New Ways Ministry always does a great job of speaking the truth with charity.
I generally don’t like to criticize other bloggers, but when a gay-friendly Catholic parish has been wrongly accused of anti-LGBT behavior, I think it is important to set the record straight (so to speak). Such is the case with a blog post by John Becker, who writes at The Bilerico Project. I often find Mr. Becker’s commentaries challenging and thought-provoking, but in a recent post, he oversteps the mark by making a claim that needs to be corrected.
Becker’s June 17th post is entitled “Catholic Church’s ‘Pride’ Event Smells Like False Advertising.” In it he creates suspicion that the LGBT outreach ministry at St. Ignatius parish, Baltimore, may not be as welcoming as it makes itself out to be.
Becker became aware of an event advertisement on the Archdiocese of Baltimore website that stated:
“Embracing God’s Gifts, St. Ignatius’ Gay & Lesbian ministry, is inviting you to join us…
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I lived in Sandusky for seven years as a youngster. Sandusky Central Catholic High School (formerly St. Mary’s Central Catholic High School) is associated with St. Mary’s Parish, while we attended Sts. Peter and Paul. Although my ties to Sandusky are from long ago, I still have family connections there. This action — as every other action in which a faithful LGBT Catholic loses his or her job for being honest and true to themselves as God created them — makes me so very sad. I pray the students, other teachers, and families of SCCHS speak out loudly and clearly in support of Brian Panetta.
Yet another LGBT church employee has been forced out of a job, this time in Ohio where Brian Panetta resigned from Sandusky Catholic High School (near Cleveland) upon announcing his engagement to his partner, Nathan David.
Panetta received a January 3rd letter from administrators of Sandusky Central, where he has worked since 2009, terminating his employment because of violations of the Catholic Church’s teachings as the reason for his termination. Panetta had previously suggested to administrators that he resign at the academic year’s end to avoid conflicts over his upcoming same-gender marriage. The Sandusky Register offers further details, including comments from the music teacher:
“On Thursday, however, Panetta met with school administrators, a priest and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, who offered more information and agreed he could resign instead of having a termination on his record, he said.
” ‘I’m satisfied with their explanation, and right now…
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So it’s a little late … but this is what greeted us at the top of a large tree as we went for our morning walk!
Fr. Nugent co-founded New Ways Ministry, which for decades has helped to build bridges of trust and understanding between LGBT Catholics and those elements of the Church that fail to see that, ultimately, there can be no conflict between being a faithful follower of Jesus and being faithful to who we know ourselves to be as created in God’s image and likeness. Requiescat in pace.
With confidence in the promise of the Resurrection, but also with hearts heavy with sorrow, New Ways Ministry reports the passing into eternal life of our co-founder, Father Robert Nugent, SDS. Fr. Nugent’s three-month battle with cancer ended on Wednesday, January 1, 2014, at 2:10 pm, Central Time, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Present at his side at the time of his death were New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, and Brother John Hauenstein, SDS, a member of his religious congregation, the Salvatorians.
Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, reflected on the impact of Father Nugent’s life:
“When few priests would do more than whisper about homosexuality, Father Nugent was meeting with lesbian and gay people and encouraging them to claim their rightful place in the Catholic Church. During a time of intense homophobia in both church and society, he exhibited uncommon courage and foresight in welcoming and affirming…
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. This was a busy year for me … but my attention was focused less on blogging and more on beginning this next chapter of my life in sunny Southwest Florida. I don’t know what 2014 will bring, but here’s what 2013 looked like.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.
Homily for Thanksgiving Day / Thursday, November 27, 2013
Thanksgiving Day is that quintessential American holiday – as close as we come in the US to an exercise of civic religion. The observance of a special day for giving thanks for some perceived blessing – be it an observance by the settlers of Jamestown in 1610, or the celebration of thanks offered by Pedro Menedez de Aviles here in our own state of Florida in 1565, or be it that celebration about which most of us were taught, the one in 1621 observed by the settlers of Plimouth Plantation and the native Wampanoags of what is now Massachusetts – such celebrations have been a part of our national and cultural history for centuries. During America’s first decades as a nation, there were various declarations of specials days of thanksgiving. As was typical, they were usually written with broad references to God or The Almighty or The Divine – Deist perhaps, but certainly not Christian, as some today would claim. Those early proclamations lead finally to the 1863 declaration by Abraham Lincoln which made the last Thursday of November an official federal holiday.
Students of history will note that this declaration of Thanksgiving was made during an unusual time, right in the middle of the Civil War – and it’s noteworthy that Lincoln called upon his fellow citizens to do not just one, but two things on that Thursday. The first is what you’d expect. In the proclamation’s words, Lincoln called upon Americans “to offer up such the ascriptions justly due to Him [to God] for such singular deliverances and blessings…” – translated simply, to give thanks. The second was a little more sobering, a little more self-reflective, and a little more oriented toward being a call to social action. Again, in the proclamation’s words, Lincoln called upon Americans “with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience,” to commend to God’s tender care all those who were suffering in one way or another due to the ravages of war, “our lamentable civil strife.”
