Monday, December 31, 2007

CPCSM 's Year in Review

Following are excerpts from the Christmas Appeal letter of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), the 27-year-old organization that I’ve had the honor of serving as executive coordinator since the spring of 2003.

Regular visitors may recognize that part of this letter first appeared on
The Wild Reed as an October post entitled Signs of Hope and Creativity.

Also, many of the events mentioned in this year’s CPCSM Christmas Appeal letter have been highlighted, in one way or another, at
The Wild Reed. Accordingly, many of the links within the following version of the letter will take you to previous Wild Reed posts.


Dear Members and Friends of CPCSM and Catholic Rainbow Parents,

We’d like to take this opportunity to share some signs of hope; celebrate our achievements of the past year; thank you for your continued support of our ministry; and appeal, once again, for your generous financial support in helping us continue our work in 2008.

In keeping with the season, let’s start with hope! We like to think that all who comprise CPCSM and Catholic Rainbow Parents are people who actively seek out signs of hope – especially ones that reflect creativity and solidarity, and that accordingly give hope and encouragement not only to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, but to all Catholics longing to fully participate in the life and pilgrim journey of their Church.

It’s so easy to focus upon and react to the negative. This is especially true when the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, far from embodying a pilgrim Church, chooses instead to be in a state of stasis or backward retreat. Yet as Rosemary Radford Ruether observes, the more the hierarchy stagnates and retreats, “the more freewheeling the creative initiatives that pop up on the ground.”

And, friends, it’s so true! We’re seeing such “creative initiatives” emerging all the time and all around the world. For instance:

Across the U.S., the Lay Synod Movement is burgeoning.

The Women-Church Movement and various “underground” Catholic communities continue to embody and inspire egalitarian and communal models of ministry.

Here and abroad, Roman Catholic Womenpriests are being ordained in increasing numbers.

In Holland, Catholic communities are exploring different forms of liturgy, and justifying their actions on their reading of a key Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”) – and specifically, this document’s placing of the chapter on the church as the “people of God” before the one on the church as a “hierarchical organization.” The ordering of these chapters, the Dutch liturgical innovators insist, implies the replacement of a “pyramidal” Church with an “organic” Church, with the initiative belonging to the laity.

In Australia, a prominent and well-respected bishop, Geoffrey Robinson, is calling for “radical” reform of the Church.

In Mexico, a gay Catholic youth group not only successfully ministers to forty young people, but does so with the blessing of the local diocese!

Here in Minnesota, we’re honored to be part of this global movement that is bringing about renewal and reform – and thus hope and justice – to the Catholic Church. Our situation here, of course, has been made all the more challenging by the appointment of John Nienstedt as Coadjutor Archbishop. Yet we remain hopeful and dedicated to coalition-building and the taking of proactive measures so as to counter reactionary and regressive forces within our local Catholic community.

Following are images and descriptions of some of these coalition-building and proactive measures of the past year.

Above: Catholic Rainbow Parents, Myrna and Ron Ohmann, have played a crucial role in the establishment of a support group for Catholic parents of LGBT persons in the St. Cloud area. A number of CPCSM folks regularly travel from the Twin Cities to attend and support Myrna and Ron’s efforts.

Above: CPCSM executive coordinator Michael Bayly (left), and St. Joan of Arc parishioner Ron Joki led the Inclusive Catholics contingent – comprised of welcoming and affirming Catholic parishes and communities – in the 2007 Gay Pride Parade, June 24, 2007.

As in previous years, members of both CPCSM and Catholic Rainbow Parents staffed an informational booth in Loring Park during the two-day Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival.

For more images of CPCSM’s participation in this year’s Gay Pride events, click

Above: Theresa O’Brien, CSJ; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton; and Myrna and Ron Ohmann were among the guests at CPCSM’s 2007 Annual Community Meeting, which took place on June 28.

This year’s meeting served as a celebration of the April 2007 publication of
Creating Safe Environments for LGBT Students: A Catholic Schools Perspective, edited by CPCSM executive coordinator, Michael Bayly, and based on the ground-breaking work CPCSM accomplished in a number of Catholic high schools in the late 1990s.

