Pope Should Correct U.S. Bishops’ “Ideological Colonization” of CCHD Grantees

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is making headlines again with another blockbuster interview on a plane ride home from an international visit, this one his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. What is capturing journalists’ attention are the plans for the pope’s U.S. trip and his remarks about birth control and family planning, which seem to be a radical departure from the traditional ban on artificial means of contraception.  (Full transcript of interview can be found by clicking here.)

What has captured my attention, however, is his elaboration of a term he used at a conference of families in the Philippines on Friday:  “ideological colonization.”    It seems to me that Pope Francis’ explanation of this term can equally apply to Catholic organizations such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), as it does for the international aid organizations, which seemed to be the pope’s immediate referent.  I’ll explain below; first, some background.

On Friday, while speaking of dangers to the family, Pope Francis said:

“There is an ideological colonization we have to be careful of that tries to destroy the family. Just as our peoples were able to say no to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and very strong with fortitude to say no to these initiatives of colonization that could destroy the family.”

A Vatican spokesperson then said that, in part, the pope was referring to same-gender marriage. New Ways Ministry’s response can be read by clicking here.

In the interview on the plane back to Rome on Monday, the pope explained more about what he meant by “ideological colonization.”  The National Catholic Reporter captured that part of the interview:

“Continuing to clarify his concept of ‘ideological colonization,’ Francis said he heard concerns about the matter from African bishops during last fall’s Synod, who told him they often face difficult choices when presented with conditions of acceptance on much needed financial aid.

” ‘I say to many that I have seen this,’ said the pope.

“Francis compared such colonization to criticisms he has frequently made about the process of globalization — saying that the homogenizing of peoples is ‘the globalization of the sphere — [where] all the points are equidistant from the center.’

” ‘It is important to globalize but not like the sphere — like the polyhedron,’ he continued. ‘Namely, that every people, every part, conserves its own identity without being ideologically colonized.’ “

Basically, Pope Francis is saying that money for aid and charity should not be tied to the ideological values of the donating organization.  The pope should be instructing not international aid organizations about that principle, but his own Catholic bishops in the U.S.

For several years now (see list at end of this post), we have seen the U.S. bishops’ domestic aid project, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, withdraw funds from charitable and empowerment organizations they have funded when it has been found that the organization has some sort of connection to organizations which support marriage equality.  This connection may even be quite tenuous, such as participating in the same coalition.

Isn’t this practice “ideological colonization”?  Why is it okay for U.S. bishops to practice this method of philanthropy, but not other organizations or countries?

Following Pope Francis’ geometric analogy, it should not be necessary to tie CCHD aid to the bishops’ political agenda, making all agencies that receive such funds be equidistant from the bishops on all principles, creating a sphere. Rather, the bishops can create instead, as the pope suggests, a polyhedron, which would encourage diversity of strategies to achieve a common end. If an immigrant rights group determines that working with other organizations that support marriage equality is the best way to aid and empower people, the bishops should then respect that local decision.

In Francis’ view, “ideological colonization” has dangerous outcomes, and also dangerous precedents.  The National Catholic Reporter transmitted his remarks on this concept:

” ‘It colonizes the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure.’

” ‘It is not new, this,’ he continued. ‘The same was done by the dictators of the last century. They came with their own doctrine — think of the Balilla [youth groups of Fascist Italy], think of the Hitler Youth.’

” ‘They colonized the people,’ he continued. ‘How much suffering — peoples must not lose liberty.’

” ‘Every people has its own culture,’ said Francis. ‘But when imposed conditions come from the imperial colonizers, they seek to make [peoples] lose their own identity and make an homogeny.’ “

Of course, the same problems are true for the way that the CCHD is being run.  In being so ideological, using marriage equality as a litmus test,  the bishops are denying liberty and eradicating local decision-making.  Worse yet, they are alienating people and organizations with whom they should be building bridges.

