Catholic Leaders Must Learn from January 6th Attack

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

11 replies
  1. Ruby Almeida
    Ruby Almeida says:

    Wonderful, and always fabulous leadership from NWM. Thank you so much for this Frank. All of us must start putting pressure on our Church hierarchies for their willful and often hate filled posturings against all our marginalised communities.


    A timely lesson for all in leadership. Well spoken. Language which robs any person on their dignity is never to be the language of any of the disciples of Jesus.

  3. Patrick N
    Patrick N says:

    Cardinal Dolan and other bishops who advocated tRumps reelection should resign. They bear some responsibility for yesterday’s insurrection.

  4. Barbara Blesse, OP
    Barbara Blesse, OP says:

    Thank you, Francis, for such a strong message! It’s right on and articulates my/our hope that something can be learned from yesterday’s horrible insurrectionist behavior that can motivate other like-minded leaders who lean toward hateful rhetoric towards people to be transformed and instead instill hope, acceptance, respect and love in their future words and actions.

    Have a peace-filled 2021 and may your ministry, as challenging as it is, continue to be blessed!


  5. Susan M. Grimes
    Susan M. Grimes says:

    Right on point, Frank, as usual. Jim Martin SJ had forceful comments about this on IG. Thank God we have a decent man about to lead in the Oval Office.

  6. Paul Rossi
    Paul Rossi says:

    Thank you Frank for your comments; greatly appreciated!
    Those bishops who have been complicit and enablers of Trump for these past 4 years ought to be called out for their positions. I am afraid that many of our bishops are merely right-wing Republicans in episcopal garb. Instead of the bishops forming a committee to engage or criticize Biden, why are they not congratulating Biden and pledging to work with him for the healing of our nation and, as in the words often from Biden himself, to work together for the common good—sounds very Catholic to me.

  7. Thomas Shea
    Thomas Shea says:

    i an ashhmed to know that so many catholics support the person actually in the white house. they have a lot of shame on their shoulders in my book.

  8. Kathy Jeffers
    Kathy Jeffers says:

    There are no words to describe what is in my heart right now, though your words, Mr. DeBernardo echo in my heart.
    Peace to you and your ministry.

  9. Ben
    Ben says:

    Although I see fine work in the pews, sadly, the bishops, cardinals, and the pope continue to work against us, to destroy us.

    I am ashamed to admit that I only hold hatred in my heart for the Catholic prelates. How dare they hurt us! I am 60 y/o; these guys have been hurting me my entire life. I cannot survive under them.

  10. Susan
    Susan says:

    So, “God” does not and cannot bless sin: yet he blesses sinful man – if man is sinful – in whose mind is homosexual sex more/most sinful than the sins of man? God who is sinless or man/priests/Pope who is sinful? Who are we to judge?

  11. G.L.
    G.L. says:

    I am a bisexual woman and none of my heterosexual or homosexual relationships have ever worked out even though a couple of them were long term (16 years each).

    I am Catholic and I have given up completely on romantic/sexual relationships. I am really asexual now anyway due to psychiatric medications so now I am celibate for Jesus. I am alone, but not at all lonely because I have God.


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