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Church Renews Pressure on Pro-Gay Catholic Group

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Feb 26, 2010

Progressive Catholics maybe on a collision course with the guardians of their faith's doctrine--especially when it comes to civil rights issues affecting GLBTs, marriage equality among them.

A Feb. 24 article at Inside reported that a Catholic Cardinal, Francis George, had issued a Feb. 5 condemnation of religious GLBT advocacy organization New Ways Ministry. The report linked this renunciation to a meeting of clergy and laity in the nation's capital several days previously to establish a new pro-GLBT parity group, Catholics for Equality (CFE), that will seek to revise the church's teachings on gays and gay family life.

The church's doctrine holds that while homosexuality is inherent to an individual, the expression of that personal characteristic sexually is sinful and contrary to "natural law." Moreover, gays and lesbians, the church says, are "disordered" in their ability to relate sexually with others. Therefore, the church teaches, God "calls" gays and lesbians to forsake intimate relationships and family life and lead lives of celibacy. The church also brands as a form of "violence" against children adoption by same-sex parents, or biological parents continuing to raise their own children after entering into a committed relationship with a person of the same gender.

Cardinal George spoke out against New Ways Ministry, saying, "It has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church, and they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States."

The Inside Catholic article noted that a cleric, Father Tony Adams, responded to the Cardinal's attack by saying that it was "retaliation" by the church brought on by the establishment of the new progressive Catholic group.

One of the founders of Catholics for Equality, Father Tony Adams, regarded Cardinal George's statement as "retaliation" for the creation of an organization dedicated to changing Church teaching on homosexuality and marriage. The article quoted from Adams' blog, where the cleric wrote, "We aren't here to discuss just gay marriage, folks, although our losses on those state battlefields have awakened us to the need for a united voice that will help all Catholics guide their clueless bishops back onto the path of goodness and grace. Those bishops, the supposed shepherds of the flock, have lost their way, and it is up to the sheep to repair the damage they have done."

The article also recounted how a California cleric, the Rev. Geoffrey Farrow, opposed the church's supportive stance toward Proposition 8 and a similar ballot initiative in Maine a year later. In both instances, the legal rights of gay and lesbian families were put up to a popular vote, with the result being that their right to marriage was revoked at the ballot box. When Farrow, who came out as gay himself, criticized a bishop for instructing parish priests in Maine to make anti-marriage equality messages central to their homilies, he was relieved of his position as a clergyman.

The author of the Inside Catholic article, Deal W. Hudson, wrote, "What's particularly interesting about reading these blogs is the refrain that the bishops don't represent the majority view of the Catholic laity. Both Father Farrow and Father Tony... believe they are the spearheads of an inevitable Catholic uprising." Added Hudson, "I'm unaware of any polling that shows that the majority of active Catholics no longer regard homosexual acts as sinful, or that same-sex marriage should be legalized. But even if such data could be produced, it would only prove the need for the Church to be more forthright in arguing its position on those issues. Catholic doctrine is not defined by polling--not yet, anyway."

The anti-gay religious site LifeSiteNews retraced the background of the conflict between New Ways Ministry, which was founded in 1977, and the church hierarchy in a Feb. 9 article. The site quoted from Cardinal George's statement, in which George recounted, "In 1984, the [Archbishop James Hickey] of Washington denied New Ways Ministry any official authorization or approval of its activities. At that time, [he] forbade the two co-founders of New Ways Ministry," Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, "to continue their activities in the Archdiocese of Washington."

LifeSiteNews also quoted Father John Harvey, who created another Catholic group, Courage, which is dedicated to assisting gay Catholics who wish to live celibate lives in accordance with Church teachings on human sexuality and homosexuality. Harvey recollected that Gramick and Nugent had been pressured by the church to sign a statement that declared "homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, evil by their very nature." Both resisted, with Gramick flatly declining to sign, and Nugent trying to have the statement's language toned down--to no avail. The church then forbade them both from working with gay and lesbian Catholics, purportedly to spare them the "confusion" of hearing supportive words from Gramick and Nugent while church doctrine assured them of the "intrinsically evil" nature of their mode of sexual intimacy.

"The promotion of errors and ambiguities is not consistent with a Christian attitude of true respect and compassion," the church stated in barring the two from ministering to the gay faithful. "Persons who are struggling with homosexuality no less than any others have the right to receive the authentic teaching of the Church from those who minister to them." Once again, Gramick resisted, declaring that she would not "collaborate in my own oppression."

The Courage Web site promises gay people of faith that, "By developing an interior life of chastity, which is the universal call to all Christians, one can move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity to a more complete one in Christ."

The New Ways Ministry site says that the group is "a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities.

"Through research, publication and education about homosexuality, we foster dialogue among groups and individuals, identify and combat personal and structural homophobia, work for changes in attitudes and promote the acceptance of gay and lesbian people as full and equal members of church and society," text at the site continues.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • Beachcomber, 2010-02-26 17:41:50

    Guess the RC Church is just daring the Gay community to out it’s over 50% gay clergy. Let’s start with the bishops and up...

  • , 2010-02-26 19:23:49

    Is there a new pedophila scandal brewing? That’s when the RC hierarchy usually makes a statement regarding LGBT folk.

  • , 2010-02-27 14:12:39

    slowly christendom is realizing that if they lived their lives according to how the new covenant is written in the new testament they would be forced to acknowledge that homosexuality is of god and the spirit of christ.

