New England Bishop’s LGBT Outreach Sparks Controversy

News: US News
by Church Militant  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 30, 2024   

The clash between doctrine and inclusion

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic organization in New England is calling out a local bishop for his public deviation from the Church's immutable teachings on homosexuality.

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Bp. William Byrne

On Sunday, the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts issued a statement slamming an op-ed coauthored by Springfield's Bp. William Byrne and members of Catholics for Inclusion.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette published the piece, titled "A message of welcome to the LGBTQ+ community," on Dec. 5.

Byrne and the anonymous coauthors discussed their nearly five-year journey of what they characterized as discernment on how to welcome so-called LGBT individuals back to the Catholic Church. They claimed there's a need for parishes and schools in the area to become "more welcoming" to all people, especially those he termed "LGBTQ faithful."

They are welcome to the confessional, to repentance from sin, to interior conversion and to the personal pursuit of holiness.

Members from two Massachusetts parishes founded Catholics for Inclusion in western Massachusetts in 2018. According to the group's website, its "mission is to become a force for change within the Church, offering our knowledge and experience, to educate, to inform, [and] to bring into being James Martin's vision of a relationship of respect, compassion and sensitivity for all."

Faithful Group Weighs In 

In its statement, the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts criticized the op-ed for its failure to acknowledge 2,000 years of Catholic teaching that condemns sins of "impurity against nature."

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C.J. Doyle

C.J. Doyle, the organization's executive director, stated that while everyone is welcome to repent and seek holiness within the Church, affirming individuals in a lifestyle contrary to Catholic teaching is problematic.

"Like the rest of us poor sinners, those suffering from same-sex attraction are already welcome to the Catholic Church," he explained. "They are welcome to the confessional, to repentance from sin, to interior conversion and to the personal pursuit of holiness."

Doyle added:

When homosexuals say they want to be welcomed in the Catholic Church, what they really mean is that they want the Church to ignore the Bible, abandon natural law, disavow the Catechism and participate in the lie that sodomy is morally acceptable. They want the Church to affirm them in their lifestyle and enable them in their mortal sins.

Doyle suggested that Byrne might naively perceive individuals attracted to the same sex merely as disaffected Catholics grappling with moral issues.

He contrasted such a view with what is actually happening, namely, that the homosexual movement is a highly organized and revolutionary group. According to Doyle, this movement is dedicated to dismantling Christian morality, undermining religious freedoms and silencing or marginalizing supporters of traditional moral values.

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"It has already succeeded in deforming marriage, imposing itself on the St. Patrick's Day parades in Boston and New York and using the courts to punish Christian businesses that refuse to service same-sex ceremonies," Doyle noted.

In Massachusetts, Doyle highlighted a Catholic high school that was compelled to pay a settlement to a homosexual staff applicant. The applicant had agreed to the school's mission statement, but he was later involved in a legal case where a Superior Court judge ruled that the school had discriminated against him for violating its moral code.

Doyle concluded that, regardless of Byrne's intentions, his joint op-ed unmistakably signals a gradual alignment of the Catholic Church with secular society's values regarding homosexuality.

Dissident Group Weighs In

The dissident pro-sodomy group New Ways Ministry also weighed in on the op-ed. 

"The joint statement from Bishop Byrne and Catholics for Inclusion testifies powerfully to how church leaders and lay people can make our Church a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people by collaborating," said Francis DeBernardo, the group's executive director.

Referencing the Vatican's ongoing Synod on Synodality, which has been criticized by faithful Catholics as "toxic," DeBernardo continues, "Their statement is a true example of how a synodal Church can expand its horizons and seek to right past wrongs and exclusions. How to welcome LGBTQ+ people arose persistently in synodal discussions worldwide, and Pope Francis' message to welcome 'everyone, everyone, everyone' has been pervasive." 

Church leaders and lay people can make our Church a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people.

DeBernardo commended Catholics for Inclusion for what he termed the group's proactive and ideological contributions that predate the synodal conversations. He said that now is a time "to praise the efforts of all the laity" who have "persistently and gently ... called on their leaders to welcome LGBTQ+ people into church, not as a special exception but as an obligation of our call to be Catholic."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." In paragraph 2357, the same catechism explains that homosexual acts "are contrary to the natural law," "close the sexual act to the gift of life" and "do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity." 

The paragraph concludes: "Under no circumstances can they be approved."

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