The U.S. bishops have said that a new booklet advocating “marriage equality” for same-sex couples by a self-identified Catholic group strongly contradicts Church teaching.
In “no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. said March 11, The cardinal was specifically referring to a new pamphlet released by the controversial New Ways Ministry – an organization that claims Catholic support for homosexual “marriage.”
The booklet titled “Marriage Equality: a positive Catholic approach” was authored and released this month by New Ways Ministry’s executive director Francis DeBernardo.
DeBernardo argued that the “full” Catholic position on same-sex “marriage” is not represented solely by bishops within the Church.
“When dealing with lesbian and gay issues, a relatively new area of Church discussion on which
there is so much debate,” DeBernardo wrote, “the bishops may not yet be able to discern what the Catholic community believes.”
The booklet also claimed that “Catholic tradition” allows for laity and theologians within the Church – some of whom support allowing marriage for same-sex couples – to have equal say and authority on the issue.
Cardinal Wuerl, who heads the Committee on Doctrine for the U.S bishops' conference, reacted to the pamphlet by stating that New Ways Ministry is not “in conformity” with Catholic teaching and that the group should refrain from even identifying itself as Catholic.
Cardinal Wuerl also reiterated his support for the position of the previous U.S. bishops’ conference president Cardinal Francis George, who stated in February of 2010 that the organization is not Catholic and does not speak for the Church.
New Ways Ministry, based in Mount Rainier, Maryland, describes itself as a “gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice.” Cardinal George noted in his Feb. 12 statement last year that since its founding in 1977, “serious questions” have been raised about the group's adherence to Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
In 1984, New Way's founders – Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Fr. Robert Nugent – were barred from continuing their activities in the Archdiocese of Washington.
That same year, their superiors ordered them to separate themselves from the organization. The two resigned from leadership posts but continued their involvement until 1999, when the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that because of “errors and ambiguities” in their approach, Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual individuals
Cardinal George said New Ways Ministry’s “lack of adherence” to Church teaching on the morality of homosexual acts was the “central issue” in the censure of its founders and continues to be its “crucial defect.”