Vatican City, Dec 7, 2021 / 12:40 pm (CNA).
Officials at the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops have removed a link to New Ways Ministry from a resource page after they became aware that the U.S. bishops’ conference expressed its disapproval of the LGBT outreach ministry in 2010.
Thierry Bonaventura, communication manager of the General Secretariat, told CNA on Dec. 7 that the link on the website synodresources.org had been taken down.
Writing on his Twitter account on Dec. 6, Father James Martin, S.J., had hailed the link as “a small but historic step forward for #LGBTQ Catholics.”
Martin, the author of “Building a Bridge,” a book advocating stronger ties between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community, wrote: “As Pope Francis has said, all voices must be heard at the Synod…”
New Ways Ministry was founded in 1977 in the Archdiocese of Washington by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, who were the subject of a notification by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999.
The notification, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, said that their positions “regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination are doctrinally unacceptable because they do not faithfully convey the clear and constant teaching of the Catholic Church in this area.”
In 2010, Cardinal Francis George, then president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement emphasizing that New Ways Ministry “has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.”
Bonaventura told CNA that synodresources.org is an initiative of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for sharing resources among dioceses, bishops’ conferences, and official Catholic organizations.
But he noted that the website’s address does not end in “.va,” the internet country code top-level domain for Vatican City.
“It means that the content published doesn’t express the view of the General Secretary of the Synod or of the Vatican,” he explained.
“At the same time, even if we are open to receiving any useful resources without a particular censoring of the material, it is our desire to welcome inputs from officially recognized organizations by the Catholic Church.”
“In this case, my team was not aware of the situation of the New Ways organization and of the clarification given by the USCCB President in 2010.”
The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is currently overseeing what has been described as one of the largest consultation exercises in human history, ahead of the 2023 Synod on Synodality.
A handbook released by the Vatican in September urged dioceses to include “all the baptized” in the process, including those on the margins of Church life.
It said: “Special care should be taken to involve those persons who may risk being excluded: women, the handicapped, refugees, migrants, the elderly, people who live in poverty, Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith, etc.”.
The Vatican announced in May that the Synod on Synodality would open with a diocesan phase starting in October 2021.
A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.
The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.
The “About” section of synodresources.org says that the website is “a platform for sharing resources, stories, and experiences in the journey of the Synod 2021-2023.”
Bonaventura said: “At the same time, you have to be aware that we are studying the way to listen to all the faithful and also those organizations who are not officially in communion with the Catholic Church as it is a question of consistency of the message we want to spread out, but synodresources.org is not that place.”