Monday, May 4, 2009

Bishop Blair Bans Gay Activist Workshop

Courage and common sense.

The Toledo Blade reports (h/t New Oxford Review):

"Bishop Leonard Blair, recently picked by the Vatican to investigate the doctrines of a major U.S. nuns' organization, has banned a workshop on gay and lesbian ministry scheduled to start today at the Sisters of St. Francis campus in Tiffin.

The three-day workshop was offered by New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based organization that describes itself as "a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics."

Sally Oberski, director of communications for the Toledo diocese, said Bishop Blair sent a letter to Sister Jacquelyn Doepker, head of the religious order, asking her to cancel the workshop.

In his letter, the bishop said "the positions of New Ways Ministry are not at all in accord with the guidelines for pastoral care which the bishops of the United States issued in 2006 regarding 'Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination.' Nor does New Ways Ministry present the full, authentic teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality."

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways' executive director, said he was "very disappointed" by the bishop's decision and believes there is a "misconception" about both points cited in the letter.

"We've been around for 32 years," he said. "Our programs, especially like the one we were going to have in Tiffin, are designed to help people who are working in Catholic institutions. We are not trying to subvert the church but to build on a positive tradition of welcoming lesbian and gay people that is in the church's teaching and pastoral practice."

Mr. DeBernardo is not telling the truth.

On August 4, 2008, our California Catholic Bishops had issued their statement on Proposition 8, which concluded:

"And finally, we strongly encourage Catholics to provide both the financial support and the volunteer efforts needed for the passage of Proposition 8. "

On September 25, 2008, New Ways Ministry issued the following press release:

"Catholic Voters Urged to Protect Same-Sex Marriage Laws
Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry"

The very first sentence read:

"New Ways Ministry urges all Catholic voters to oppose any electoral measures which attempt to ban same-sex marriage laws."

It's hard to find a clearer case of subversion than that.

We blogged about "New Ways Ministry" back on February 16, 2009, on the occasion of Father Richard Rohr's hosting of a seminar at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. Among other things we noted that Fr. Rohr:

"...will be the Facilitator of a 'retreat for former male religious and resigned priests who are gay' to be held in Marriotsville, Maryland. The event is listed on the 'Gay Catholic Forum' a clearinghouse for all things anti-Catholic, as far as homosexuality is concerned. (The site also feature homilies by USF's Executive Director of University Ministry, Fr. Donal Godfrey.)

Even that might not necessarily be objectionable, except for the fact that the retreat is being sponsored by
New Ways Ministry. New Ways Ministry is pretty well known; still, a look at their 'Next Steps: Developing Lesbian/Gay Ministry' action plan is helpful.

'This weekend of prayer, presentations, dialogue, and planning is designed to assist those seeking ways to include lesbian/gay people and issues in their home parishes, schools, or other ministerial settings.'

'Include' lesbian/gay people? All they have to do is come to Mass and confession, like everybody else. What New Ways Ministry wants is for the Church to change it's teaching on homosexualitry. If they are sponsoring a retreat, you can pretty much be sure that is its final end."

Bishop Blair is absolutely correct in banning New Ways Ministry. We commend him for his wise and prudent action.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney


Anonymous said...

I agree. Bishop Blair has done the right thing. It is one thing to provide help to people who suffer from a same sex attraction but another to encourage these people to pursue these types of relationships and push for same sex marriage.

Valsainte said...

Gibbons -- is this the same Bishop Blair that used to be in Stockton?

Keep up the good fight --


Gibbons in SF said...


I believe you are thinking of Bishop Stephen Blaire. He's still in Stockton.