On June 8, 2017, Embracing God’s Gifts, the LGBT ministry at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, will hold their “Annual Pride Prayer Service.” According to the Parish website: “We will give thanks to God for the gift of our LGBT brothers and sisters in a Prayer Service. Through music, readings, prayer and a spirit of gratitude, we will gather to celebrate our LGBT brothers and sisters.”
In a video for Embracing God’s Gifts, the contact person for the ministry describes how the outreach began in the Fall of 2012 in order to “celebrate the gifts and contributions of the gay and lesbian members of our parish and the local community.” In June of 2014, Embracing God’s Gifts held their first inaugural “Pride Prayer Service.” The “Mission Statement” for the ministry includes:
As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, we are called to celebrate and share the gifts of diversity of sexuality in our church today. Our organization, Embracing God’s Gifts, has formed as an instrument for recognizing these gifts and incorporating their goodness and use into the life of our parish.
Also according to the video, the members of Embracing God’s Gifts “had the privilege of reading the book ‘Fortunate Families’ which celebrates the gifts of gay and lesbian individuals as part of the human family.”
This book was written by Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata, the founders of the dissident pro-gay Catholic group Fortunate Families.
In 2015, the Lopatas published a “Letter” addressed to Pope Francis in which they detail their support for same-sex marriage and their experiences related to an ongoing twenty year friendship with a “married” “gay” male couple; the Lopatas are the godparents for the couple’s two adopted children. They describe the two men and their children as “a model Catholic family.” According to the “Letter,” the “married” “gay” couple is very active in their Catholic parish:
“They are very active in parish life: one or the other (or both) has served as president of the parish council, chair of the liturgy committee and on the diocesan liturgical commission, religious education teacher, lector, Eucharistic minister, cantor and choir member.”
The Lopatas continued, with this message to Pope Francis:
“These gay men have accepted their God-given sexual orientations and are striving to follow God’s will in their lives. Though our two godchildren are not being raised by their biological parents, their gay parents through their complementary (though not in the reproductive sense) and loving relationship have created a family every bit as authentic and holy—and life-giving—as that of any heterosexual relationship we know of including our own.”
After the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Deb Word, President of Fortunate Families, released the following statement:
“Fortunate Families celebrates with our LGBT children the opportunity to share in the same rights as their straight siblings. The Supreme Court decision brings legal stability to our children’s lives and security to our grandchildren. We applaud this decision and continue our work in the Catholic tradition seeking social justice for all our children…”
Here are some excerpts from the book “Fortunate Families:”
The church teaches that same-sex marriage is unacceptable. Yet it also teaches: “Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.” There is a lot of gray area to be explored between these two poles…”
…the Church continues to tell them they are “disordered” and that in a loving stable permanent relationship sexual expression of their love for each other is “intrinsically evil.” This is not the Jesus they know. This is not the Church they choose to believe in. They know who they are, God’s creation, and that “It is good!”
…one theologian who authored a Vatican document about sexuality, in a newspaper interview discussing the document, said: “When one is dealing with people who are so predominantly homosexual that they will be in serious personal and perhaps social trouble unless they attain a steady partnership within their homosexual lives, one can recommend them to seek such a partnership and one accepts this relationship as the best they can do in their present situation.” This is based on the moral principle that no one is obliged to do what is impossible for him or her to do. In its guidelines for confessors concerning some aspects of the morality of conjugal life, the Pontifical Council for the Family offers the following application of this principle: “the confessor is to avoid demonstrating lack of trust in the grace of God or in the dispositions of the penitent by exacting humanly impossible absolute guarantees of an irreproachable future conduct.”
Since church law restricts marriage to a man and woman, does this mean homogenital behavior is always a sin? The Vatican says: “In fact, circumstances may exist, or may have existed in the past, which would reduce or remove the culpability of the individual [engaged in homosexual activity]…in a given instance.” So Church teaching says homogeni-tal acts are not necessarily always a sin. Of course!
1. There are only six passages generally used to condemn homosexuality.
2. The primary concern of these passages is something other than homogenital activity.
3. There are translation issues suggested by the fact that 1946 was the first time the word “homosexual” appeared in an English translation.
4. The biblical writers had no concept of our modern psychological understanding of homosexual orientation.
5. The prophets, the gospels and Jesus say nothing about homosexuality in the bible.
On October 30th, 2016, members of Embracing God’s Gifts attended an awards ceremony hosted by New Ways Ministry honoring James Martin, S.J. Also in attendance was Joe Muth, the pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Baltimore, and the home of the dissident gay-affirmative ministry LEAD – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, educating and affirming diversity. According to the official history of the ministry, LEAD began through the inspiration of New Ways Ministry which is a radical pro-gay marriage group whose founders (Robert Nugent and Jeannine Gramick) and their apostolate where condemned by both the Vatican and the USCCB.
At the address, Martin said:
We need to build a bridge between LGBT community and the Catholic Church…Moreover, L.G.B.T. people are beloved children of God with gifts—both as individuals and as a community. These gifts build up the church in unique ways, as St. Paul told us when he compared the people of God to a human body (1 Cor 12:14-27). Every body part is important: the hand, the eye, the foot. Just consider the gifts brought by L.G.B.T. Catholics who work in parishes, schools, chanceries, retreat centers, hospitals and social service agencies.
During the question and answer period (see video below), Muth told Martin that two young men contacted him and asked: “What time does the gay and lesbian Pre-Cana classes meet?” Muth then asked Martin: “Would you like to collaborate in developing a Pre-Cana course for gay couples?”
Archbishop William E. Lori
Office of the Archbishop