If there is one word that best describes the reactions of LGBT and ally Catholics towards Pope Francis, I think it is “controversial.” I use this word in its traditional usage meaning that there are two sides to the issue. For some LGBT Catholics and supporters, he has been a savior and messiah, opening a new era in the church’s approach to issues of sexuality and gender. For others, Pope Francis is simply, “more of the same,” not changing anything, and, in some cases, because his appearance is “kinder and gentler,” he may actually be making things worse.
And, of course, between these two poles, there are a variety of middle positions. Some are happy with the pope’s calls for mercy towards LGBT people. Others want him to also call for justice for LGBT people.
Whatever your take on Pope Francis, if you want to learn more about how he might be advancing LGBT issues positively or negatively, you should consider attending New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis , on the weekend of April 28-30, 2017, in Chicago.
If you are a regular reader (or even a casual one) of Bondings 2.0, then you know that Pope Francis raises more questions than provides answers in regard to LGBT issues. The symposium will be an event where participants can gain information and perspectives to begin to form some of those answers for themselves.
Are you interested in how Pope Francis is affecting the Church’s social ethics in regard to LGBT issues? Come to the symposium to hear Fr. Bryan Massingale, Fordham University theologian.
Will Pope Francis make a change to Catholic sexual ethics? Listen to the ideas of Lisa Fullam, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley theologian. The question of religious liberty, especially in regard to LGBT employees of Catholic institutions, has a lot of people wondering.
The question of religious liberty, especially in regard to LGBT employees of Catholic institutions, has a lot of people wondering. Leslie Griffin, University of Nevada at Las Vega legal scholar, will provide some insight into these dilemmas.
Why hasn’t Pope Francis spoken out on the terrible scourge of laws which criminalize LGBT people around the globe? You’ll get a first-hand answer to that from Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, who is at the center of this struggle.
In addition, there will be focus sessions on:
- Hispanic Catholic Culture and LGBT Issues
- Gay Men in the Priesthood and Religious Life
- Youth, Young Adult Ministry, and LGBT Questions
- Transgender and Intersex Identities and the Family
- LGBT Parish Ministry
- Lesbian Nuns: A Gift to the Church
- Challenges of LGBT Church Workers
The symposium experience is not all about the intellect. Unique prayer opportunities will also be available:
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, the “Nun on the Bus,” will lead a pre-symposium retreat day on Friday, April 28th, on the theme of the spirituality of justice and mercy.
Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv, diocesan bishop of Lexington, Kentucky, will offer scriptural reflections during two of the symposium’s prayer services.
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, will lead a special Saturday afternoon prayer service.
Perhaps the most valuable experience of the symposium is the opportunity to network with other Catholics who are working for a church and society that are more inclusive of LGBT people. In addition to meeting people informally, the symposium also provides the opportunity for “Open Space,” where participants can suggest and plan a gathering time/space for particular topics. Let’s have an Open Space session as a meet-up for Bondings 2.0 readers! For more information, click here.
Who should attend?
Everybody! Well, as long as you have an interest in Catholic LGBT discussions, you will find the symposium to be a rewarding event. New Ways Ministry has designed it to be accessible and relevant particularly to pastoral ministers, LGBT persons, leaders of men’s and women’s religious communities, families and other allies, and others involved in church ministry either as a volunteer or a professional.
Yes! Though the time for early-bird registration is over, you can still get the discounted early-bird rate if you put four registrations in one envelope and mail them, with payment, to New Ways Ministry by March 27, 2017. Additionally, discounted hotel rooms and airfares are available.
What will I gain from the experience?
Over the years, we’ve learned that everyone’s symposium experience is unique. For some, it is a starting point on a new direction in ministry or advocacy. For others, it is an opportunity to affirm their sexuality and gender identity in a Catholic context. Many people have developed lifelong friendships at symposiums. Many others have experienced the event as a further step on their spiritual and intellectual journeys.
What if I don’t know anyone else who will be going?
No worries! Symposiums are friendly, communal events. Those who have taken part in past symposiums are quick to welcome “first-timers” and those who are attending on their own. You will not be alone at the symposium!
Where can I get more information like rates, deadlines, schedule? How can I register?
The symposium website, www.Symposium2017.org, has all the information that you will need. You can even register there online, as well as click through to reserve a hotel room and make a plane reservation. If you have any further questions, feel free to call New Ways Ministry, phone:201-277-5674, or email us, info@NewWays Ministry.org.
How can I help spread the word about the symposium?
Share the website link with your friends on email and social network sites! Or share the link to this blog post with them! Contact New Ways Ministry if you would like to receive paper copies or a PDF copy of the symposium brochure.
See you in April at the Symposium! You won’t want to miss it!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, February 15, 2017