Part one of a series on “gay-friendly” parishes and ministries in the Catholic Church.
As controversy is constantly on the trend over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, a far more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples exerting their influence in Catholic parishes throughout america and Canada.
At a quickly growing variety of proudly “gay-friendly” parishes, same-sex couples who flout the Church’s teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts are exercising leadership functions and receiving Communion with encouragement from their pastors.
The phenomenon are available in dioceses led by bishops with reputations as orthodox “conservatives” as well as notoriously liberal ones. However, a common thread appears to run through all of them: the consistent unwillingness of the diocesan expert to enter conflict with a robust and intense homosexual movement.
Because the 1970s when certain American and Canadian parishes became known as “gay-friendly,” and wayward clergy and laity began “nonjudgmental” homosexual outreach ministries such as “New Ways” and “Dignity USA,” the number of parishes that tolerate or accept homosexual behavior has ballooned to add parishes in the majority of the dioceses of america.
Although New Ways Ministries has been repeatedly condemned by the Catholic hierarchy, it currently lists about 240 parishes in 165 cities and towns that conform to its “gay-friendly” standards. Nine archdioceses and dioceses have four or even more such parishes detailed by New Ways, such as Chicago (11), Los Angeles (10), NY (6), Tucson (5), Brooklyn (5), Portland, Oregon (5), San Francisco (4), Philadelphia (4), and Baltimore (4).
These parishes often maintain “LGBT outreach” programs that affirm the homosexuality of associates and even encourage homosexuals to be “proud” of their sex. They publicly celebrate anniversaries of the unions of same-sex companions, listing them in parish bulletins. They place active homosexuals in positions of parish command. They take part in homosexual satisfaction parades where same-sex serves are condoned and even involved in, and celebrate People commemorating the parades and other events worth focusing on to the “homosexual” subculture.
What appears to be absent in such parishes is any reference to the Catholic Church’s doctrine about the natural reason for human sexuality and the intrinsic evil of homosexual works.
According to Catholic teaching, the sexual work exists to bolster the unity of a man and a female united in marriage and also to produce offspring. The Catechism of the Catholic Chapel unequivocally condemns homosexual sodomy as “functions of grave depravity” and “intrinsically disordered.”
In “gay-friendly” parishes, however, the Church’s concept of marriage, family, and sexuality is openly treated differently. Rather than guiding people that have “same-sex appeal” to a life of celibacy and addressing emotional problems, homosexuals are told that their impulses stem from their very character, that these were created by God as homosexuals and that the “gay” ethos is part of their identity.
Although complaints have been made to diocesan authorities for many years regarding these parishes, the Catholic hierarchy rarely acts to improve them. In fact, some have actively motivated the “homosexual” activity. Even bishops with a reputation for faithful adherence to Catholic doctrine have made only timid efforts to rein them in, and seldom act decisively to end abuses. The result can be an atmosphere of impunity in which pastors and parishioners are growing more and more bold in their general public declarations in favor of the homosexual lifestyle.
At San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer parish, which is situated in the predominantly homosexual Castro district, the gay subculture has received open up support because the 1970s by pastors and parishioners. Under the guidance of “homosexual friendly” management, the parish openly subverts Catholic teaching on human being sexuality, participating in parades that celebrate the homosexual lifestyle, commemorating anniversaries of same-sex unions, and preserving a library of books defending and celebrating same-sex sodomy.
In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where New Ways lists no less than 10 “gay-friendly” parishes, a homosexual couple was recently permitted to talk about the gifts through the offertory rite of the nationally-televised Mass presided over by Archbishop José Gomez. The event was the culmination of many years of assistance in the homosexual subculture for the archdiocese, including active participation in “homosexual pride” occasions by its “Catholic Ministry with Lgbt Persons.”
In Baltimore, St. Matthew Parish hosts the LGBT Educating & Affirming Variety (LEAD) program, which has produced a series of promotional videos openly acknowledging and even celebrating homosexual behavior. In another part of town, the Jesuit parish of St. Ignatius keeps homosexual “pride prayer services” to commemorate “homosexual pride” festivities.
