Five Years–And Counting!!!

Time really does fly when you’re having fun!  I can’t believe that it was five years ago today that I sat down at my computer at New Ways Ministry and typed into Google the words “how to start a blog.”  I spent the day learning about platforms and scheduling, and by the time 5:00 p.m.rolled around, I had my very first post for a blog I dubbed Bondings 2.0.  The Bondings part of the name was taken from New Ways Ministry’s paper newsletter, published continuously since 1978.  The 2.0 part was a nod to the fact that this was a social media version of Catholic LGBT news.

I started the blog that day with the hope that I would post something three times a week.  However, I so much enjoyed the work of blogging that I found myself posting every single day.  And for the past five years, we have put up at least one post (sometimes two or three) every single day.  This isn’t just bragging about our epistolary stamina.  The fact that there is something to post every single day for five years attests to the fact that Catholic LGBT news and opinion has blossomed and is one of the main stories of our contemporary world.

One of the main joys of this work is that I get to interact with wonderful people:  our readers!  Your comments on individual posts have helped to open my eyes to perspectives and information that are truly enlightening.  I’m grateful, too, to the many readers who send me “tips” in the form of news links to articles I might have missed.

I also have been blessed with great co-workers over the years who have kept this blog vibrant.  Of course, at the top of this list is Bob Shine, a tireless writer and investigator who does the lion’s share of the work in producing posts week in and week out.  And of course, my colleagues at New Ways Ministry who have written several posts over the years–Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Matt Myers, Cynde Nordone, Glen Bradley–have also added to this great conversation.

Last, but not least, are our guest contributors, too many to mention by name, but whose writings have brought new dimensions to this ongoing conversation.  Our latest guest contributor debuted yesterday, in an Advent Scriptural reflection series written by young LGBTQ theologians.

Only twice a year do we come to our readers and ask for financial support for this project.  Tomorrow is “Giving Tuesday,”  a day set aside to make holiday donations to non-profit organizations and charities.  We would be deeply honored if you could assist this blog project by making New Ways Ministry one of your charitable donations this year.   You can donate by clicking here, filling out the form, and writing “blog” in the comments box at the end of the form.  You don’t have to wait until Tuesday to make your donation.  Do it today so that you don’t forget!   Of course, your donation is tax-deductible.

If you prefer not to donate on-line, you can call our office 301-277-5674, during business hours, Eastern U.S. time, and we can take your credit card information over the phone.  Or you can send a check made to “New Ways Ministry” to 4012 – 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712.  However you decide to donate, your gift is tax-deductible.

At this anniversary time, we also like to let folks know about our criteria for approving “Comments” to individual blog posts.  Some of the criteria are very common to many blogs and some are particular to ours. Here are the guidelines that we use:

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,”  “God hates gays,”  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, “All LGBT people should leave Catholicism,”  “I don’t know why you all don’t become Protestant”).

Blogging has been a wonderful adventure these past five years!  Each day, we learn something new.  We look forward to many more adventurous years with you in the future!  Thanks so much for being a part of this online community!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 28, 2016

The Catholic LGBT Stories You Found Most Interesting in 2015

As I look back on the year that is closing, I thought it might be instructive to look at what Bondings 2.0’s readers thought were the most interesting stories of the past 12 months.  I looked for the stories posted this year which received the highest number of views.

The top ten stories follow, with the first one being the one with the most views, and decreasing in descending order. Each headline links back to the original post.  Below each entry, I offer a brief commentary.

[Editor’s note:  On December 26th, we will provide our annual poll for readers to determine what were the best and worst Catholic LGBT stories this past year.  Results will be posted on December 30th and 31st.]

1.  New Ways Ministry and U.S. Catholics Rejoice at Supreme Court Marriage Equality Decision

The post in the number one spot is not surprising.  The Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision will likely be considered one of the top stories of the year in the general press.  I recall that in announcing the news of this decision, The New York Times had the largest headline I have seen in the paper since the day after September 11, 2001.

