Thursday, January 1, 2015

Thanking you Bishop Bonny, for saying aloud what many believe!

Equally Blessed Coalition Invites Catholic Bishops to ‘Come Out’ and Stand with Belgian Bishop
December 31, 2014- The Equally Blessed Coalition applauds Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, who has forthrightly invited the Roman Catholic Church to formally recognize the grace in committed, loving same-sex relationships.
"We have to look inside the church for a formal recognition of the kind of interpersonal relationship that is also present in many gay couples,” Bishop Bonny asserts. “The intrinsic values are more important to me than the institutional question. The Christian ethic is based on lasting relationships where exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other."
These bold and beautiful words simply reflect what many Catholics have already witnessed from their lesbian and gay family members and friends. LGBT Catholics and their many Catholic allies know that the Spirit of God is not bound to Church teaching, and has moved freely and with power in the lives and loves of gay and lesbian people. The Equally Blessed Coalition joins Bishop Bonny in asking that the Church confirm this truth in her sacramental expressions.
Jim Smith of DignityUSA, a member of the Equally Blessed Coalition, said “Though pushback is sure to come, the Equally Blessed Coalition calls on all bishops who privately acknowledge the beauty of Bishop Bonny’s declaration to publicly support his invitation to the Church. God is very much alive in both straight and gay families. It is the time for our Catholic bishops and all church leaders to come out of that doctrinally rigid closet and stand with this brave bishop.”
Equally Blessed is a coalition of four Catholic organizations that have spent more than 120 years working on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. Collectively and individually, Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry are devoted to informing, supporting and giving voice to the growing majority within the Catholic Church in the United States that favors equality under law for LGBT people.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An interesting read... from our friend and Fortunate Families Listening Parent....BRIAN CAHILL

National Catholic Reporter                                                              September 12-25, 2014



                      Church on track to becoming a shrinking cult

                                                     By Brian Cahill

 Taking a break from his crusade against civil gay marriage, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is establishing an Oratory of St. Philip Neri at Star of the Sea Parish in the City. The history of the Oratory dates back to 1575 in Rome and includes a rich history of priestly fraternity, community, prayer and the Eucharist. The intent here according to Catholic San Francisco is to “create a stable community with at least two full time priests.” There will be outreach to young adults and “a focus of offering Mass, hearing confessions and creating a welcoming community.” New pastor Fr. Joseph Illo, the former chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College says he really wants to concentrate on young adults, offering air hockey and Ping-Pong among other activities. There will be Sunday and daily Mass in Latin, although it’s not clear how in 2014, Mass in a language no one understands will attract young adults. Perhaps the air hockey and the Ping-Pong will.

But the Holy Spirit works in all sorts of strange and wonderful ways, and any effort to attract young adults—to keep them from leaving the Church, should be praised, especially given the wholesale exodus of young Catholics over recent years. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that four out of five Catholics who have left the Church and haven’t joined another church, did so before the age of twenty-four. One can point to an increasingly secular, materialistic culture as a factor in this exodus, but a closer look suggests that young Catholics are increasingly turned off by the attitudes and actions of some American bishops—the failure to address the child abuse scandal, the harsh opposition to civil gay marriage, the cluelessness of Church teaching on contraception, and the refusal to consider women priests.

More recently, Catholic high school students, who can spot dishonesty and hypocrisy a mile away, are reacting with disillusion and disgust at how the Church is treating some teachers in Catholic schools.

Oakland Bishop Michael Barber is attempting to coerce Catholic identity with a mandated morality pledge. In trying to clarify his position, Barber wrote, “I am not interested in examining a teacher’s private life.” He just doesn’t want any “public manifestations” of opposition to Church teaching. Most thoughtful students will see that for what it is: a clumsy, inept Catholic version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr upheld the firing of a teacher because the teacher tweeted support for civil gay marriage. The chancery spokesman stated that such actions “would undermine what students are being taught in the classroom.” It would appear that Cincinnati Catholic high school students are not being taught Jesus’ message of love and inclusiveness or Pope Francis’ mantra, “Who am I to judge?”