Joseph Sciambra, who participated in the “gay” subculture in his youth as a porn professional and later abandoned the lifestyle after time for the Catholic beliefs, has been working for years to bring about a reform of such parishes and programs, and also to alert the general public about the damage being done to Catholics who suffer from “same-sex appeal.” However, the bishops and diocesan administrations regularly disregard him and other people who complain.
“Generally, my attempts at instigating a dialogue or discourse with certain bishops in conditions of sharing my experiences about gay-affirmative parishes and ministries has failed,” Sciambra told Queerlife. “In some instances, it has taken years to elicit a single response. Then they have recommended patience.”
Endurance, however, is difficult for Sciambra, who watched dozens of friends pass away because of this of their homosexual lifestyle.
“As somebody who lost friends to Helps, partially because these were willfully deceived by priests who recommended that they stay in the ‘gay’ lifestyle, viewing as these parishes and ministries continue steadily to confuse and mislead others, sometimes for over 30 years, it’s difficult to stay patiently silent,” Sciambra told Queerlife. “I have a tendency to consider it this way: When a doctor is dealing with someone suffering from a leg contaminated by gangrene, will the doctor recommend patience, or does he act quickly and decisively to conserve the person? Because time is of the substance.”
Sciambra himself sought help from the “gay friendly” Most Holy Redeemer parish in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA but found that instead of discouraging him from his self-destructive behavior, they encouraged him to embrace his “gay” identity.
“1 day, after partaking in an especially gruesome sex act, I felt an inexplicable need to ‘confess’ it. A priest at Most Holy Redeemer told me to settle down with one person. But he guaranteed me that I is at the right place (the Castro) – because, after all, I was created gay.”
Sciambra says he “was feeling curiously cheated” by the encounter and didn’t go back to the confessional for a long time. The result was that he became hardened in his accept of homosexuality and continued down his self-destructive route.
“What I believe I subconsciously wished to hear from the priest was that my life I had opted uncontrollable, which i wasn’t ‘homosexual,’ and that I wasn’t where I would have to be. Although, inside, I was fighting against homosexuality, against my ‘gay’ identification, this event locked those ideas into place. Because, now, I felt like I needed nowhere else to look. This was my lot in life, and, like the priest advised me, I better make the best of it.”
When he was in danger of dying as a result of his behavior, Sciambra says he went to another priest – and was presented with similar advice.
“Later, after I stayed in the homosexual lifestyle, and almost died, another priest inexplicably explained quite similar thing. At that point, I wised up rapidly and became extremely discriminating going to whom I searched for Confession.”
In Sciambra’s experience, such parishes absolutely refuse any association with Courage and other Catholic ministries that encourage those afflicted with “same-sex attraction” to stay chaste and celibate. “Any recommendation about building a Courage section at these parishes has been met with immediate indignation. The concept itself can be regarded as an impossibility,” he told Queerlife.
However, such parishes supply an endless lineup of speakers who subtly or not-so-subtly promote the gay agenda. “At these talks, it’s often easy to become convinced that the Cathedral is wrong, that I was created by God as a ‘homosexual’ person, which soon the teachings on homosexuality will all change. That is an obvious deception.” Among these loudspeakers are “priests who are themselves confused and conflicted about their own sexuality, or want to settle their distinctions with the Church by fomenting dissention on the parish level.”
People of the parish are therefore further ensconced in their misconception of their own true identities as women and men, as well as the authentic doctrines of the Catholic Church on human being sexuality. “As a result, ‘gay’ men and women, including those who may have been open to at least considering another way of viewing themselves and their sexuality, are verified in the homosexual orientation,” Sciambra says. Instead of offering a choice, by showing the Truth, these gay-affirmative parishes and ministries pander to the fears and insecurities of the “gay” community.”
“They have encouraged a false hope. They are neither loving nor merciful; for true love and mercy cannot exist without the reality,” Sciambra says.