If Pope Francis is serious about working against “ideological colonization,” he should start in his own backyard and tell Catholic bishops that they should not tie aid to their own political objectives.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related posts

Bondings 2.0 has been reporting on these cases involving the withdrawal of CCHD funds because of connections to groups which support marriage equality.  Here’s a list of some of the posts:

April 12, 2012: “WithCharityForAll.org”

August 5, 2012: “Catholic Grant Money Returned Because of Warning About LGBT Rights Involvement

November 1, 2012: “Marriage Debate In Minnesota Creates Conflicts for Catholics

June 15, 2013: “Attacks Against Bishops’ Anti-Poverty Efforts Come at the Expense of LGBT Community

August 6, 2013: “On Gay and Lesbian Immigrants, Catholic Bishops Need to Do a Lot Better

October 3, 2013: “Donors Fill the Gap When Bishops Cut Funds Because of Marriage Equality Support

October 21, 2013: “Immigrant Rights’ Groups Cut Budgets Because of Loss of Catholic Funds

July 19, 2014: “Bishops Defund Immigrant Rights Group in Guilt-By-Association Case





Immigrant Rights’ Groups Cut Budgets Because of Loss of Catholic Funds

We reported a few weeks back about the Illinois’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) de-funding of Immigrants’ rights groups because of their support for the state’s marriage equality law.  There was hope that they would be able to raise money from individuals to re-coup the $300,000 of Catholic money that supported their immigration work.


Lawrence Benito

The Chicago Tribune indicates that these groups have started to cut their programs and services because they have been unable to match the cut funds. Only $91,000 has been raised.   The news report notes that the leaders of these organizations are very disappointed, but still stand by their decision to support marriage equality on the principle of justice.  Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights stated:

“We knew there would be some push-back, but we didn’t really fully understand the extent at which this could play out. Our only regret was the process by which we made the decision. Since then … we’ve come to the same conclusion. As an organization dedicated to justice, fairness and equality, we saw this issue as consistent with those principles.”

The CCHD’s decision to take back funding has, however, left many of these immigration leaders bewildered about the Catholic church’s support of immigration rights:

” ‘The groups they’ve chosen to defund are working on a variety of issues in their communities,’ said Jeanne Kracher, executive director of the Crossroads Fund of Chicago, the foundation administering the emergency money. ‘None of them have dropped what they’re doing and exclusively started working on gay marriage. It just seemed odd to say: “Last week we thought you were great but this week, we don’t. ” ‘ “

And Benito, quoted above, said:

“We wouldn’t be where we are today in the fight for immigration reform without the support and partnership of the Catholic Church both locally and nationally. We have consistent values in terms of immigration reform.”

Cardinal Francis George
Cardinal Francis George

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago defended the CCHD with the following statement:

“Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid. He knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the church for political advantage is wrong.”

Not only is his bluntness inelegant, but it also illustrates a trend that another Illinois Catholic official said is operating among the hierarchy around immigration reform and marriage equality.  The Chicago Tribune  reported this bit concerning a national immigration reform bill and its effect on the hierarchy’s position:

“Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, proposed amending the immigration reform bill to include foreign-born, same-sex spouses. Leahy eventually withheld the amendment, but church leaders already felt betrayed.

“Anthony Suarez-Abraham, head of the Chicago Archdiocese’s office for peace and justice, said that after Leahy’s action, U.S. bishops put everyone on high alert for attempts to combine gay rights and immigration reform elsewhere. So when the state’s immigrant rights coalition endorsed gay marriage, it struck a nerve.”

Cardinal George’s blunt tone is uncharitable, at best.  In my opinion, it is statements such as his that Pope Francis may have been referring to when he said that some church leaders were obsessed with gay marriage.  Such crass bluntness is unbecoming of a church leader, and it seems to indicate some over-investment in the topic.  Regardless of how much someone may differ from his point of view, no one deserves to be spoken to so arrogantly.   His comments disregard his interlocutor,  reflect poorly  on himself, and do a great disservice to Jesus and the entire church.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Donors Fill the Gap When Bishops Cut Funds Because of Marriage Equality Support