The Cincinnati contract prohibits teachers from “public support of the homosexual lifestyle.” That contract language forced a Catholic teacher who is the mother of a gay son to choose between her son and her job. She chose her son.

Schnurr’s spokesman described the resulting protests as “a tempest in a teapot.” But the real tempest, the real storm may be over the horizon.

The real question is how many thoughtful Catholic high school students will be turned off by a Church that can treat people this harshly, and how many will walk away before they are twenty-four.

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon fired a Catholic high school from her job when the diocese read the obituary of her mother’s death and discovered the teacher was a lesbian. How many thoughtful Catholic high school students will stick around in a Church that is capable of that kind of behavior?

Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt sent one of his priests to speak at a mandatory high school assembly just before Minnesota was to vote on an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. The priest, in attempting to influence soon-to-be voting age seniors, told the students that single parents and children who are adopted are not normal. A married Catholic couple presenting with the priest, compared same sex marriage to bestiality. The students didn’t buy it and the voters of Minnesota rejected the constitutional amendment.

A Seattle Catholic high school fired a gay assistant principal after he married his partner. The assistant principal was told that if he divorced his partner he could be reinstated. He moved on to another job. Hundreds of students and parents protested the firing.

So to the priests of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in San Francisco and to other efforts at young adult evangelization: God bless you. You’re going to have to work overtime and the Holy Spirit is going to have to work overtime to offset the hypocrisy, insensitivity, dishonesty and stupidity of some of your leaders, to offset their capacity, whether they intend it or not, to fan the flames of discrimination and homophobia and cause many young people struggling with their sexuality to continue to feel inferior, rejected and sometimes suicidal. If our Church is left in the hands of these bishops, we are on track to become a shrinking, increasingly irrelevant cult—not a source of appeal for thoughtful Catholic high school students.


Brian Cahill is the former executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

from Listening Parent Patrick Nugent...

Bro. Steve Herro
Catholic Charities of  the USA
Dear Steve:
I have learned that Larry Snyder, CEO of Catholic Charities USA, has signed a letter to the President asking to enshrine our Catholic hierarchy’s continuing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT)  people in a proposed executive order prohibiting discrimination in hiring.  He has partnered with the likes of the infamous bigot Rick Warren, in this effort.  I am appalled at his action. Snyder’s signing that letter is so antagonistic to my faith, that I am unable to remain passive.  
Why did he not ask for exemption from the Civil Rights Act as well, there is no difference.  Recall there was a fairly recent time when African–American people, if even allowed in our churches, were allowed only to sit in the “choir loft” and were not admitted to our schools at all.  And while discrimination against African-American people continues in our church, at least it is no longer so overt as the discrimination against LGBT people. We don’t fire them from employment in our schools and parishes solely because they publicly acknowledge being “black”.
Snyder’s effort to essentially codify continuing discrimination against LGBT people casts a pall on all the activities of CCUSA.  Do you refuse service to LGBT people?  Do you refuse service to African-American people?  Do you refuse service to handicapped people?  I trust the answer to all those questions is “No”.  So then why refuse them employment? 
The letter is as hypocritical as the United States bishops’ positions on matters of gender.  “We believe that all persons are created in the divine image of the creator, and are worthy of respect and love, without exception”, the letter claims.  And yet it insists on just such an exception!  What sense does that make?  It make as much sense as the United State Catholic bishops claiming the same “love and respect” and then working intensely to oppose civil same-gender marriage. 
My wife and I, practicing Catholics for 71 and 74 years respectively, worked very hard on the successful passage of same-gender civil marriage in Maryland.  And we continue to work to end discrimination of every sort in the Catholic Church and civil society. 

We adopted two children through Catholic Charities of Washington, DC.  Of course one can no longer do that because of Donald Wuerl’s discrimination against LGBT people by ending foster care and adoption services in the Archdiocese for fear of having to place children with same-gender couples.  He sentenced children to the abominable morass of the District of Columbia system; his scandal of immense dimension.

