Indiana workshop examines Catholic church's relationship with homosexuals

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Vatican's July 31 condemnation of legalized same-sex marriage and the Episcopal Church's approval of its first openly gay bishop resonated at a small Roman Catholic workshop on liberalizing the church's approach toward homosexuals.

The workshop, attended by a dozen people, was led by Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, based in Mt. Rainier, Md.

Referring to the Episcopal decision, DeBernardo said, ''I hope that some day a Catholic bishop will feel comfortable enough to acknowledge a homosexual orientation. That will help gay and lesbian Catholics and will help the entire church understand the whole issue of homosexuality.''

DeBernardo said most Catholics know the church opposes same-sex activity but not that it teaches respect for homosexual orientation and inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Catholic community, defends human rights and condemns prejudice.

''We need to minister to these people and not make judgments,'' said the Rev. Justin Belitz, a Franciscan in Indianapolis who works with gays and lesbians.

The organization has a poor relationship with Rome. The Vatican four years ago directed a priest and a nun to sever ties with the ''gay-positive'' organization, saying it undermined church teaching.

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