By Elizabeth Crawford
America Magazine hosts an event at odds with the church’s teaching.Archbishop John C. Wester of the Sante Fe diocese called the voices of LGBTQ Catholics “prophetic” at Outreach 2023, an LGBTQ Catholic ministry conference hosted by America Magazine.
The conference “gathers LGBTQ lay people, clergy, scholars, artists, educators, students, and family members to build community, share best practices and worship together,” according to Outreach’s website. The conference topics ranged from “The Catholic Lesbian Experience” to “LGBTQ Clergy and Religious.” (READ MORE: My Religion is Not Your Costume)
America Magazine, a Jesuit publication, has often flirted with heretical positions, though it has shied away from outright contradicting Church teaching. However, at this conference, its staff did not mince words.
While introducing one of the keynote speakers at the event, editor-at-large and Jesuit priest James Martin spoke of Outreach’s role in collaborating with other LGBTQ organizations, such as Dignity USA and New Ways Ministries.
“Outreach tries to amplify voices and bring people together,” Martin said.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, said that Dignity helped “integrate” her sexual orientation with her faith after her Newman center — a ministry for college Catholics — deemed her “unfit” for leadership because of her lesbian sexual orientation.
Dignity USA asserts that “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons can express their sexuality and gender identities and expressions in a manner that is consonant with Christ’s teaching.”
“Dignity has held positions different from the institutional teachings of the Church,” Duddy-Burke said. “And that’s true today.”
The Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality maintains that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and that those with “homosexual tendencies” should seek to live a life of chastity in conformity with the will of God.
“[Homosexual acts] are contrary to the natural law,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church states. “They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
However, as Duddy-Burke related the history of Dignity USA and the response of its younger members, she defended the group’s position, despite its violation of the Church’s teaching.
“They responded generously, articulately, and with a palpable love for their faith and community,” Duddy-Burke said. “It is impossible for me to describe their contributions as anything other than scripture.”
Duddy-Burke highlighted one of the organization’s prominent early members, Bob Fournier, as an example of boldness. Fournier would later publish an article with Dignity hinting at a homosexual relationship between Jesus and John, the beloved disciple.
“Since we have no evidence of a close friendship with any woman in Christ’s life, there are some who claim that his recognized deep friendship with John was a homosexual relationship,” Fournier wrote. “These people, of course, see nothing wrong with homosexuality. Their claim is an effort to show the full human nature of Christ and the full use of human love.”
At the conference’s closing, Fr. Martin gave a homily claiming that “every single person here, in this church, has at some point realized that God is inviting him, her, or them into a relationship with God.”
Another controversial attendee — religious sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministries — recently penned a letter in support of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of drag queens impersonating nuns. The LA Dodgers had invited the group to perform at their annual Pride Event.
“While I am uncomfortable with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence using the nuns’ old garb to draw attention to bigotry, whether Catholic or not, there is a hierarchy of values in this situation,” Gramick wrote. “The choice of clothing, even if offensive to some, can never trump the works of mercy.”