Homophobia By Osmosis: A Father’s Story for Father’s Day

June 21, 2015

This Father’s Day post is by guest blogger, Casey Lopata, co-founder of Fortunate Families, with wife Mary Ellen, and the proud father of four children including Jim, who is gay.

This week, with Father’s Day approaching, I was thinking about other fathers who learn they have a gay son (or lesbian daughter). Would their journeys be like mine? Would they find theirs is a fortunate family?

“Dad, I’m gay.” In 1983, I was totally unprepared for those words from my son, Jim. After letting that sink in, all I was capable of was, “Are you sure?” [“Yes”], and “Can you change?” [“No”]. Knowing virtually nothing about homosexuality and not knowing any gay people (so I thought), I said something like, “OK.” And that ended the initial coming out conversation.

JimUsIM001049

Casey Lopata (left) with his wife, Mary Ellen, and their son, Jim (right).

My knowledge of gay issues was limited.  Sure, I must had read about events like the NYC Stonewall rebellion (1969), and Brian McNaught’s 1974 firing as a columnist for the Michigan Catholic newspaper because he had come out in an interview with the Detroit News. But my earliest personal experience having to do with homosexuality was at the original 1976 Call To Action conference in Detroit, convened by the U.S. bishops. I was having a great time traipsing through progressive exhibit booths motivated by the Vatican II spirit until I came upon a booth for an organization called “Dignity.” When I saw that it was about advocacy for gay and lesbian people, I instinctively and immediately detoured around it. Why?

I simply “knew” homosexuality was wrong. Period. No sin was worse than homosexuality. It was so wrong you couldn’t even talk about it. In hindsight, I realized I thought like this because of osmosis: negative Church and societal messages, overt and/or subliminal, reinforced by the silence surrounding homosexuality, had seeped into my mind.

This week, as I reflected on those attitudes I had in the late 1970s and early 1980s , I searched my files for clues as to what those messages actually were. I found a 1980’s gay alliance document that listed myths prevalent at the time, such as: homosexuality is unnatural and abnormal; homosexuals choose their orientation and are sick, promiscuous and child molesters; they recruit young people and want special rights; and, AIDS is a gay disease. Wow!  I recall how prevalent such erroneous messages were.

I also found a 1975 Vatican document – the only one which specifically addressed homosexuality before 1986. It differentiated “transitory” from “incurable” homosexuality that was due to “some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution.” It concluded: “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no way be approved” because they “lack an essential and indispensable finality” [i.e. non-procreative]. Also: “they are condemned as a serious depravity” in the Bible. Wow again!

Given that environment, it’s no wonder I automatically  harbored such negative feelings. A 1995 poll said 89% of U.S. adults said they would be upset if they had a child who told them he was gay or lesbian. Today, a 2015 Pew Research poll says 57% say they would not be upset Thank God we’ve come a long way!

Despite the negative messages I’d absorbed, I also knew Jim was a wonderful son and a good person. How to reconcile those negative messages with these concrete facts about my son? Along with my apprehensions about Jim and his future, my primary concern was: Can Jim be gay and be Catholic?

So, I began to explore the genesis of my original questions to Jim: Are you sure and can you change? I tried to remember when I decided to be heterosexual. Of course, I never made such a decision, and Jim never decided to be homosexual. I learned that the American Psychological Association says “sexual orientation ranges along a continuum” and “both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality.” Even Church documents now support the unchosen, fixed nature of sexual orientation. The US Bishops’ Always Our Children summarizes it this way: “Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen.”

That’s when I realized feelings I had had as a boy for Annette Funicello (Mickey Mouse Club TV star) were okay and not a sin. Likewise Jim’s feelings for Spin or Marty (male stars on the show) while watching reruns were okay and not a sin. Learning Jim didn’t choose his homosexuality was a big step for me.

Recent polling found for the first time a majority of U.S. adults believe sexual orientation is not a choice. And the 2015 Pew Research poll says 60% of Americans do not think their orientation can be changed, up 18 points since 2003. Thankfully, fathers today get less negative messaging than I had.