Two months ago, immigrants’ rights organizations in Chicago lost funding from the US bishops over their support of marriage equality. Now, the National Catholic Reporter reveals an impressive effort underway to replace lost grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), a an anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.The collaborative effort, called Solidarity Fund, hopes to raise $300,000 from charitable foundations this year to support almost a dozen immigration-focused organizations located in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

These organizations received grants from CCHD, and they were also affiliated with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugees Rights, which endorsed marriage equality in May.  The coalition had stated:

“While we recognize that there are differences of opinion within immigrant and faith-based communities regarding same-sex marriages, including among our members, the majority of our members — and therefore our organization — believe that a full respect for our state’s and our nation’s diversity demands that we not discriminate based on whom we love, and that we call upon an end to such discrimination in our local, state, and federal laws.”

This statement triggered a response from the US bishops asking any organizations receiving CCHD grants to withdraw from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugees Rights or lose their funding. The news report explains what happened in ensuing weeks:

“A month later, a group of Chicago Catholics wrote an open letter in the Chicago Tribune to Cardinal Francis George, accusing him of using immigrants ‘as pawns in a political battle,’ and urged him to reconsider rescinding the groups’ funding.

“A day later, George responded that the board of the immigrant and refugee coalition, not he, cut the funding by endorsing same-sex marriage and said the church continues to support immigrants and immigration reform through other organizations.”

One of these immigrants rights’ groups spoke of the  impossible decision to forgo funding or withdraw from the statewide immigration reform coalition:

“For the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, [Executive Director Leone Jose] Bicchieri said the archdiocese contacted him several times in an effort to find a solution, but ultimately, he and his staff determined, given their focus, it didn’t make sense for their organization to sever ties with coalition.

“‘We felt that now was not a time to even consider splintering off from a coalition around immigration reform,’…adding that he was hopeful for future opportunities for collaboration with the Chicago archdiocese.”

The actions of Cardinal George and CCHD are harming efforts to assist migrants and achieve immigration reform. Defunding organizations over LGBT issues forces these groups to commit limited resources to respond to the bishops’ narrow concerns and leaves them less capable of enacting charity and justice for immigrants, a position the Catholic Church strongly endorses. It is an inspiration that the Solidarity Fund is acting swiftly to make up the funding through donors, but this politicking and crisis management model leaves all sides worse off.

CCHD promotes their work with the phrase, “Fight Poverty. Defend Human Dignity.” As a former intern with them, I know well the deep impact the CCHD has had in rectifying injustices in the US and building up a more just society. It is one of the American Church’s true accomplishments since Vatican II. Yet, actions like the defunding in Chicago leave me wondering why the bishops equivocate whose dignity Catholics will defend and why so many must be hurt for their crusade against civil marriage equality.

To donate to the Solidarity Fund, you can visit their website here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

The Incredible, Shrinking Catholic Church

Were it up to some Catholics, the church would become an isolationist sect that has no possibility of communicating or interacting with the non-Catholic public.  At least that is the impression given when some Catholic organizations and bishops keep de-funding and criticizing other Catholic groups because they associate with those who support marriage equality.

Father Larry Snyder
Father Larry Snyder

The latest example is the American Life League, a Catholic pro-life group which is criticizing Catholic Charities USA.  The National Catholic Reporter states:

In a video report published July 29 on its YouTube page, the American Life League accuses Catholic Charities USA “of playing the devil’s game of compromise” because its president, Fr. Larry Snyder, sits on the board of trustees of the America’s Promise Alliance, a network formed out of a 1997 summit of U.S. presidents to promote childhood success. . . .

” ‘There’s no mistaking it — the America’s Promise Alliance is promoting homosexual activism and birth control,’ said Michael Hichborn, director of the league’s Defend the Faith project, in the report.

” ‘A Catholic priest has no business compromising Catholic principles by attaching the Catholic name of his $4.6 billion charity to an organization that celebrates birth control and homosexual activism the way the America’s Promise Alliance does,’ Hichborn said of Snyder, who has served as Catholic Charities president since 2005.”