As tempted as I am to offer my own thoughts on what might be some 2013 examples of America’s “national perverseness and disobedience,” let me simply remind us that Lincoln’s declaration was two-pronged. It called not only for thanksgiving for blessings received, but also corrective action for our national failures and shortcomings. Certainly we all have many blessings for which we are grateful. To varying degrees, we all have so very, very much. We have roofs over our heads, more food than we could ever eat and more clothes than we could ever reasonably wear. We are blessed with jobs, or retirement security; and most importantly we are blessed with family and friends who love us and sustain is in times of sadness as well as joy. And so while we gather her on this day to give thanks to God for these blessings, the challenge of Lincoln – and more importantly, the challenge of the Gospel – is for us not to stand idly by when we have so very much and when so many millions – so many hundreds of millions – have so very little.
In his Apostolic Exhortation published earlier this week, Pope Francis speaks about the Joy of Evangelization (Evangelii Gaudium). I suspect you’ve read or heard the news coverage of this very important document. Some have called it a “tour de force,” perhaps representing a sea change for the Church. In a long section devoted entirely to what Francis calls “The Inclusion of the Poor in Society,” he states that those of us who have so much should not only be concerned with the most basic needs of those living in poverty. He challenges us to go further. Francis writes:
“Yet we desire even more than this; our dream soars higher. We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a ‘dignified sustenance’ for all people, but also their ‘general temporal welfare and prosperity.’ This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use.”
To some, those words no doubt, are challenging. Regardless of where one stands on the issues that the Pope addresses – regardless of where one stands politically or economically or socially – if reading or hearing his words is challenging, the Pope has done his job. As we gather around this Eucharistic Table of thanksgiving this morning, let us do our best to follow in the footsteps of the one man – the outsider, the Samaritan – who recognized that his healing was not of his own making, but that his healing – like all things was a gift from God, giving thanks where thanks is always due.
“Having talked incessantly about how useless and destructive government can be, House Republicans are now testifying to their reverence for what government does for veterans, health research, sick children and lovers of national parks, especially war memorials.
Appreciation for government rises when it’s no longer there.”
So much more so than the recent “guidelines” issued by the likes the Archbishop Timothy Broglio for Catholic military chaplains — guidelines which continue not only to treat LGBT people as third-class citizens, but which also treat priests serving in the military as if they were mere underlings unable to make sound pastoral decisions about how to respond to all Catholic military personnel with charity and love — this story reminds us of the truth that millions and millions of Catholics have been ministered to by gay men all their lives. It’s a good reminder of the challenges we face when a truth is finally spoken and the hard work that all Truth asks of us.
Pope Francis’ interview last week reiterated his July comments about gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” In light of all this, many Catholics wonder how this new pope will lead on LGBT issues and whether there will even be change. Bill McGarvey writing at America Magazine shares a story from his own life to explain just how Pope Francis might change the Church on LGBT issues.
McGarvey writes about making a comment to his college spiritual director about seminarians being “light in the loafers,” and the director after a momentary pause replied:
“ ‘You know, McGarvey,’ he said calmly, ‘you’ve been ministered to by gay men your whole life; you just didn’t know it.’…
“As I sat there, countless episodes from my life and the lives of family and friends all flooded back—from periods of darkness and personal crises, through life-threatening illnesses and deaths in my family, not to…
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A brief search of these pages reveals my fondness for Richard Rohr, the prolific Franciscan writer and retreat director. In his daily Meditation for today, Fr. Rohr remembers his Franciscan forebear, John Duns Scotus, and has this to say:
John Duns Scotus (1265-1308), the Franciscan philosopher, called each soul a unique “thisness” (haecceity), and he said it was to be found in every act of creation in its singularity. For him, God did not create universals, genera, and species, or anything that needed to come back again and again to get it right (reincarnation), but only specific and unique incarnations of the Eternal Mystery—each one chosen, loved, and preserved in existence as itself—by being itself. And this is the glory of God!
This insight demonstrates precisely where the “official” positions of current Church leaders goes astray when it arrives at its positions regarding the relationships of gay and lesbian people. Instead of actually looking at the “thisness” of individual persons and learning from the lived experience of real, flesh and blood LGBT people, these Church leaders seem to think that God is so limited that God has created a “one-size-fits-all” picture of humanity. Instead of seeing the uniquess and individuality of LGBT folks, bishops and (most) popes see the most common expression of human sexuality — heterosexuality — and then impose that expression on all other humans, whether the mold fits or not.
Thank God there are spiritual writers like Fr. Rohr who regularly remind us of the full Tradition of our Catholic faith — a Tradition that is rich and diverse and recognizes the dignity not of some generic humanity, but the dignity and haecceity of every human person!