Gay ministry is slowly moving the Catholic church

gay ministry

What a difference 30 years make in gay ministry!

In 1990, then-Cardinal John O’Connor forced any of New York parishes hosting Dignity support groups for Catholic gays and lesbians to evict them from church property.

Late last month, with the approval of New York’s current cardinal, Timothy Dolan, Fordham University released the first in a series of new videos of Catholic leaders offering messages of support to the LGBTQ community for Pride Month.

It resulted from the cancellation of an in-person LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Conference “Outreach 2020,” due to COVID-19, that Fordham would have hosted.

The 40-minute video includes 21 speakers from all over the country: an archbishop, a bishop, priests, women and men in religious orders, theologians, authors, activists, parents and students — all Catholic leaders offering support to the LGBTQ community.

While most of the comments are benign and tame by secular standards, Catholic high school guidance counsellor Shelly Fitzgerald addressed the elephant in the room.

In 2018, she said, “I was fired for being a lesbian.”

Scores of Catholic school personnel all over the country have been fired from institutions once they enter into a same-sex marriage. Fitzgerald is suing Roncalli High School in Indianapolis and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis for discrimination. (Newark Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Tobin was the archbishop of Indianapolis before he came to Newark, but the firing was done by his successor.)

The Supreme Court recently ruled that LGBTQ employees have job protection but did not clarify if religious institutions can claim freedom of religion, which the archdiocese used to justify her termination.

Fitzgerald said she refused to give in to fear and anger because she received encouragement and support from the Catholic community all over the country.

“Do not doubt faith and hope in God’s church,” she said.

And that is the thread throughout all the comments in the video: The church is there for LGBTQ people and all are welcome.

On one level, this is happening.

The catalyst is Jesuit Rev. James Martin, an editor at large for Amercia magazine whose book “Building Bridges” has become a lightning rod for those opposed to gay acceptance in the church.

It was interesting to hear and see Sister Jeanine Grammick, a co-founder 50 years ago of New Ways Ministry in Maryland, which ministers to gays and advocates for gay rights in the church. She has been threatened and badgered by the Vatican for her pioneering ministry and hasn’t given up.

“All of these hopeful signs have come about because LGBT people have had the courage to come and to share their lives with others,” she said. Continue reading

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