(Pictured above: Archbishop Jose Gomez with Fr. Chris Ponnet, Arthur Fitzmaurice, and the Plasencias.)

At the 2017 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress a number of speakers are scheduled to talk about the LGBT issue. For the most part, the majority of them have publicly expressed views which diverge widely from official Catholic teachings on homosexuality. They include:

Arthur Fitzmaurice:

Fitzmaurice, currently (since 2010) serves as resource director of the dissident Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM). In 2012, board members of CALGM, including Fitzmaurice, refused to sign an “oath of personal integrity” to Catholic teaching. In response to the language used in The Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe both the homosexual inclination as well as homosexual behavior, as “intrinsically disordered,” Fitzmaurice said: “The language certainly…needs to change. It is gravely evil language.”

In a 2013 video interview for The IN [Ignatian News] Network, made in cooperation with St. Monica’s Catholic Gay and Lesbian Outreach in Santa Monica, Arthur Fitzmaurice said: “I tried to be directed towards God…How do I be the person that God made me to be; and then it gets converted into a realization that God made me to be this gay person.”

Arthur Fitzmaurice, is also the former Chair of the Los Angeles Archdiocese Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Persons (CMLGP); a group founded by former Archbishop Roger Mahony. In response to questions concerning several US Bishop’s responses to the Supreme Court Decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the CMLGP posted the following:

“…we seek to dialogue with hierarchy to make LGBT Catholics more welcomed in church life and to also reduce the hateful speech coming from some church officials. It’s a long road.”

On June 24, 2016, Fitzmaurice signed an on-line petition created by the pro-gay and pro-female ordination group Call To Action which asks for changes in The Catechism regarding teachings on homosexuality; Frank McKown, the current co-Chair of CMLGP did the same thing the following day. Other advisors and members of the CMLGP include Javier Plascencia, Yunuen Trujillo, Fr. Carlos Alarcón, OMI, and Fr. Chris Ponnet, all of whom will speak on LGBT issues at the 2017 Congress; Ponnet “facilitated” a panel discussion with Fitzmaurice at the 2014 Congress; in addition, Steve Kennedy, Secretary of the CMLGP, when a reporter once asked him: “What is the Catholic’s official stance on homosexuality?” Kennedy replied: “It’s in transition.”

Following the 2016 Congress, the CMLGP, after a same-sex couple and their son presented the gifts to Archbishop Gomez at the “Margins” Mass, released the following statement:

Progress for LGBT Catholics is slow and happens in incremental pieces, and often includes setbacks. I saw much progress this past weekend at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. Our ministry was honored to participate in the Church on the Margins liturgy…Four sold out LGBT-affirming sessions were presented including first time session in Spanish and one with a transgender topic. But if there was one indelible moment, it may have come at the closing liturgy on Sunday when a gay couple and their son helped present gifts at the altar to Archbishop Jose Gomez.

Javier Plascencia:

Served as co-Chair of the Education Committee for CMLGP. Javier and his wife Martha Plasencia started the “Always Our Children” ministry for the parents of “gay” children at St. Denis Parish in Diamond Bar. On the official CMLGP web-site (http://www.cmlgp.org/groups), Javier and Martha Plascencia are listed as the contacts under “Parent Support Groups.” In a video for Ignatian News (Ponnett praised the series in a Twitter post), Javier and Martha were interviewed about their “gay” son and their ministry; Martha said that: “The language in the Catechism has to change. That word ‘intrinsically disordered,’ my son is not intrinsically disordered. And the bullets from the Catechism, they can harm a lot of children – I mean to the extent of suicide.”

In 2012, the Plasencias were featured in an article in “Communion,” the monthly Newsletter of Catholics for Marriage Equality in California. In 2013, Javier Plascencia took part in a function overseen by the dissident group Fortunate Families. 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…”

At the homepage for the “Gay & Lesbian Outreach” (Always Our Children) located at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Parish in Pasadena (in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) there are two links: one to Fortunate Families and the other to something labeled as “Ministry with Lesbian & Gay Catholics.”

On June 27, 2016, Javier Plascencia signed a Call To Action sponsored petition asking for radical changes in the Catechism concerning basic Catholic teachings with regards to homosexuality. In the section “Reasons for Signing” the Call To Action petition, Plascencia wrote: “The Church is wrong by continuing to perpetuate hate and condemnation to the LGBT+ community.”

Yunuen Trujillo:

The link for The Ministry with Lesbian & Gay Catholics, connects to a site titled: “LGBT Catholics: Building Bridges of Ministry in Our Catholic Church” (www.lgbtcatholics.org). On their homepage, under the tab “Church Doctrine & Pastoral Care,” is a video featuring a speaker named Yunuen Trujillo. According to her Twitter and Facebook accounts, Trujillo is a “Regional Coordinator with the Archdiocesan Young Adult Ministry.” She has also been a speaker at the LA Religious Education Congress (2016), is a “Catholic” radio host with PJLA-Radio TV, and is active with Always our Children and the CMLGP.

In her video for The Ministry with Lesbian & Gay Catholics, Trujillo stated:

“…Not all stories are the same. You are going to hear stories about people who have chosen to remain chaste, you will find stories of people who have partners, and you WILL find that they can be equally holy and it is going to be absolutely mind-blowing, and you’re not going to understand why at the beginning. But you are going to be able to see stuff that you may not be able to see right now, when you get to actually listen to stories.”

Fr. Bryan Massingale, STD:

Bryan Massingale is a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and a professor of theology at Marquette University. Of his experiences at the 2016 LA Congress, where he participated in a panel on transgender Catholics called “Transgender in the Church: One Bread, One Body,” Massingale wrote:

“I was struck by their heartfelt conviction that accepting their true gender identities led them to a deeper and more authentic relationship with God. Hearing their stories of pain and triumph was one of the most privileged moments I have had in 33 years of being a priest.”

Massingale disagreed with bishops in Wisconsin, who in 2006 supported a bill that would make gay marriage unconstitutional: “I thought (the bill) opened up an opportunity for more discrimination.”

In 2011, Massingale spoke at a Washington D.C. event, along with representatives from Call To Action, that was sponsored by the pro-gay marriage group “Equally Blessed.” Following the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, “Equally Blessed” released the following statement:

Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic organizations committed to LGBT equality in the church and civil society, applauds the US Supreme Court’s ruling that states same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry.

Bryan Massingale said at the progressive Pax Christi Conference in 2013:

“For the young people I teach, equality for gays and lesbians is their civil rights issue…For young people, the litmus test of the credibility of a religious institution is their stances on LGBT rights.”

In 2017, Massingale will speak at New Ways Ministry’s Eight National Symposium. In 1999, the co-founders of New Ways Ministry were officially silenced by the Vatican. Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, after same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court in 2015, stated:

New Ways Ministry rejoices with millions of U.S. Catholics that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided in favor of marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples! On this historic day, we pray in thanksgiving that justice and mercy have prevailed and that the prayers and efforts of so many have combined to move our nation one step closer to fairness and equality for all.

Another presenter at the event will be Lisa Fullam who teaches moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. In a 2016 article “Queer Lives Matter,” Fullam wrote:

“…the wholesale magisterial rejection of the possibility of loving, truly unitive same-sex intimate relationships is more than a rejection of particular sex acts; it strikes at the very human dignity of LGBTQ people by denying them the right to share their lives with a partner, which is affirmed as an inalienable right for straight people.”

In 2010, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I, archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on the status of the organization “New Ways Ministry;” here is an excerpt:

No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination. Accordingly, I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.

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Further reading:

LA Religious Ed Speaker says language in The Catechism “gravely evil”

Archdiocese of LA Youth Leader: being chaste and having a gay partner – “equally holy”

LA Archdiocese: The Church’s stance on homosexuality is “in transition.”