New Ways Ministry has launched a website with information and registration materials for its Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago.
By going to www.Symposium2017.org, you will find all the information you will need about speakers, program, schedule, travel and hotel discounts–and even a form to register online!
Sign-up by December 31, 2016 to receive a substantial discount on the registration fee!
The Eighth National Symposium is looking to be the best one ever! With Pope Francis in the Vatican, we are living in a new moment in our Church. We’ve seen the opening of a dialogue on LGBT issues, but we’ve also seen that repressive practices and policies continue, too. How to make sense of this new situation?
The program is designed for church leaders and ministers, parents, LGBT people, members of religious communities, and all who are interested in building a more welcoming and inclusive Catholic Church.
Our plenary speakers will cover some of the most pressing topics of our day:
Lisa Fullam,Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, will discuss “Sexual Ethics and Same-Sex Marriage”
Leslie Griffin, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Law School, will examine “Religious Liberty, Employment, and LGBT Issues”
Rev. Bryan Massingale, Fordham University, will speak about “Pope Francis, Social Ethics, and LGBT People”
Frank Mugisha, Sexual Minorities Uganda, will report on “The Catholic Church, Criminalization Laws and the LGBT Experience in Uganda”
In addition, the weekend includes some exciting prayer experiences:
Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv, of Lexington, Kentucky, will offer Scriptural reflections at prayer services
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, of NETWORK and “Nuns on the Bus” will present an optional pre-symposium retreat day
In addition to these main events, the symposium includes break-out sessions on the following topics:
transgender and intersex family issues
youth and LGBT topics
LGBT ministry in the Hispanic community
LGBT church worker justice
And, of course, there will be opportunities to network with hundreds of Catholics from many different parts of the U.S. and the globe about the challenges and joys of advocating for LGBT people.
Our website, www.Symposium2017.org, has all the information you need to plan your participation at the symposium. If you have any additional questions, please contact our office at info@NewWaysMinistry.org or (301)277-5674.
Register today to reserve a space and to get a great discount!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 6, 2016
Bondings 2.0 is continuing its coverage on the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. We are continuing to provide our readers with more responses from Catholic leaders, organizations, and individuals. If , in your general reading on this topic, you come across a Catholic response that you like, please send the link to: info@NewWaysMinistry.org. We will try to include it. Please limit suggestions to responses from Catholics or that discuss Catholic issues. Of course, feel free to share your own reactions in the “Comments” section of this post.
For yesterday’s post, which contains more reactions, click here. For a prayerful response, click here. For New Ways Ministry’s official response, click here.
The following are some of the responses we’ve been collecting. For each excerpted response, we provide the link back to the full statement or article.
Lisa Fullam, Associate Professor of Moral Theology, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley:
After providing an analysis of how Catholic principles underlie Justice Anthony Kennedy’s judicial opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, Fullam states:
“Perhaps a good first step for Church leaders would be to applaud the Court’s decision in light of its overlap with Catholic values regarding marriage. Of course, the Church may still refuse to marry lesbian and gay couples, just as it refuses to marry anyone with an un-annulled previous marriage. In time, I trust that Church teaching on sacramental marriage will evolve, too, and take note of the powerful spirit of love and commitment vivifying lesbian and gay marriages as well as straight marriages.
“But in the meantime, please, please, let’s stand with the Court and celebrate the equal human dignity of ALL God’s children.” (From a Commonweal magazine blog post)
After a statement expressing a desire for government to preserve a unique status for heterosexual married couples, Bishop McElroy stated:
“The Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial counties will continue to honor and embody the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman as a gift from God- -in our teaching, our sacramental life and our witness to the world. We will do so in a manner which profoundly respects at every moment the loving and familial relationships which enrich the lives of so many gay men and women who are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, and ultimately our fellow pilgrims on this earthly journey of life. And commanded by the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will continue to reach out to families of every kind who are encountering poverty, addictions, violence, emotional stress or the threat of deportation, and to attempt to bring them faith and care, service and solidarity.” (From a statement)
(As mentioned in yesterday’s Bondings 2.0 blog post, a number of bishops have issued statements on the court’s ruling, many of which were similar in tone and message. We provided links to blog posts which contain excerpts and links to these if you would like to read them. We will try to provide excerpts from bishops’ statements which we consider to have some unique aspect or tone to them.)
Christopher Hale, Executive Director, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good:
“Friday’s Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage across the country presents an interesting moment for Catholics in the U.S. The church opposes gay marriage, and this likely won’t change even under Pope Francis the Troublemaker. But we also must acknowledge that this moment is a great joy for many Catholics—gay and straight. In recent history, many upstanding and faithful Catholics have said that they have heard the voice of Jesus say to them that the love between two persons of the same-sex isn’t sinful, but holy, sanctified, and blessed.
“I myself struggle with this conundrum. There’s nothing more important in my life than being Catholic and a part of the universal Church of Jesus Christ. For me, it’s not just membership in a fraternal organization or civic group, but in a family that gives me my identity, my roots, and my wings. I take my faith’s teaching on every issue—including gay marriage—seriously, but I, too, can’t help but feel joy for my LGBT friends who celebrated Friday’s decision.” (From a Time.comblog post)
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta:
After reiterating official Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman, Archbishop Gregory stated:
“This judgment, however, does not absolve either those who may approve or disapprove of this decision from the obligations of civility toward one another. Neither is it a license for more venomous language or vile behavior against those whose opinions continue to differ from our own. It is a decision that confers a civil entitlement to some people who could not claim it before. It does not resolve the moral debate that preceded it and will most certainly continue in its wake.
“The moral debate must also include the way that we treat one another–especially those with whom we may disagree. In many respects, the moral question is at least as consequential and weighty as the granting of this civil entitlement. The decision has offered all of us an opportunity to continue the vitally important dialogue of human encounter, especially between those of diametrically differing opinions regarding its outcome.” (From a statement)
Jason Welle, SJ, Contributor, The Jesuit Post:
After describing the challenging closeted situation that Nana and Dot, his grandmother and her lifelong woman companion endured decades ago, Welle reflects on the significance of the court’s ruling:
“This weekend, I’m thinking about Nana & Dot as the Supreme Court has ruled that marriage is to be considered a civil right for all couples, without exception. This week, thousands of couples in the United States will not have to endure a life of secrecy and legal uncertainty. This ruling means that their unions have the law behind them. Their families will be treated equally by the states, they will not risk losing their children and property because someone else disapproves of their union. As of today, as Justice Kennedy notes in his opinion, ‘This Court’s case and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of the Nation’s social order,’ and gay and lesbian civil marriages will be respected, as far as the law is concerned, as part of the foundation that contributes to our civil and social order. . . .
“The trending hashtag on Twitter this weekend is #LoveWins. I hope that this will be true for everyone of goodwill in this nation, regardless of their view of this decision. While the legal case may be settled, it does not bring everyone into agreement. But I sincerely believe that when they’re at their best, the United States of America and the Catholic Church are about the same thing: enabling and inspiring people to greater love, fidelity, and mutual care. Nana and Dot were both American and Catholic and these are the things they taught me to value most. It is my prayer that this ruling, which brings gay and lesbian people more openly into the mainstream of American society than ever before, can be an opportunity for greater understanding and mutual love and concern for each other.” (From a blog post on The Jesuit Post)
Michael Sean Winters, Columnist, The National Catholic Reporter:
“Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a decision. The sky did not fall. Young men and women will still fall in love, get married, and make babies. The Church will still be there to accompany them. The fact of sexual difference is not going away anytime soon. But, as in the referendum on this issue in Ireland, yesterday’s decision is a wake up call for the Church. Are we going to continue to fight same sex marriage in the courts and in our words, to the exclusion of other more pressing issues? Are we going to continue to let the egalitarian, and largely secular, left set the Church’s agenda? Or are we going be about our business of accompanying people, all people, and especially married couples, with a teaching about marriage, and with the grace of the sacrament, and with the loving support of the Christian community, all of which are as beautiful today as they were at 9:59 a.m. yesterday. ” (From a blog post on NCRonline.org)
Stay tuned for more excerpts from commentary continuing this week.
As New Ways Ministry’s pilgrims to Italy were flying across the Atlantic a few weeks ago, a story broke about Pope Francis and gender theory which, due to our being on the road (or, more accurately, in the air), did not quite get our attention. The substance of the story was that the pope, in an interview published in a a new Italian book, likened gender theory to nuclear arms. In The National Catholic Reporter, Joshua McElwee reported:
“Gender theory is a broad term for an academic school of thought that considers how people learn to identify themselves sexually and how they may become typed into certain roles based on societal expectations.
“Asked in the book about how important it is for Christians to recover a sense of safeguarding of creation and sustainable growth, the pope first speaks of the duty of all people to respect and care for the environment.
But he then says that every historical period has ‘Herods’ that ‘destroy, that plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation.’
” ‘Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,’ he continues. ‘Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.’
” ‘With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator,’ the pope says. ‘The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.’ “
Part of the reason that this story slipped our attention was that there was very little commentary in the Catholic press about this interview. One great exception has been Professor Lisa Fullam, of the Jesuit School of Theology, California, who examined the pope’s misconceptions about gender in a a blog post she wrote for DotCommonweal.
Fullam’s post is a great introduction to the contemporary understanding of gender from both scientific and social scientific perspectives. She begins by offering comparative definitions of some key words, which are sometimes wrongly used interchangeably: sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender, and queer.
She then examines some of Pope Francis’ (and Benedict’s and John Paul II’s, too) misconceptions about these terms. For instance, she notes the lack of historicity in their definitions of masculine and feminine:
“That the definition of what counts as appropriate to women varies between and within cultures and across time is not accounted for in this view. Oddly, John Paul cites fierce transvestite warrior Joan of Arc (who was killed as a relapsed heretic for wearing men’s clothing, and can certainly, if anachronistically, be thought of as queer,) as a model of the feminine genius, thus calling into question the descriptive (and certainly the normative) value of many, if not most, of the ‘feminine’ traits he inferred.”
Fullam examines the social construction of gender, and also helps to dispel some myths which have formed the basis of some of our culture’s most foundational ideas about gender:
“Isn’t human nature fundamentally a duality of male and female? This can only be upheld by ignoring the existence of millions of human beings whose sex and/or gender identity do not fit the ‘rule’ of male AND masculine (according to which illusory single set of standards for masculinity?) or female AND feminine, (according to other illusory standards of such.) The spectrum of gender can be seen every time a woman relishes some more ‘masculine’ endeavor–like, say leading a French army against the British, like Joan of Arc. It can also be seen when men embrace more ‘feminine’ aspects of their character, yet remain ‘masculine’ in their gender identity. Anyone paying attention to the numerous ways people describe and express their masculinty and feminity would have to recognize that to assert a strict duality would be a facile caricature of humankind. I can only hope that Francis’ meeting with a trans man late last month will lead him to change his mind and heart. “
She concludes with a call for Christians to be more open-minded about gender:
Recognizing the degree to which social conventions define and delimit gender expression, I’d suggest that we leave a lot of room for people to speak to what it means to them to be men or women, or other, and not to force a lovely array of human be-ing into a false duality which fails to adequately reflect biology, much less the richer experience of human life in its totality. That has to do with gender roles, but also gender identity. And aren’t Christians especially called to uphold the human dignity of all children of God, male and female, masculine and feminine, transgender and cisgender alike? That attitude doesn’t ‘destroy’ nature, as Pope Francis fears, but rather recognizes the beautiful panoply of humankind that God has created.”
I’ve only given a brief taste of Fullam’s arguments. If you are at all interested in the topic of gender, I recommend that you read her post in its entirety by clicking here. If you like Fullam’s work, you may want to read an article that she wrote last year on “Civil Same-Sex Marriage: A Catholic Affirmation.”
Pope Francis’ comments on gender reveal that, while he has shown a refreshing openness to LGBT issues, he–and most likely, many others in the Catholic hierarchy–need a better education on the questions of gender which the rest of the world has been engaged in for decades now. Perhaps such an education would not only help his approach to LGBT issues, but, equally important, on issues concerning women, for which he has a famous and dangerous blind spot.
On Sunday, April 27th, two recent popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, will be canonized as saints in the Catholic Church. For many Catholics who support LGBT issues, this double canonization is an occasion of mixed emotions. Though many are happy with the canonization of John XXIII, their joy is tempered by the fact that John Paul II, who was responsible for instituting many anti-LGBT policies and teachings, is being similarly honored.
Today, I’ll review the contribution of John XXIII on LGBT issues in the church. Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at John Paul II’s influence on these matters. On Monday, we will provide a review of some of the wealth of commentary written recently about these two men.
John XXIII’s greatest achievement in his papacy was convening the Second Vatican Council, which opened up a new era of theological reform in the Church. Most importantly, for LGBT issues, the theological reform included an important development in the Church’s sexual teaching. Theologian Lisa Fullam recently offered a succinct description of Vatican II’s development of sexual theology in her essay, “Civil Same-Sex Marriage: A Catholic Affirmation.” Fullam states:
“The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes identified two ends of marriage: the procreation and education of children, and the intimate union of husband and wife through which ‘they experience the meaning of their oneness and attain to it with growing perfection day by day.’ (GS 48) Gaudium et Spes eliminated the long-held idea that procreation was seen as the primary end of marriage while the union of the partners was deemed secondary or instrumental to that primary end. The Council insisted that ‘[m]arriage to be sure is not instituted solely for procreation’ (GS 50). Instead, it ‘maintains its value and indissolubility, even when despite the often intense desire of the couple, offspring are lacking’ (GS 50). Departing from most previous teaching in which the procreative end of marriage was elevated over the unitive end, the Council refused to prioritize either. However, the Council insisted that childless marriages are still truly marriages, not some lesser partnership, while no such contrary affirmation is made—loveless but procreative unions are not affirmed (or rejected) as true marriage by the Council.”
By displacing procreation from its position of primacy in sexual theology, and by raising the unitive function to a higher status, Vatican II opened the way for theologians to explore the unitive function more deeeply, which allowed them to consider the moral status of relationships which were not biologically procreative, especially gay and lesbian relationships. So, John XXIII’s Vatican II opened the way for a new discussion of sexuality in theology, which paved the way for the growing field of lesbian and gay theology.
Vatican II’s emphasis on justice being a constitutive part of the preaching of the gospel also had an effect on the development of LGBT ministry. Fullam points out that John XXIII’s emphasis on human rights in his encyclical Pacem in Terris provided a new perspective for Catholics:
“The language of rights, then, is how Catholics take our religiously grounded understanding of the common good out into public discourse. With the humility appropriate to fallible human beings, we seek input from all people of good will as we do so. We don’t seek to legislate the whole moral law, but only those rights and duties by which the flourishing of all people is made possible. Our deep commitment to human dignity and the equality of all human persons is the bedrock on which Catholic teaching grounds its social message.”
John’s writings opened the path a more justice-oriented church. One other outcome of this pope’s approach was the development following Vatican II of liberation theology, which would eventually be applied to the LGBT experience.
Immediately following Vatican II was when Catholics first started taking the human rights and liberation of LGBT people more seriously. As this blog stated on October 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II:
“In one respect, the movement for LGBT liberation, equality, and justice in the Catholic Church is a direct result of Vatican II. The Council’s reform of theology, its updating of scriptural interpretations, its openness to scientific knowledge, its invitation for participation by the laity, its clarion call to work for justice in the world and the church–all these things were part of the 1960s Catholic zeitgeist which resulted in a burgeoning movement to be involved with, and work for justice for, LGBT people.
“It’s no accident that both two of the oldest Catholic ministries to LGBT people–Dignity and New Ways Ministry–emerged from this era and as a direct result of priests and religious following the call of Vatican II. Similarly, it would have been unimaginable that John McNeill’s theological groundbreaking work, The Church and the Homosexual, could have been written before the Council.”
It is no overstatement to say that without John XXIII, the movement in the Church for LGBT equality would have been much delayed and much diminished. For this contribution of his, and for the many other ways that he ushered in a more compassionate, just, and socially involved church, Catholics who support LGBT equality are rejoicing at his canonization.
A new theological argument in favor of Catholic support for civil same-sex marriage is being published today on Bondings 2.0. The article is written by Professor Lisa Fullam, an associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, California. You can access the full text of the article on its own page by clicking here.
Entitled “Civil Same-Sex Marriage: A Catholic Affirmation,” Prof. Fullam’s essay uses the Catholic intellectual tradition to argue that support for civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples is in line with our church’s best ideas about marriage, civil society, and church-state relations. It deserves a full and thoughtful reading by all who are concerned with these issues.
The problem with the current Catholic debate on civil marriage, according to Fullam, is that it is both too broad and too narrow. In the article’s abstract, she states:
“Too broad: civil same-sex marriage is sometimes described as parallel to same-sex marriage in the Church. Too narrow: some Catholic contributions to the discussion have centered on reproductive capacity, ignoring Catholicism’s rich tradition which values marriage beyond procreation.”
The essay is divided into three sections:
a discussion of how Catholic thought understands civil law;
a critique of magisterial statements in the public debate about marriage;
an enumeration or reasons why Catholics might work for marriage equality.
Fullam’s essay is both theologically rich and relevant to contemporary lives. For example, her working definition of the traditional concept of “natural law” begins with a full accounting of human nature, which she defines as:
“. . . the capacities and potential excellences of the human creature, seen in the light of the best knowledge available to us—biological, psychological, sociological, philosophical (including theological,) spiritual, artistic, historic (including personal experience), etc. Natural law is sometimes confused with the biological functions of human bodies, but this misunderstanding fails to consider human nature in this fuller sense, that we are rational and creative discerners of meaning, seeking to grow in virtue, aided by the grace of God. To see how the natural law guides us in a given situation is to think deeply about how the question before us is best resolved for the flourishing of ourselves and our societies. “
Among the most thought-provoking part of the essay is her critique of magisterial arguments against same-sex marriage, including those from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” By basing her argument in the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes, which acknowledged that marriages served both unitive and procreative ends, Fullam shows how leaders like the U.S. bishops have narrowed down the Council’s teaching on marriage:
“According to the bishops, the ‘communion of persons’ of Gaudium et Spes is revealed in the procreative capacity of couples: while the Council taught that non-procreative marriages are still marriages, the USCCB roots the unitive end of marriage in the procreative possibility of heterosexual marriage.”
In the last section, Fullam shows how the magisterium’s focus on procreation leads to many inconsistencies in their approach to civil marriage and family life. For example, she notes the situation of adoption:
“Those who raise children not biologically their own are reaching beyond a reproductive imperative to a spiritually-resonant act of profound devotion. They make a great contribution to the common good. To base the social value of marriage on the potential for biological procreation would be to ignore the generosity of adoptive parents, and to render their families somehow unnatural or second-class. This would be a fundamental injustice to those families, and an odd reversal of Christian tradition that emphasizes caring for those in need. “
And she ponders what other civil laws might be needed if a view of marriage that has procreation as its definition were to take hold in secular society:
“Unless we are willing to redefine civil marriage in reproductive terms–perhaps automatically divorcing couples who do not reproduce in a reasonable amount of time, for instance, or denying marriage to women of a certain age or those who are sterile by choice or by happenstance–in denying civil marriage to same-sex couples, we discriminate against them precisely because they are homosexual, a form of unjustifiable discrimination that is contrary to Catholic social teaching.”
Fullam’s essay gives solid, theological underpinnings to the hopes of so many Catholics whose consciences have told them that marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples is a matter of justice. By grounding her thought in both Thomas Aquinas and the Second Vatican Council, Fullam shows just how Catholic an argument for marriage equality can be. Reading through this essay will help all those who often find themselves challenged by Catholic opponents to marriage equality. And it will also give them a deeper understanding and appreciation of our Catholic faith and intellectual tradition.
You can read the entire essay on Bondings 2.0 by clicking here.
The case of a Boy Scout being denied Eagle rank because he is gay has made one Commonweal blogger wonder why Catholic leaders have not spoken out against this injustice.
NBCNews.com earlier this month reported the case of Ryan Andreson, a 17-year old Scout from Moraga, California, had completed his Eagle Scout requirements, but his Scoutmaster refused to sign his form:
“. . . the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement that because of Andresen’s sexual orientation and that he did not agree to Scouting’s principle of ‘Duty to God,’ ‘he is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting.’ But the family on Friday disputed that, saying the only reason Andresen was denied the rank is ‘because the Boy Scouts of America has a problem with Ryan being gay.’ “
Commonweal blogger Lisa Fullam has questioned why Catholic leadership have not spoken out on this case of blatant discrimination. Since Catholic teaching on homosexuality defends human dignity, Catholic leaders should be forthright on this matter:
“Official Catholic teaching, unlike that of many right-wing evangelical churches, draws a distinction between sexual inclination/desire (the official teaching tends not to use the word “orientation,”) and sexual acts. Homosexual acts are condemned, while homosexual desire is not. I suspect the BSA does not encourage sexual activity for any of its members, but rather encourages them to remain sexually abstinent, at least until marriage or responsible adulthood. (A quick googling didn’t answer this question for me. My searches yielded reports about sex abuse and poor responses to sex abuse within this all-heterosexual group.) Why wouldn’t the Catholic Church want to encourage all interested kids to join groups calling for responsible chastity? Not to mention the fact that scouting might help them find the kind of solid friends that Church teaching says is helpful for gays in dealing with homosexual desire? Catholic magisterial teaching says that no unjust discrimination of any kind should be practiced against LGB people–wouldn’t involvement in a group that helps form responsible and thoughtful men be a good thing for gay kids? (Since I am talking about a response by Catholic leadership here, I am not calling into question the Church’s teaching on same-sex relationships here. There’s no need to change Catholic teaching in order for Church leaders to support scouting for gay kids.)”
Fullam cites another reason that Catholic leaders should speak out on cases like this, and it has to do with a topic that has occupied their minds greatly of late–religious liberty:
“We’ve heard a lot about religious liberty from Catholic leadership this year. Many Christian denominations and other religious groups are supportive of LGBT people and (when appropriate) same-sex relationships. It may well be the case for Ryan–and it is undoubtedly the case for many scouts–that Duty to God as they understand God REQUIRES them to be open and affirming of LGBT people. In their own well-formed consciences, such scouts are put in a difficult position of having to decide whether their membership in a group that excludes gays is in conflict with their promise within that very group to be reverent and to serve God. Wouldn’t a call for an inclusive stance point to the bishops’ sense of the urgency of protecting religious freedom for all and the importance of obeying conscience?”
Fullam’s case is a solid one. Catholic bishops and other leaders have been shamefully silent on the epidemic of bullying in recent years, and the Andresen case is, at bottom, a case of institutional bullying. I suspect that Catholic leaders’ obsession with not supporting marriage equality initiatives has made them gun-shy about supporting any initiative that supports LGBT people. That is not only shameful, but, as Fullam’s argument illustrates, it is a denial of the Catholic Church’s clear teaching on anti-discrimination and religious liberty. Our youth, and our entire church, deserve better from our leaders.
Ryan’s mother, Karen Andersen, so clearly reflects Catholic principles in the defense of her son quoted by NBCNews.com:
“ ‘I want everyone to know that [the Eagle award] should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation. Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years old and in no way knew what he was,’ said Karen Andresen, 49, a stay-at-home mother of three. ‘I think right now the Scoutmaster is sending Ryan the message that he’s not a valued human being and I want Ryan to know that he is valued … and that people care about him.’ “
Catholic people in the pews can show their support for Ryan Andresen and LGBT youth like him by signing a petition that his mother has organized to secure his Eagle ranking.