The Best Catholic LGBT News of 2014

December 31, 2014

thumbs upAs the year 2014 comes to a close, Bondings 2.0 takes a look back at the worst and the best news in the Catholic LGBT world.  If  you want to keep up-to-date on the latest news about the ups and downs of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community, please consider subscribing to this blog.  To do so, enter your email address in the “Follow blog via email” box at the top of the column on the right-hand side of this page, and press “Follow.”  You will then receive an email every time the blog is updated, usually once a day.  You’ll never miss out on the latest news and opinion in the Catholic LGBT world! 

Yesterday, we surveyed the worst Catholic LGBT news of 2014, and today we end the year looking at the best news:  all the good things that have occurred and the advances that have been made.

Yesterday, we also commented on the news story that Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny became the first bishop in known history to explicitly call for the Catholic Church to bless committed lesbian and gay couples.  While in my mind, that could easily take the prize as the BEST Catholic LGBT news of 2014, unfortunately, it came after we had already polled our readers, and so it was not considered in the voting.  I can’t speak for the entire readership of Bondings 2.0, but I don’t think I would be too far off to say that this story certainly deserves an “honorable mention.”

A few days ago, we asked our readers to choose five stories in the “worst” category and five in the “best” category.  Each category had 15 items, and there was an option to “write in” other topics that we might have missed.  The following is the ranking of the top ten items from the “best” category, in descending order,  with the percentage of votes each item received:

1. Both lay guests and bishop participants speak positively about lesbian and gay lives and ministry at the Synod of Bishops in October, revealing a previously unknown progressive school of thought among church leaders. Throughout the year, more and more Catholic leaders support legal rights for same-gender couples.  17.59%

2. Pope Francis appoints Archbishop Blase Cupich to the Archdiocese of Chicago, signaling a new type of more pastorally-oriented “Francis bishops.” Other U.S. bishops soften their rhetoric on LGBT issues, in a seeming emulation of the pontiff. 15.86%

3. The heavily Catholic Republic of Ireland emerges as a leader in supporting LGBT rights. Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmid Martin says: “Anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God. They are not just homophobic if they do that—they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people. 12.07%

4.  In an interview with a New Ways Ministry staffer, Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley acknowledges that the trend of firing LGBT and ally personnel from Catholic institutions is a situation “that needs to be rectified.”  10.34%

5. Catholic students, parents, and supporters demonstrate in response to the continuing trend of LGBT and ally personnel being fired from Catholic institutions.  8.97%

6.  San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, holds two meetings with representatives of New Ways Ministry and DignityUSA.  5.52%

7. LGBT organizations are given permission to march in both New York City’s and Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parades in 2015.  5.17%

Three-way tie

8.  A Catholic parish in New York City honors the 44-year long commitment of a lesbian couple who are parishioners by featuring a profile about them in the parish bulletin. 4.48%

9.  The School Sisters of Notre Dame reverse an earlier decision and decide to allow lesbian couples to announce their weddings in the alumni newsletter. The Sisters of Mercy re-name a high school soccer field after a married lesbian alumna. 4.48%

10.   Catholic high schools and colleges begin to implement policies which support transgender students. 4.48%

As for analyzing, the results of the poll, I think it is easy to see the “Francis effect” in these events and numbers.  Almost all the responses had to do with something Pope Francis either directly or indirectly affected.  I think his example is inspiring Catholics at all levels to be more courageous in their support of LGBT people.  As one Bondings 2.0 reader and commenter, Casey Lopata, stated with his poll ballot:

“With Pope Francis leading the way by example, the positive remarks about gay people by bishops at the Synod together with more Catholic leaders supporting legal rights for gay people demonstrates that the grassroots supportive efforts of ordinary Catholics have been seen and taken seriously by institutional leaders within the Catholic community. At the same time grassroots supporters, emboldened by the words and actions of Francis, are increasingly becoming more active and in their public advocacy for justice for LGBT people within Catholic structures. As a result, opponents are squeezed between these two movements and find less and less support for their negative positions. May the Spirit lead us to make the most of this momentum in 2015!”

Although no one added any “write-in” suggestions, several other readers also added comments to their poll responses:

Chet Thompson:  “The five that I marked seem to me to be the most important and need DAILY Prayer. BUT we need to continually work to turn around the Homophobia that we have endured ESPECIALLY over the last 30 years!!!”

Brian Kneeland: “There were some real positives – but there certainly needs to be many more in the coming year!”

Diane Rapozo: “All of the above mentioned are important. Thank you.”

Alice Zachmann, SSND: “Thanks for the opportunity to share. I chose the ones that took courage to carry out…my personal opinion! Keep up your great ministry!”