I wrote recently and asked you to advise me of CCUSA’s position on gender policy.  You answered that you referred my question so someone else in CCUSA.  I never received another response.  I guess I have it now.

In the future I will read of the accomplishments of CCUSA and its affiliates with two reserve questions:  what did they not do because of Larry Snyder’s gender based discrimination, and what faithful, practicing Catholics were not permitted to participate due to Snyder’s gender-based hiring practices. 

 I will pray that CCUSA will one day embrace traditional Catholic Social Teaching and truly respect the dignity of all people,

Patrick Nugent

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. John 16

Thursday, June 26, 2014

With New Document, Bishops Squander Opportunity to Build Bridges with LGBT Catholics, their Families and Allies

The Synod on the Family's guiding document reflects the Bishops' unwillingness to listen to LGBT Catholics' lived realities.
June 26, 2014. Today, the Equally Blessed Coalition released the following statement regarding the Vatican's guiding document for the Synod on the Family:
The Equally Blessed Coalition is disappointed by the lack of listening evidenced in the report released by the Vatican yesterday in preparation for the Synod which will discuss ministry to the family. We are disheartened that the challenges of families trying to reconcile their unambiguous love for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) family members and Church teachings that are too often harsh and divisive are not addressed.
Our families and parishes include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and allies who are faithful, hopeful Catholics.  They are our sons and daughters, siblings, parents and friends.  They are pastors, godparents, teachers and lay ministers.  The insinuation that we don’t understand Church teaching and the entrenchment of old arguments against our families ignores our dignity and the reality of our Catholic experience.
Catholics have enthusiastically responded whenever the Bishops ask for dialogue on the topic of ministry to LGBT individuals and families.  We hoped that this Synod signified a new openness in the Church to truly dialogue and understand the hurt their teachings have caused our families; instead, they have repeated their assertion that we have misunderstood them. 
The Bishops once again claim that the problem is not that their teachings clash with the Biblical teaching of love, but that Catholics are unaware of the teachings. Catholics are not unaware, rather they have long struggled with these teachings, and ultimately reject them as inconsistent with the Gospel. US Bishops have spent millions of dollars defending their right to discriminate against our families, a fact that increases the alienation of many families from the Church.
We are living the faith we love and speaking up for the Church we believe in.  Celebrating the diversity in our Church is integral to our understanding of a faith that stands up for those on the margins and recognizes the face of God in everyone.
Pastoral leadership is not possible without respecting those living out their faith in the world.  The Equally Blessed Coalition and Catholics around the world will continue to stand proudly with LGBT and allied Catholics.  We work for a day when the leadership of our Church will welcome us to the table and celebrate our experiences.
Equally Blessed is a coalition of Catholics committed to full justice and equality for LGBT people in the Church and society. It is comprised of Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry, organizations that collectively have over 125 years of experience in ministry with LGBT Catholics and their families.
Contact: Christine Haider-Winnett

Christine Haider-Winnett
Coordinator, Equally Blessed

Fired by a vision of a church that transcends cultural prejudices, the Equally Blessed coalition seeks to educate and inspire Catholics to take action on behalf of LGBT people, their families and friends.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Saint our Trans brothers and sisters identify with easily....

St. Hildegund of Schonau


Monk and Virgin

St. Hildegund was the daughter of a German knight.  After the death of her mother, she accompanied her father on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  She was about twelve at the time, and for protection on the journey, she was disguised as a boy called Joseph.  On the way home, her father died, leaving her (Joseph) to undergo a series of extraordinary adventures before making it back to Germany. 

All the while and over many years, she maintained her identity as a boy and then as a man.  Finally, back home, she was admitted to the Cistercian monastery on Schonau—where she remained until her death—still a novice, never having taken vows.  Only at that point, was the secret of her sex discovered!

