For Press Inquiries

Francis DeBernardo
Executive Director, New Ways Ministry
Office: (301) 277-5674
Cell: (240) 432-2489

Most Recent Press Statement

For past statements, see below

New Ways Ministry Responds to New Vatican Document on Gender Identity

June 10, 2019

The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo,
Executive Director, New Ways Ministry:

The Vatican’s new document on gender identity, “Male and Female He Created Them,” is a harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay, bisexual people, too.  The document associates sexual and gender minorities with libertine sexuality, a gross misrepresentation of the lives of LGBT people which perpetuates and encourages hatred, bigotry, and violence against them.

The document, from the Congregation for Catholic Education, will confuse those who sincerely struggle with questions of gender identity and sexual orientation.  Such confusion leads to self-harm, addiction, and even suicide. The misinformation the document contains will cause families to reject their children, and it will increase alienation of LGBT people from the Church.

The only truth that the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill-equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world.   By ignoring new scientific understandings of gender identity, and by refusing to engage in dialogue with LGBT people about their lived experiences of self-understanding and faith, the Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods. Because they have not consulted science or people’s experiences, the Vatican’s theology on gender is deficient and flawed.  It relies on categories of male and female that were shaped centuries ago in oppressive and repressive cultures.

The Vatican maintains the idea that gender is determined solely by visible genitalia, which contemporary science has shown is and incorrect and harmful way to categorize people.  Gender is also biologically determined by genetics, hormones, and brain chemistry–things not visible at birth.  People do not choose their gender, as the Vatican claims:  they discover it through their lived experiences. The Church should respect and encourage this process of discovery, because it is a process by which individuals discover the wonderful way that God has created them.

Although the Vatican calls the Church to dialogue and listen to people, dialogue and listening are thwarted and useless if church leaders have already determined that the people they are listening to are influenced by ideology.  Dialogue requires mutual respect, which this document does not exhibit or promote.


Vatican Meeting with LGBT Advocates Is a “Great Step Forward,” But More Action Needed

April 5, 2019

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry, in response to a meeting between Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, and international LGBT groups.

The Vatican’s meeting on April 52019 with lawyers and leaders from international LGBT human rights organizations is a great step forward for improving the relationship between LGBT people and the Catholic Church, but more urgent statements and actions are needed.

The meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace could be the beginning of a new era of dialogue between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community by working together for the common goal of ending discrimination, violence, and legal penalties against LGBT people around the world. That is a step forward for the lives and well-being of LGBT people who suffer because of draconian laws.

We had hoped for a stronger statement from Cardinal Parolin in response to the information presented by the LGBT advocates on human rights violations.  Parolin reaffirmed church teaching on human dignity and opposition to violence of any sort, and he promised to inform the pope of the meeting and to remain in touch with the leaders.  But, the Vatican, and especially Pope Francis, need to speak out more strongly against laws which criminalize LGBT people and cultural attitudes which support and promote violence against them. Vague generalizations will not suffice, nor will they be effective.

Awareness of this scourge has been public for at least a decade.  For decades, Catholics in the pews have been calling on church leaders to speak out against laws, practices, and attitudes which harm LGBT people. Catholic social justice teaching on the dignity of all humans, on equal treatment under law, and on non-discrimination for LGBT people have been firmly established in church documents, including the Catechism.  This strong call from the people and the clear mandate of Catholic teaching means that at today’s meeting Parolin should have provided a much stronger statement condemning laws and violence against LGBT people.

Unfortunately, in many countries Catholic bishops have shamefully been either silent, or worse, supportive of measures that criminalize LGBT people, often with inhuman punishments.

(For a full record of Catholic statements and actions in both support and opposition to laws which criminalize LGBT people, click here.)

As a next step, Vatican officials and Pope Francis need to clearly and forcefully denounce LGBT criminalization laws.  Decisive action is needed to respond to this terrible scourge which destroys lives and erodes human dignity.


New Ways in the News

  • June 11, 2019: Vatican calls non-binary gender ‘fictitious’ in report tackling ‘education crisis’ over sexuality

  • June 11, 2019: Vatican’s new document on gender identity – The document, an attempt to put the Vatican’s position into an official text, is controversial and has been criticized by various Catholic LGBT groups

  • June 11, 2019: Vatican takes a step back, says gender not a choice

  • June 11, 2019: Critics slam Vatican’s denial of non-binary gender as ‘dangerous and threatening’ for transgender people

  • June 11, 2019: The Vatican Calls Non-Binary Gender ‘Fictitious,’ Comes Under Fire From LGBTQ Groups

  • June 11, 2019: Vatican: People Cannot Choose or Change Their Gender Identity

  • June 10, 2019: Vatican Rejects Notion That Gender Identity Can Be Chosen

  • June 10, 2019: Vatican condemns gender theory as bid to destroy nature

  • June 10, 2019: Catholic Church rejects transgender identity, calls gender change a ‘trend’ in statement

  • June 10, 2019: Vatican Doubles Down By Stating Gender Is Not Fluid

  • June 10, 2019: Vatican: Gender Can’t Be Chosen, Refers to Intersex and Trans People as a ‘Provocative Display’

  • June 10, 2019: Vatican rejects idea genders can be changed to alarm of LGBT Catholics

  • May 13, 2019: Letter from a nun: ‘We are all children of God,’ she writes in allowing same-sex union news in alum magazine

  • April 19, 2019: Pope condemns ‘heartless’ discrimination against gay people

  • April 19, 2019: Pope to British Comic: Those Who Reject Gay People Lack ‘Human Heart’

  • April 19, 2019: Two Popes and a Comedian Walk into the Vatican…

  • April 5, 2019: LGBTI activists urge Vatican to condemn homosexuality criminalization laws

  • April 5, 2019: LGBTQ Leaders Tepid After Meeting With Vatican – Church falls short of endorsing decriminalization of homosexuality, but vows to continue conversation

  • April 5, 2019: Lawyers ask Vatican to denounce criminalization of homosexuality

  • February 23, 2019: The Most Talked About Non-Topic at the Vatican? Homosexuality

Past Statements

  • October 27, 2018

    Catholic LGBT Ministry Responds to Vatican’s Synod on Youth Final Report

  • October 4, 2018

    Archbishop Chaput’s Synod Comment on LGBTQ People Explains Why Catholic Church Is in So Much Trouble

  • August 26, 2018

    New Ways Ministry responds to Archbishop’s Vigano’s Accusations Against Gay Clergy and Pope Francis

  • August 19, 2018

    Catholic LGBT Ministry Responds to Archbishop’s Criticism of Retreat for Gay Priests, Brothers, Deacons

  • June 29, 2018

    Catholic LGBT Ministry Responds to McAleese Calling Church Teaching ‘Evil’

  • June 20, 2018

    Youth Synod Document Shows Vatican Evolution on LGBT Topics

  • June 5, 2018

    Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Holds Promise for Full Legal Equality

  • May 21, 2018

    Catholic LGBT Ministry Responds to Pope’s Reported Words of Affirmation to Gay Man