The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry:
New Ways Ministry condemns the violence which erupted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in the strongest possible terms. Our nation should learn many lessons from this action for which the perpetrators have been groomed for over the last four years of the Trump presidency.
Catholic Church leaders need to learn a lesson from this incident, too: Hateful and violent rhetoric results in hateful and violent actions. When demonizing and dehumanizing language is preached, people are encouraged to fulfill these messages with destruction, damage, and death.
January 6, 2021, should be an Epiphany for Catholic leaders to finally end their degrading messages about LGBTQ people. When Catholic leaders speak of LGBTQ people in terms which oppose this community to what religious leaders consider “God’s intentions” about sexuality and gender, they are promoting hatred, violence, and the murder of LGBTQ people.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who is a pro-LGBTQ devout Catholic, responded to the attack on the Capitol with this message, “The words of a president matter.” That same message can be applied to bishops and other Catholic leaders who have long villified LGBTQ people. That idea was voiced in 2016 by Bishop Robert Lynch in the wake of the 2016 Pulse LGBTQ nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida. He said:
“Sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence. Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that.”
As Bishop Lynch‘s remarks show, not all bishops and church leaders speak harmful messages. Unfortunately, the ones with affirming and positive messages about LGBTQ people are too often drowned out by the steady drumbeat of others. New Ways Ministry affirms the many courageous bishops and Catholic leaders who have spoken out against the booming Catholic voices whose messages breed contempt and harm. We bless and thank these prophets who often have experienced marginalization and vilification themselves for standing with an oppressed minority.
President-elect Biden is attempting to unify the nation from the truly preventable tragedy of January 6th by condemning violent rhetoric and calling for a return to “simple decency.” Catholic leaders must also walk the road of reconciliation by turning away from their history of violent messages about LGBTQ people and finally begin, in earnest, the simple, decent process of dialogue with the LGBTQ community and with the overwhelming numbers of Catholics who support LGBTQ equality.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry,, January 7, 2021