Friday, January 15, 2010

CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis (Part 2)

Above: CPCSM co-founder Bill Kummer (second from left)
accepts the 1989 Archbishop John Ireland Award

from the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis’
Catholic Commission on Social Justice.

Last month I began documenting the relationship between the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and the organization I work for, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM). The sharing of historical documents that highlight this past relationship is important and topical as there are some within the local church who today would like to downplay or even deny that such a relationship ever existed.

In this second installment I share the contents of two documents related to the awarding of the 1989 Archbishop John Ireland Annual Award by the Archdiocese’s Catholic Commission on Social Justice to CPCSM co-founder Bill Kummer (1948-2006).

The first of these documents is a press release from the Catholic Commission on Social Justice. The second is an article by Pat Norby from the August 24, 1989 issue of Callings, the “lifestyle section” of the Catholic Bulletin (now known as the Catholic Spirit), the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.


Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
328 West Kellog Boulevard
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102-1997
(612) 291-4477

Catholic Commission
on Social Justice

May 11, 1989


For further information,
Jane Kennedy at (612) 291-4486

The Catholic Commission on Social Justice of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announces the presentation of the 1989 Archbishop John Ireland Annual Award to William P. Kummer, founder of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM). The award was presented at the Commission’s annual dinner on May 10, 1989.

William Kummer organized the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities in 1980 and served as staff to the Committee from 1984 to 1986. The CPCSM is a grassroots, self-supporting coalition dedicated to promoting a ministry of justice and hospitality to, with, and on behalf of gay and lesbian persons, their families, and friends.

Kummer currently is development coordinator for PWAlive (Persons With AIDS live) Publications, Inc. PWAlive is a coalition of persons directly and indirectly affected by AIDS, dedicated to promoting a message of empowerment and hope throughout the AIDS community. Kummer also directs a CPCSM project, supported by the Headwaters Fund, called “Mainstream Churches Learning to Live with Gays and Lesbians.” The project has a goal of educating and sensitizing parishes on gay and lesbian concerns.

Established in 1968 and named after the internationally renowned first archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Archbishop John Ireland Award is given annually “to those in our community who distinguish themselves in promoting better human relations based on justice.” This year’s award acknowledges Kummer “for his vision and dedication in working towards a society inclusive of and hospitable to all of its members, for his profound commitment to Church ministry with sexual minorities, and for his demonstration of sensitivity and courage on behalf of persons with AIDS by which he gives personal witness to the struggle for justice.”


That’s who Bill Kummer ministers to.
And why he won the ’89 Ireland Award

By Pat Norby

Catholic Bulletin
August 24, 1989

Bill Kummer said he has tried to keep his ministry to sexual minorities simple – “Not unlike the early disciples who shared the gospel and broke bread.”

But this year’s recipient of the Archbishop John Ireland Award has traveled a rocky road since 1978, when he and David McCaffrey started reaching out to alienated gay and lesbian Catholics.

“When we got started, we didn’t know there would be an AIDS crisis,” Kummer said.

They assessed needs after several gay men and women met with Archbishop John R. Roach to share their stories of growing up gay and lesbian. Interviews were gathered with 285 gay men and lesbian women and about 80 family members.

McCaffrey said they asked to be acknowledged as human beings, to be accepted as equal members of God’s family and for the church to “drop the conspiracy of silence – ‘If we don’t talk about them they don’t exist’.”

Anxious to be accepted

They found that those Catholics were anxious to be accepted and to share their gifts and talents with the general church and a local parish.

The annual Ireland Award, sponsored by the archdiocesan Catholic Commission on Social Justice, goes “to those in our community who distinguish themselves in promoting better human relations based on justice.”

When Kummer founded the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) in 1980, committee members began networking with priests and parish leaders. The committee is a grassroots, self-supporting coalition of persons interested in promoting justice and hospitality to gay and lesbian persons, their families and friends. CPCSM has no affiliation with the archdiocese.

Kummer is also development coordinator for PWAlive (Persons With AIDS live) Publications Inc., a coalition of people directly and indirectly affected by AIDS. He also directs Mainstream Churches Learning to Live with Gays and Lesbians, a CPCSM project sponsored by the Headwaters Fund, which works to educate and sensitize parishes on gay and lesbian concerns.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“We started with a series of outreach luncheons,” McCaffrey said of the CPCSM.

Many of the clergy and parish leaders had never met a gay or lesbian person, other than in a counseling situation. “They saw only those who were sick. They had never met anyone who felt good about being gay or lesbian,” he said.

Kummer said committee members don’t concentrate on issues of church orthodoxy.

“Not to minimize those, but they take many years to study and many minds to illuminate,” he said. What they have done is share their experience as gay and lesbian Catholics, he said. “It’s pretty hard to argue with someone’s experiences. That’s why it’s worked as well as it has.”

Try to touch people’s hearts

McCaffrey said, “Instead of trying to change people’s minds, we tried to touch their hearts.” Who would actively choose to be gay or lesbian” he asked.

Committee members encourage pastors and parish leaders to recognize:

- The inherent dignity of every person.

- That sexual orientation wouldn’t change their dignity.

- That people cannot choose nor change their sexual orientation.

