The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, regarding a Vatican official’s apology to LGBTQ people and the organization. For more information about this incident, click here.
New Ways Ministry warmly accepts the apology of Thierry Bonaventura, the Communications Manager of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, for removing from their website a link to our video encouraging LGBTQ people to participate in synod consultations. We thank him for recognizing the harm that such a slight would have caused LGBTQ people and the entire church.
Apologies are powerful in their ability to build bridges of reconciliation and justice. Mr. Bonaventura’s kind words and his reposting of the video will be effective helping to repair the rift that exists between LGBTQ people and Catholic institutions. His actions are an example of the amazing grace which can be brought to life when one practices honesty and humility, and is concerned about how one’s actions may harm other people.
We appreciate that apologies are never easy to make. New Ways Ministry had not requested one, making this gesture all the more authentic. Vatican officials rarely apologize, and they almost certainly have never apologized to LGBTQ people or an LGBTQ Catholic ministry. This action signals that Vatican officials are becoming aware of how their decisions impact LGBTQ lives. It also reveals a desire to repair damages they may have caused. In these respects, this is an historic moment.
In correspondence with New Ways Ministry since April 2021, Pope Francis became aware of our altercations with some church representatives. Nonetheless, he commended our organization for its outreach to the LGBTQ community. In ongoing communications with us and with others, it is clear that Pope Francis wants LGBTQ ministry to thrive. He has publicly emphasized that he wants all people to participate in synod discussions, especially those who have been marginalized or alienated from the church.
Mr. Bonaventura is correct: LGBTQ people would perceive the video’s removal from the synod website as a message that the church did not want them to participate in the synod—contrary to the pope’s intentions. The removal threatened to forestall the involvement of LGBTQ people from synodal consultations. That would have been a disaster for the entire church, not just LGBTQ Catholics and supporters.
This unprecedented apology from a Vatican office corrects the earlier mistake and amplifies, even louder, the welcome that Pope Francis has extended to LGBTQ people. God indeed works in mysterious ways, turning what could have been great harm into an instrument of greater connection. The synod office has now created a special channel for LGBTQ people to share their stories. Every diocese should follow this example and set up their own channels of communication with LGBTQ communities.
For their own part, LGBTQ people can respond to the Vatican’s apology and correction by participating in synod consultations and sharing the journeys of their lives and their faith. The church will benefit greatly by LGBTQ involvement.
Throughout the coming months, New Ways Ministry will continue to produce educational events and materials to encourage LGBTQ participation in the synod.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 13, 2021