Saturday, March 10, 2007

In the News

Along with author Brian McNaught and New Ways Ministry director Frank DeBarnardo, I'm quoted in an article in today’s Star Tribune about New Ways Ministry’s upcoming National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality.

The symposium represents the largest gathering of Catholic theologians, retired bishops, academicians, and nationally renowned pastoral professionals and advocates dedicated to LGBT issues ever assembled in the Twin Cities area. It is the sixth such symposium - and the first ever for the Upper Midwest - that New Ways has hosted every five years in various areas of the US.

As I noted in a
previous post, I’m looking forward to co-facilitating a workshop, entitled “Breaking Bread: Gay and Lesbian Parish Ministry,” at the New Ways’ symposium, scheduled to take place next weekend at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel in Minneapolis.


Conference Seeks Warmer Welcome for Gay Catholics

The archdiocese doesn’t approve, but those attending a weekend
symposium say the church is defined by worshipers,
not Vatican pronouncements.

By Pamela Miller
Star Tribune
March 09, 2007

For Michael Bayly, having a national conference on gay Catholics come to town triggers joy and frustration.

“It’s wonderful, but at the same time, the speakers at the conference will be preaching to the choir,” said Bayly, executive coordinator of the Minneapolis-based Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities. “The challenge is, how do we get this discussion out to the great middle ground?”

The gathering, “Outward Signs: Lesbian/Gay Catholics in a Sacramental Church,” will take place next weekend at the Sheraton Bloomington. More than 500 Catholic “decision-makers” – gay and straight – are expected, said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, the event’s sponsor.

Speakers and workshop facilitators will include Sister Helen Prejean, who wrote Dead Man Walking; the Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theology professor; Margaret Farley, a Yale University theological ethics professor; author and corporate diversity consultant Brian McNaught; Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, on which the Broadway musical was based, and three retired bishops – Leroy Matthiesen of Amarillo, Texas; Francis Hurley of Anchorage, Alaska, and Joseph Sullivan of the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis issued this statement about the conference: “We do not endorse or encourage attendance. . . . Our position on the pastoral care of homosexual persons is completely in accord with that of the teachings and policies of the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

The Twin Cities were chosen for the sixth annual conference because of growing Midwestern interest in the issue and because a number of Minneapolis parishes – including St. Joan of Arc, St. Frances Cabrini and St. Stephen – welcome gay worshipers, DeBernardo said.

“The Catholic church is a hierarchical institution with rules, but the music of the people who identify themselves as Catholic is more powerful in defining the church,” McNaught said.

“I’m not going to tell people trying to live within the rules that they’re wrong,” he said. “But we all know there are gay Catholics hungering for a sense of belonging and community. The question is, will we participate in their liberation or their further imprisonment?”

Bayly said he often wonders if it’s worth it to stay in a church whose central authority and doctrine disapprove of a quality that he and other gay Christians see as central to their humanity.

“Then I remember that the church is so much more than the Vatican; it’s the people of God,” he said. “That heartens me. At the local, grass-roots level, there is so much that can be done to embody the compassion and justice that I think is at the heart of the Catholic faith.”

For more information about New Ways Ministry's Sixth National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, click here.

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