On September, 5, 2018 Dr. Patrick Hornbeck, Chair of Fordham Theology and Fr. Bryan Massingale, the James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics, released a statement concerning the current sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Here is an excerpt:
The efforts by some influential persons to lay responsibility for the church’s situation upon gay priests and our society’s growing acceptance of same-sex orientations and relationships can occasion feelings of anger, betrayal, and perhaps even shame…First, we categorically condemn the vile slander that the crisis in the Catholic church is due to the presence of gay men. It reflects one of the most pernicious and deeply rooted stereotypes of gay persons, that of the sexual molester and child predator. It is a prejudice rooted in ignorance, fear, and/or hate. It negates the witness of many gay men who serve as priests with dedication and even distinction. It minimizes or even ignores the pain endured by female survivors of clerical abuse. Moreover, the alleged connection between pedophilia and homosexuality is unsupported by the Catholic church’s own commissioned research. The crisis facing the Catholic church is not one of sexual orientation. It is instead a crisis of sexual violence, systemic dishonesty, and episcopal malfeasance.
According to the USCCB commissioned “John Jay Report,” the majority (81%) of priest sex abuse victims were male; and 78% if the male victims were between the ages of 11-17.
Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York City is perhaps the most gay-affirmative “Catholic” college in the United States.
In 2016, the pro-gay marriage documentary film “Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement” was screened at Fordham during an event co-sponsored by the Department of Theology, Department of Communication and Media Studies, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. At that event, Edie Windsor, one of the subjects of the film was the special quest.
In 2017, for the first time, a contingent from Fordham marched in the New York City “Pride” Parade.
Also, in 2017, Jesuit James Martin too part in a “conversation” with Patrick Hornbeck regarding homosexuality and the Catholic Church during which Martin discussed a friend who left his religious order to begin a homosexual relationship; Martin said:
“He came out and has been with his partner for 20 years…Mark has cared for him for, I think, 15–20 years now. And one of the questions I would like the institutional Church to reflect on is: ‘Is this not love?’”
He added, “I do not understand how a person could say the following things: This is not love, this is a lesser love, they should be apart, they should have never met, they should never be together.”
In 2018, Out at St. Paul, the Catholic LGBT ministry located at St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York City, hosted a presentation entitled “Countertraditions to Adam and Eve: Relationships in the O.T.”
The presenter, Karina Martin Hogan, is a faculty member of Fordham’s “Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.” The department funds the annual Fordham production of “The Vagina Monologues.” In 2014, Hogan offered her opinion to “The Observer,” the official student newspaper of Fordham University, concerning the firing of same-sex married individuals from Catholic institutions. According to the article:
…Hogan questions the general procreative arguments used by Catholics, and other religions, in regards to same-sex marriage.
“Does that mean that marriages that aren’t blessed with children, marriages that are infertile or people marrying when they are too old to have children or any other reason, does that make them any less valid as marriages if they marry in the Catholic Church?” she posited.
Hogan also pointed out that many gay couples marry because they want to have children, whether through adoption, surrogacy or other forms of procreation without the children being biological offspring of both parents.
“So I don’t think procreation works either way for defining marriage,” she said. “In fact, to get biblical for a minute,” Hogan continued, “the story in Genesis 2 that explains why people get married… doesn’t actually say anything about procreation.” Instead, Hogan clarified that Adam and Eve become one flesh, and while it “seems to be implying sex, it never says ‘and then they will have lots of babies.’”
In 2017, Hogan signed a “Statement by Feminist Scholars,” which declared, among other things, that: “We must protect reproductive justice…”
Fordham is also home to the campus PRIDE Alliance and the Rainbow Alliance.
During a 2014 event with James Martin, Hornbeck and Martin discussed “the law of gradualism” at it relates to possible Catholic pastoral practices with LGBT men and women. He explained:
One of the things I was taught, I’ve been with Jesuits since high school, there is this Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, a teaching paradigm, that starts out with where is the student. And the goal is not to say: “Oh bad student, look at the nasty place you are in. Let me try to help you out of it.” But let me understand who you are in this place, let me see God in you in that place.
During a 2017 address titled “Pope Francis –A Student of St Ignatius,” regarding “the search for God in all things,” Hornbeck said:
…How exactly is it that God is working in the lives of those whose marriages have been broken or in the lives of same-sex couples and the families that they create? A stricter interpretation of Canon Law or of sexual ethics might urge us to the conclusion that nothing good can come out of these relationships – these divorced and remarried relationships, these same-sex relationships, something along the lines of no good fruit from the poisoned tree, but Francis, while not undertaking any formal doctrinal changes has urged the clergy to make allowances in pastoral practice for those whom he says live in quote/unquote “irregular situations.”
Bryan Massingale is currently a professor of Theology at Fordham. In 2017, Massingale spoke at New Ways Ministry’s Eight National Symposium. In 1999, the co-founders of New Ways Ministry were officially silenced by the Vatican. In 2010, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I, Archbishop of Chicago and then-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:
…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.
On March 16, 2018, Massingale was a panel presenter at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress for a workshop entitled “Transgender in Our Schools: One Bread, One Body.” On the topic of transgenderism and the Catholic Church, Massingale stated that the Church is in “a period of discernment:”
So, what do we do when we don’t understand? It means the Catholic Church is all over the board on this. It means if you go to Holy Rosary College, and you transition as a student, they will welcome you with open arms, and the campus ministry will accept you and they will provide housing and accommodations. Or you go to Saint Kundykunda’s, try not to pick anybody…and you transition, you can be expelled. Because that’s the kind of place we are at right now because the Catholic Church is in a period of discernment as we are trying to understand what we don’t understand.
Concerning a change in Church teaching with regards to homosexual activity, in comparison to the process which took place in the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran churches, Massingale argued:
They all went through a messy period marked by a divergence of opinion and open disagreement on approach…We can’t expect the Catholic experience to be any different. The differences we see among official leaders are part of a normal process of coming to a different place.
I think this is a call for us as Catholics to accept the reality that we live in a church that’s in the midst of hesitant but real change and development. How do we help our people to understand that this isn’t something that’s entirely new in church history?
We’re in this transitional time when we’re moving out of one paradigm of understanding human sexuality and into another. That’s part of the mess we’re in, but it is our faith as Catholics that this mess contains the ground for new life and new birth.