British Catholics joined together last month for a national conference on LGBT issues, a gathering that was marked by “joy” according to one organizer.
Quest, a pastoral support group for LGBT Catholics and their families, sponsored the conference, which was titled “Act Justly, Love Mercy.” The group’s website featured highlights from the weekend, and these included:
“Two talks by Sr Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, and a notable pioneer in LGBT ministry. These talks, and the Q&A sessions that followed, raised numerous important topics meriting further exploration – which will be discussed further in later posts. [Editor’s note: More details about Gramick’s thoughts later in this Bondings 2.0 post.]
“A highly entertaining talk by Bruce Kent, notable for his work in peace activism, who reminded us that there are important areas of justice beyond LGBT issues, that all Catholics should be concerned with – and that obviously includes a responsibility for us as LGBT Catholics, towards the wider world as well.
“Moving and inspirational liturgies, for Mass and morning and evening prayers. By great serendipity, the Gospel for the closing Mass included the parable of the mustard seed.”
Ruby Almeida, the chair of Quest, said the conference was marked by a great deal of joy.
Terence Weldon, who blogs at Queering the Church, reported on Gramick’s talks as well as his interview with her. Questioners asked Gramick how they could advance positive change in the church. She emphasized personal relationships, and the need for LGBT Catholics and their allies to continue to take the initiative in reaching out to church leaders.
In response to Weldon’s question about Pope Francis and church doctrine. Gramick answered that the pope’s actions de-emphasized the importance of doctrine, particularly those teachings related to sexual ethics. Francis prefers to emphasise Jesus and his offer of salvation. Weldon commented on Gramick’s response:
“In this way, the message that Pope Francis is sending to LGBT Catholics, is more powerful than the hurtful doctrine that has so dominated what we have heard from the institutional church in the past. The question then arises, while the hurtful and damaging doctrine remains in place, who are we who are LGBT Catholics, to respond? Sr Jeannine offered here an analogy from American football (or from rugby, where it works equally well: Pope Francis is playing defence, against the damage of existing doctrine. To see real change, it is up to us to run with the ball.” [Editor’s note: Sr. Jeannine attributes the football analogy to Father Bryan Massingale, a U.S. theologian who offered that image at New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium in April 2017.]
The July conference is but one of Quest’s many initiatives to help support LGBT Catholics and their families in Great Britain. Congratulations to Ruby, Terence, and the entire group for a successful event!
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 3, 2017