2014 has been quite a year!  It’s been a pleasure and a blessing to share it with all our readers and commenters!  2015 is already sure to be another exciting 12 months, with the already scheduled World Meeting of Families in September, the second Synod in November, and Pope Francis appointing cardinals in February.  And who knows what else the Holy Spirit has in store!  Whatever it is, we look forward to the opportunity to share it with you in the coming year.  Stay tuned!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


What Was the Best and Worst of Catholic LGBT News in 2014?

December 26, 2014

2014 has been quite a year!   Synod debates, church worker firings, the “Francis effect,” anti-gay laws, students speaking out for equality–and much, much more!

On the last two days of the year, Bondings 2.0 will review the news of the past year in the Catholic LGBT world by posting “The Worst of 2014″ and “The Best of 2014.”

Please help us prepare these posts by taking a moment to take the two one-question surveys below.  You can choose up to FIVE responses to each question.  One of those responses can be “Other” where you can write-in your own selection.  Please respond by 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday, December 29th.

If your memory needs refreshing about what happened this past year, just use the tools in the right hand column of this blog to find stories that have been reported on here.  You can search by clicking on a category, by using a search term, or by reviewing posts by month.

Thanks for your help with this project!  We look forward to reading your responses!


‘For this day paradise is unlocked’

December 25, 2014

Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the nativity.
For this day the ancient slavery is ended,
the devil confounded,
the demons take to flight,
the power of death is broken.
For this day paradise is unlocked,
the curse is taken away,
sin is removed,
error driven out,
truth has been brought back,
the speech of kindliness diffused
and spread on every side–
a heavenly way of life
has been implanted on the earth,
angels communicate with us
without fear.

Why is this?
Because God is now on earth,
and humanity is in heaven;
on every side all things commingle.

                             –St. John Chrysostom, 347-407, AD

Christmas blessings to you from New Ways Ministry!


New Ways Ministry Builds Bridges with Archbishop Cordileone

December 16, 2014
Sister Jeannine Gramick, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry

Sister Jeannine Gramick, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry

Fulfilling a promise he made last summer, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco met with New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick on Monday, December 15, 2014, to help enrich understanding of each other’s approaches to marriage equality and LGBT issues.

In June of 2014, New Ways Ministry joined a group of LGBT equality organizations in an open letter asking Cordileone, who heads the U.S. bishops’ committee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage,  not to speak at the March for Marriage rally in Washington, DC, organized by groups which oppose marriage equality, some of which were known to have a strong record of statements and actions that were harmful to LGBT people.  In response, Cordileone issued an open letter explaining why he would speak, and also agreed to meet with any of the signers of the original letter as a way to better understand one another.

Two groups took Cordileone up on his offer for a personal meeting: New Ways Ministry and DignityUSA. Earlier in autumn 2014, Cordileone met in San Francisco with representatives from Dignity. New Ways Ministry’s meeting occurred on December 15, 2014, at our offices in Mount Rainier, Maryland, while the Archbishop was in the Washington, DC area on other church business.

DeBernardo met Cordileone and drove him to our offices. Gramick introduced herself, while Matt Myers and Bob Shine, two New Ways Ministry staff members, were also on hand to greet the archbishop and serve a light lunch of sandwiches. After the archbishop opened with a prayer, Cordileone, DeBernardo, and Gramick shared some of their life stories and experiences. Both Cordileone and DeBernardo have similar backgrounds, sharing an Italian heritage, and having attended public schools while being very much involved with the Catholic Church. Gramick talked about her Polish roots as an only child in a non-practicing Catholic family, but surrounded by Catholics until graduate school when she was first introduced to the gay community.

As the conversation progressed, they discussed how Catholic groups with opposing views on marriage can better understand and speak with one another. Cordileone mentioned Pope Francis’ idea of “encounter,” of meeting people where they are and beginning a dialogue with them. Cordileone stressed the importance of breaking down stereotypes on each side of the issue. He noted that both groups sometimes say things that cause harm to the other side, and that the harm is often not intended.

New Ways Ministry asked for advice on how LGBT Catholics and their families can initiate dialogues with their local bishops.  He noted that bishops often have many demands on their time and many requests for appointments.  A more practical route may be for people to request meetings with directors of diocesan ministries, such as family life, or with other chancery officials.

New Ways Ministry asked how a lesbian or gay person could speak to the U.S. bishops at one of their meetings. Cordileone mentioned that a member of the Courage ministry group, which promotes celibacy for lesbian and gay Catholics, has spoken to the bishops’ conference in the past. New Ways Ministry asked if other lesbian and gay persons could speak to the bishops. He considered this and seemed receptive to hearing the perspectives of gay and lesbian parish members.  Cordileone also noted that there is a great need to find ways to reach out to lesbian and gay people who are not close to the Church, including those who have been alienated from the institution.