2. Pope Francis’ Former Student Speaks About Meeting During U.S. Papal Visit

I was at first surprised by the post in the number two spot, but on further reflection, it seems like a natural.  Pope Francis’ positive gestures and statements regarding LGBT issues touch hearts deeply.  Additionally, this story is related to the another major news event of the year: the pontiff’s visit to the U.S.

3. LGBTQ Children in Catholic Families: A Deacon’s View of Holy Family Sunday

Technically this post appeared in 2014, but it was posted on December 28th, so close enough to the beginning of 2015 that I decided to include it in this list.  I think this piece was so popular because it blended a personal story with commentary on church teaching and practice–all told from the perspective of a married Catholic deacon active in church ministry.  The fact that it had already received thousands of views before 2015 began, yet still emerged as the third most popular story of the year, indicates how powerfully it touched hearts and minds.

4. Vatican Family Official Thanks TV’s “Modern Family” for Revealing Reality

This post represents a positive growing trend in the Catholic Church lately:  high-ranking church officials acknowledging and praising the presence of loving gay and lesbian couples in society.  Because this post was tweeted by “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet (who plays Cameron) and was shown on a HuffPost Live interview with him, it also reached a much wider audience of readers.

5. Cardinal Gracias to LGBT People: ‘Church Embraces You, Wants You, Needs You’

Having received press credentials from the Vatican to cover the synod on the family for Bondings 2.0, I was able to raise up LGBT issues with several cardinals and bishops at this historic meeting.  This personal interview with the president of India’s bishops conference who is also one of Pope Francis’ closest advisors included an important message of acceptance which I think our readers and their friends were excited to hear.

6. Archbishop Discusses African Bishops’ Silence on Criminalization of LGBT People

Another story from the synod, this one featured a direct question about the hierarchy’s deafening silence on criminalization laws.  I was able to ask this question to a high-ranking African archbishop at a synod press conference, and his answer was reported widely in other news outlets beyond this blog.

7. Father Martin’s Viral Facebook Post on ‘So Much Hatred From So Many Catholics’

I think the popularity of this post shows how polarized our church is when it comes to discussion LGBT issues.  After Fr. James Martin, SJ, posted New Ways Ministry’s response to the Supreme Court marriage decision on his Facebook page, he was deluged by negative responses from Catholics who opposed the decision.  The response was so strong that his response to them was covered by Religion News Service,

8. Another Gay Person Is Denied Communion at a Parent’s Funeral

Bad news, unfortunately, is always popular.  I think the reason that communion denial stories attract so much attention is deeper than that they are simply negative.   They strike at the heart of Catholic identity: the Eucharist.  I think they also strike people as intensely personal.  The fact that this particular denial took place at a parent’s funeral made it all the more painful.

9. Illinois Priest Sends Entire Town Anti-Gay Letter, Calls it a “Public Service”

Sadly, it is not an uncommon story to hear a Catholic Church official make negative comments about LGBT people.  In some ways, it is not even news-worthy.  The level of vitriol in this case, however, as well as the hubris exhibited by the pastor, made this particular story rise above the ordinary version of negative comments.

10. Pope Francis’ Meeting With Kim Davis Raises a Red Flag

I’m not surprised that this story made it into the top ten.  When it first broke at the end of September, so many people were so disheartened by what seemed like Pope Francis rejecting his advice to bishops to not be so politically identified.  Of course,  the story had a happy ending when it was revealed that the Vatican had not arranged this encounter with Davis (which turned out to be little more than a handshake), but that the pope himself had arranged a meeting in the U.S. with a former student of his who is gay.

Between now and the end of the year, we will be publishing a few other posts concerning the year that was.  Feel free, as always, to make your own year-end summaries in the “Comments” section of this post.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 

 

Growing Our Community of Faith, Hope, and Advocacy for Love

My, how times flies!  We started this blog at the end of November, 2011, and we’ve been posting continually every day since then.  Now, at the end of May, 2014, we have reached our two-and-a-half year milepost, and, as has been our tradition every six months, we come to you, our readers, and ask for your financial support for this project.  Would you be able to help our community grow?

