Questions Raised After Diocese Shutters LGBTQ Ministry Without Explanation

Catholics in the Diocese of Fresno, California, have been left with questions after church officials shuttered an LGBTQ ministry without explanation.

Teresa Dominguez, the diocesan chancellor, explained that the LGBTQ Ministry was indefinitely suspended over concerns that it “may have evolved beyond its primary mission.” The Fresno Bee reported:

“But Dominguez and diocese officials declined to say how the ministry may have gone outside that mission. Staff at the St. Paul Catholic Newman Center where the ministry was housed were instructed to not speak with The Bee. . .

“Dominguez declined to answer questions about what the LGBTQ Ministry’s primary mission consisted of, what activities it had engaged in, who was involved and whether anybody had been disciplined. ‘Bishop [Armando Ochoa] met with the ministry’s leadership,’ Dominguez said. ‘Bishop decided to indefinitely suspend the ministry in its current form.’ . . .

“Ochoa was first made aware of the issues surrounding the LGBTQ Ministry before the Diocese of Fresno’s annual congress in October, Dominguez said. An LGBTQ workshop that was scheduled to take place during that congress was abruptly canceled. Dominguez said that was due to the action that had been taken to reform the LGBTQ Ministry.”

One parishioner said that not everyone at St. Paul’s was aware of the suspension. The parish serves the campus and surrounding area of California State University at Fresno.

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The diocesan spokesperson said LGBTQ ministry would rely on resources from Courage, a Catholic ministry whose primary focus is to help lesbian and gay people remain celibate. Dominguez would not explain further what that collaboration might mean other than that it would “take time with extensive dialogue.”

While the suspension of an existing ministry is problematic, more troubling once again is the failure of church officials to communicate the reasons for their actions. Parishioners who have supported and been supported by this ministry for three years are due an explanation. Even better would have been holding the “extensive dialogue” which Dominguez projected before any decision was made. Such a communicative, transparent approach is both the model of synodality desired by Pope Francis and the recent Synod on Youth and, more fundamentally, is a matter of just relations.

Thankfully, it is not too late to reverse the suspension for the time being and begin practicing synodality. It would be a great way for the Diocese of Fresno to start 2019.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, December 28, 2018

5 replies
    • Francis DeBernardo, Editor
      Francis DeBernardo, Editor says:

      The ministry that was shut down was not supported by Courage. The diocese said that the replacement ministry would be supported by Courage.

  1. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    If Courage will be continuing to support the diocese’s LGBT ministry then abstinence and adherence to it is the problem so the group is better to discuss becoming a chapter of DignityUSA if they want to live honest lives.

    By the way the logo/coat of arms (black cross and ring of chains) for the diocese is right out of a leather/ s and m design book. Maybe it isn’t just their support of LGBT individuals that they need to refresh!
    Happy New Year.

  2. Richard Boyle, OSM
    Richard Boyle, OSM says:

    This is disappointing news (as alwys), but not surprising at all. Central California is a quite conservative area in general. Except for “enclaves” of progressive thought, e.g., the universities, the State capitol Sacramento, etc., it’s pretty “red” in most things. In addition, the Diocese of Fresno lies directly south of the much larger, and very influential (Church-wise) Diocese of Sacramento, led by Bishop Jaime Soto, who certainly is quite to the right of center on LGBTQ issues. A mere hundred miles or so West (as the crow flies…) are Oakland and San Francisco, where, despite the existence of a large and vibrant LGBTQ community, the Church is led by ecclesiastics who are famously unfriendly to the LGBTQ community, Barber and Cordileone…”nuff said,” perhaps. I just pray there will be an evolution or revolution in the future in the Church’s stance toward the thousands of people of faith whose God-given sexual and gender identity doesn’t quite “fit” the heterosexual, cisgender, historical “regula.”

  3. Friends
    Friends says:

    Once again — and apparently as always — the social, ethical and theological tenets of the hierarchy are stuck in a time warp which lags at least a hundred years behind the spiritual discernment of today’s younger Catholics, as well as a large cohort of middle-aged and older Catholics. This dysfunction simply cannot continue, or the Catholic Church as a viable religious institution will rip itself to shreds. As I’ve said before: becoming newly-minted Episcopalians might not be such a bad idea. And I’m sure that Jesus Himself would not condemn or disapprove such an act of conscientious objection. Richard Boyle’s analysis of the situation is absolutely spot on.


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