SAN DIEGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A pro-homosexual retreat led by a dissonant group is scheduled for two parishes in the diocese of San Diego.
The event, called "Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God," is being billed as "a Catholic LGBTQ+ retreat and a Day of Ministry Discernment & Visioning." It will be held at St. Thomas More Church in Oceanside and at St. Francis of Assisi in Vista, on April 25 and 26. No official word, yet, has been promulgated on this by San Diego Bp. Robert McElroy.
The retreat will be led by J.R. Zerkowski, the executive director of Fortunate Families, a dissident ministry that supports same-sex "marriage." It is based in the diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. Zerkowski, in responding to Pope Francis' perceived affirmation of a priest in his homosexuality, once said, "I believe what we are seeing is an evolution of doctrine ... ." He has agreed to be a panelist at "Outreach 2020: Catholic LGBT Ministry Gathering," held at Fordham University.
Fortunate Families is known as a "gay-affirmative," same-sex "marriage" advocacy group founded in 2004 by Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata, the Catholic parents of a son who had same-sex attraction. The Lopatas were influenced by the work of Robert Nugent and Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry, who were ordered by the Vatican in 1999 to refrain from their promotion of sin.
The Lopatas decided to form an outreach specifically targeted to the Catholic parents of LGBT children. In 2003 they published a book called, Fortunate Families: Catholic Families with Lesbian Daughters and Gay Sons. In it, they detail their view on homosexuality and how they believe the Church is erroneous in its authentic interpretation of God's word.
Fortunate Families has supporters among the clergy. In 2017, Fr. James Martin recommended Fortunate Families, and a member of the dissonant group introduced Martin before his address at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in 2018. In 2017, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, who serves as an "ecclesial advisor" to Fortunate Families, spoke at New Ways Ministry's eighth national symposium held in Chicago.
The Foundational Statement of Fortunate Families states: "We recognize that sometimes the conscience of the individual places him [or her] in conflict with articulated Catholic teaching. The resolution of this conflict often includes the proper use of conscience as articulated by the Magisterium."
We earnestly pray for a development of Church teaching on the topic of homosexuality and gender," it adds. "We also earnestly pray that Church officials listen to our experiences and the experiences of our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers."
In 2019, Zerkowski joined Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, a same-sex couple who were among the plaintiffs in the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex "marriage," in a discussion about the Catholic Church and same-sex unions.
Again in 2019, a chapter of Fortunate Families was established at Our Lady of Lourdes, the home Catholic parish of Bourke and DeLeon. When questioned in an interview about why they choose to stay in the Catholic Church, DeLeon noted: "We've been encouraged by peers to leave. ... A lot of people wonder why we stay, but you don't change anything by leaving something. There's no good reason to leave."
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts violate natural law, are intrinsically disordered and can never be approved.
In 2019, St. John the Evangelist in the diocese of San Diego hosted a "pro-gay" Mass in honor of "Always Our Children," a 1997 document issued by the U.S. bishops criticized for softening the Church's teaching on homosexuality. In 2017, McElroy participated in an LGBT Mass that celebrated the 20th anniversary of "Always Our Children."