New Ways Ministry spoke about six Catholic parents who met with Archbishop Chaput in Philadelphia in April to tell their stories about their gay and lesbian children. The parents were enthused and delighted with Archbishop Chaput’s warm reception and invitation to meet again. Cordileone was interested in learning more about the meeting from Chaput.

Gramick mentioned that, although she and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, differed on the issue of same-sex marriage, she and Paprocki had a delightful luncheon together as they shared their common ethnic backgrounds. She asked Cordelione to give her warm regards to Paprocki when they next meet.

Cordileone expressed genuine concern for how to speak about lesbian and gay people in ways that would not compromise his concern for church teaching or would harm lesbian and gay people. New Ways Ministry suggested that he elaborate more on church teaching concerning the human dignity of LGBT people and to show interest in their lives beyond the question of sexual ethics.  DeBernardo and Gramick shared a list of suggestions that were published on Bondings 2.0 in the summer of 2012.

Knowing that he often serves meals as part of the supper ministry of Most Holy Redeemer parish, a gay-friendly church in San Francisco, New Ways Ministry encouraged him to celebrate liturgy with the community, too, and he responded positively.  We also discussed with him some of the other ways that gay-friendly parishes across the nation are reaching out to LGBT people.

The hour-and-a-half meeting was very warm and friendly, and personal respect for one another was very evident throughout the time together. New Ways Ministry appreciated the opportunity to dialogue with Archbishop Cordileone.

The meeting shows that dialogue can happen in our church when both sides are willing to speak with one another honestly and respectfully.  We were edified by this personal encounter which revealed a man who seeks to learn how the Gospel can be proclaimed more effectively. May more bishops follow his lead in personally learning more about Catholic LGBT people and advocates.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Community of Conversation, Community of Support

December 2, 2014

Last Friday was the third anniversary of the Bondings 2.0 blog.  In the post for that day, I reminisced about how the blog began and some of the successes we’ve had along the way.  What we are most grateful for is that the blog has developed a conversation on Catholic LGBT topics involving readers and commenters from around the globe.

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” a sort of new “holiday” which sets aside a day as a way to remind and encourage people to make a financial gift to non-profit organizations.  It’s easy to celebrate this holiday.  There’s no preparation or hassles involved.  You just make a contribution to a non-profit.

We invite you to consider Bondings 2.0 as one of the organizations that you might support today.  As many of you know, this blog is a project of New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT people and the wider Church community.  New Ways Ministry is sustained primarily by donations from people, like yourself, who want to see the Catholic Church be a force for justice for LGBT people.

New Ways Ministry staff are the people responsible for getting the blog posts to you every day.   The “overhead” for the blog is not expensive, so our main cost is staff time for doing the research, reading, writing, and moderating essential to the blog’s life.

While the blog is free for everyone, we rely on the generosity of our readers to keep this resource viable.  Like public television and radio, it is people like yourselves who keep us going.  Unlike public television and radio, we only make requests for donations twice a year:  once on Giving Tuesday which is near our anniversary, and once at the end of May, which is about six months away.

If you enjoy the blog, if you find that it helps keep you informed of Catholic LGBT issues, if you find that it helps clarify your thoughts and helps you develop your involvement in justice and equality work, if you find that it helps you develop spiritually in any way, please consider making a donation today.

We appreciate any amount you would like to give.  As a suggestion, why not think of donating $50, which is less than $1 a week of free posts you receive all year round. That’s cheaper than the cost of most daily newspapers these days!  Of course, our strength has always been people who are able to give whatever they can, sometimes more than we ask, and sometimes less than we ask.  We are grateful for all!

You can donate by clicking here, and you will be brought to New Ways Ministry’s website donation page.  When you fill out the donation form online, please type “blog” in the comments section of the form so that we know that is why you are contributing.   You can also mail a check made out to “New Ways Ministry” to our offices at 4012  29th Street, Mount Rainier, MD  20712.  Or call us during business hours at 301-277-5674, and we can take your credit card donation over the phone.  However you decide to contribute, your donation is tax-deductible.

There is another way that you can help to support the blog:  tell your friends about it!  Have you let others know about this resource?  Word of mouth tends to be our best promoter.  Consider emailing a link to one of your favorite recent blog posts to friends on your email list who are interested in Catholic LGBT issues.

