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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The archbishop of Milwaukee is speaking out against a pro-gay retreat in his archdiocese.
In a letter to Milwaukee parishes on Thursday, Abp. Jerome Listecki condemned the retreat being led by dissident priest Fr. Bryan Massingale. He wrote, "This event is not in line with Catholic Church teaching and is in no way connected to or endorsed by the archdiocese, and New Ways Ministry is not a Catholic organization."
New Ways Ministry claims to be Catholic, but it has been condemned by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and is not allowed to offer any ministry to those with same-sex attraction. It promotes the LGBT agenda and opposes Church teaching on the definition of marriage and the virtue of chastity.
Archbishop Listecki claims he is responding to demands from the laity to cancel the retreat. Listecki says he is unable to cancel the retreat since it never had his permission in the first place:
A number of people have called and written to me asking me "to stop this retreat." I cannot prevent the Sisters from running this retreat, nor Fr. Massingale from leading it. What I can do, to the best of my ability, is share the truth about the teachings of the Church with the Faithful People of God.
Father Massingale is a known dissenter against Church teaching. At the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in 2017, Massingale said that Catholics can disobey Catholic morality in order to "be adults in the Faith and adapt the 'rules' to real-life circumstances in a messy and complex world."
Archbishop Listecki noted that "no permission was requested for such a retreat to be held in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (not that my permission is needed, nor would I have given it) and I was not contacted — even out of courtesy or respect — by the Dominican Sisters, the leadership of the Siena Center, or by Fr. Massingale."
The archbishop's statement cited comments on homosexuality from Fr. Nathan Reesman, chaplain for Milwaukee's chapter of Courage and EnCourage — groups that help Catholics who struggle with same-sex attraction, and their loved ones, respectively.
Listecki quoted a piece by Fr. Reesman on the archdiocese's blog. The post reads, "The best pastoral experience of the Church, as well as our consistent teachings about who we are as persons, point to the reality that it is never healthy or holy to act out on same-sex desires, even in the realm of the merely emotional."
The quote continues, "Much healthier and holier is the attitude that our sexual desires are simply one facet of who we are as persons, rather than making them our dominant marker of identity with a term such as 'gay.'"
In contrast, when a Milwaukee priest came out as gay to his congregation during a homily at Sunday Mass in December 2017, Abp. Listecki actually lauded the priest's decision. Pro-gay Jesuit celebrity priest Fr. James Martin likewise celebrated the parish priest's coming out, while faithful Catholics panned the display.
In a section not quoted by Abp. Listecki, Fr. Reesman noted the ill timing of the retreat in the wake of the #CatholicMeToo movement, saying, "Nerves are understandably very raw at the moment on the part of the lay faithful about any behavior on the part of the clergy that even remotely hints of a normalization of what is immoral, protective, secretive or abusive."
He continues, "At the moment, no one wants to hear about our clergy being anything other than eager to embrace the fullness of the Church's teachings on sexuality and joyful celibacy."