New Ways Ministry Statement on the Election of Pope Francis

Pope Francis greeting St. Peter’s Square crowds upon his election

The following is the statement of New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director Francis DeBernardo on the election of Pope Francis:

New Ways Ministry greets Pope Francis, and we send him our prayers and best wishes as he takes on the awesome role as Chief Shepherd and Pastor of the Roman Catholic Church.

As he begins his papacy, we request that Pope Francis make one of his top priorities the re-evaluation of the Catholic hierarchy’s approach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.  As a cardinal in Argentina, the new pope spoke strongly against marriage equality and against the right for gay and lesbian people to adopt children.  We hope that in his new office, he will have the wisdom to hear all sides of these complex issues and that he will inject pastoral messages into his statements.

Over the past several decades, under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, our church has suffered because of the aggressively negative approach to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity that the hierarchy has taken.  As a result of these condemnatory and hurtful messages, thousands upon thousands of people—both LGBT and heterosexual–have left the Catholic Church.   Some have looked to other churches for a pastoral welcome, and some have given up on faith altogether.

Pope Francis has the opportunity to repair much of this hurt and alienation by offering sincere pastoral outreach to LGBT people and their families.  A welcoming gesture from the new pope in the first month of his papacy can go a long way to express God’s love for all humanity.  Without such a gesture, the church will continue to lose members, as well as credibility.

Pope Francis will need to go further than gestures, too. In the past few decades, Catholics in the United States and all over the globe have become increasingly welcoming of LGBT people.  Catholics have gone to ballot boxes to ensure that LGBT people do not suffer from discrimination and violence, and that they receive equal benefits in society, including civil marriage.  During that time, Catholic theologians, using modern research and evidence, have called for the Catholic Church to update its teachings and approach to sexuality, including sexual orientation, same-sex relationships, and gender identity.  The Catholic Church is ready for the full acceptance of LGBT people in the church community.  The only obstacle to recognition of the full dignity of LGBT people is the intransigence of the hierarchy.  Through example and directive, the new pope can move the church toward full acceptance.

Pope Francis has many items on his agenda, but we hope that he will place the updating of Catholic teaching on LGBT issues at the top of his list.  The Catholic Church is hurting because of the many people it has lost due to the homophobia and prejudice of its officials.  We need the new pope to be a healer and reconciler, and a true shepherd of all souls.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Mark Clark
    Mark Clark says:

    Very well said. Let’s pray for a genuine new beginning in our church, realizing, of course, that it will take a miracle.

    Reply
  2. Paul Halsall
    Paul Halsall says:

    I have to say the very fact that he adopted the name “Francis” filled my soul with joy. Francis of Assisi is my patron saint (confirmation name), but St. Francis Xavier also was a heroic Christian.

    Reply
  3. Ryan Sattler
    Ryan Sattler says:

    It’s hard not to get caught up in all of the hype over the conclave and now Pope Francis. I do hope that he will lead the Church with a new lence on the world and a new compassionate and inclusive heart for all GOD’S people. I pray that he will not be bound too tightly with Church tradition but will feel a renewed sense of Spirit of Vatican II. It’s a lot to wish for and a lot to pray for. I better get at it.

    Reply
  4. kimberleywise
    kimberleywise says:

    The Pope does not have the authority to change the Church’s teachings on matters of Faith and Morals. These teachings are from Christ and are not open to change. The Pope’s “job” is to protect the Deposit of Faith until Christ returns.

    Reply
    • Diane Krantz
      Diane Krantz says:

      In fact, the church once taught (and no longer does) that sex within marriage was a sin. It once taught (very early on) that Christians needed to be circumcised, and, thanks to St. Paul’s challenge, Peter changed that, it once taught, and no longer does, that suicides could not be buried on consecrated ground. Popes have changed teachings on Faith and Morals throughout the history of the Church. Only doctrines proclaimed infallibly can’t be changed, and no moral issue has ever been proclaimed that way.

      Reply
      • kimberleywise
        kimberleywise says:

        I was talking about the teachings of the Church, i.e. Infallible Doctrine, not referring to what some priest inside the church have taught. Yes there can be sexual immorality in a marriage (and that is still taught today and has not changed). The Church did not teach that you had to be circumcised to be saved but a group of people called the Jewdaizer did but were corrected by Paul and then by the first Pope Peter. Suicide is still a sin in the church but the church does recognize that someone who does not have freewill (such as those people with mental illness) could not be held accountable for that sin. The Church has in fact taught that many moral issues are apart of infallible doctrine. Issues such as homosexuality (CCC 2357), abortion (Humanae Vitae), pre-marital sex (CCC 2390), and many other more modern day moral issues such as stem-cell research and human cloning have also been addressed by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

        Reply
    • Joet
      Joet says:

      I don’t know what Bible you’re reading, but Jesus NEVER spoke about same-sex marriage, adoption by gay people, the ordination of women, contraception, abortion, stem-cell research, etc.

      The “teachings” you speak of are made by VERY FLAWED men, who should be the last people to cast any stones.

      Reply
  5. Bobbie
    Bobbie says:

    As the new Pope has taken the name “Francis” after St. Francis – does that imply that the new Holy Father will be focusing His ministering to animals and birds (as, by belief, did St. Francis) as well as to poor homo sapiens?

    Reply

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  2. […] clarify the confusion, by making a wonderful gesture of reconciliation to LGBT Catholics, which New Ways Ministry called for on the day he was elected pope.  The sooner he does something like this, the sooner the record […]

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