- That people need to understand that preference and formulate it in their faith life and to celebrate the giftedness of gay and lesbian Catholics.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The response has been overwhelming sometimes, Kummer said. One evening during Lent, Kummer found himself struggling to talk about the ministry because of the recent deaths of three friends to acquired immune deficiency syndrome [AIDS].

“The people responded with spontaneous prayer,” he said. One by one, they called out their petitions.

“The staff person in the parish said he’d never seen that happen before,” Kummer said. “It made me feel proud to be Catholic. It was an intimate experience.”

Just as those parishioners took a risk, so others have taken risks to support wounded Catholics, McCaffrey said. Ten years ago, it was a great taboo to be separated or divorced, he said. “Today, there are support groups in every parish for those people.

“Yet, there is still an official teaching on divorce,” he said. “I think (the ministry for sexual minorities) is about where they were 10 years ago.”

Reach people in pews

The next project for the ministry is to reach the people in the pews, Kummer said. “This fall, we’ll start in about 12 parishes,” he said. “At some point . . . we would hope this would be a part of parish life.”

Just as a single person can call for help and get an answer, be directed to a support group or allowed to share their talents with the church, so also might gay and lesbian members and their families find comfort in the church, he said.

“Those families face social isolation as well as lots of feelings of guilt and failure,” Kummer said. “ I’ve had parents that have called me and were torn apart. It’s hard to put into words the kind of anguish those parents suffer.”

McCaffrey said the discovery that a child is homosexual is the “loss of a dream” for most parents. “A lot don’t even know until a son or daughter comes home to die of AIDS,” he said.

The guilt, shame, and tension may drive couples apart, Kummer said. “What really contributes to the breakdown of the family is when there is no support available.”

McCaffrey said that, if people never hear anything from the pulpit, they assume the attitude is the same as it may be in society.

“If Jesus were here today, who would he be ministering to?” he said. “He’d be with people who have AIDS, the mentally handicapped . . . the outcasts.”

NEXT: Part 3 – Archdiocese Defends CPCSM's Efforts on Behalf of Gay Students

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 1)
History Matters
How Times Have Changed
For the Record
My Response to Archbishop Flynn
CPCSM’s Year in Review (2009)


jamez said...

More and more, sciencific study is indicating that homosexuality within the human species is an evolved trait - ie, a trait that developed over millions of years as an adaptive response to survive and thrive in the physical and social environment. This trait seems to be especially prevelant within primates in general and is often developed as a means of social inclusion or of garnering wider support in the successful raising of offspring - (Ironic heh?)

If sciencific finding continues to move in this direction, it would then seem that the Churches teaching itself is what would be working against the "Natural Order" or an expression of our ailienation from the "Natural Order."

This does not mean that the ancient prohibition against homosexuality from the Church has no merit whatsoever. Homosexuality in ancient Hellinistic culture was often expressed as exploitation, domination and idolatry as well as an expression of the idea that women were so low on the scale of humanity that they were incapable of human intimacy.
The ancients had words for constituitive homosexuality yet they didn't use those words in the bible - why?

One can be faithful to the teaching of the Church in this regard. Gay people can live holy lives by expressing sexuality in committed relationships devoid of exploitation, domination or any dehumanization of the other. Oh - and keep a watch out for those golden calves.

Mark Andrews said...

I said this differently in an earlier post, but the file cabinet is an amazing invention. I am amazed the Archdiocese can't seem to find its own copies of this correspondence.

Mark Andrews said...

Jamez, I ran across a paper out of Italy (sorry, I can't remember the citation, but it was recent, say in the last 5 years) that did this study:

The idea was to see what was the same & different about two groups of people.

The control group was composed of families headed by two parents - male & female, and (I think) 4 children - 2 male and 2 female. The children have grown to adulthood and may or may not be married, and may or may not have children. These adult children and parents self-identify as heterosexual.

The experimental group differed in one way: at least one of the sons self-identified as homosexual.

The question they looked at is "Is there a statistically significant difference in reproduction rates between the control & experimental groups?" The answer was "yes" - the sisters of (again, self-identified) homosexual brothers had slightly more children than those in the control group. In the discussion of the article there was speculation that women in the experimental group had a slightly higher fertility rate which "offset" the lack of reproduction by men.

I don't know if anyone has duplicated these results. I'll see if I can't find that paper.

Mark Andrews said...

My previous description of this article is not completely accurate. Here is an abstract:

Public release date: 12-Oct-2004
Contact: Tim Watson
Royal Society
Study in Royal Society journals presents evidence for inherited factors in homosexuality

Proceedings of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Evidence for maternally inherited factors favouring male homosexuality and promoting female fecundity by Dr F Corna, Dr A Camperio-Ciani and Dr C Capiluppi

Genetic causes of male homosexuality are often the argument of inflamed discussion. A strong opposition to the genetic explanation is the Darwinian paradox; in fact a genetic factor that reduces reproductive success should progressively disappear from the population. The authors here argue genetic factors could partially explain male homosexuality, and propose a paradox solution: genetic factors favouring homosexuality in males could increase fecundity in females, recovering the loss of fitness. They suggest these factors should be partly bound to the X chromosome, because male homosexuality, associated with increased female fecundity was found only in maternal line and not in paternal line of homosexuals.

Contact: Dr Francesca Corna, Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Via Venezia 8, PADOVA, 351000, Italy

Mareczku said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is really inspiring. It is wonderful that the Archdiocese recognized and affirmed you in this.