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LEXINGTON, Ky. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A pro-gay speaker was given a speaking platform at a retreat for priests this week.
J.R. Zerkowski, executive director of pro-LGBT dissident group Fortunate Families, gave the presentation, titled "Ministering to Our LGBT Brothers and Sisters," to priests of the Lexington diocese.
Church Militant obtained a copy of the schedule for the diocese's 2019 Priests' Assembly. The schedule lists Zerkowski giving his presentation at 7 p.m. on Monday — making it the first of four "sessions" during the two-night event.
The retreat for Lexington clergy took place Monday through Wednesday this week at St. Meinrad's Archabbey in southern Indiana — a Benedictine monastery and retreat center that also houses a seminary for priestly formation and a school of theology.
Church Militant reached out to the diocese of Lexington for comment but received no response as of press time.
In a previous speaking engagement, Zerkowski told a crowd of Catholic school students that "homophobia" is evil.
"Homophobia is a sin," Zerkowski told a youth summit at Lexington Catholic High School in January 2018. "You don't believe in sin? Then let's just say that homophobia is wrong. It's akin to murder. It's akin to killing. Often, it's nothing less than terrorism, given a different name."
He then said, "The worst part is that it's a slow killing. Kill the spirit of another person repeatedly, until there's nothing left."
"No matter your religious beliefs," Zerkowski opined, "you cannot properly reconcile homophobic behavior with God, or with being a human person. Yet, too often, homophobia is cloaked in religion, as a way to justify itself taking the dignity of a person, made in the image of a common Creator."
He went on to tell three stories about young people at Catholic schools who felt marginalized for being gay, including the story of a young man who stayed "in the closet" in high school and contemplated suicide.
At an inter-religious immigration protest in February 2017, Zerkowski read aloud the closing prayer.
Pro-gay Jesuit Fr. James Martin has spoken highly of Zerkowski and Fortunate Families. He said in a social media post in November 2018 that he was "delighted" to meet with Zerkowski, adding, "I was so moved to hear about all the many ministries they are doing throughout the church."
"I was especially moved," Fr. Martin continued, "to hear how they are helping to make so many LGBT young people, who sometimes feel deeply unloved and even unworthy of love, to feel welcomed and respected in their own church."
Zerkowski is listed as being involved in "Music," "Interfaith," "LGBT Ministry" and "Stewardship" at St. Paul Catholic Church in Lexington — a parish known for trumpeting pro-LGBT messaging and leftist causes.
For instance, the parish's latest Sunday bulletin had a quote in large letters on the front page accusing some pro-lifers of being merely "pro-birth."
During pride month in June 2018, rainbow-themed pro-LGBT signage was put on display in front of the church.
The diocese of Lexington is headed by Bp. John Stowe. In April 2017, Stowe spoke at an event for New Ways Ministry, a dissident pro-gay group condemned by Church leaders.
In late June this year, Bp. Stowe issued a statement on the occasion of LGBT "pride" month that read in part, "There are so many things which can divide us, let's all come together in the recognition that we are wonderfully made and we are made to reflect the glory of God."
When controversy arose about video that appeared to show students from all-male Covington Catholic High School teasing an elderly Native American man following the March for Life in January, Bp. Stowe was one of many Catholic leaders to throw the boys under the bus.
But when further video evidence vindicated the high-schoolers, Bp. Stowe doubled down, condemning their actions as racist and un-Christian.
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