This blog was envisioned as a major extension of New Ways Ministry’s mission to educate people about the ups and downs of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community. We wanted it to be a part of our organization’s mission to help advocate for equality for LGBT people in church and society.  We hoped that through these blog posts, we would encourage and empower people to build bridges of justice and reconciliation in their home communities, whether these bridges be great or small.

But the blog has turned out to be so much more.  It is a community of faith-filled people who read and reflect on the news and who enter into discussion with one another on issues that matter to them.  We have been edified by the many thought-filled “Comments” to our posts, in which people share not only their ideas, but their faith journeys and experiences. Your personal contributions  enrich this site.

We ask you to consider contributing financially to support this blog.  Any amount, large or small, would be greatly appreciated and would help us keep this project and community thriving.  If you contribute $50, you are giving less than $1 a week for a whole year’s worth of news, information, opinion, and reflection.

To send an online donation, click here, fill out the form, and write “Blog” in the “Comments” box of the form.  You can also send a check made out to “New Ways Ministry” to our office at 4012 – 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712.  If you want to contribute by credit card over the phone, please call our office, 301-277-5674, during Eastern Time business hours, and we will take down your information.

Like public radio or television, you are welcome to enjoy the material here at no cost.  But like these forms of media, we rely so much upon the generosity of our constituents.  Like radio or television fund drives, we only come to you twice a year asking for contributions:  at the end of November on our annual anniversary, and six months later, at the beginning of summer for the half-year mark.

If you find this resource helpful to your life of  faith, hope, and advocacy on behalf of love,  please consider making a donation.

Regardless of your ability to donate, we hope that you will continue to read this blog and to share it with your friends.  In whatever way you are able to help this community grow, we are deeply grateful for your support, and we will keep you all in our prayers of gratitude.

–Francis DeBernardo, Sister Jeannine Gramick, Matthew Myers, Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 

MEA MAXIMA CULPA! Donation Link Updated

sorryWe are very  sorry to have learned that the earlier post we sent out today in which  we asked for donations had a defective link to the donation page.

If you would like to donate online, please click here.   You will be brought to New Ways Ministry’s donation page where you can fill in the required information.  Please write “blog” in the Comments section of this donation form.

If you want to donate via check and postal mail,  please send a check payable to New Ways Ministry to:

New Ways Ministry, 4012 29th Street, Mount Rainier, MD 20712
Please write “blog” in the memo line of the check.
If you want to read the original post in which we described the need for donations, please click here.
Sorry for any confusion!  Thanks so much for your support!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Help Keep Bondings 2.0 Strong!

We hope that you find Bondings 2.0 a useful resource for you.  Our desire is to put out quality material of news and opinion on Catholic LGBT issues to help inform readers of what is going on, good and bad and in-between, in regard to these issues.  Our hope is that this information will help readers develop intellectually and spiritually, and that this resource may support them in their ministry, their activism, and their relationships.

donationsTwice a year, we come to our readers in a single post (this is one of them) to ask for financial support for this blog.  The last time we did so was six months ago on our one year anniversary.

We like to think of the blog in the same way that we consider public radio or public television.  The resource is free for the public to consume, but we rely on the generosity of some of our “consumers” to keep the material free and available to all.  Would you be able to be one of those generous people this time around?  You can donate by clicking the “Contribute” tab at the top of the blog page  or simply click here.  Please write “blog” in the comments section of the donation page, so we know where you want your gift applied.

If you prefer to donate by check, you can mail the gift to:

New Ways Ministry
4012 29th Street
Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712
Please write the check to “New Ways Ministry” and write “blog” in the memo line.

The world of Catholic LGBT issues is moving so fast.  When we began this blog a year and a half ago, we made a commitment to try to post something once a day.    In fact recently, we often find that we have to post twice or three times a day, just to keep up with the volume of news and perspectives that we find occurring. We have been faithful to that daily commitment for over 18 months now, and we hope we can keep it going in the future.

We try to give you the gist of each story so that you don’t have to read a whole article yourself if you don’t have time, but we also provide you with the link to the complete text if you do want more information.   We also try to give you multiple sources for each topic, when available, so that you can see things from a variety of perspectives, and get the best of each news organization’s reporting.  And we also offer our perspective on new developments and opinions.

