VATICAN CITY – A recent lecture given by a high-level member of the Vatican Synod of Bishops to a dissident American organization has been criticized as “simply false” and is part of a concerted effort to influence the current World Synod on synodality in order to legitimize the homosexuality agenda in the Church.
Xaviere Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart, under-secretary at the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops responsible for coordinating all the episcopal synods, delivered a PowerPoint presentation online at the New Ways Ministry, which promotes gay and transgender rights in the Church, on April 3. The topic was “Synodalism – a path of reconciliation” – a discussion of the current synod on synodality that runs until October 2023.
The presentation, billed as a memorial lecture, was in honor of the late Salvatorian Father Robert Nugent, who along with Loretto’s sister Jeannine Gramick founded New Ways Ministry in 1977 to care for gay people in the Church. Sister Jeannine led the opening prayer before the conference. Both Father Nugent and Sister Jeannine were disciplined by the Vatican in the 1990s because of flaws in their approach to ministry to gay people.
Presenting Sr. Nathalie’s talk, New Ways Ministry executive director Francis DeBernardo said he was “especially thrilled” to host her and “delighted” with the presentation. Sister Nathalie said it was a “great joy” to address the organization but made no mention of her problematic past with the Church.
Instead, she focused on how to live synodality “as a spirit of listening and dialogue” and said the “main protagonist” of the synod is the “Holy Spirit.” A one-minute silence was observed so that participants could listen to what the Holy Spirit was saying to them before she went on to explain that synodality is about acknowledging personal wounds, the reality of situations, and that it “ begins with reconciliation and forgiveness”.
The French missionary sister invited the participants, who according to New Ways Ministry numbered 1,000 from 37 countries, to share in a nutshell what synodality means to them. They responded with words such as “welcome”, “acceptance”, “justice”, “solidarity”, “dialogue”, “affirmation”, “peace”, “hope”, “community”, “encounter” and “together”. “.
Sister Nathalie frequently alluded in her talk to the Youth Synod as paving the way for greater acceptance of pro-homosexual communities within the Church, and spoke of a “remarkably LGBT-positive document” from a pre-synod meeting of young people which itself had contributed to the coordination.
Dissenting Opinions of New Ways
The Church has never officially endorsed the New Ways ministry due to its failure to uphold Catholic teaching regarding the disorderly nature of homosexual activity. In 1999, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) “permanently bannedFather Nugent and Sister Jeannine “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an indefinite period, for any office in their respective religious institutes”.
The judgment came after “repeated attempts” failed to get Father Nugent and Sister Jeannine to comply with Church teaching on homosexuality. “The ambiguities and errors in the approach of Father Nugent and Sister Jeannine have sown confusion among the Catholic people and harmed the community of the Church,” reads the CDF memo.
According to what Sister Jeannine said last year, her thoughts did not change.
In 2010, after New Ways Ministry supported same-sex “marriage,” Cardinal Francis George, then Archbishop of Chicago and president of the American Conference of Catholic Bishops, signed a statement saying that his work “only confuses the faithful”, as it negates central aspects of Church teaching. He said he therefore had “no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church”.
Pope Francis took a markedly different approach, refusing to censor the pro-‘LGBT’ organization and instead praising it for its work. Last December, he sent Sister Jeannine a handwritten letter congratulating her for “50 years of closeness, compassion and tenderness” in a ministry with homosexuals which he described as “in the way of God”.
In December, the Synod of Bishops placed New Ways Ministry videos on the Synod’s resources page on synodality; he later deleted them after learning of Cardinal George’s statement in 2010, but within 24 hours he restored the videos, apologizing that the decision had “brought pain to the entire LGBTQ community who, once again, felt excluded.
Legitimize the “LGBT” agenda?
Responding to the conference, Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, told the Register that it was “not appropriate for a member of the Synod of Bishops, representing this high-level advisory body in the Church , speaks to an organization that disagrees with the teaching of the Church on the homosexual condition, on homosexual acts, and to express the idea that the Church can somehow come to terms with these positions contrary to its education.
He stressed that the teaching of the Church on homosexuality “is immutable because it comes directly from the Scriptures and is faithfully taught in the magisterium.” Giving such a lecture, he added, was therefore “simply wrong”.
Riccardo Cascioli, editor of the Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, said “it seems to me that, from the beginning, one of the objectives of the synod on synodality has been to legitimize the LGBT agenda within the Church”. He noted, for example, that Sister Nathalie did not address a group that deals with people with homosexual tendencies in accordance with Church teaching, such as Courage and Encourage Internationalbut rather a “condemned” by the CDF.
“The gesture is therefore disruptive and indicates the willingness of Church leaders to embrace the LGBT agenda, with all the dramatic consequences for the magisterium,” Cascioli told the Register, adding that “LGBT claims would force a review of the whole doctrine of creation”. , as well as biblical exegesis.
He also saw it as part of a “veritable bombardment” of pro-“LGBT” statements within the Church recently, such as those coming from Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is now pushing for the Church approval of homosexual actsand individual diocesan initiatives in various countries, such as the recent decision of the Archdiocese of Turin to ensure confirmation for transgender people, using their new name in the rite.
In February, the synod’s general rapporteur on synodality, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, was criticized for saying that he believed the Church’s approach to same-sex relationships was wrong because the “sociological and scientific basis of this teaching” was “no longer correct”. Before taking office as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech also would have adopted a positive attitude towards the pro-gay agenda.
For these reasons, Cascioli believes that, for pro-homosexual Catholics, the Synod on Synodality “is the great opportunity for the decisive assault on the Catechism” where the pressure is mounting to delete his description of homosexual acts as “inherently disordered”.
He drew attention to a warning issued by a Letter from the CDF to the bishops in 1986 on the pastoral care of homosexual people, in which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the CDF, denounced homosexual lobbyists and urged bishops to be “particularly careful of any program aimed at putting pressure on the Church to change its teaching, even while pretending not to do so”. do it.
Synod spokesperson responds
Thierry Bonaventura, spokesman for the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, said the presentation was one of many invitations Sister Nathalie had accepted in an effort to foster a synodal Church. “There have been many encounters with very heterogeneous groups and realities all over the world,” Bonaventura said.
He then drew attention to paragraph 150 of the final document of the Synod on Youth 2018, which states: “Many Christian communities already offer faith accompaniment courses for homosexual people: the Synod recommends that such initiatives be supported”.
The paragraph goes on to state that “all young people, without exception, are helped to integrate more and more fully the sexual dimension of their personality, as they grow in the quality of their relationships and move towards self-sacrifice. “.
Asked what he thought of the criticisms of Sister Nathalie’s conference and concerns that the synod might be a way to change Church doctrine through synodality, Bonaventura replied, “What would Jesus have done? To what does the Gospel proclaimed each day at Mass testify?
On whether Sister Nathalie or other senior officials would give talks to organizations involved in the synod that are trying to maintain Tradition and orthodoxy but feel excluded from Church life, Bonaventura said, “We don’t want to exclude anyone, but we don’t want to impose ourselves either. If an invitation comes, we’ll consider it, as we usually do.