In response to these accusations, Catholic Charities has said:

“Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) follows the teachings and ethical practices of the Catholic Church and as we and other Church institutions have done for decades, we engage in coalitions focused on reducing poverty in our nation. We do this with a mutual understanding that we cannot and will not endorse the public policy statements of any coalition that are inconsistent with our teachings and ethical practices.”

The National Catholic Reporter highlighted some of the LGBT work done by America’s Promise Alliance through the program of designating “best communities”:

“Among those highlighted in the [American Life League] report were four-time recipient Houston/Harris County, Texas, which the league said won in 2010 for giving ‘a homosexual activist organization access to teens in two high schools,’ and six-time winner Bellevue, Wash., which in 2011 won in part because a youth counseling center ‘produced a homosexual propaganda film that won Best Local Film at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.’

“In the descriptions of both communities on its website, the alliance recognized each for other achievements as well: promoting literacy and academic readiness; training mentors to help struggling students stay in school; and establishing a youth court to include their voice in the juvenile justice system.”

The news article also contained other information about the American Life League:

“Earlier this year, the American Life League targeted another social justice wing of the church, the U.S. bishops’ conference’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

“In a June report, Faith in Public Life identified the American Life League as the leading organization among a predominantly conservative coalition campaigning against the anti-poverty program. The groups’ criticisms of the campaign fall along lines similar to what they say about Catholic Charities: that it partners with or funds organizations that in some way support abortion and same-sex marriage.”

Whenever I hear about groups criticizing Catholic organizations for associating with those with whom they may disagree, I am reminded of the Pharisees in the Gospel who accuse Jesus of hanging out with the “wrong” kind of people.  To be like Jesus, Catholics need to associate and work with people at all points on the political spectrum in areas where they find commonality.

While I would wish that Catholic groups would strongly support LGBT equality organizations, I recognize that not all are yet ready to do so.  But at the very least, those who do want to be connected to such organizations, should have the ability to do so.  It’s a Gospel lesson.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

On Gay and Lesbian Immigrants, Catholic Bishops Need to Do a Lot Better

Thje Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty organization of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, has cut off funding for an immigration rights’ group in Illinois because of their support for marriage equality.


Cardinal Francis George
Cardinal Francis George

Chicago.CBSLocal.com  reports that a group of Catholic elected officials have protested the move to defund the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has defended the CCHD decision.  The news article states:

“. . . the cardinal responded to an open letter signed by a group of Catholic elected officials and community leaders, urging the church to reverse that decision.

“ ‘You can’t play off the pastoral concern of the church for the poor against the church’s teaching,’ George said. ‘That’s exactly what was done, that’s a cynical move, and I’m sorry that it was done.’ ”

The Catholic elected officials had written an open letter in which they stated that church leaders were using “immigrants and those who seek to help them as pawns in a political battle.”

The letter’s signers were Chicago Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno, Danny Solis, Patrick O’Connor, and James Cappelman; Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Larry Suffredin; and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza.

One has to wonder why bishops continue to make marriage equality opposition a requirement for helping the poor.    It is the same strategy that many bishops have taken in terms of adoption policy where they place opposition to gay and lesbian couples above the care of children.

Earlier this spring, when immigration reform was being debated in Congress, some bishops opposed the inclusion of rights for same-gender couples in the bill. The bishops, traditionally strong supporters of immigration rights, drew the line when it came to gay and lesbian couples  Marilou Johanek, a columnist for The Toledo Blade in Ohio characterized such a stance this way:

“No one, no family, no population should be left behind — except gay and lesbian immigrants, bless their misguided souls. Leave them behind.”

Bishop Leonard Blair
Bishop Leonard Blair

Johanek goes on to quote a letter that Toledo’s Bishop Leonard Blair wrote to parishioners about the bill, in which he stated:

“ ‘Most Catholics support their Bishops’ call for the creation of an immigration system that respects basic human rights and dignity while ensuring the integrity of our borders,’ he said. Under the Senate immigration bill, he added, ‘more than 11 million undocumented persons could gain legal status in our country, and possibly citizenship.’