This year’s CPCSM Father Henry LeMay Pastoral Ministry Award was given to Myrna and Ron Ohmann – members of Catholic Rainbow Parents – for their “faithful, courageous, and loving efforts in promoting the full civil and ecclesial rights of LGBT persons.”

Above: The recipient of CPCSM’s 2007 Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award was Dignity/ Twin Cities president and Rainbow Sash Alliance USA coordinator Brian McNeill, who was honored with his award in July.

Above: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (center) stands with the organizers of the inaugural Prayer Breakfast of Hope and Justice – Friday, June 29, 2007.

CPCSM played a crucial role in bringing together the coalition that planned and hosted this new initiative. Highlights of this event included the beautiful Eucharistic meal we celebrated together, the words of wisdom and encouragement shared by Bishop Gumbleton, and our awarding of Bishop Gumbleton with a “Lifetime Achievement Award for Justice and Peace,” which he is holding in the photograph above.

Above: A meeting of The Progressive Catholic Voice planning team – August 2007.

One of the most exciting initiatives we’ve undertaken this year has been our working with a growing coalition of Catholics dedicated to strengthening and unifying the progressive Catholic voice within the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis and beyond – primarily through the monthly publication of
The Progressive Catholic Voice, an online journal that we launched on October 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. To date, over 500 people have subscribed to The Progressive Catholic Voice.

Pictured in the photograph above are (from left): Beverly Barrett (CPCSM secretary), Mary Lynn Murphy (CPCSM president and Catholic Rainbow Parents coordinator), Paul Fleege (outgoing CPCSM treasurer), Gerry Sell, Susan Kramp, Mary Beckfeld, David McCaffrey (CPCSM co-founder), Rick Notch (incoming CPCSM treasurer), and Paula Ruddy.

Above: Robert and Carol Curoe, authors of the book, Are There Closets in Heaven: A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story, were the keynote speakers at CPCSM’s Second Annual Bill Kummer Forum. This event was originally scheduled to take place at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, but after the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis intervened and prohibited the Curoes from speaking on Catholic property, it was relocated to the recently established House of the Beloved Disciple, a center for progressive Catholics dedicated to “preserving Catholicism in the spirit of Jesus.”

For a commentary and pictures of the Curoes’ October 22 presentation, click here.

For The National Catholic Reporter’s coverage of the Archdiocese’s treatment of the Curoes, click here.

For The Rainbow Spirit interview with Carol Curoe, click here.

Above and below: The Vigil for Solidarity with LGBT Catholics saw over three hundred people gather at the Cathedral of St. Paul on December 2, 2007.

We gathered to express our disagreement with Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt’s November 15 declaration that people who encourage and support their LGBT family members and friends, are “cooperating in a grave evil.”

One of the most powerful moments of the vigil was the “die-in and rising up” ritual on the front steps of the cathedral. This ritual involved many of those gathered falling to the ground in response to the reading of Archbishop Nienstedt’s “life-denying” words regarding homosexuality. Then, when eleven-year-old Joseph Olsen proclaimed Jesus’ “life-giving” words: “I came that you might have life – and have it to the full!”, everyone rose up and joyfully began singing “I Shall Walk in the Presence of God.”

We then crossed the street to the chancery where an open letter to Archbishop Nienstedt from the editorial team of The Progressive Catholic Voice was delivered. To date, we have received no response from the archbishop.

Without doubt, it’s been a momentous year for both CPCSM and Catholic Rainbow Parents, and we are happy and proud to continue our role as one of a very few prominent LGBT-affirming progressive Catholic voices in both our Church and the wider society.

Rest assured, we plan on hosting a range of proactive events in 2008 – events that will enrich and empower the local Catholic community to participate in the evolving life of the Church.

Friends, we are incredibly grateful for your past support, and hope that we can continue to rely on your generosity and kindness as we continue to live out our ministry under difficult financial conditions and an increasingly reactionary climate within the church. We thus ask you again for your support as together we work for justice and compassion for GLBT people within our church and society.

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
CPCSM's Year in Review (2006)

1 comment:

Frank Partisan said...

I returned the favor, and added this blog to my blogroll.