I was also able to dispel some of the myths that I and many other Catholics have had about what the Church says about homosexuality and sin.”  Specifically: 1) having a homosexual orientation (an integral part of who we are, not something we do) is not a sin, 2) homosexual acts are not necessarily a sin ( even if considered objectively wrong by the Church, an act is not a sin for a person who honestly believes it’s not wrong (for him or her) or who does it without full free will); and 3) in good conscience, if Jim believes physically expressing his orientation is right for him (even if considered objectively wrong) he not only has a right to do so, but he risks condemnation if he doesn’t follow his conscience. A fuller description of my learnings about Church teaching can be found by clicking here.

So, I had the answer to my major question. Jim can indeed be Catholic and gay, even, if in good conscience, he believes it’s right for him to have a same-sex relationship.

Of course, other questions popped up. But the bottom line for me for secular issues was that I learned gay and lesbian people are essentially the same as anyone else–as individuals, as couples, as parents–and there is no credible evidence to the contrary. In the religious realm the bottom line for me was that gay and lesbian people, like all of us, are created in God’s image and gifted with sexuality that’s an integral element of their human dignity.

In my years with Fortunate Families I met many dads who, initially upset, came to realize their gay son or lesbian daughter was the same whole and holy gift from God they already knew. Early on, I met a dad who kept saying over and over: “My daughter can’t be gay. She’s beautiful and smart and good.” It was quite a while before he could get pass the stereotypes he had absorbed to realize his daughter could be gay and still be as beautiful, smart and good as he knew her to be.

It’s about love–God’s and yours (as parents). It’s about heeding what your conscience is telling you.

Whatever negative messages parents may have absorbed that are obstacles to accepting a gay son or lesbian daughter, these can be resolved by honestly exploring these ideas and seeking factual information. By coming out gay and lesbian people take a huge risk, one they hope will result in a deeper and closer relationship with their parents. Over 100 parents who are part of the Fortunate Families Listening Parents Network can witness to that.  Any of them would be happy to listen to concerns of parents or family members who need information and support.  To find these trained listeners, click here.  Listening Parents can offer related wisdom gained in their journey, and refer people to additional resources.

This Fathers Day, I pray for all dads with gay sons or lesbian daughters. May they be open to and guided by the Spirit as they strive to become a most whole, holy, and blessed fortunate family!

–Casey Lopata, Fortunate Families

Other Bondings 2.0 posts by or about Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata:

Fortunate Families Founders Feted for Ministry to Catholic Parents of LGBT People

Pope’s Peace Day Statement Is Countered by Catholic Parents

Building Healthy Families for LGBT Kids: What EVERY Parent Needs to Know

ALL ARE WELCOME: All in the Family

 


Will World Meeting of Families Accept Catholic LGBT Organizations?

May 25, 2015

In September of 2015, the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families (WMF) will bring together about 20,000 pilgrims to Philadelphia from all over the world to discuss family issues in the light of faith.  Families with LGBT members, however, are not being provided with the opportunity to be visible officially at the event.

Two national Catholic organizations that support LGBT ministry and outreach are still waiting to hear from the WMF administration if they will be allowed to have a presence, either by exhibit table or advertising space, at the international conference scheduled for the end of September 2015.

The National Catholic Reporter noted that both Fortunate Families (FF), a national network of Catholic parents of LGBT people, and the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM), have not received a response from their applications to be allowed to have a table to distribute information about themselves to the pilgrim families.

Deb Word, with husband Steven in the background.

Fortunate Families applied for an exhibit table last August, and was told that they were rejected for “lack of information,”  according to FF Board President Deb Word.  After re-applying in February, she learned at the beginning of this month that the application was again rejected, though no reason was given.   They will now apply to have an advertisement in the program booklet for the event.

When The National Catholic Reporter inquired to the World Meeting of Families administration as to the reason for rejecting FF, Ken Gavin, communication director for the Philadelphia archdiocese, local organizers for the WMF, responded circumspectly:

“Applications for exhibitors are reviewed by staff within the World Meeting of Families Office and WMOF-Philadelphia 2015 reserves the right to approve or deny various applications. … If an organization has a question about the status of their application or the decision rendered, they should be in contact with the entity directly.”

Word had also been in contact with WMF organizers because she was being considered as a possible participant on a panel about the church and gay issues.  She was not accepted, and the panel will have only two members:  a celibate gay Catholic man and his mother.

