bridge to nowhere

By Diogenes (articles - email) | Feb 08, 2010

New Ways Ministry is "astonished" that Cardinal George would suggest its work is not completely in line with Church teaching. The group's executive director, Francis DeBernardo, complains that Cardinal George didn't even have the "basic courtesy" to notify him before issuing a caution against his group.

This might cause you to wonder whether DeBernardo followed his own rules of etiquette, and informed the US Conference of Catholic Bishops before testifying before the Maryland legislature against a proposal to bar same-sex marriage. In that testimony DeBernardo told the lawmakers not to assume that "the Catholic hierarchy reflects the belief of most Catholic people." Cardinal George, it seems, was merely flipping that statement around, and pointing out that New Ways does not share the belief of the Catholic hierarchy-- as DeBernardo's testimony demonstrated.

But New Ways Ministry doesn't give up easily. The group claims that it has "had its programs reviewed by scores of Catholic bishops, theologians and pastoral leaders, and we have always been found to be firmly in line with authentic Catholic teaching."

Always? By the group's own account, then-Archbishop James Hickey of Washington refused to give the group his stamp of approval. In 1999 the Vatican noted "ambiguities and errors" in the group's public statements, and when those ambiguities and errors persisted, the Vatican silenced the group's founders. Oh, yes, there have been bishops who praised the "gay-friendly" group's approach. But to suggest that New Ways Ministry has "always" received doctrinal clearance from the hierarchy is simply mendacious-- especially when the group regularly calls attention to its disagreements with Church leaders.

DeBernardo's statement inadvertently drives home the message that New Ways Ministry takes its position outside the Catholic Church:

New Ways Ministry will continue its bridge-building work between lesbian/gay Catholics and the Church because that work is needed now more than ever.

You don't need a bridge to get to where you are.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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