Sister Jeannine Gramick, left, and Francis DeBernardo, executive director of Catholic gay rights group New Ways Ministry, posed for a photo in front of St. Peter's Basilica after attending Pope Francis' weekly general audience Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
The undercover correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye
, sent me a message by carrier pigeon today from Portland, Oregon, where he was on assignment, saying that he had just spent seven hours
with high-tech surveillance equipment outside the Portland home of an Evangelical pastor who had just had his support pulled over his sympathetic LGBT stance. I telegraphed him back where he was staying at a small B&B next to a Whiskey Hill microbrewery in Yamhill County, saying never mind: John Allen's CRUX
column at the Boston Globe had just posted an article by Kevin Eckstrom on the story.
Undaunted, Noir managed to get someone to telegraph him the Crux story
, about which he carrier-pigeoned me back the following:
Remember, first it is the mantra that "marriage is for men and women only," then comes the revelation that it is also for "good faithful Jesus followers." Tradition comes to be more clearly understood through the Living church. Cardinal Schonborn, call your office a.s.a.p.! You are now a theological long-suffering servant like your heroes De Lubac on von Balthasar... Oh wait, this is only the Evangelicals. It could NEVER happen in Rome!
Phillips said he agrees with the denomination’s position that calls for “celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage,” but said the same standards should extend to LGBT members. Since 2004, the Covenant’s official position has been to not allow gay marriages, and pastors are told that individual beliefs “must never overshadow” denominational policy.
In an interview, Phillips said “there was a clear red line in terms of performing gay marriages, and I was more than ready to uphold that,” but he also said he supports “the invitation and welcome of gays and lesbians into full inclusion of the church, and that includes the invitation to marriage, or the invitation to celibacy.”
Phillips said he was assured “that the Covenant was a safe place for me to hold these personal convictions” before and after he was ordained in 2007, and that wide-ranging discussions would continue.
“The Covenant assured me everything was OK, until it wasn’t,” Phillips said in a video posted to the church’s website, adding that he was “heartbroken” to be told he and his church were no longer “Covenant-compatible.”
“I’ve been on a journey,” Phillips said in the video. “I once believed that fully welcoming and including the LGBT community into our churches could not be reconciled with Christian teaching. These beliefs began to change, however, once I encountered good faithful Jesus followers who happened to be gay.”
Phillips said including LGBT parishioners “was not only consistent with the whole arc of Scripture, but was where the Holy Spirit was guiding the church today.”
God of surprises? But no surprise, really, from the galaxy of Evangel-millenials. But then again, as Noir reminded me, by means of yet another telegram from the Internet cafe next door to a Whiskey Hill, Oregon, microbrewery: there is this
, also from CRUX... Nicole Winfield, "Gay Catholics get Vatican welcome, but no papal shout-out
" (Crux, February 18, 2015):
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican did something it has never done before by giving a group of U.S. gay and lesbian Catholics VIP seats at Pope Francis’ weekly general audience Wednesday... Francis didn’t mention them...
Even without a papal shout-out, New Ways Ministry officials were nevertheless pleased that they had been invited to sit up front by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, the prefect of the papal household who dispenses the coveted reserved tickets for Francis’ audiences. Gaenswein for years has also been the top aide to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. [Inexplicably, Gaenswein is devoted to Benedict XVI, but oddly, w]hen Benedict headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he permanently prohibited the New Ways Ministry co-founders, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and the Rev. Robert Nugent, from ministering to gays after determining in 1999 that they didn’t sufficiently adhere to church teaching on the “intrinsic evil” of homosexual acts. [Liviing Tradition, I guess, or 'That Was Then, This is Now.' Hope and Chnage.] Nugent abided by the directive and died last year. Gramick has continued her ministry, changing religious orders to the Sisters of Loreto, and was on hand for Wednesday’s audience... “Pope Francis gives me hope,” she told The Associated Press. “To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness he has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church.” The group’s executive director, Francis DeBernardo, said New Ways Ministry had tried unsuccessfully under the previous two popes to get VIP seats for its Rome pilgrimages.
This time, the Vatican ambassador in Washington and the archbishop of San Francisco forwarded their requests onto Rome [W-T ... ??], a sign that Francis’ call for the church to be more welcoming to gays has filtered down to local church leaders.
“We didn’t get the shout-out, but we were very, very close,” DeBernardo said.
Then came the call. It was Noir again, on the phone this time. I could tell he was disturbed. I could hear him taking a deep breath before he began:
"Pertinacious Papist? Um ... well, it's two steps forward, three steps back, or vica versa or something like that. It cannot be just me. You'd have to be willfully suspending your critical faculties to not see where this is all heading. But then again, wait: we are talking about a crowd that will run with a phrase like 'hermeneutic of continuity' even if it means swallowing the Resourcement Crowd being caricatured as staunch conservatives or Obama's coopting of the legacy of Ronald Reagan or the idea that No one Can Be More Catholic Than a Pope. How long do you think it will be until Harvey Milk and Ceasar Chavez will be facing bookplates in a USCCB volume on People of Faith and Goodwill?"
I asked him if he was running low on his Prozac. Sometimes it takes desperate measures these days to keep a guy on the straight and narrow.