On June 11, 2017, Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., the Pastor at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City, announced the establishment of the parish’s new LGBT ministry: LGBT Catholics & Friends. In “A Letter From the Pastor,” Yesalonia wrote:
I believe that the strength of our faith, the pervasiveness of the desire to be part of this community, and the depth of our love for one another as friends in the Lord propel us to acknowledge, accept, affirm, and nourish in their faith those members of our parish who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ). To that end, I have authorized the creation of a Parish LGBTQ Ministry whose mission will be to nurture the faith life of the entire parish through the unique perspective these sisters and brothers bring to being Catholic in an environment which in significant ways has banished them to second class status. The LGBTQ members of our parish have waited patiently for this day to come. We can delay no longer. Justice demands it; compassion and mercy accompany it.
My decision to form an LGBTQ ministry was made after having met with members of the parish who identify as LGBTQ, many of whom are actively engaged in other ministries of the parish or who are parents of our grammar school students or parents of LGBTQ children.
Yesalonia then wrote:
For reasons unique to each person, our LGBTQ parishioners are firmly committed to being Catholics, despite how they are characterized by the official teaching of the church. They are nonetheless buoyed by their hope that the church’s teaching will change…They yearn to be true to who they are, created out of love by God as gay, as lesbian, as bisexual, as transgendered, or as questioning of their identity.
On June 13, 2017, controversial Jesuit priest James Martin launched his new book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” at St. Ignatius Loyola. In “Building a Bridge,” concerning homosexuality and The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Martin stated:
Saying that one of the deepest parts of a person—the part that gives and receives love—is “disordered” in itself is needlessly cruel.
Following criticism of statements made by Martin during his promotional tour for “Building a Bridge,” Yesalonia defended its author, prompting Martin to post a letter written by Yesalonia on his Facebook page; Martin wrote:
I am very grateful to Dennis Yesalonia, SJ, the Pastor of the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola in New York City, where I have served as a priest for almost 20 years, where I celebrated my First Mass, where I pronounced my Final Vows as a Jesuit, and which I consider my home parish, for this generous message of support. It is one of the great joys of my life to be a part of this community.
In his impassioned defense of Martin, Yesalonia wrote:
I now call upon all of us to stand in solidarity with Father Martin who has recently been subjected to a wave of harsh and unjustified criticism because of his attempts to bridge the chasm of misunderstanding and distrust through dialogue and reconciliation. The torrent of invective leveled against him because of his most recent book, Building A Bridge, has unveiled the depth of prejudice and intolerance against affirming our LGBTQ brothers and sisters as valued and beloved members of the Church.
On January 7, 2018, Martin posted a link to an article from New Ways Ministry about a parishioner from St. Ignatius Loyola who shared his experiences of being the father of a “gay” son at a recent panel presentation (Our Stories: Being LGBT and Catholic) held at the Parish and sponsored by LGBT Catholics & Friends; in 1999, after a lengthy Vatican investigation, the co-founders of New Ways Ministry were “permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons.” About the article from New Ways Ministry, Martin wrote:
I’m blessed to know everyone in this wonderful family. My good friend Ivan [Briggiler] gave this moving talk at a recent event for LGBT parishioners at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York. In October, 2016, he and his son Marcos, a student at Regis High School in New York, accompanied me to the New Ways Ministry gathering last October.
On October 30, 2017, Martin received the “Building a Bridge Award” from New Ways Ministry. The address he delivered at the award ceremony served as the inspiration for his book.
During his address at St. Ignatius Loyola, Briggiler talked about his “gay” son:
When Marcos was around five, my wife began saying that she thought Marcos might be gay. My reaction at the time was cold and rational. I said it was too early to tell, and I wanted Marcos to figure this out and to let me know on his own terms. In other words, I was telling my wife that it was not possible for her to know this about our child at such a young age…I was wrong.
My son was born gay. That is an important lesson that I learned. My son did not choose to be gay: my son was born gay. This Is part of his being.
Finally, Briggiler added:
Now I dream about the day when Marcos will introduce us to our new son in law joining our family. I dream and hope about grandchildren. And I hope I can walk together with my son down the aisle.
The “Featured Presenter” for the LGBT panel held at St. Ignatius Loyola was Francis DeBernardo who currently serves as the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. Following the Obergefell decision by the Supreme Court in 2015, DeBernardo 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.
As long as LGBT Catholics and their allies believe that homosexuality is an inborn trait, they must also consequently reject the teachings of the Catechism which describe the homosexual inclination as “objectively disordered.” They cannot logically accept the “born gay” theory and the Catechism, because what sort of God would intentionally make someone “disordered?” As the late Jesuit John J. McNeill described in his landmark book “The Church and the Homosexual:”
Since most gay people experience their homosexual orientation as a part of creation, if they accept this Church teaching, they must see God as sadistically creating them with an intrinsic orientation to evil. Most gays would prefer to see the Church teaching as wrong, rather than believe God is sadistic.
For this reason, Martin repeatedly makes statements such as this:
I’m no theologian, but I would say that some of the language used in the catechism on that topic needs to be updated, given what we know now about homosexuality. Earlier, for example, the catechism says that the homosexual orientation is itself “objectively disordered.” But, as I say in the book, saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is disordered is needlessly hurtful. A few weeks ago, I met an Italian theologian who suggested the phrase “differently ordered” might convey that idea more pastorally.
In a completely misguided attempt to appear pastoral, caring, and loving, Martin and those who share his beliefs and methodology abandon the truth and therefore abandon those who they claim to be concerned about. On the very topic of gay affirmative ministries and facilitating priests, the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, wrote:
There are many serious objections to this kind of compassion based on pragmatism and relativism…The most obvious…objection is that such thinking precludes the possibility of moral conversion and true Christian discipleship. Apart from the radical denial of truth, such thinking leaves the person lost in a swamp without a map. It is a most dangerous compassion.
Within the Archdiocese of New York, there are already several LGBT-affirmative ministries located at St. Paul the Apostle Church, The Church of the Blessed Sacrament, St Francis de Sales, St. Francis of Assisi, and the Church of the Ascension.
Contact: Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Monsignor Edward Weber
Phone: 212-371-1011 Ext. 2931