I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. John 16
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Bro. Steve Herro
Catholic Charities of the USA
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,
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
Coordinator, Equally Blessed
805/290-2486 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 805/290-2486 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting (cellphone)
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
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 EllsbergMost 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
A PERSONAL RESPONSE TO BISHOP PAPROCKI’S LECTURE ON
SAME- SEX RELATIONSHIPS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
FEBRUARY 12-2014, THE ATHENAEUM, CINCINNATI, OHIO
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 don’t 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 God’s 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 daughter’s 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 don’t completely understand.
It is with this background that I attended Bishop Paprocki’s lecture, “Marriage, Same-Sex Relationships and the Catholic Church”. I was aware the Bishop’s 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 Bishop’s 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 Paprocki’s 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 family’s 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
Betty Dirr is a Listening Parent, in support of Fortunate Families.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
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.
Friday, March 7, 2014
This publication represents the work of our friend Dr. Caitlin Ryan....
The booklet is certainly worth a look, copy and share with your friends who work in advocacy, or your clergy!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cathy Renna, email@example.com, 917-757-6123 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 917-757-6123 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting
FAMILY PRACTICE GUIDE TO HELP PREVENT SUICIDE, HOMELESSNESS,
HIV & OTHER SERIOUS OUTCOMES FOR LGBT YOUTH PUBLISHED BY SAMHSA
(Las Vegas, NV), February 18, 2014 – The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at SF State University is announcing that in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) it has developed, “Helping Families to Support their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Children.” This critical new practitioner’s resource guide was written by Dr. Caitlin Ryan, FAP’s Director and is based on current research and more than a decade of family intervention work conducted by Dr. Ryan and her team.
The guide is designed to help health, mental health and social service practitioners implement best practices in family-focused prevention and care for LGBT youth. This is the first resource guide published by a government agency to provide core principles and research-based approaches to engage and help families to support their LGBT children.
One of the primary barriers in introducing a new research-based family model of care is a decades-long perception that practitioners need to protect LGBT adolescents from families who have been seen as rejecting or as not supporting their LGBT children. Research has linked family rejection with serious health problems, and family acceptance as a protective factor that helps protect against risk and promote well-being for LGBT youth. Dr. Ryan and her team have found that families who are seen as rejecting are typically motivated by trying to protect their LGBT children from harm, to help them fit in, to be accepted by others and to keep their families together.
Understanding the motives, values and experiences of parents, families and caregivers of LGBT adolescents is an important first step in implementing a family support approach to decrease family rejection and increase acceptance and support to decrease high levels of homelessness, suicidality, placement in custodial care, substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. The new SAMHSA resource guide presents core strategies for building rapport and helping families to become allies to decrease their LGBT children’s risk and to promote their well-being.
This publication was initiated as part of SAMHA’s ongoing commitment to educate practitioners who work in multiple practice settings from primary care, to schools and services for homeless youth on providing quality care for LGBT adolescents in the context of their families.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with SAMSHA to disseminate our research-based family intervention strategies to build healthy futures for LGBT youth,” said Dr. Ryan. “Now that research shows the critical role of families in promoting both risk and well-being for their LGBT children, it’s essential to ensure that practitioners in all settings know how to engage and help families to support their LGBT children.”
The guide is available on SAMHSA’s website at http://store.samhsa.gov/product/A-Practitioner-s-Resource-Guide-Helping-Families-to-Support-Their-LGBT-Children/PEP14-LGBTKIDS
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
A few weeks ago, a Catholic Mom of a gay son reached out, worried that there was to be a Courage presentation in her diocese for parish staff and deacons. Feeling that someone should speak up, she reached out and Fortunate Families Co-Founder Casey Lopata shared his wisdom on the subject. The highlighted red words stayed with me these few weeks and I wanted to share them. Casey credits New Ways Ministry's Sister Jeannine Gramick for the bird analogy. This may speak to you to when you ...can't find the right words.
When the Courage program is presented as church teaching, it takes COURAGE to stand alone, speak the truth, and share your story!
This is Casey's message:
For example: You (Mom) could argue that it's as natural for your gay son to seek a loving intimate relationship with a man as it is for you, a heterosexual woman. That desire comes from sexual orientation--yours heterosexual, his homosexual. Both are natural variations of healthy sexuality as created by God. No one should be able to deny your son his God-given right to find a loving companion any more than anyone should be able to deny you the same right. To tell someone they should deny a deep-seated part of who they are (homosexual or heterosexual) jeopardizes that person’s ability to become all that God designed them to be.
Logically then, you want your gay son to have the same support and affirmation for his loving relationship as your straight kids have for their loving relationships. God embeds in all of us a basic need for love and intimacy, and we should all be supported in fulfilling that need in a healthy and happy loving relationship. The Courage approach is based on the false premise (cite APA as needed) that a homosexual orientation is unnatural and is not intended by God.
Courage (and Catholic teaching) says there’s no sin in having a homosexual orientation, but there is sin if one acts on that attraction. In other words, “You can be a bird but you can't fly.” That’s what is unnatural!
Courage tries to sidestep the issue by saying, they’re just trying to help people find ways to be sexually abstinent. If Courage is truly trying to help those who want to abstain from sex, why doesn't it also work with heterosexual people who want to abstain from sex? [I didn’t say “celibacy” because that’s not synonymous with abstinence. Celibacy is abstinence from marriage (and sex that is assumed with marriage), generally for a religious purpose sometimes with a vow. As has been said by church leaders, this is so one can practice a more perfect form of chastity. This comes from old theological baggage (Augustine, etc.) that says sex is only good if the purpose is to procreate. Augustine said sex even in marriage is a venial sin if not done to procreate.
Hopefully this will help you, if at some point you are faced with someone saying Abstinence is what God intended.