Despite its fabulous qualities, the story of St. Hildegund is attested by many contemporary sources.  It is interesting to note that such stories of women passing as men in religious life are far from uncommon in the annals of the saints.  Though some of these are undoubtedly apocryphal, still several remain in the official calendar of saints, perhaps serving as parabolic reminders of the ideal that “in Christ”—if seldom elsewhere—“there is no male or female”.
--Robert Ellsberg
Most important of all, as The One Year Book of Saints observes, was that "She had to go to God in a most unusual way, and God accepted her the way she was." She is celebrated on April 20.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

“Meanwhile, may Heaven guard us from those who think they already have the answers.”



My Catholic Faith has always been my spiritual guide. I am respectful of Church teaching.

I took for granted that love the sinner (homosexual person) hate the sin (homosexual activity) and judge not…” is how Christians relate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. I was blind to the implicit, dehumanizing message that LGBT persons are incapable of loving, intimate relationships and therefore unworthy of having a family. It is easy to harden our hearts against those we dont really know.   
Then God put the issue of homosexuality front and center in my life.

Our daughter discovered she is lesbian and came out to us while in high school. My initial reactions fueled by ignorance, fear and self-blame deeply hurt Susan and strained our relationship. It also triggered a moral and emotional crisis for me.  A dark cloud hung over our family during this painful time. Gradually, with Gods grace, our love for each other and the support of caring people we made it through the darkness. Our relationship healed. In the process, I made a determined effort to broaden and deepen my understanding of homosexuality. I listened to the voices of LGBT individuals and their families and I prayed always.  It has been a transformational journey for me.  Our daughters courage to embrace her true self despite the risks and to live a life of integrity and dignity is a source of grace and inspiration.  She has helped me see the goodness and holiness in the mystery and dazzling diversity of creation rather than seeing threats in differences and evil in what I dont completely understand.    

It is with this background that I attended Bishop Paprockis lecture, Marriage, Same-Sex Relationships and the Catholic Church. I was aware the Bishops words had wounded members of
the LGBT community in the past. I knew the audience would include LGBT Catholics and I wanted to be there in solidarity with them.  I was also drawn by the subtitle of the lecture, How to Explain the Catholic Teaching with Truth and Love.  I was skeptical that the Bishops presentation would come across in the way the title suggested but it gave me some small hope that his tone might be more loving and less judgmental like those of Pope Francis.  Sadly, what I heard was a legalism and defensiveness shockingly dissimilar to the caring, compassion and mercy of Jesus.

I cringed at Bishop Paprockis use of the tragic story about the grisly murder of his former secretary by a gay co-worker. It was disturbing because it seemed much more likely to fan the flames of homophobia than to support his point of media bias against the Catholic Church. Also upsetting was his comment that there is new research supporting the claim that same-sex marriage hurts children, citing a recent study out of Texas. He did not mention that this is one controversial and widely disputed study. A larger and stronger body of evidence indicates that children are not harmed by living in same-sex parent families. 

Our familys experience gave me a new awareness that love requires listening as well as being heard, learning as well as teaching and trusting instead of controlling. I came to the Athenaeum hoping for some sign of these among the clergy present but I left sad and disappointed. I was reminded of a quote from an essay titled The Burden of the Gospels by Wendell Berry. Meanwhile, may Heaven guard us from those who think they already have the answers..


Betty Dirr, 03-27-14

Cincinnati, OH
Betty Dirr is a Listening Parent, in support of Fortunate Families.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Moving into the digital age....

LInda and Tom 1

On Saturday May 17th, Fortunate Families hosted our first "Listening Parent web meeting" with a few board members and a few listening parents.  We listening to Tom Nelson and Linda Karle-Nelson share their stories of raising gay kids and the advocacy that they now embrace.  Both are former FF board members, Linda is the past president.  They are models of love and work tirelessly for justice for our kids in church and society!

We used Zoom as our platform (meaning our guests downloaded the free program, and could see each other as the presenters spoke, and for questions afterward)  It is a fabulously simple format and it gave us the chance to 'see' folks in other parts of the country. Seeing each other gives us a sense of sharing the journey in a way the phone doesn't do as well.

We plan to do another one soon~~ and hope you will consider joining us.