As for CALGM, they, too, applied for an exhibit table last year, but have still not heard if they have been accepted.  The news article stated:

Arthur Fitzmaurice, resource director for CALGM, told NCR he is confident that meeting organizers will ‘resolve this.’ He submitted his group’s application for exhibit space last year, complete with credit card information, and reapplied using the same form in early 2015.”

One national Catholic organization that has been accepted as an exhibitor at the meeting is Courage, which is a ministry which directs lesbian and gay people to celibacy.  The news article says that their method is based on  “five goals that include chastity, prayer, and fellowship and utilizes a 12-step format based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model.”

The news article also reported on pro-LGBT activities at the WMF that are being sponsored by New Ways Ministry and the Equally Blessed Coalition:

New Ways Ministry also plans to host a workshop on gender identity issues; co-sponsor a reception for LGBT Catholics, families, and allies; [the Equally Blessed Coalition will]. . . sponsor several dozen Catholic ‘pilgrims’ from nontraditional families who will be sent out each day with the ‘message that lesbian/gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons are also part of families’ during the week.”

For more information about New Ways Ministry events at WMF, please send inquiry emails to: info@NewWaysMinistry.org.

For more information about the Equally Blessed Coalition’s pilgrims to WMF, please click here.   You can donate financially to support these pilgrims’ work by clicking here.

The World Meeting of Families may not accept organizations such as Fortunate Families, CALGM, New Ways Ministry, and the Equally Blessed Coalition, but that will not prevent them from going forth in every way possible to spread a pro-LGBT message and witness at this international gathering.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Detroit Archbishop Bans Parents’ Group Because of Speaker Choice

November 22, 2014

Francis DeBernardo, left, at World Pride 2012 in London. British Catholic gay advocate Martin Pendergast, right, helps him carry the New Ways Ministry banner.

Michigan LGBT advocates will proceed with a planned meeting for Catholic parents of LGBT children today after being barred from the Catholic parish that was set to host it.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron banned Christ the King parish in northwest Detroit from hosting the Fortunate Families support group because Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry is scheduled to speak. According to organizer Linda Karle-Nelson, the parish hosted a similar gathering last year and this change of venue greatly disrupts the event. She told The Detroit Free Press:

” ‘It’s really been a problem trying to get the information out to people who have registered and those who might want to walk in…The reason we invited Frank DeBernardo, is he just returned from Rome and the Synod on the family, and he was going to share his perspective and where do we go from here…The pope has asked for reactions and to weigh in.’ “

DeBernardo, who heads New Ways Ministry, noted how far Vigneron’s action is from Pope Francis’ welcoming style and added:

” ‘I feel bad for the message that it sends to Catholics that there can’t be discussion of an issue of great importance to them and their families — how to stay in better communication with their church and their gay and lesbian children.’ “

Linda Karle-Nelson and Thomas Nelson

Christ the King’s pastor, Fr. Victor Clore, is also baffled by the archbishop’s decision, telling the Free Press:

” ‘I’ll give you a quote from one of my parishioners, who said: “It amazes me how Pope Francis eagerly and happily engages those who openly deny the divinity of Christ, yet (New Ways) DeBernardo is deemed unworthy to enter our church’…

” ‘That’s pretty much my feeling, too…It’s treating people as if they were children.’ “

Archbishop Vigneron’s record on LGBT issues has not been positive. In the past, he has warned that pro-marriage equality Catholics should not receive Communion (though his auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton thought otherwise) and is on record saying Pope Francis “didn’t say anything different” on homosexuality.

In contrast, Karle-Nelson and her husband, Tom, were awarded by PFLAG for their pastoral efforts within the church through Fortunate Families. They have led protests at the Detroit chancery and stood by Dignity/Detroit when its 39th anniversary celebrations came under fire from the archdiocese.

Fox 2 News of Detroit quoted DeBernardo explaining a bit about the content of his talk:

“Pope Francis has demonstrated openness on these issues and he has called for greater discussion of them as we saw in the synod at the Vatican last month. I wish the Archdiocese of Detroit had inquired more deeply about the substance of my talk. They would have found that it is very Catholic on its content.”

His talk is about how the recent synod on marriage and the family discussed gay and lesbian people.  In the talk, he quotes almost entirely from bishops and cardinals, as well as the pope.

Please keep the Fortunate Families group in your prayers today as they meet at an alternate location. These dedicated parents and family members are answering Pope Francis’ call to create a church that is “home for all” through dialogue and welcome.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Social Worker Bridges Gaps Between Religious Parents and LGBT Youth

October 29, 2014

Though our society has made great strides towards greater acceptance of LGBT people, it can’t be forgotten that there are still many places where people who are coming to self-awareness and self-acceptance face great struggles.  The wider discussion of LGBT issues in our culture is helping people come out at younger ages because they are more knowledgeable about sexual orientation and gender identity questions than other generations were able to be. But this also means that young LGBT people are facing more family pressures at ages when they are more vulnerable than people in years past who came out when they were more established in their lives.

Caitlin Ryan

Perhaps no one knows more about what theses family pressures are than Caitlin Ryan, PhD, a social worker and researcher, who started the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at San Francisco State University. The Project, according to their website is “a research, intervention, education and policy initiative that works to prevent health and mental health risks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and youth, including suicide, homelessness and HIV – in the context of their families.”

Through her research, Ryan, a lesbian woman and a Catholic, has identified scores of responses that families give to their young LGBT members, and shows how the negative responses put these youth at greater risk for poor sexual health, HIV infection, substance use, depression, suicide, and low self-esteem.  Perhaps more importantly, she also shows how specific family accepting reactions protect against risk and promote self-esteem and well-being.

In a New York Times profile about her work, Ryan explained that principles from her Catholic upbringing helped to shape the way she approaches her research.  The article describes her early work with HIV patients, and how that opened her eyes and heart to the important work of human reconciliation that needed to be done:

“ ‘I saw something very few people saw,’ Dr. Ryan recalled. ‘This deep, profound connection that superseded dogma and doctrine. I saw the language of the heart.’

“Right then, she recognized her calling: to enable those reconciliations during life rather than at the portal of death. As Dr. Ryan received her validation the way scholars do — publication in peer-reviewed journals, six-figure grants as a principal investigator on research projects, a faculty position at San Francisco State University — she conducted extensive field work among homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teenagers in the Bay Area, as well as with parents of gay children. She and her academic colleagues documented a strong correlation between rejection by families and such dangerous youthful behaviors as drug abuse, unprotected sex and suicide attempts.”

Ryan’s research, educational efforts, and family intervention work now extend to specialized resource materials for families from particular faith backgrounds.  As she describes her work, she recognized that though some religious parents may have moral objections to a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, almost all parents want what is good for their children, and do not want harm to come to them.  Her work builds on this common ground and helps parents to avoid family rejecting behaviors that can result in harmful outcomes for their children (such as an 8-times greater likelihood of attempted suicide), and to engage in supportive behaviors that strengthen families and increase their LGBT children’s self-esteem, self-worth and well-being.

Her research and family intervention work foster reconciliation and help people, regardless of their morality, to protect young people and support their overall health and wellness.  Indeed, Ryan sees the spiritual side to her work, and self-effacingly noted in the Times profile:

“ ‘I’m still a Catholic schoolgirl,’ said Dr. Ryan, who regularly attends church to this day. ‘Modesty and humility were values that were instilled in me. I don’t feel right taking credit. It’s not my work. It’s a spiritual practice and a sacred trust.’ ”

Ryan is a featured speaker at this year’s Call To Action conference in Memphis, November 7th to 9th.  Along with Fortunate Families President Deb Word, she will be conducting a day-long program entitled “Parent Day of Advocacy, Support, and Reflection.”  The conference brochure offers this description:

“This pre-session day will be spent with parents and families of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children and is also open to those who advocate for LGBTQ persons. Education and prayerful reflection the morning session will include a presentation by Dr. Caitlin Ryan on the Family Acceptance Project’s award winning Best Practices approach to prevent suicide and homelessness for LGBTQ youth. The afternoon will concentrate on parent stories, shared reflections and spiritual direction.”

For more information about the day, click here.

Caitlin Ryan’s work is life-saving.  The fact that she can work with parents who would usually be described as “homophobic” or “transphobic” and can help them to follow their hearts to do what is best for their child’s well-being is a blessing for all. It forces me to wonder:  Wouldn’t it be great if such a program existed for Catholic Church leaders to deal in healthy ways with the LGBT people in their congregations?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Edie Windsor Is “Thrilled” with Pope Francis’ Famous Comment

June 9, 2014

 

Edie Windsor

Edie Windsor, the lesbian woman who was the plaintiff in the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, has made a statement that she is “thrilled” with Pope Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?”

