Friday, February 12, 2010

New Ways Ministry: 'much to do with peoples' struggle, pain, little about sex' - By Francis DeBernardo – National Catholic Reporter

Feb. 08, 2010


“I feel like they have slapped me in the face again.”

That sentence was emailed to me yesterday by a Catholic lesbian woman after she learned that Cardinal Francis George issued a negative “clarification” concerning New Ways Ministry. Like many lesbian/gay Catholics, this woman perceived George’s statement as directed not so much towards the organization which I direct, but towards herself and her lesbian /gay sisters and brothers in the Church.

Judging from past experience, I know that this woman’s sentiment will be experienced many times over by the thousands of Catholic lesbian/gay people whom I have met in my 15 years of working in this ministry. These are faith-filled Catholics, many of whom have been active in church life for many years, who regularly feel beaten down by hierarchical statements which lack any evidence that their issuers know anything about the reality of lesbian/gay lives. These are people who continue to seek bread from church leaders and instead are handed stones. Photos - Vatican

Who are these people? Well, one such person is Karen, a youth minister I know who happens to be a lesbian. Karen is well-respected in the parish where she works. She is a quiet and steady presence not only to the teens she serves, but to her colleagues on the parish staff. When I’ve asked her where she gets her inner calmness, she says that she unexpectedly developed this spiritual gift when she came to an awareness of her lesbian orientation. Though she is an honest person, no one in the parish knows what her orientation is. Karen is afraid she will lose her job if it is revealed.

Then there’s Joseph, who had been a member of a religious order for several years and who was dismissed because it became known that he was a gay man. Joseph struggled for many years with depression following this turmoil in his life. Despite belonging to a gay support group in his parish, the negative messages Joseph kept hearing from the hierarchy began to overwhelm him. At least that is what he said in the suicide note that he left behind him. Read complete article - By Francis DeBernardo – National Catholic Reporter

[Francis DeBernardo is the executive director of New Ways Ministry.]

Related links: Found on National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Francis George, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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"Someday, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well-considered, and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child's spirit." Erik Erikson

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