“The bishop instructed local parishes to publish educational material from the bishops’ conference ‘to explain why the Church is concerned about immigration from a religious, moral, and social perspective.’ So far so good.

“Then came the caveat: ‘As the legislative process moves forward, issues may emerge which could hinder USCCB support of an immigration reform bill. Chief among them would be the addition of provisions which would treat same-sex couples as if married in the conferral of immigration benefits,’ Bishop Blair wrote.

“The letter said the bishops’ conference ‘is working to ensure that these provisions are not included in any final legislation.’

In responding to Pope Francis’ positive comments about gay people last week, many bishops and dioceses expressed surprise that people did not know that the Catholic Catechism urged respect for the human dignity of lesbian and gay people.  When bishops offer statements and examples such as the ones by Cardinal George and Bishop Blair above, is it any wonder that people don’t know about that aspect of the church’s teaching?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

The Worst of 2012 in Catholic LGBT News

thumbs downAs the year 2012 winds to a close, it’s time to review the news of the Catholic LGBT world of the past 12 months. In today’s post, we will look at the  stories of the worst happenings of the past year, and in tomorrow’s post, we will look at the best stories.  Bondings 2.0 asked you for your feedback on what the worst and best news stories of the past year were, so the ranking of these stories is based on your responses.  The percentage following each story is the percentage of people who chose this item as one of their top five. Thank you to all 311 of you who participated.

The Top Ten

1. The Parliament in Uganda, a pre-dominantly Catholic nation, re-introduces a bill to make the death penalty a possible sentence for lesbian and gay people.  16.34%

2. The Vatican censures the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for, among other things, their support of LGBT issues and New Ways Ministry. 15.69%

3. Pope Benedict opens the year by stating that new models of family are a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity.” 14.05%

4. The Knights of Columbus have contributed $6.5 million to oppose marriage equality over the past seven years, according to an Equally Blessed report. 12.09%

5. A Catholic lesbian woman in Maryland is denied communion at her mother’s funeral Mass. 10.13% 

6. The Vatican censures Sister Margaret Farley, a theologian who has supported the moral goodness of gay and lesbian relationships. 6.86%  

7. U.S. bishops attempt to make religious liberty an issue as a way to defeat marriage equality initiatives. 6.54%

8. Minnesota teen is denied confirmation for supporting marriage equality. 4.9%

9 & 10. TIE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Catholic University of America again denies a request for recognition of a gay-straight alliance on campus. 2.29%                               Several Catholic church employees are fired because of their support of marriage equality. 2.29%

Other items:

In several cases, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development withdraws funding from organizations which support LGBT equality. 1.96% 

Catholic theologian Tina Beattie is disinvited from a fellowship appointment at the University of San Diego because of her support of marriage equality. 1.63%  

The U.S. Catholic bishops investigate the Girl Scouts of America for connections to liberal causes, including LGBT equality. 1.63%  

Minnesota’s Archbishop John Nienstedt instructs his priests not to speak publicly in support of marriage equality. 1.63%

A Catholic high school in Indianapolis refuses to call a female-to-male transgender student by his male name. 0.98%

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Marriage Debate In Minnesota Creates Conflicts for Catholics

In Minnesota, the debate over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality has Catholics split on the issue, and is causing problems for individual Catholics as well as organizations which the church has supported.

St. Paul’s Pioneer Press carried an article entitled “Marriage amendment: There’s no single ‘Catholic view’ on this vote,” which surveys the wide-range of Catholic opinion on this article, ranging from strong support to strong opposition to marriage equality. The reporter notes the deep divide among the state’s Catholics and the key role they will play in the outcome:

“Whether the amendment passes or fails on Election Day will depend a lot on how Minnesota Catholics vote.”

One of the Catholics interviewed for this article is Father Thomas Garvey, a retired pastor.  Garvey is an advocate of Catholics voting their conscience on this issue:

“It might be OK for the archbishop to require unanimity on a clear topic, Garvey says — ‘Jesus Christ the son of God? OK, I’d buy in to that.’ But not an issue like same-sex marriage, where people’s life experiences lead them to different places of conscience.

