Here we present two posts from Francis De Bernardo of New Ways Ministries in support of full inclusion of the LGBTQ community at the Table and in marriage blessing. May this be a blessed New Year of love, compassion, equality and justice for all of God’s beautiful children.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP
As we begin a new year today, the Catholic Church also celebrates the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God. As we remember the year gone by and contemplate the unknown ahead of us, let those of us who hope, pray, and work for LGBT equality and justice take a moment to consider Mary, God’s Mother.
She was a woman who responded freely and fully to God’s call, and she helped instill lessons and values in her Son, and then saw him rejected and maligned by civil and religious authorities.
Theologian José Pagola’s words about Mary, in his book, Following the Footsteps of Jesus: Meditations on the Gospel for Year B, are ones we can take to heart as we prepare for the challenges, joys, and potential heartbreaks of the year ahead:
“We begin this year by celebrating the feast of Mary, Mother of God. Her faithfulness and surrender to the word of God, her identification with the lowly, her adherence to the choices of her son, Jesus, her service to the newborn church, and, above all, as service to the Mother of the Savior, make of her the Mother of our faith and of our hope.”
As a new year’s resolution, let’s strive to follow Mary’s example as we work for justice and equality for LGBT people. Let us model her courage in saying “yes” to God’s will, even when it may bring us the shame and scorn of others. Let us remember to always care for the least among us, even those with whom we may disagree. Let us make choices that Jesus would make, in the spirit of forgiving love and mercy for all. Let us choose actions that will build up the church and the reign of God. And let us make sure we make time to build up our faith and to renew our hope.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Response to Bishop Johan Bonny’s historic call for the Catholic Church to recognize and bless the committed relationships of lesbian and gay couples has been slow, but very positive. The Belgian bishop made in his remarks in an interview published on December 27th in De Morgen newspaper, and it was made known to the English-speaking world in a National Catholic Reporter news story.
New Ways Ministry provided a response in its blog post on December 30th. As evidence of the great interest in this story, that blog post, in under 8 hours, became the fourth-most viewed blog post of Bondings 2.0’s three-year history, beating out posts which have been public for months and years. Obviously people are interested in this news.
Perhaps the Christmas holidays have impeded the distribution of this important news, though, and so there has been little commentary about it. Still, the reaction we have seen has been positive. The Huffington Post began their article on the bishop’s comments by stating:
“A Belgian bishop is bravely standing up for love.”
Rev. James Martin, SJ, renowned Catholic author and commentator, offered this response in the HuffPost story:
“His comments recall the initial report from the Synod on the Family, which said that committed gay relationships have ‘gifts and talents’ to offer the Christian community. (That language was removed from the final report.) So we shouldn’t overemphasize what Bishop Bonny is saying: after all, he’s only one bishop. On the other hand, we shouldn’t underemphasize it either: it’s quite revolutionary.”
The Equally Blessed Coalition, which is comprised of four national Catholic organizations (Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, New Ways Ministry)which work for justice and equality for LGBT people also responded very positively to the news. In a statement released on December 31, they said the bishop’s words were “bold and beautiful” and
“. . . .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, Associate Director of DignityUSA, spoke further for the Equally Blessed coalition, saying:
“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.”
William Lindsey, who blogs at Bilgrimage, noted the practical, moral, and compassionate factors of Bonny’s remarks:
“And it’s better — more honest, not to say more moral — to acknowledge that many gay relationships aim at and achieve the ethical ideals proclaimed by the church, ideals of exclusivity, loyalty, and care. It’s better to strengthen those committed relationships than to refuse to acknowledge that they are there, and cruelly to exclude those living in such relationships from the Catholic community.”
We will continue to update you as other insightful comments appear, as well as keeping you informed on any further developments in this story.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
MassLive.com: “Belgium Bishop Bonny’s call for blessing of gay unions in Catholic Church called historic”
International Business Times: “Catholic Belgian Bishop Calls For ‘Formal Recognition’ Of Gay Couples In The Church”