Thanks so much for any way that you can help to support this electronic ministry.  We are deeply grateful for your support, and we will continue to offer prayers of gratitude for all that you do for us and all that you do for the Catholic Church’s LGBT brothers and sisters.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Without An Experience of Extravagant Love, We Have No Hope to Become Better

November 30, 2014

For the four Sundays of Advent, Bondings 2.0 will feature reflections on the day’s Scripture readings by two New Ways Ministry staff members:  Matthew Myers, Associate Director, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, Co-Founder.  The liturgical readings for the First Sunday of Advent are Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19; 64:2-7; Psalm 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9; Mark 13: 33-37.  You can read the texts by clicking here.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Advent originally was a 40 day fast that helped Christians to prepare for Christmas.  While most Catholics have dropped the penitential fasting, we have retained a mood of sober reflection.  In the excitement of shopping and planning holiday parties, the readings for the first Sunday of Advent – in particular, the first reading by Isaiah — give us a space to reflect briefly on our need for God’s extravagant love.

Isaiah mourns the sinfulness of his people.  He claims they have strayed so far from God that they are like “withered leaves” without life and that their “good deeds are like polluted rags.”  But “no ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen” such greatness as God.  Isaiah praises God’s true greatness by starting and ending his lament with the bold proclamation that God remains the people’s loving parent despite their hardened hearts.  Though the people stray from righteousness, God waits with outstretched arms to embrace them like a father or mother would embrace a beloved child.

In a similar vein, Pseudo-Dionysius, a 6th century Christian author, creates a humbling picture of God’s extravagant love and desire for relationship with us as revealed through Jesus:

“Jesus clings lovingly to those who even depart from him… [He] makes excuses for them, and further promises to serve them, and runs towards and meets even those who hold themselves aloof… when his entire self has embraced their entire selves, he kisses them, and does not reproach them for former things, but rejoices over the present, and holds a feast, and calls together friends…”

I cannot help but to think of God’s extravagant love made manifest between human beings in the scene from Les Miserables where Valjean is given a meal and place to sleep by an elderly bishop.  In the middle of the night, Valjean steals the bishop’s silver, strikes the old man when confronted, and flees into the darkness.  When Valjean is apprehended the next morning and returned to the bishop’s residence, the bishop dismisses the police and helps Valjean to pack up the rest of the silver.  The bishop realizes that, without an experience of extravagant mercy and love, Valjean has no hope to transform into someone better.

I think it is the same for us – without an experience of extravagant love, we have no hope to become better than we are.  In the midst of making Christmas present lists and writing cards, perhaps each of us might reflect on how we have experienced God’s extravagant love in our own lives, give thanks for that experience, and, like the elderly bishop from Les Miserables, find ways to share that same love with others.

–Matthew Myers, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


Three Years and Counting!

November 28, 2014

Today marks the third anniversary of Bondings 2.0!  Wow!  Does time fly by when you’re having fun!

When I wrote the first blog post on November 28, 2011, I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I hoped that I would be able to do blog posts about three times a week.  Well, since that late November Monday, not one single day has gone by where we haven’t been able to find something worth blogging about.  That says less about our determination and more about the fact that there is so much news about Catholic LGBT issues around our country and around our world.

This past year has been particularly plentiful with news, mainly because of Pope Francis and the synod, which kept Bob Shine and me very busy for most of the month of October. We tried to provide our readers with the best of what we were reading about the synod, not just to keep you informed, but so that you could share your own ideas about the event.  Though the synod kept us busy, it was a “good” busy, and it is much more enjoyable to work late to get out good news than to get out bad news.

Unfortunately, there has been bad news this year, too.  At the top of the negative list have to be the firing of so many LGBT people and supporters from Catholic institutions, and also the increase in repressive anti-gay laws around the globe.   While we like to let our readers know about positive developments, it’s also our job to keep you informed about these troublesome events, too.

When we report bad news, we try to offer our readers some actions they can take to respond positively to such events.  This year, we have encouraged Catholics to promote the idea of employment non-discrimination policies in their schools and parishes to help end the firings of LGBT people.  We also instituted the #PopeSpeakOut campaign to encourage Pope Francis to raise his voice against repressive anti-LGBT laws.

This blog truly is social media.  It is not just a one-way flow of communication from us to you, but involves you as commenters and as action-takers, too!  And we greatly appreciate the many “tips” and “leads” that people send us about news and happenings.

We will have one more post next week about other ways that you can help to support the blog.  Hint:  the post will appear on what has become known as “Giving Tuesday.”   But donations are not the only way you will be asked to help.

So, happy birthday to us all!  And watch out for us in the coming year! Just remember how inquisitive and precocious three-year olds can be!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 


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