  • , 2010-03-01 10:53:13

    To those of you using the Bible as a weapon against homosexuality, you are wrong. Homosexuality is not a sin. The Bible is constantly being taken out of context to support anti-gay views. Any educated Christian would know that. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, Greek temple sex worship, prostitution, pederasty with teen boys, and rape, not homosexuality or two loving consenting adults.

  • , 2010-03-01 10:53:36

    For those of you claiming homosexuality is a "lifestyle", that is a false and ignorant statement. Homosexuality is not a choice. Just like you don’t choose the color of your skin, you cannot choose whom you are sexually attracted to. If you can, sorry, but you are not heterosexual, you are bi-sexual. Virtually all major psychological and medical experts agree that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Most gay people will tell you its not a choice. Common sense will tell you its not a choice. While science is relatively new to studying homosexuality, studies tend to indicate that its biological. Gay, Straight Men’s Brain Responses Differ,2933,155990,00.html There is overwhelming scientific evidence that homosexuality is not a choice. Sexual orientation is generally a biological trait that is determined pre-natally, although there is no one certain thing that explains all of the cases. "Nurture" may have some effect, but for the most part it is biological. And it should also be noted that: "It is worth noting that many medical and scientific organizations do believe it is impossible to change a person’s sexual orientation and this is displayed in a statement by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association."

  • , 2010-03-01 10:53:54

    The National Library of Medicine pubs confirm that sexual orientation is natural, biologically induced in the first trimester of pregnancy, morally neutral, immutable, neither contagious nor learned, bearing no relation to an individuals ability to form deep and lasting relationships, to parent children, to work or to contribute to society. From the American Psychological Association: homosexuality is normal; homosexual relationships are normal. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Asociation and American Psychiatric Asociation have endorsed civil marriage for same-sex couples because marriage strengthens mental and physical health and longevity of couples, and provides greater legal and financial security for children, parents and seniors. America’s premier child/mental health associations endorse marriage equality.

  • , 2010-03-01 10:55:38

    This was taken from another poster that shows why we need to legalize gay marriage. If you don’t feel for this person after reading it, you simply aren’t human. "I am not sure what our President thinks of this dicission but coming from a poor family and knowing what discrimination is all about I would assume he would not care if "Gays" have equal rights. The whole reason why they are asking for rights to be considered married is from the same reason why I would be for it. My own life partner commited suicide in our home with a gun to his heart. After a 28 year union I was deprived to even go his funeral. We had two plots next to each other. But because we did not have a marriage cirtificate "(Legal Document)" of our union his mother had him cremated and his ashes taken back to Missouri where we came from. That is only one example how painful it is. His suicide tramatized me so much and her disregard for my feelings only added to my heartach. That happened on March 21 of 2007 and I still cannot type this without crying for the trauma I have to endure each day. Oh did I mention I am in an electric wheelchair for life? Yes I am and it is very diffacult to find another mate when you are 58 and in a wheelchair. "

  • , 2010-03-01 10:55:57

    Violence against a minority group Gays are being beaten, shot at, sent to the hospital, killed. In the Middle East, they are killing gays among other groups out of hatred. Is this what we want America to become? Do we want America to revert back to the 1960’s when groups were killed and segregated against for simply no good reason? Do we want to follow the ways of the Middle East and Al Queda? Let’s push forward, it’s time to end bigotry, discrimination, hate, and ignorance. This is modern America, not the Dark Ages.

  • , 2010-03-01 11:13:38

    Violence against a minority group Gays are being beaten, shot at, sent to the hospital, killed. In the Middle East, they are killing gays among other groups out of hatred. Is this what we want America to become? Do we want America to revert back to the 1960’s when groups were killed and segregated against for simply no good reason? Do we want to follow the ways of the Middle East and Al Queda? Let’s push forward, it’s time to end bigotry, discrimination, hate, and ignorance. This is modern America, not the Dark Ages.

  • Corey Mondello, 2010-03-01 17:13:15

    Its Good To See The Catholic Church Keeping Itself Busy, Less Time To Rape Children.

  • DarthEVaderCheney, 2010-03-02 15:12:24

    It is good to see that Catholic parishoners are waking up to the fact that not everything they say or do requires the "imprimater" of a high church official. My Catholic friends tell me they are more and more confident about their personal religious freedoms and the right to think for themselves. This bodes well for the true Christian in church denominations today and has been going on for some time now. We are no longer prisoners or slaves to the church, but free in Christ to be who he made us to be and to serve him gladly. No church, however poweful, will dissuade this new freedom. Dakotahgeo, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain

  • , 2010-03-02 19:09:44

    Dear Edge, Thanks for covering this. I deliberately drew them out in the comments because I think it is important for us to know these frightening folks. To see their true colors. The interesting thing is that the new Knights of Columbus/Marist poll shows that young Catholics do not agree with their bishops about sexuality. We are one or two generations away from all of this being a non-issue. We will live to see women, married men and openly gay people be priests, bishops, cardinals and popes. Meanwhile, bring it on! Let the battle begin in earnest. These idiots and these doddering old bishops have hijacked my church. I want it back. Now. Sincerely, Father Tony (or as one of the hateful commenters called me, "An over-the-hill Spice Girl"! I’ve been called worse.

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