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  giulio napolitano /

SARAJEVO, August 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In July, Pope Francis sent a three-page letter “blessing” and endorsing a Catholic ethics conference co-organized by Jesuit Father James Keenan, a public promoter of same-sex “marriage.” The conference featured many feminist and pro-LGBT speakers.

“I have appreciated this effort of yours from the beginning, when the members of your planning committee visited me in the Vatican last March,” Pope Francis wrote.

One of the many pro-LGBT speakers at that conference was Father Charles Curran, a long-time dissident priest, especially concerning the teaching of Humanae Vitae. A promoter of homosexuality, he finally lost his teaching faculties in the 1980s.

The conference was the third international Catholic ethics conference “A Critical Time for Bridge-Building: Catholic Theological Ethics Today.” It took place in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina from July 26 to 29. This conference was convened by the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC), a global network of 2,000 theological ethicists and practitioners.

The Jesuits had a leading role in the establishment of this conference, which was organized by CTEWC founder and current Boston College professor Father James Keenan, S. J., Professor of Theological Ethics Kristin Heyer, and Father Andrea Vicini, S.J.

In spite of the fact that Father Keenan, the key person of this event, is himself a public dissenter concerning the Church's teaching on homosexuality, Pope Francis – in his July 11 letter – endorsed the conference. The gathering hosted many feminist and pro-LGBT speakers, among them an open homosexual affiliate of Boston College.

In his three-page letter addressed to the conference, the Pope refers to the personal audience he granted to its organizers back in March of 2017. He stressed, “the theme of your meeting is one to which I myself have often called attention: the need to build bridges, not walls.” In the face of various “forms of regression,” the Pope continued, “we are called to recognize every sign and mobilize all our energy in order to remove the walls of division and to build bridges of fraternity everywhere in the world.” In light of the current problems in the world such as immigration, the Pope says that there “is need for individuals and institutions capable of assuming a renewed leadership.”

Pope Francis welcomes and praises this conference's idea of creating more networks, in support of which he wrote, “I find insightful your proposal to create a network between persons on the various continents who […] can devote themselves to ethical reflection in a theological key in an effort to find therein new and effective resources.”

As it seems, Pope Francis is helping here to establish an intellectual network of progressive left-wing theologians and ethicists who would assist him in building up a resistance against some of the more reactionary or conservative developments in the world. Kirstin Heyer, one of the three main organizers, is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump's stance on immigration. Pope Francis continued to praise this germinating network, saying, “With such resources, suitable analyses can be carried out, but more importantly, energies can be mobilized for a praxis that is compassionate and attentive to tragic human situations.”

The Pope refers back to his own recent Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, in which he was highlighting “the urgent need for ‘networking’ between those institutions worldwide that cultivate and promote ecclesiastical studies” (No. 4d). By exercising such networking, the Pope says, the participants of the conference “will learn ever better how to be faithful to the word of God which challenges us in history, and to show solidarity with the world, which you are not called to judge but rather to offer new paths, accompany journeys, bind hurts and shore up weakness.”

The Pope further endorsed all of this arguably left-wing network's work by stating, “your various initiatives, publications and teaching activities, have taught you a style of sharing which I trust you will pursue in a way that will prove fruitful for the entire Church.”

In his letter, Pope Francis thanks those who are now leaving their current leadership positions within the network – among them Father Keenan himself – and promises to pray for its incoming leaders.

“To all of you I cordially impart my blessing, and I ask you, please, to pray for me,” he writes in conclusion.

Conference features dissident pro-homosexual speakers

With this public praise of this conference and its organizers, Pope Francis effectively endorses many dissenters from the Catholic Church’s teaching. Both Father Keenan and Father Curran are supporters of same-sex “marriages,” with Curran having expressed his support for homosexual couples as early as the 1970s. Keenan provoked the indignation of Pope St. John Paul II’s biographer George Weigel when he stated in 2003 that the interdiction of same-sex “marriage” “is contrary to Catholic teaching on social justice.”

Among the speakers, donors, and organizers of the conference were not only these two public dissenters from Catholic doctrine, Curran and Keenan, but also many participants of an earlier Jesuit-sponsored event, namely the controversial May 25, 2015 Day of Studies in Rome. That gathering prepared heterodox arguments for the second Family Synod in the Vatican with Father Alan Thomasset, S.J. (Paris) and the secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference Father Hans Langendörfer, S.J, who had himself organized that 2015 event in Rome. Thomasset argued at that 2015 event for the “softening of the objective sinfulness” of homosexual acts, as well as certain forms of contraception.

Stephan Goertz, one of the most outspoken supporters of putative Church blessings for homosexual couples – he even wonders whether they should not have their own sacramental character – was also among the speakers of that papally praised 2018 event in Sarajevo.

Craig A. Ford, Jr., a doctoral candidate at Boston College, has publicly spoken about his own homosexuality. In 2017, he bemoaned the fact that “we, as queer and LGBTIA-identified Catholics” often “find that our lives and our loves are denounced both formally and informally in diocesan newspapers and during Catholic homilies.” Thus, he advised such homosexual and gender-confused Catholics to stay away from the confessional: “In these instances, we are wise to avoid the confessionals as well.”

However, he added: “But where we can find Catholic communities that affirm our lives and our loves, confession becomes a place of great healing and recommitment.”

Among the 500 attendees from 80 countries were these speakers:

  • Julie Hanlon Rubio, US: “#MeToo, #ChurchToo: Time for a New Conversation on Sex”;
  • Feminist Marianne Heimbach-Stein (Germany): on Borders and the Common Good
  • Tina Beattie, UK, who spoke on “‘Groaning Together in the Pains of Childbirth’: A Gendered Critique of Laudato Si.’” Beattie was earlier banned, in 2014, from Church property in England because of her promotion of the LGBT agenda.
  • The pro-LGBT group InSect  

Another promoter of the homosexual agenda who was present at that conference is the Italian theologian Martin Lintner. He also proposed in 2017 adapting the Catholic Catechism to the new teaching of Amoris Laetitia. And indeed, the organizers of the July 2018 conference in Sarajevo, when personally meeting with the Pope in 2017, assured him that they would also talk about his document Amoris Laetitia.

As they reported at the time: “We also shared with the pope ways in which we have engaged our membership to disseminate and promote the reception of Amoris Laetitia across various contexts.” They added that the Pope thanked them for their work: “he concluded our time together by saying 'thank you for your work, and thank you for your courage.'”

Among the team members who had then visited the Pope were not only Father Keenan, but also Kristin Heyer, Toni Ross, as well as Linda Hogan. Hogan is the author of a 2015 article in defense of same-sex “marriages,” which she wrote during Ireland’s debate and vote on that subject.

Cardinals Cupich and Turkson funded, participated in Sarajevo conference

This group of people found an open door in the Vatican. As they wrote in 2017: “Because we are hosting our third International Conference of CTEWC in 2018 in Sarajevo, we decided to build bridges with many Roman/Vatican institutions. We had lengthy meetings with the leaders of three universities (Gregorian, Alphonsianum, and Urbanium), the Cardinal Prefects of 6 Congregations, Father General Arturo Sosa of the Society of Jesus, and finally, on St. Patrick's [Day], with Pope Francis.”

They list additionally the following curial members that they met: Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, at the Congregation for Catholic Education; Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, of the Congregation for Religious Life; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, of Propagation of the Faith; Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, of the Congregation for the Laity, Family, Life; Cardinal Peter Turkson, of the Dicastery of the Service of Integral Human Development; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, of the Pontifical Council of Culture.

Both Cardinal Turkson and the U.S. Cardinal Blase Cupich participated in the recent July 2018 conference in Sarajevo. Cupich and Turkson also funded the event, with Cupich using funds of the U.S. Bischops’ Conference. Boston College and the Jesuit Conference of the United States and Canada were among the donors, as well.

In its final statement, the conference spoke about a new order: “Our prophetic task is not simply one of critique, but also one of announcing and describing a new order, a new covenant, a new future.” At the conference, Cardinal Cupich vaguely called for “transformation” when he said: “[P]art of the action you need to take must always involve empowering the people to trust in their ability, in their creative capacity to bring about transformation.”

In light of the fact that Cardinal Cupich is now heavily embattled with the scandal of a cover-up of sex abuse in the U.S. – as is Pope Francis himself – this conference might now have a deeper meaning, namely: Pope Francis and high-ranking prelates have publicly promoted and participated in a conference whose speakers who openly defy the Catholic Church's moral teaching, especially concerning marriage and homosexuality.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.