Cardinal Francis George, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has "issued a clarification" late on Friday afternoon regarding the standing of New Ways Ministry, "a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities" according to their website.
George's statement, (full text here) gives the historical context of the church's conflicts with New Ways Ministry, which started almost from the outset in 1977, through controversies regarding "adherence to Church teaching" and dramatically leading to a permanent prohibition of the founders from working with homosexual persons because of "errors and ambiguities." The Ministry itself is now under scrutiny because it has shown a "lack of adherence to Church teaching on the morality of homosexual acts."
Well. It's not like this is news, right?
One wonders if the Church leadership is responding to last Sunday's post by Fr Tony. Or are they simply becoming completely reactionary and panicked in their stubborn refusal to acknowledge the genuine life experience of non-heterosexual (non-celibate, non-male?) persons?
That's actually the kind of panic I want to see - the panic that digs in instead of reaching out. Why? Seems a little counterintuitive, doesn't it? Well, several reasons.
It's the kind of panic that says the desperation of defending dogma and security is overriding compassion in the hierarchy - creating credibility issues for the church while it's making its last stand in the face of reality.
It's the panic of the last-ditch effort for relevance in the face of overwhelming opposition and experience to the contrary. It's fear, the kind that knows it's losing control. That's the kind of panic exhibited by the crowds on the first Good Friday.
That's the panic, if we believe the story, that was ultimately forgotten and lost in the face of pure love.
So I welcome the panic that comes from refusing to see other human beings hurt and angry and confused - because it simply can't last. It goes against everything that I know about the message of Jesus.
Some may disagree, but being a hopeful guy - a man in a loving, life-giving relationship with another man, I am certain of one thing: we definitely have love on our side.
Late yesterday, New Ways Ministry basically called "Bullshit!"
A statement released by Executive Director Francis DeBernardo said that New Ways ministry will not be impeded by the Cardinal's "clarification". In fact, New Ways was "astonished," "since (the) Ministry has never been contacted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to discuss the nature of our work. We were not even extended the basic courtesy of being informed of the statement as it was being released to the press. Instead, we learned about it only by reading a press account."
And so it goes....
Full (and excellent) statement here.