Gay Star News reported on Windsor’s comments:

‘ ‘His bully pulpit has a great deal of meaning,’ Windsor said this week in an interview with HuffPost Live.

“‘I was in Provincetown, (Massachusetts), the day the papers said the quote of the Pope as saying, “Who am I to judge?” I went around people’s tables at the breakfast saying, “Did you see this? Will you imagine this?”‘ “

Windsor was especially touched by how the pope’s comments will affect parents of LGBT people:

” ‘Right now, it thrills me,’ Windsor said of the Pope’s words. ‘I think of all the serious Catholic mothers who felt freed when he said that – free to love their kids.’ “

Windsor is both wrong and right.   While it is true that the pope’s comments will help many Catholic parents and families,  there have been many such families who have already accepted and loved their LGBT children.  The work of the Fortunate Families ministry has been supporting, instructing, and encouraging Catholic parents for over ten years now.  Indeed, as we’ve noted before, Catholic parents of LGBT people are already some of the strongest advocates for LGBT justice and equality in church and society.

Where Windsor is very right, though, is in the fact that Pope Francis’ comment, as simple and offhand as it was, can have tremendous impact on the church.  In addition to Catholic parents who may be confused about what their religion might say about LGBT people, many others in the church have been powerfully moved by the pope’s remarks.  Back in the fall of 2013, we commented on how even though his statement did not change doctrine about same-gender relationships, it does have an impact on the tone of church leaders and can strongly affect attitudes of church people, which in turn will affect practice, and in turn, again, eventually affect doctrine.

What we do hope and pray for, though, is that Pope Francis will make clearer and more explicit welcoming statements about LGBT issues, and that he will encourage some of the U.S. bishops to do likewise.   The October Vatican Synod on Marriage and Family is one step that has great potential for the pope to be more affirming.  The World Meeting of Families, sponsored by the Vatican and taking place in Philadelphia in September 2015, will also be another one.  If you are interested in joining pro-LGBT Catholic families as pilgrims to this event, click here, to see what the Equally Blessed coalition (of which New Ways Ministry is a member)  is planning.

Most importantly,  Pope Francis could do the church a great favor by speaking out right now against discriminatory employment contracts that several U.S. dioceses are enacting that negatively impact LGBT people and allies.   And, as we’ve been encouraging for months now, he needs to speak out about the enactment of laws which criminalize homosexuality, which have been legislated in several countries around the globe and contemplated by others.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related post

March 28, 2013:Catholic Activists Helped Bring Marriage Equality Case to the Supreme Court”

 


Praying for All Marriages During National Marriage Week

February 9, 2014

LoveIsLoveToday is “National Marriage Day,” part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Marriage Week which spans from last Friday through next Friday, St. Valentine’s Day.

While the bishops have asked Catholics to participate in support of their anti-marriage equality campaign, other Catholics are affirming the goodness of marriage — and that means all marriages, which deserve equal recognition and dignity.

The Equally Blessed coalition, which consists of  Call to ActionFortunate FamiliesDignityUSA, and New Ways Ministry, has released a statement further explaining these events:

“The National Marriage Week campaign’s limited scope creates an unwelcoming Church for the thousands of US Catholics in same-sex marriages who live their lives as shining examples of love in the face of discrimination. By encouraging local parishes to observe ‘National Marriage Day’ during Sunday mass, the bishops are once again using the liturgy as a weapon to further alienate LGBT Catholics and their supporters.

“This campaign only serves to show how out of touch the bishops are with the values of everyday Catholics. While the bishops continue to abuse their power by pouring money and effort into thinly veiled anti-equality campaigns like National Marriage Week, the majority of US Catholics continue to support equality for LGBT families. Catholics know that all marriages based on love and respect are sacred and we implore the bishops to follow the laity’s lead and cease this attack on LGBT families.”

Equally Blessed, has prepared a “Prayer for All Marriages” which LGBT-affirming Catholics are being asked to pray today and throughout the week with their family, parishes, and local communities. You’re encouraged to show your support through stories and photos of how you have prayed and emailing these to coordinator@equally-blessed.org. You can find more resources by clicking here and the prayer is provided below:

Loving God, 
You who created each of us in Your own image 
and who called us together in community, 
 
We give You thanks for the gift of marriage 
and for the many couples 
whose love and commitment to each other reminds us 
of Your never-ending love for humanity. 
 
