports The Windsor StarAdministrators promised to act in response, with the school district board expressing its own shock and disgust, according to CTV Windsor.

2. Cosmopolitan has covered the firing of LGBT church workers, profiling Christina Gambaro and Olivia Reichert who were fired from the teaching positions at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis, in 2014. You can read about their incident and more than 40 others by clicking  here.

3. Fired gay teacher Lonnie Billard told Buzzfeed he would no longer participate in the Catholic Church, which he called a “bigoted organization, and instead would seek another Christian church with his partner.  Billiard was fired from a Charlotte, North Carolina high school in 2014.

4. National Catholic Reporter columnist Heidi Schlumpf listed LGBT issues among the top five things that give her hope in 2015. She writes, in part:

“While there’s still work to be done, the work of past generations is truly paying off. While the institutional church is lagging on this issue, polls find that the majority of lay Catholics, especially younger Catholics, support gay marriage.”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: February 12, 2015

February 12, 2015

News NotesHere are some items that you might find of interest:

1. In the heavily Catholic nation of Poland, voters in the city of Slupsk have elected the country’s first openly gay mayor, reports  Robert Biedron won 57% of the vote in a run-off election.

2. After a four-year legislative debate, Chile has passed a law creating domestic partnerships that will include same-gender couples, reports The New York Times.  The Catholic hierarchy has had a heavy influence on Chilean politics.

3. The city of Rome, Italy, has created a registry for civil unions, including same-gender couples, reports  A follow-up story on the news website said that a Catholic official called the move “an ideological bluff. ”

4.The Catholic identity of St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas, was the focus of a recent article in the campus newspaper.  The following paragraphs were used to illustrate:

“Unlike the idea that many might have, even as they attend St. Edward’s, Catholicism does not reject anyone based on sexuality.

“St. Edward’s in particular makes this clear. In fact, St. Edward’s makes sure to keep and make their LGBTQ community feel welcomed.

“Dr. Alexandra Lynn Barron, a professor of the Freshman Studies program and previous advisor for the PRIDE Club on campus was concerned about the possibility of misunderstanding between students and the school on the subject of the university’s acceptance of LGBTQ students.

“ ‘Campus Ministry is a big supporter of PRIDE and our LGBTQ students. They’ve planned events with us including a vigil for queer youths around the country lost to suicide and they attend PRIDE events regularly,’ Barron said. ‘It’s true that sometimes the Catholic Church’s teachings can be challenging for some of us around queer issues, but on our campus we find ways to work together.’ “

5.  In a New York Times op-ed essay entitled,  “Can the Church Return to the Faithful?” transgender advocate Jennifer Finney Boylan laments the fact that almost all of her 25 Catholic adult cousins have left the church because of the institution’s all-too-often unwelcoming stance.

6.  A traditionalist Catholic missionary community has bought one of Paris’ well-known gay bars, and they plan to convert it to a church facility, reports London’s Independent newspaper.  The Texas Bar, in the heavily gay Toulon district, will serve as a facility for the nearby parish, Eglise Saint Francois de Paule.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: December 4, 2014

December 4, 2014

News NotesHere are some items that you might find of interest:

1) New data from Carl Bialik and the FiveThirtyEight blog suggests Catholics are more progressive than their Protestant peers when it comes to LGBT issues, reports Crux.

2) Robbie Rogers, one of the first openly gay soccer players and a Catholic, will have his life told on a new ABC sitcom called “Men in Shorts.” Last year, Rogers spoke deeply about his faith and sexuality, and the integration of the two.

3)Former Jesuit Benjamin Brenkert, who previously wrote to Pope Francis about his decision to leave the Society, suggested the media’s coverage of last October’s synod did not critically analyze the pope or bishops when it came to LGBT issues. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia was also displeased with the media, harshly criticizing them in the weeks after the synod.

4) Alternatively, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC said the synod was a “free and open process” that came to a “real consensus,” according to Catholic News Service.

5) The Los Angeles Times profiled responses to the synod, including New Ways Ministry director Francis DeBernardo who said of the final report: “I really think this isn’t the last statement…This is the first statement.”

6) Openly gay Catholic priest Fr. Gary Meier, whose coming out made headlines in 2013 before he took leave from active ministry, has launched a nonprofit called Rising Voices of Faith to highlight LGBT people’s voices. The Advocate has further details.

7) National Catholic Reporter columnist Jamie Manson spoke with the Rochester City Paper recently about the state of the church, the deep need to include LGBT people and women, and her perspective on Pope Francis.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

NEWS NOTES: July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

News NotesHere are some items that you might find of interest:

1) LGBT Catholics in Chicago have been remembering the life and ministry of Jerry McEnany, the founder of that city’s Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach over 25 years ago.  A newspaper account of McEnany’s legacy described him as “a gay man who played a pivotal role in trying to bridge a gap between hierarchical harshness and doctrinal hostility to LGBTs among the faithful and a Church instinct for pastoral respect, compassion, and sensitivity in ministry with them.”

2) A transgender woman is suing Seton Medical Center, Daly City, California, because they denied her request for breast augmentation.  Charlene Hastings, who has already had gender reassignment surgery, stated, “I honestly believe that God has plans for me to have this surgery.”

3) Brian Cahill, former executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities, published an essay on DignityUSA’s website in which he rebuts Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s arguments at last month’s March for Marriage in Washington, DC.

4) When an Indiana judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional according to the federal constitution, the Roman Catholic bishops of the state issued a statement which affirmed marriage between one man and one woman.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


NEWS NOTES: July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014

News NotesHere are some items you might find of interest:

1) Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster (London) criticized England’s Equality Act for forcing Catholic social service agencies to stop adoptions because they were not allowed to discriminate against same-gender couples. The cardinal would like a religious exemption to the law, which would allow church organizations to deny services to lesbian and gay people . Adoption law has become a battleground issue in England and Scotland since marriage equality became legal in those nations.

2) Fired gay teacher Ken Bencomo‘s case against St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, California is moving ahead. A judge ruled against claims by the school that Bencomo could be fired under the so-called “ministerial exemption,” and will allow the lawsuit to proceed. Bencomo was fired when news of his marriage became public last year.

3) Cardinal Nicholas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic criticized gay US Ambassador James Brewster again after Brewster and his husband appeared in a video for June’s Pride celebrations in that Caribbean nation. The cardinal, who previously used an anti-gay slur to describe the ambassador and encouraged anti-LGBT protests, said Brewster should “take his gay pride elsewhere.” You can read more about the cardinal’s comments here.

4) Activists from the group Femen are on trial for a February 2013 protest at the Cathedral of Notre Dame where they banged on church bells in protest of the bishops’ opposition to LGBT rights. Prosecutors are seeking fines of more than $2,000 from each of the nine women on trial. Femen had made headlines  because of its members’ topless demonstrations against Catholic leaders.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


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