“Let’s Talk” Programs are Not About “Dialogue”

Catholics, both as individuals and collectively as faith communities, must welcome everyone. This is our obligation as Christians. The loving God we worship and his son Jesus Christ would never tell anyone, “You are not welcome in this parish, at mass, or in this Church.” This is as it should be.

But being “welcome” as a member of a parish or as an attendee at mass isn’t good enough for some Catholics in the “LGBT community” or their parents, it seems. They want to be “accepted”—meaning that they want Catholic parishes—the entire Catholic Church—to accept homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism as “normal.” This also means accepting same-sex “marriage.”

In all likelihood many Catholics who are members of the “LGBT community” and/or Catholic LGBT support groups will be spending these next few months leading up the October Synod trying to convince anyone who will listen that Church doctrine on sexuality is hopelessly archaic. Margery Eagan, spirituality columnist at The Crux, has already signaled this intent in her recent essay “Anti-gay bias: Is this really where the Church wants to be?” wherein she writes:

At the warp speed at which attitudes are changing, the Church may soon become the major defender of anti-gay bigotry in the world, standing almost alone with aged evangelicals and the most repressive governments on earth.

If the Supreme Court gives a green light to same-sex “marriage” in June, it’s also a good bet that such efforts will intensify. Catholic parishes throughout the United States may start hearing a lot more from Catholic LGBT organizations like Equally Blessed and its partner organizations Dignity USA, New Ways Ministry, and Fortunate Families, and a new organization called Caring Catholic Families.

Spending some time perusing the websites of these groups should be enough to convince anyone that their agenda goes beyond educating, ministering to, giving voice to, and supporting LGBT Catholics. The goal of these organizations, whether stated or not, is nothing less than to change Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

This became perfectly clear at the “Let’s Talk” event that was held recently at one parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit featuring speakers from Fortunate Families (FF) and Caring Catholic Families (CCF).

According to the announcement of the event in the parish bulletin:

The “Let’s Talk” program is an outreach program offered by Caring Catholic Families in response to Pope Francis’ request for dialogue among ‘all levels’ of the Church, in preparation for the October 2015 Synod of Bishops.

The purpose of the program is to begin dialogue in our local faith community about gays, faith and family, and their pastoral care. We hope to share some understanding of the loved experience of our LGBT loved ones, and the social and scientific dynamics that might bear on that experience. A main topic of the conversation is: what does it mean to be gay—and Catholic? What does it mean to the parent, and the child? The goal of this program is to provide information, education, and sincere conversation.

Note the use of the term outreach program as a descriptor. Society views outreach programs as good activities that provide a valuable service to people who may not otherwise have access to certain kinds of services. Calling this program an “outreach program” was clearly tactical.

While “Let’s Talk” programs are organized by CCF, they were developed by a former Fortunate Families board member, according to the announcement in the bulletin. The genesis of CCF is a bit mysterious but its connection to FF is evident. In fact one might suspect that CCF is really just FF with a new name—a move possibly aimed at countering unfavorable publicity FF has received. Two of the CCF presenters at the “Let’s Talk” event were leaders of an FF chapter that tried to host a meeting featuring New Ways Ministry (NWM) speakers at Christ the King Catholic Church in northwest Detroit. (NWM has been censured by the Vatican following a lengthy investigation of the group by the late Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit.) When word got out that NWM had been invited on to Church property, the organizers were politely told the meeting needed to be moved to an offsite location.

The same two individuals are also outspoken supporters of gay civil unions and marriage. They again made the news after announcing that they planned to continue receiving communion even though the local archbishop had released a statement saying that Catholics who support gay unions or marriage should abstain from receiving communion.

On the day of the “Let’s Talk” event, out of a parish of almost 10,700 members only about 45 people showed up, presumably to “dialogue.” They were told that an agenda for the event had been submitted to and approved by one of the auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese. But they also discovered that the presenters had another agenda that, in all likelihood, had not been shared with any church authorities.

The program consisted of an hour of presentations by the CCF/FF representatives followed by a break, followed by another hour of Q&A and discussion.

The presentations started by identifying the various LGBT support groups. This was followed by slides showing statements from the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Mental Health Association on gender theory, sexual orientation, homosexuality, lesbianism, and bisexuality, along with statistics from surveys on LGBT issues.

Everything that was presented was aimed at garnering sympathy for those who identify as LGBT—that people who are homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered are “born that way” and are victims of prejudice and discrimination. As one of the presenters said, “God made us the way we are.” Then came the news that this is changing and that surveys now show that society is accepting of gay sexuality and approves of “gay marriage.”

The presentations also included two emotional and heart wrenching testimonies—one by a young man who recapped a youth spent trying to hide his homosexuality and how he finally came to terms with it as an adult, and the second by one of the leaders of the local FF chapter describing how he discovered and came to terms with his only son’s homosexuality.

As soon as the presentations concluded it became evident that the parishioners in attendance were not buying what CCF was selling. Just as the break was being announced, one of the attendees interrupted and asked why there was no mention of Church doctrine regarding homosexuality in any of the presentations or slides. The reply from one of the presenters was that the purpose of the program was to discuss how to make members of the LGBT community feel welcome in the Church, not to discuss doctrine.

Given what had been presented this answer was not well received by most of those in attendance. Before the break was finally called a good 10 to 15 minutes of somewhat heated discussion took place during which it became clear that the purpose of the “outreach program” was to convince attendees that Catholic doctrine on homosexuality was wrong, and in order for parishes to be “welcoming” they needed to “accept” homosexuality as normal.

Following the break, the “dialogue” took up where it left off, with the CCF presenters continuing to try to convince the attendees that homosexuality was both moral and normal. Statements made by the CCF presenters about homosexuality being socially accepted and “intrinsic,” were however countered by audience members pointing out that even though today’s morally relativistic society accepts homosexuality, Church doctrine is well-founded, and scientific evidence does not support claims that it is genetic or intrinsic.

The final 20 minutes or so of the program were occupied with comments from the attendees attempting to answer a question the pastor posed: What’s the next step, where do we go from here?

The response to the question that best summed up the feelings of the parishioners attending was that further dialogue at the parish level with representatives from CCF is pointless if CCF’s aim is to convince people that homosexuality is normal. Holding meetings under the guise of “dialogue” that are really aimed at furthering the LGBT agenda, is, in a word, deceitful.

One other takeaway from the meeting, voiced privately by a certified Catechist who was in attendance, is also worth mentioning. It appears, she said, that many Catholics who are homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered have convinced themselves that God did indeed “make them this way” and that there is nothing wrong with how they are living their lives. That the parents of these individuals love their children very much is also obvious. But this love for their children is compounding the moral dilemma they face because it is causing them to put their love for their children before their love of God and the Truth. Others may further ask whether their parental love is properly expressed in the approval of their child’s harmful lifestyle.

Orthodox Catholics should be wary of outreach programs like “Let’s Talk.” If any of the organizations mentioned here manage to convince your pastor or parish council that a Let’s Talk-type program is a good idea, be sure to attend and make sure you don’t show up empty handed. Make sure you have the latest research on homosexuality with you to counter the often spurious claims that may be made by presenters. Two good articles that may be helpful can be found here and here.

Gene M. Van Son

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Gene M. Van Son decided to put his journalism degree to good use after 35 years in the automobile industry. He is a cradle Catholic who attended a Catholic grade school, high school and university. He’s been married for over 40 years to the love of his life, and they have three adult sons. A number of his articles have appeared at AmericanThinker.com and CatholicStand.com.

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