On March 1, 2020, a Catholic LGBT advocacy group in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Fortunate and Faithful Families, will offer a “retreat” entitled – “A New Heart.” According to Fortunate and Faithful Families:
Fortunate and Faithful Families is an archdiocesan-approved ministry to families with LGBT children or other family members. Our annual retreat provides compassionate and affirming information with a focus on sharing the love of Christ for all.
According to the group’s official Facebook page: “One day we won’t have to ‘come out of the closet.’ We will just say we are in love and that’s all that matters.”
Their advertisement for the event included the following:
“We believe God intentionally created LGBTQ people and wants them to live a full life. We believe the Church should be a home for LGBTQ persons exactly as they are…”
In 2018, Fortunate and Faithful Families held it’s annual “retreat” at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Atlanta located in Smyrna, Georgia. Composed primarily of Catholic parents with self-proclaimed “gay” children, in 2014 Archbishop Wilton Gregory first addressed Fortunate & Faithful Families. After the meeting, Gregory said:
Their parents then spoke of the hostile environment that many of them encountered from the Church. The language that the Church uses in speaking of their sexual orientation is often unwelcoming and condemnatory…I spoke of the distinction that our Church makes between orientation and behavior, which admittedly needs reexamination and development.
The group is an offshoot of the dissident Catholic pro-gay marriage LGBT ministry Fortunate Families.
Fortunate Families is a gay-affirmative pro-same-sex marriage advocacy group founded in 2004 by the Catholic parents of a “gay” son – Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata. Inspired by the work of Robert Nugent and Jeannine Gramick and their New Ways Ministry, the Lopata’s decided to form an outreach specifically targeted to the Catholic parents of LGBT children. In 1999, Nugent and Gramick were both officially censured by the Vatican and “permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons.”
In 2003, the Lopatas published their book “Fortunate Families: Catholic Families with Lesbian Daughters and Gay Sons.” They argued, among other things, that “homogeni-tal acts are not necessarily always a sin.” They also qualified prohibitions in the Bible regarding homosexual activity by stating that: “The biblical writers had no concept of our modern psychological understanding of homosexual orientation.” And, “The prophets, the gospels and Jesus say nothing about homosexuality in the bible.”
One of the presenters at the Fortunate and Faithful families retreat will be theologian Luke Timothy Johnson. In 2007 and 2012, Johnson spoke at the national symposiums of New Ways Ministry – a group that was formally condemned by the USCCB in 2010.
In 2007, Johnson wrote:
“I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality—namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order.”
On the issue of transsexuality, Johnson wrote:
“. . . [T]he desire to change one’s gender is not itself a moral issue. It is not in itself a disordered drive, or a form of rebellion against the creator. It could be, to be sure, but it need not be; like the discovery of one’s sexual attraction to persons of the same gender, it may in fact be a recognition of oneself that is deeply respectful of the Creator.”
At the 2018 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, during one of the several LGBT sessions, attendees were encouraged to support a trans-child in their gender transition.
In 2016, the LGBT Ministry at the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City recommended a particular hospital for those seeking transgender surgery.
Every year, Fortunate and Faithful Families marches in the Atlanta Gay “Pride” Parade.
Jesuit priest James Martin has praised the group and spoken to them twice: at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (afterwards, they presented Martin with a cake featuring a rainbow) in 2018; and in 2019 via Facebook Live. The “Shrine” in Atlanta is the home of Pastor Monsignor Henry Gracz who has been outspoken about his support for the LGBT community.