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Father Bryan Massingale .

LOS ANGELES, California, March 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ recent large-scale religious education gathering (LA REC) continued to feature in this year’s event a number of outspoken dissident Catholic leaders who championed the LGBT agenda. 

One pro-LGBT priest dismantled centuries of Church teaching on sin, claiming sin is a development of the Council of Trent.

“The Religious Education Congress is nothing short of a disaster,” stated one attendee of the March 15-18 event. “With insolent, gay-affirmative priests crying for change, and liberal Ph.D.’s with a soapbox and a bone to pick, it’s no wonder why so many poor and miserable souls are confused about the Church and what she actually teaches.”

Christian Patin, a Catholic husband, father and blogger from southern California attended the Congress expecting to encounter dissent from the Church’s teaching. He said his expectations were fully met.

“This year, just as every other year in recent memory, the conference was armed to the teeth with dissident, problematic, outspoken, unruly leaders of the Church,” Patin said.

“The exhibition hall that was teeming with dissenters and defenders of moral relativism,” he added, “and I waded through the countless waves of nuns in street clothes and priests in anything but clerics – save for a few in collars and some other brave souls in full garb.” 

Patin said amidst the large number of topics included in the three days of workshops, the “glaringly obvious,” workshops with “transgender,” or “gay,” or “LGBT” in the title caught his interest. 

Of the 300-plus presentations at least 10 centered on “LGBT ministry.” 

Controversial Jesuit Father James Martin was on the roster with a workshop on the theme of his pro-LGBT book, which is titled “Building a Bridge.”

“While some of the workshops focused on actual catechesis, which is supposedly the point of Congress to begin with,” said Patin, “many of them set their sights on something else: social change.”

Patin wrote about his experience at the dissent-tinged religious education Congress in a post published by the Lepanto Institute.

One LA REC workshop was titled, “Transgender in Our Schools: One Bread, One Body.”

The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (LA REC) is a huge annual event that has become a notorious venue for dissenters looking to undermine Catholic teaching on life and family. 

The fact the Congress’s speaker roster contained promoters of the homosexual agenda during the reign of extremely liberal Cardinal Roger Mahoney was not cause for surprise. 

The LA REC’s continuation as a hotbed of dissent under Mahoney’s successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, however, has been the cause of alarm and distress for faithful Catholics.

After Mahoney left office in disgrace following revelations of his protection of priests accused of child sex abuse, expectations were high with the 2011 arrival of Gomez, who’d been ordained in the Opus Dei prelature. The perception of Gomez as a conservative fed hope that his administration would mean reversal of Mahoney’s policies. 

But seven years into Gomez’s time at the helm of the L.A. archdiocese, the Religious Education Congress continues to promote the dissident agenda unencumbered, to the great detriment of the Church’s teaching on life and family. 

Presenters’ troubling associations

Among its presenters was Arthur Fitzmaurice, an openly gay LGBT activist who has served as resource director for the dissident Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries (CALGM) group since 2010. 

In 2012, CALGM’s board, including Fitzmaurice, refused to sign an “oath of personal integrity” to Catholic teaching, leading to then Oakland, CA, bishop Salvatore Cordileone to issue a statement saying that the group cannot be regarded as “authentically Catholic” due to their opposition to Catholic teaching.

Fitzmaurice says the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s language calling homosexual acts “intrinsically disordered” “certainly still needs to change. It is gravely evil language.”

The other presenter of the Transgender in Our Schools workshop was Father Bryan Massingale, a professor of theology at Fordham University who openly takes part in LGBT advocacy and is also an supporter for the controversial political Black Lives Matter movement. 

In 2017 Massingale spoke at 8th National Symposium of New Ways Ministry – a “gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics,” according to the group’s website. New Ways’ founders, Sister Jeanine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, were investigated and censured by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999.

The organization advocates for same-sex “marriage” and acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, and has been condemned twice by the USCCB and banned from Catholic venues in several dioceses.

Patin said that in the Transgender in Our Schools workshop, Massingale and Fitzmaurice, “both staunch supporters and advocates of the LGBT movement,” talked about the dire need for “dialogue,” “understanding,” and “acceptance” of homosexual and trans-persons. 

During the presentation, a graphic displaying a “Genderbread Person” was used to illustrate presenters’ theories on gender identity. The gingerbread man-like figure had various parts of its anatomy labeled to denote “gender identity,” sexual orientation, “gender expression” and biological sex.

“With the more specific goal of convincing the audience that they too should be pushing for change in the Church,” said Patin, “they welcomed to the panel of speakers a “trans-man,” called Shen Heckel, and a woman, Peggy Ehling, who is the mother of another “trans-man.”

“Pulling from emotional stories of hatred and intolerance and padding their appeals with the notions of love and mercy, the talk all but condoned the very serious problem of sexual sin in the Church and in the culture,” Patin said. 

“Far from warning against the serious dangers of unchecked gender ideologies, Fr. Massingale denied the validity of such a concern,” continued Patin, “calling the term “gender ideology” a “secular term” which “has no coherent meaning.” 

Rather than defend the Church’s well-established teachings on same-sex attraction and sexual sin, Patin added, Massingale insisted that the Church is “afraid of what they don’t understand.”

Patin said that Massingale’s suggestion that the Church knows nothing — or very little — of sexual sin was perhaps the most scandalous part of this hour-and-a-half presentation. 

Massingale lead another workshop at the LA REC titled, “Sin: From Breaking Rules to Violating Justice.” 

Expunging sin

Most of it was more about social justice than about sin, said Patin. 

“When he did mention sin,” Patin said, “Massingale spent more time talking about how to interpret what sin is than what constitutes sin, or how to avoid it.”

For example, said Patin, Massingale differentiated between a “childhood understanding” and an “adult understanding” of sin, inferring the difference means that rules are more-so for children. 

Aside from dismantling centuries of Church teaching on sin, Patin said Massingale impugned the Baltimore Catechism and the Council of Trent on their understandings of sin, claiming “sin is a development of the Council of Trent.” 

Patin said he was suspicious early in the talk that Massingale would deny the traditional understanding of sin. “I had no idea he would deny the very idea of sin,” he said.

“It would come to light that sin, in Massingale’s world, is merely a breech of contract with God,” said Patin, “and that morality had nothing to do with it until the sixteenth century.”

There were, of course, other workshops provided by the conference he said, including some useful content given by groups like Courage, and some good talks given by speakers like Fr. Mike Schmitz.  

“There were also number of decent vendors and plenty of wide-awake Catholics who were just as disappointed as I was at the out-and-proud attitude of some dissidents who were invited to speak,” Patin said.

Financial backer of the Congress

Patin said he wished that the only problem with the conference was with the speakers, but there also existed a glaring problem with its benefactors. 

“It should sufficiently unsettle you to know that Catholic Relief Services is a major contributor to the REC,” he said. 

Patin noted how Ignatius Press, EWTN, Catholic Answers and Augustine Institute, all regarded as conservative Catholic groups, were located out of the way and in low-traffic areas. 

This was in stark contrast to the prime positions given to CRS, he said. In addition, CRS’ logo was on virtually every Congress-provided piece of merchandise, including the tote bag provided by anyone who bought a ticket – some 35,000-plus attendees.

Patin’s LA REC post drew comment from another attendee of the event.

“I also attended Congress and was very disappointed by the lack of real Church teaching and the overwhelming amount of “social justice” talks,” the female attendee stated. “While Catholic Social Teaching is an important part of our faith, it is just one of many aspects of our faith… and it is also very different than the “social justice” being discussed at the Congress.”

The youth

The woman expressed disillusionment at some of the LA REC’s offering for teens. The Los Angeles’s event presents a whole separate day for youth. 

“What I was even more disappointed in was one of the workshops I attended with a group of teens at Youth Day,” she said. “The speaker was a female “reverend” from another denomination that clearly disagrees with most of our Church’s teachings and was pushing for the teens to change the Church if they don’t agree with it.” 

“While I was able to have some good conversations with my teens afterward about why we believe certain things that they might disagree with,” she continued, “it disturbed me to know that this type of talk was allowed around thousands of impressionable teenagers. Glad I’m not the only one that has an issue with this.”

Patin gave a list of troubling aspects of the LA REC in summation, and remarked on the associated folly.

“In RE-Congress-land, sin is nothing more than an unavoidable condition of man,” he stated.

“To them, sex is an end in itself, gender is fluid and enigmatic, racism and intolerance are the only real mortal sins, love means “mind your own business,” God is only merciful, the Catechism is evil, Trent was an innovation, and the Church has no idea what she’s doing,” said Patin. “Welcome to insanity.”

To respectfully express concern:

Most Reverend José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles 
Office: 3424 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles 90010-2241
Telephone: (213) 637-7534 FAX (213) 637-6510;
email: [email protected]