We thank You for all the different types of marriages in our world: 
young couples beginning a life together, 
 as well as couples celebrating decades of love, 
re-married couples and those who found each other later in life, 
couples whose marriages are recognized by our state and our Church, 
and same-sex couples who are denied that recognition 
but who continue to bravely model love and commitment in the face of discrimination. 
 
We thank You for the many kinds of families 
 that are strengthened by these marriages: 
families of biological children and adopted children, 
blended families and families of choice, 
as well as couples without children who work together 
 to nurture communities of love and justice. 
 
This week, as many are observing National Marriage Week, 
we ask You to pour Your blessings onto every marriage 
regardless of gender or sexual orientation. 
Make each marriage one of love, respect and peace. 
Guide each couple as they strive to be an example of your love in the world 
and surround them with family and friends 
 who honor and celebrate their commitment. 
 
Help us support marriage and family in all of its diversity 
and guide us as we speak out against oppression in our Church. 
Lead us toward the day when all loving unions will be seen as sacred 
and all couples will have the support and recognition of their faith communities. 
 
We pray this in the name of Jesus, who called us to love one another as we love You, 
Amen

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Gatherings Demonstrate Parental Love for LGBT Children

November 23, 2013

The role that Catholic parents of LGBT people play in advancing justice and equality in the church is a critical one.  Parents are often the natural “bridge-builders” between their LGBT children and the institutional structures of Catholicism.  It is parents’ natural unconditional love for their children which is the model of acceptance that the entire church needs to emulate and learn.

Fortunate Families, a national network of Catholic parents of LGBT people, has been providing support and encouragement to parents, as well as inspiring advocacy for equality, since 2004.  In the past year, the organization has been hosting a series of regional gatherings around the U.S. for parents to meet with one another and learn from one another.

A recent post on the organization’s blog gives an account of some of these meetings.  Of a gathering in the Detroit, Michigan, metropolitan area, convener Linda Karle-Nelson described how that gathering revealed how much change has happened for parents over the last decade:

“Six years ago a similar gathering drew only 14 parents; at the November 9 event there 41 folks who joined together to pray and share stories and discuss how they could advocate for equality for their LGBT daughters and sons.
“The biggest differences in the two gatherings were not just the numbers, but the nature of the stories the parents told and the forward looking outcome of the day.
“Many had gone through the personal struggles of learning about their child’s orientation and finding their path to understanding that they now knew their children in a more complete way and that this was a blessing. Others had ‘known all along’ and had waited for their child to come out to them. Still others expressed their disappointment in extended family members who were not accepting and rejected them as well as their sons and daughters.  Parents in their 30’s and early 40’s (the young’uns!) received the news of their teen-age child’s coming out much earlier in their lives (and perhaps much easier!) than those of us of an older generation.”

On the same day, a similar gathering was held in Atlanta, Georgia, for Catholic parents.  Deb Word, the current board president of Fortunate Families, reported on the diversity of people that attended, though united for a common cause:

“Our group ran the gamut from folks who were there ready to start parish outreach to those who had yet to share with family members that their children had married.
“A small table was set up in the beginning with photos of our children and simple votive candles. They were never far from our minds as we listened, shared and strategized about making our church more welcoming, ourselves more open, and our families more loving.”
These two events had been preceded this past year with events in Flagler Beach, Florida, Pleasanton, California, and Cincinnati, Ohio.  Karle-Nelson noted the importance of such meetings for parents:
“A unique result of the gathering was one that we were not ready for a few years ago, i. e., the desire of the parents to take action to share their stories in order to persuade their fellow parishioners, their pastors,  their bishop, and even Pope Francis that our LGBT children are whole and holy children of God who deserve equality in our Church.
“These parents expressed a desire to meet again and again, and each time they meet they will be building a community of people who are dedicated to bringing a new vision of LGBT people to the heart of the Church. . . .”
Plans are in the works for a 2014 gathering in Minnesota.  To keep informed about these and other events and programs for Catholic parents of LGBT people, visit the Fortunate Families website.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


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