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LEXINGTON, Kentucky, August 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-homosexual dissident 'Catholic' groups see in Pope Francis’ ‘changing’ of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty the hope that the Church will one day also change its teaching against homosexuality. 

New Ways Ministry called the change in the Catechism proof that “Church teaching can change.”

“It’s important for Catholic advocates for LGBT equality to take note of this change because for decades Catholic opponents of LGBT equality argued that it is impossible to change church teaching.  They often pointed to the fact that condemnations of  same-sex relationships were inscribed in the Catechism, and so were not open for discussion or change. Yet, the teaching on the death penalty is in the Catechism, too, and, in fact, to make this change in teaching, it was the text of the Catechism that Francis changed,” the group stated on its website. 

New Ways Ministry, which works to “promote the acceptance of LGBT people,” said that Pope Francis' move will help advance “LGBT equality” in a number of ways. 

“First, we now have a clear, explicit contemporary example of church teaching changing, and also a look into how it can be done: with a papal change to the Catechism,” it stated. 

“Second,  we can see that the process that brought about this change has been decades of theological debate and discussion, and not just a papal whim.  That means the theological and even ecclesial discussions and debates right now about LGBT people have great potential to shape future changes in church teaching in regard to those topics,” it added. 

The pro-gay group was not the only one to see the significance of Pope Francis' rewrite of the Catechism. 

In a post that appeared yesterday on Twitter, Lexington-based “Fortunate Families” wrote: 

The church cannot change its teaching. That is what so many others say about other topics, for example regarding LGBTQ persons. But doctrine develops. Today’s news is a sterling example. 

“The idea first floated by [the] Pope on Catechism’s 25th anniversary last fall to signify development of doctrine,” the tweet continued, “rescript issued today sees Francis issue edit of the 1994 official text, now deeming capital punishment ‘inadmissible’– the new formulation.” 

“Development of doctrine”, legitimately used to describe how the Catholic Church refines and expands, but never undermines or rejects, what was taught earlier, has now been interpreted by some to mean the erasure of settled Church teaching. 

Critics say Pope Francis attempted to do that yesterday when he promulgated a new teaching concerning the death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, saying that it was “inadmissible.” The perennial teaching of the Church, based on Scripture and unanimously accepted by the Church Fathers and every pope until Francis, is that legitimate civil authority may impose the death penalty on a malefactor. Although both Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI were strongly opposed to capital punishment–and John Paul’s Catechism strongly circumscribed it–neither pope denied this principle.   

Pope Francis’ innovation has already become a club for American liberals to beat conservatives with. Jane Fleming Kleeb, Chair of the Democratic Party in Nebraska, has tweeted “Let's be clear Nebraskans, @GovRicketts is going against the teachings of the church. We can change leaders by voting different on Nov. 6–Democrats are against the death penalty.” 

Fortunate Families, founded in 1992 by Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata, the Catholic parents of a same-sex attracted man, is a group of Catholic religious and laypeople who dissent on authentic Church teaching regarding sexuality and marriage. From 2010 until this July Fortunate Families was part of a coalition with Call to Action, the banned Dignity, and the censured New Ways ministry. 

Astonishingly, since November 2017 Bishop John Stowe, OFM of Lexington has served as the dissident group’s “ecclesial advisor”. Stowe is one of the five bishops who have endorsed Fr. James Martin’s pro-LGBT book Building a Bridge. The bishop was appointed to the Lexington diocese by Pope Francis in 2015. 

Fortunate Families was last in the news when a Lexington Catholic church stretched an LGBT flag across its front lawn. The first executive director of the group, Stan “JR” Zerkowski, is a parishioner at St. Paul’s parish, and told media that he hoped the banner got wide publicity. 

“This is a church that is open to all people and I hope this sign gets that across,” he said in the TV report. “I don’t think a Catholic Church has ever had a sign like this before in front of it during Pride Week or any other time. However, in other parts of the country we see this regularly.”  

The banner read “LBGTQ+ Catholic /Family, Friends & Allies/all are welcome”, insinuating that at other Catholic churches Catholics who experience same-sex desires or suffer from gender dysphoria are barred from the worship of God.  

Former homosexual Joseph Sciambra retweeted the group’s Twitter message, saying “Bishop Stowe’s ‘Fortunate Families’ believe that the [Catechism of the Catholic Church] will also ‘change’ in terms of homosexuality. FF operatives are embedded within several dioceses around the US.” 

Sciambra, a survivor of the San Francisco 1990s “gay scene”, is dedicated to helping people with same-sex attractions avoid being trapped in what he says is a dangerous way of life.