A blog is social media, however, so in addition to giving our perspective, we and our readers benefit from learning your perspective, too, when you post your responses and reactions in the “Comments” section of each post.  I’m always amazed at how much I learn from the intelligent and compassionate responses of our readers.

donations thanksA donation of $50 is less than one dollar per week of news and information that you receive here.  If you donate $50, we will send you a complimentary copy of New Ways Ministry’s Homosexuality: A Positive Catholic Approach as a thank-you gift.  You can donate by clicking here or by mailing a check to the address provided above.  Please write “blog” in the comments box of the electronic donation page or in the memo line of the check.

So, please help keep Bondings 2.0 strong in the future.  A small donation on your part goes along way to helping New Ways Ministry help thousands of LGBT people, families, ministers, advocates, and scholars aware of the many new developments in the area of Catholic LGBT news.

Thanks so much for your generous support!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Fortunate Families: The New Blog on the Block

fortunate_families2Bondings 2.0 welcomes a new friend to the blogosphere: the Fortunate Families Blog! This new internet resource is a new online community for the Fortunate Families (FF) network, which brings together Catholic parents of LGBT people for mutual support and advocacy for equality.

The two editors are FF board members Deb Word and Tony Garascia.  In their first post, they describe the blog’s mission and scope:

“We hope to use this blog to keep you up to date with what’s going on at Fortunate Families and to give Catholic Parents of lgbtq kids a place to interact. Share this space with your family and friends and PLEASE comment.  We want this page to be interactive, and we hope to have a new post each week!”

The blog has gotten off to a great start.  For example, one post lists the signs of hope that Catholic parents are seeing in the area of LGBT issues.  Here’s a few from their list:

  • Young people, young people, young people.  The fact that so many young adults are open and affirming of the LGBT community.
  • Change happens over time, this is hopeful.  We hold the tension of being urgent and patient at the same time.  Requires a deeper spirituality to do that.
  •  Many more Catholic parishes are now hosting groups for LGBT ministry.
  • New, younger parents of LGBT children are getting involved.
  • More people of other faiths are getting involved in LGBT issues and equality.
  • Even though many of us have been singing the same song of openness and affirmation for a long time there seems to be a lot more people singing with us.

Another post offers a profile of Joan Abele, who is one of FF’s Listening Parents Network, a group of Catholic parents who have been trained to be listeners and accompaniers of parents who may just be learning they have an LGBT child or who may be experiencing a special challenge with their faith or family.

This blog looks like it will be a great addition to the already flourishing online conversations taking place for those interested in different aspects of the Catholic LGBT world.  Check out Bondings 2.0’s blogroll, in the column to the right of this post, for a variety of Catholic websites and blogs on LGBT and other church reform issues.   To learn more about Fortunate Families as an organization, you can visit their website.

Remember, too, that blogs–whether the Fortunate Families one, Bondings 2.0, or any other one–are social media.  As such, they are not just providers of information, but opportunities for discussion.  So, you are encouraged when visiting any blog site, including this one, to make your opinions and reactions known by posting in the “Comments” section provided for each post.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Fortunate Families blog!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Blog Birthday Redux

At the end of last month, we celebrated the first anniversary for the Bondings 2.0 blog, with several posts marking this milestone.

New Ways Ministry co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick poses with Bondings 2.0's birthday cake!
New Ways Ministry co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick poses with Bondings 2.0’s birthday cake!

Here at New Ways Ministry, we also had some “offline” celebrations, including a birthday cake for the blog!

If you are able to support the blog into the new year, we suggest two different ways:

1) Make a contribution to the blog by clicking the “Contribute” tab above.  Please make sure to write the word “blog” in the “Comments” box of the donation form to which you will be directed.

2) Take a moment to complete our survey of Bondings 2.0 readers by clicking the “Reader Survey” tab above.  Your answers will provide us valuable information so that we can make the blog more effective, meaningful, and convenient for you and other readers.

Thanks for your continued support of this blog and of LGBT Catholic issues!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry