Find Answers to “Controversial” Pope Francis at Upcoming Symposium

Pope Francis

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.

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Bryan Massingale

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.

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Lisa Fullam

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.

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Leslie Griffin

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.

Frank Mugisha of Uganda poses in front of a painting of Robert F. Kennedy, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Frank Mugisha

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

Prayer Opportunities

The symposium experience is not all about the intellect.  Unique prayer opportunities will also be available:

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    Simone Campbell, SSS

    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.

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    Bishop John Stowe

    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
    Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

    Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, will lead a special Saturday afternoon prayer service.

Networking

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.

newwayssymp-draft_03-01Can I afford it?

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

 

 

 

 

Support Dignity/Detroit as Protest Looms Over their 39th Anniversary Mass

Dignity DetroitDignity/Detroit, an organization of LGBT Catholics, will be celebrating their 39th anniversary this weekend, though the event threatens to be shadowed by a protest staged by conservative Christians who object to the fact that a Catholic college hosts the group’s meetings.

Dignity/Detroit, a chapter of Dignity/USA,  is celebrating their anniversary with a Mass, in the Sacred Heart Chapel of Marygrove College, a school run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary of Detroit and a longtime advocate for LGBT equality, will be the principal celebrant and homilist.  The Mass is scheduled for Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 6:00 p.m.

The Associated Press reports that a coalition of conservative Christian groups are planning to protest the event:

‘American Family Association Michigan President Gary Glenn said Thursday that he has asked Archbishop Allen Vigneron to enforce Vatican policies on homosexuality and intervene.

” ‘By allowing the use of its campus chapel by a homosexual activist group that is harshly critical of Catholic doctrine regarding marriage and homosexual behavior, Detroit’s Marygrove College is violating a Vatican directive expressly banning the use of facilities at Catholic colleges by such groups,’ the association said in an email.”

But the Mass will go on.  The Archdiocese of Detroit has take a neutral position on the matter:

” ‘There are hundreds of Masses celebrated in the Detroit archdiocese every weekend,’ archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath said. ‘It’s always Archbishop Vigneron’s expectation that these liturgies are conducted in full conformity with the Catholic Church‘s teachings and practices.’ “

And Dignity remains undaunted by the threat of protest:

“The group also was aware that protests were expected Sunday, said Dignity USA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke. She said the group simply hopes to be able to pray in safety.

” ‘Our faith is very important to us,” Duddy-Burke said. ‘Most Catholics would be appalled to know that fellow Catholics cannot easily access our sacraments, have a Mass. We also believe we are all children of a loving God and should be able to worship in peace.’ “

In a Detroit Free Press article, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters expressed support for Dignity/Detroit, Marygrove College, and Bishop Gumbleton:

“Sister Mary Jane Herb, president of the Monroe-based Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns who founded Marygrove College, said the Dignity mass is welcome at the campus. Retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton will be the celebrant of Sunday’s anniversary mass, and other priests rotate to officiate.

“ ‘The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, support the openness of Marygrove College to host Dignity Detroit’s 39th anniversary celebration,’ said Herb, citing a 1997 statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about homosexuality.

“ ‘In this statement, the bishops stated that gay and lesbian persons are ‘God’s precious creation,’ and the bishops ask us to accept and love these individuals as gift(s) of God,’ Herb said in a statement. ‘By joining with retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton as celebrant, Marygrove College is attending to the pastoral needs of all God’s children.’ ”

New Ways Ministry encourages all its supporters in the Detroit metropolitan area to show up at the liturgy to support the Dignity chapter.  It will be wonderful not only to support the group in their time of duress, but also to celebrate 39 years of ministry, service, prayer, and community with them.  For more information, visit the chapter’s website.  Marygrove College is located at 425 McNichols Road, West,  Detroit, Michigan 48221.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Gumbleton to Pro-Marriage Equality Catholics: ‘Don’t Stop Going to Communion’

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, has told Catholics to ignore Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s recent statement discouraging pro-marriage equality Catholics from receiving communion.

Gumbleton, who is a long-time supporter of LGBT people, said in a MyFox2 interview:

“Don’t stop going to communion. You’re okay.”

Gumbleton explained his position from a pastoral point of view:

“If you look at it from a pastoral point of view where you’re trying to reach out to people, trying to draw them in, then the last thing you want to do is impose a penalty or make them feel like they have to impose a penalty upon themselves.”

His explanation also was based on the importance of Catholics using their own consciences to make decisions about receiving communion, something that Bondings 2.0 stressed in our reporting of Vigneron’s statement:

“Gumbleton says it’s a matter of conscience, which is deeply personal.

” ‘Not everybody’s going to come to the same conclusion at the same time, so we have to keep on working with people and trusting people that they’re trying to do the right thing,’ he remarked.

“Gumbleton read from a pastoral letter penned years ago at a bishop’s conference called ‘Always Our Children.’

“Judging the sinfulness of any particular act is a matter ultimately between God and the individual person.”

“He also says that an individual person must choose whether or not to receive communion.

” ‘Their conscience is the ultimate voice they have to follow,’ Gumbleton explained. ‘A person coming up to communion has a right to make their own decision about am I in a state of grace?… Am I ready to receive? Well, that’s for the person to decide not for the minister or not for any bishop.’ “

Bishop Gumbleton is the 1995 recipient of New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award. He has served on New Ways Ministry’s Board, and has spoken at several of our national symposiums and other programs.

Kudos to Bishop Gumbleton for speaking so forthrightly about the role of conscience–something that too few bishops seem able to do.  Thanks to him, too,  for promoting good pastoral directives about who gets to decide about who will receive communion.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry