By Tim Waggoner

TOLEDO, Ohio, May 5, 2009 ( – Bishop Leonard Blair of the Diocese of Toledo has forbade a gay-friendly “Catholic” ministry from presenting a workshop on gay and lesbian ministry at the Sisters of St. Francis’s convent in Tiffin, Ohio, reports the Toledo Blade.

Bishop Blair, who was recently commissioned by the Vatican to investigate the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization representing 95% of the nation’s nuns, sent a letter to the head of the Sisters of St. Francis, Jacquelyn Doepker, requesting that she cancel the workshop that was scheduled for May 1. 

“The positions of New Ways Ministry are not at all in accord with the guidelines for pastoral care which the bishops of the United States issued in 2006 regarding ‘Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination.’ Nor does New Ways Ministry present the full, authentic teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality,” said the bishop.

Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, which describes itself as “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics,” was “very disappointed” by Bishop Blair’s decision, asserting that “the work we do’s in line with the best of the Catholic tradition”, and feels a “misconception” must have led to the cancellation of the workshop.

But New Ways Ministry has in the past been condemned by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for refusing to adhere to the Church’s teaching regarding “the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination.” A brief investigation of several press releases found on the organization’s website proved they still do not adhere to Catholic teachings on homosexuality.

One such release written by DeBernardo called, “Catholic Voters Urged to Protect Same-Sex Marriage  Laws”, urged Catholic voters in last year’s election, “to oppose any electoral measures which attempt to ban same-sex marriage laws.” (

Despite being disciplined again by the Church, DeBernardo has promised that his pro-homosexual workshop will take place in Toledo, saying “We might not be able to use a Catholic facility, but we’ll reach Catholic people.”