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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Kentucky bishop is one of several clerics and religious scheduled to participate in a pro-LGBT symposium sponsored by New Ways Ministry, a dissident Catholic group censured by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Bishop John Stowe of the diocese of Lexington is scheduled to participate in the group's eighth annual symposium, called "Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis," being held April 28–30, 2017 in Chicago.
New Ways Ministry is notorious for demanding changes in Church teaching on the morality of same-sex relations, the normalization of so-called transgenderism and ordination of women to the priesthood.
Stowe, a Franciscan, was consecrated last year and is the third bishop of the diocese of Lexington. New Ways Ministry applauded his August speech to the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, where he condemned, among other things, so-called judgmentalism towards the divorced and civilly remarried, and the Church's treatment of homosexuals and transgenders:
And genuinely living our religious calling as prophetic also aligns us with the marginalized within the church: GLBT persons, our sisters in religious life who insist that the interior life is more important than the external signs and who fall under suspicion when they attempt to listen and give voice to other women, those who have failed at marriage and tried again, and so many others who long to have Jesus stand next to them as they wait in line to be cleansed.
Afterwards he advises his listeners:
For every blunt statement of doctrine and categorical condemnation uttered by the Church, may religious men be willing to stand with the sinners and gently walk with them on the path of conversion. For every pronouncement about intrinsic evils and disordered sexuality, may religious men be ready to wipe tears and heal wounds and help to rediscover goodness and dignity. For every insensitive reaction to circumstances or perceived threats, may religious men bring the fruit of contemplation and discernment of the Spirit's movement.
Also scheduled to attend is Fr. Bryan Massingale, a professor at Jesuit Fordham University and former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He is expected to speak on "Pope Francis, Social Ethics, and LGBT People."
He has accused the Church of abandoning so-called transgender Catholics. "My personal ignorance is also shared by the Church as a whole," he claimed.
He went on to say:
This ignorance leads to fear, and fear is at the root of the controversies in today's so-called "bathroom wars." And there lies a major challenge that transgender people endure and that the faith community has to own: the human tendency to be uncomfortable and fearful in the face of what we don't understand. It's easier to ridicule and attack individuals we don't understand than to summon the patience and humility to listen and to learn.
Also present will be well-known dissenters Bp. Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit and Sr. Simone Campbell. Gumbleton has been advocating homosexuality for years and is the go-to speaker for New Ways Ministry events, while Campbell, a dissident nun, has been advocating a liberal form of social justice with her "Nuns on the Bus" program.
The event website lists 26 religious orders and congregations endorsing the symposium, including Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines, the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of St. Joseph and others.
Popular Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin accepted an award by New Ways Ministry in October for his constant support of homosexuality. He criticized Catholic language regarding same-sex attraction, which the Church calls "objectively disordered."
"[F]or most LGBT people it is deeply offensive," he complained. "Imagine being told that a deep part of you, the part that feels love, is disordered."
In 2010, Cdl. Francis George, then-head of the USCCB, warned Catholics about New Ways Ministry. "Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination."
He further declared, "I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States."