“Garvey’s own conscience on the matter was formed over more than five decades in ministry.

“He saw a film years ago in which a young lesbian was sobbing over the isolation she felt in her own family. ‘Watching her mourn her treatment said to me pretty clearly we got the wrong position on this,’ he said.

“Working with gay and lesbian parishioners solidified his view that they were no different from any other church members and deserved the right to be united with someone of the same sex under law, if not as part of a Catholic sacrament.”

A Minneapolis Star-Tribune article profiles one family, the Seiverts, who are feeling increasingly alienated from the Catholic Church because of the parents’ decision to support their lesbian daughter and her right to marry legally.  As the hierarchy became more vocal against marriage equality, the Seiverts have questioned their allegiance to the institution:

“Now the Seiverts find themselves in a wrenching personal and spiritual conflict, torn between supporting their daughter and a church whose leaders are unwavering in their opposition to same-sex marriage.

” ‘I am wrestling right now with can I in good conscience still be part of this church,’ said Greg Seivert, who has attended St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in St. Paul for 34 of his 59 years. ‘It’s so much part of the fabric of my life. I am really torn. I feel really alienated from what was once my home.’ “

Their alienation progressed from the time their daughter came out to them up through the current debate about the marriage amendment.  When their local pastor began preaching strongly against marriage equality, the Seiverts began to question their loyalty:

“. . .Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt started ramping up his involvement and directed his priests to press their followers on the need to vote for the amendment.

“St. Matthew’s new pastor, the Rev. Michael Rudolph, took up the cause. As his activity intensified, so too did the Seiverts’ alienation from their church. Veronica Seivert wanted to meet with Rudolph and tell him of their decision to leave, but Greg Seivert didn’t want a confrontation. Instead, they decided to send a letter and a final stewardship check.

“Rudolph responded days later with a two-page letter, warning that those who act on same-sex attraction face ‘a spiritual dead end.’ With God’s help, he wrote, Catholics are called on to help those ‘overcome disordered patterns in our life.’ ”

“The Seiverts were aghast. To this day they have not shared the letter with their daughter.

“‘ To tell us our daughter, who she is, is spiritual death,’ Veronica Seivert said. ‘I totally refuse to believe that.’

“Greg Seivert said the letter represented a brand of Catholicism far less caring and compassionate than the one he grew up with.”

In addition to the impact on individuals that the hierarchy’s stand on marriage has caused, there is also the impact on organizations that the church has traditionally supported.   The Land Steward Project (LSP), a group which opposes factory farms and supports new farmers and rural Latinos, had received $48,000 in funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).  The funding was pulled this year because the LSP belongs to two groups, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota, which oppose the constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality.

Mark Schultz

According to a MinnPost.com article, LSP Associate Director Mark Schultz said that his organization has not endorsed marriage equality and that their involvement with these two organizations has no connection to the issue:

“He says LSP is a member of the non-profit council ‘for occasional seminars — training and bookkeeping — that help make us a better-run organization. We work with TakeAction on reforming health care — a huge issue for our organization, which is primarily rural and outstate. They’ve also take a position against the voter restriction amendment, which we oppose.’ ”

Schultz, a Catholic, takes a broad view of the issue of associating with the two groups:

“ ‘CCHD was founded in order to implement the social teachings of the church,’ he says. ‘Jesus talked to prostitutes, tax collectors and the rest. You have to engage. Our organization has never taken a position objecting to the marriage amendment, but we will work with organizations helping us win local democracy, save democracy through protecting the vote, or doing our books better to help stop factory farms.’ ”

“He adds: ‘You never say, “We’ll never deal with you.” That’s not the way actual change happens. This is really bad pastoral ministry.’ ”

In addition to the legal damage their opposition to marriage equality can cause, the Catholic hierarchy needs to consider the pastoral and social damage that their involvement is effecting.  Regardless of the outcome next week, a great effort toward reconciliation is going to be needed to repair the hurt the hierarchy’s campaign has caused.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry