MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, August 14, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – In a strongly worded statement, an archbishop made it clear that a retreat for gay priests, brothers and deacons to be held in his archdiocese is neither endorsed by him nor does it reflect the teaching of the Catholic Church.
“This event is not in line with Catholic Church teaching and is in no way connected to or endorsed by the archdiocese,” declared Milwaukee’s Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, “and New Ways Ministry is not a Catholic organization.”
The planned October retreat “for gay priests, brothers and deacons” is scheduled at a retreat center operated by the Racine Dominican Sisters and sponsored by dissident, pro-LGBT New Ways Ministry. It will be led by Fr. Bryan Massingale, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee now teaching at Fordham University in New York.
Listecki said “no permission was requested for such a retreat to be held in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee” and had he been asked, he would not have granted permission. “I was not contacted – even out of courtesy or respect – by the Dominican Sisters, the leadership of the Siena Center, or by Fr. Massingale.”
In other words, those hosting, sponsoring, and leading the retreat completely circumvented Church authority in planning the event.
Archbishop Listecki noted that word of the retreat had caused confusion within his diocese.
“A number of people have called and written to me asking me ‘to stop this retreat,’” said Listecki. “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.”
Gay priests: identity crisis
It is one thing for an ordained man to deal with same-sex desires, doing so in a similar way that any man (ordained or not) has to learn to integrate his sexuality in a healthy and holy manner, consistent with the Gospel call to joyful respect of human dignity. It is a very different thing for a priest to identify himself as, and see himself chiefly through the lens of “gay,” because doing so means that this one facet of his personhood has the potential to become the dominant way that he, as a priest, will shape his behaviors and lifestyle, over and above his sacramental identity.
Fr. Reesman continued:
For the ordained Catholic priest, or for a man in vows, or also for a deacon, our most fundamental identity is our union with Christ’s own ministerial mission. Nothing else can get in the way of that core reality. “Gay priest” is a confusing and incoherent label that is heavily laden with potentially dangerous internal contradictions as well as external mixed messages for our Catholic faithful.
I do not know the nature of the content that is going to be offered during this upcoming retreat for “gay priests, brothers, and deacons.” However, I find it difficult to believe that any retreat that intentionally adopts such a misleading title, a title that is also in contradiction to our most effective pastoral practices, can bear positive fruit.
The healthiest sexually integrated persons that I know who experience same-sex attraction reject the title of “gay” because they believe it is a diminishment of their full personhood, and of their joyful freedom in the grace of Jesus Christ. Any cleric who experiences same-sex attraction is wise to adopt the same reluctance about such an unhelpful and limiting term. Any retreat that encourages the embrace of that term is in great danger of operating in opposition to the authentic message of the Gospel.
Earlier this year, pro-gay Jesuit James Martin promoted the upcoming retreat for gay priests, brothers and deacons.
Please take time to commend Archbishop Listecki for his strong stance opposing the retreat while making Church teaching clear:
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee