We’re always very quick to send letters of dismay but I ask you to take the time to send a note of encouragement to Fr. Gordon Mann and Deacon Ed Wilkerson. They made a decision with the love and care of their parishioners in mind and I’m reasonably sure they will continue to be rebuked for it. It must be hard to be new to a parish, find something in error, and try to fix it. You can find their email addresses here: http://stsmaryandjohnparish.org/about-the-parish/meet-our-staff/
After 12 years at St. Mary’s Downtown, Rainbow Catholics in Christ in search of new home
By Megan Erbacher of the Courier and Press
“It’s not “us against the church,” according to John Radez.”
Um, really? What is it? My guess is that you think it’s the Church against you. Not one Church document says that.
But faced with what some members described as an “impossible choice,” the Rainbow Catholics in Christ (RCC) are searching for a new meeting place after calling St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Downtown Evansville home for the past 12 years.
Why is it that this is an impossible choice? Is it because your group’s intent is not to encourage its members to live according to Church teachings?
RCC acting secretary Bill Muller wrote an email in February to RCC members notifying them they could no longer utilize the church.
“We are so sorry to inform you that after extensive discussion Father (Gordon) Mann and Deacon (Ed) Wilkerson determined that the Rainbow Catholics in Christ Ministry is no longer welcome to exist at Sts. Mary and John Parish. Father Mann said we are not operating in compliance with the Roman Catholic Church rules.”
That’s not quite how it went down, is it? Fr. Mann pointed out that the RCC wasn’t following Church teachings and he encouraged them to adopt the model of Courage/Encourage and what happened? They decided that following a group which ministers to them with authentic Catholicism was an “impossible choice.”
RCC members describe the group as an LGBTQ support group also open to friends and family members. They meet once a month for fellowship and informative presentations, and traditionally start and end the meetings in prayer.
This year’s agenda lists presentation topics including LGBTQ advocacy; fairness in employment and housing; and human sexuality and spirituality.
Well, they pray. They must be adhering to Church teachings, right? Every time I hear things like this I think: “Matt 7:21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
This doesn’t mean that this group is following authentic Church teaching in any manner. Protestants do the same thing, right?
According to Radez, a member of the group, the RCC leadership team was told by the Rev. Gordon Mann, pastor of Sts. Mary and John Parish, that they would not be allowed to meet at the church unless the format of the group changed. A suggestion was made to change to the Courage/Encourage format.
Established in 1980 in New York City, Courage’s website describes it as Catholics who “experience same-sex attractions and who are committed to helping one another to live chaste lives marked by prayer, fellowship and mutual support.” Courage has five goals and 12 steps modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and aims to help members “grow in self-understanding and holiness.”
Encourage was founded in 1992 for parents, family members and friends of the LGBTQ community.
So let me get this straight. A group in conflict with the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church on morality and sexuality, and who doesn’t encourage it’s members to adhere to that teaching would not be allowed to meet in a Catholic Church facility. Hmmm…sound darn genius to me! You know what’s sad? It’s sad that this is news at all.
Mann declined to comment on the situation.
“You know, I’m not going to comment, at all,” he said.
Good for him! He’s not going to bring further scandal to the fact that this was even allowed in the first place.
Catholic Diocese of Evansville spokesman Tim Lilley responded with a statement:
“The Church’s respect for the dignity of every person as created in the image of God has remained consistent throughout time. Outreach to people across society — including the LGBT community here in the Tri-State and across the world — continues to be founded in that respect for the sacredness of every person. All are welcome.”
The statement also referenced a December 2013 Indiana bishops pastoral statement on the church’s position on marriage being “the union of one man and one woman — a natural institution established by God.”
The statement concluded by noting the church will “continue to reach out to all, and to respect the dignity of all.”
Listed under new business in Feb. 22 pastoral meeting minutes, parish pastoral council member David Nelson addressed RCC’s departure which, according to those minutes, happened during a team meeting in mid-February.
“The team presented their program calendar for 2016, and after review and discussion, it was determined that speakers/topics proposed were contrary to the mission of the supportive role of the group, and instead the group had become political in nature,” the minutes stated. “Its politics could not be supported by a nonprofit entity, nor did they coincide with the teachings of the Catholic church.”
Not sure where the politics comes in but we can totally understand why Fr. Mann wouldn’t think that they didn’t coincide with Church teachings. I’ll address this after dealing with this story.
Mann suggested RCC members research Courage/Encourage to learn more, but members disagreed and “the meeting abruptly ended.” Meeting minutes later noted that Mann, after discussing it with the diocese, declared that Courage/Encourage is “not the right program for Sts. Mary and John at this time.”
Sounds like the diocese probably wasn’t enjoying any light falling on this subject since this church had indeed been allowing the group to meet for 12 years. Big mistake and now they have to deal with repercussions of that bad move. Experience usually shows that it’s easier to revoke permission and let tempers cool before starting a whole new program that is going to be hassled off the bat.
However, Mann said the parish must ensure Catholics of any orientation feel welcome.
“The Catholic church supports people with same-sex attraction and does not consider them second-class citizens,” the meeting minutes read.
Never heard that before– except for on a regular basis. By the way, I’m curious as to who released the minutes of the meeting.
RCC members said they have endured scrutiny since the Rev. Steven Lintzenich retired in early 2014 after serving as St. Mary’s pastor for about 30 years.
30 years?! There’s a reason this usually isn’t done. Poor Fr. Mann. Sounds like he’s dealing with decades of improper catechesis.
For example, group members looking at the church website noticed the “T” standing for transgender had been removed from the group’s mission statement that had been posted on St. Mary’s Catholic Church’s website. The group never authorized such a move.
It’s a parish group. Whatever happens is at the discretion of the pastor. This silly notion that Church groups are served by the pastor needs to end. It’s the polar opposite.
After the dismissal in early February, about 25 RCC members met at Evansville Central Library to discuss next steps. A majority agreed the group needs to continue.
The group had a regular meeting Thursday evening at St. Lucas United Church of Christ with Rev. Phil Hoy as guest speaker.
Rev. Lynn Martin, pastor of St. Lucas UCC, said it was a natural instinct to offer free space for the group’s meetings. Martin, who has been at the Protestant church for 11 years, said many groups outside of the church use their space.
“We feel the space needs to serve others,” he said, “especially to welcome groups that are oppressed or under represented.”
So, a group in conflict with Church teachings goes to a Protestant Church? Hmmm…
Martin has known Wally Paynter, Tri-State Alliance president and current acting RCC leader, for many years and helped with Tri-State Alliance initiatives. In the past, Martin has been a guest speaker at RCC meetings.
Yeah, Google Tri-State Alliance. It’s a who’s who of dissident Catholic groups and here’s something you are not going to believe! Rainbow Catholics in Christ is listed there.
Late fall 2014, Martin said St. Lucas UCC declared they were open and affirming, meaning everyone of any sexual orientation is welcome and accepted. He said the church lives by Luke 6:35: “Give without expecting a return.”
Martin said the church wants to be a “safe haven” for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s our way of fulfilling the mission of Jesus, if he were here,” he said.
Moral relativism as usual. A Church is supposed to lead people to the will of God. Not the will of themselves.
Paynter, who has been involved with RCC since the beginning, said he is leading the group through the transition because the leadership team has shifted as a “direct result” of what’s happened at St. Mary’s. Paynter has presented at RCC meetings on topics such as working with LGBT youth, HIV issues and acceptance in the Tri-State and community. While the group doesn’t always agree on everything, Paynter said it’s a “good, eclectic group of people and probably more friends and family of LGBT individuals.”
If the format of the group changed, Paynter said he feels it would shift from support to “spiritual and psychological harm.”
There it is ladies and gentlemen. The Church, according to Paynter, causes spiritual and psychological harm. All this time I thought that was sin.
“I feel like people just really feel hurt, torn down,” he said. “Something that was so vital to who they were as Catholics and as individuals and to have that group treated in this way — I think people need time to heal.”
Who hurt you and tore you down? The guy reiterating Church teaching and urging you to follow it? Get a stinking clue. The Church doesn’t revolve around you and your sins any more than the Church revolves around me and my sins. Sin is sin. You’re afraid to say that.
A new home could go a long way in doing just that, said Kelley Coures. As a Jew, Coures said he didn’t want to comment on someone else’s religion, but the City of Evansville’s Department of Metropolitan Development executive director said he always had “warm feelings” toward St. Mary’s.
Oh, well let’s just ditch reality and truth for the warm feelings. That should serve everyone better.
Coures presented at RCC over the years on topics including LGBT history locally and in the U.S., and LGBT individuals in film. He hopes the group continues its work.
Yeah, that ought to bring people to salvation. This makes me so angry. Souls are in jeopardy but let’s teach everyone about their “culture.” People, we are not defined by our sin. I don’t want to be labeled anything other than faithful. If we’re going that way we’re going to start having to label everyone by their sin. Let’s have Glutinous Catholics, Slothful Catholics, Prideful Catholics– after all, these are our natures. Face it. We are all Catholics with sinful natures in need of God’s mercy. We can fight against that sin or we can just throw our hands up in the air and talk about how we are so oppressed. The only thing oppressing us is sin.
“My mother always said, ‘If somebody doesn’t want you, you move on and find somebody who wants you,’ ” he said. “The group has an option to go and find a place that wants them and will celebrate them. They have an opportunity to grow into something else, but I’d hate for them to lose their Catholic identity.”
And it’s really all about you and you wanting acceptance of your actions which are contrary to the faith. Everyone and their pastors have said that you are to be treated with dignity as a child of God. We totally accept your struggle but we do not accept your sin any more than I’d accept a sinful act from a child I love dearly. It’s spiritual death for you and I don’t want that for you. Neither does Fr. Mann.
With many mixed emotions, RCC members are considering a new, permanent meeting place. And contemplating a name change.
Radez isn’t mad. He’s disappointed and hurt.
Being raised Catholic, Radez was drawn to St. Mary’s about six years ago because of the parish’s well-known progressive and ecumenical reputation.
Well, you know what? I’m glad your fellow co-parishioners got to feel so progressive and ecumenical while they rubberstamped the homosexual lifestyle. Hope they feel really good about themselves because that’s all that matters. Sigh.
“My issue is not so much confrontational with the church or anything,” Radez said. “Mine is more disappointment. The church is missing an opportunity to minister to people who need it. By pushing people away from the table, marginalizing people, the church is missing a golden opportunity to minister. … Which is completely contradictory to what Christ would have done. He invited all of the sinners to the table.”
No, what the Church has done is to offer to minister to the people correctly and in a manner that gets you to heaven. Yes, Christ dined with sinners. ANYONE catch the part about “go and sin no more?” ANYONE? How about that part about millstones or how hard it is to get to heaven? Nah. Let’s just think happy thoughts.
So, I bet you’re probably wondering why the Fr. Mann felt they weren’t in line with Church teachings. As usual, I gave a little tug on the info blanket and it’s unraveling. I now know more about this group than I care to and Fr. Mann was quite correct in trying to get them to embrace the Courage/Encourage model. Rainbow Catholics in Christ embrace the “rainbow” mentality far more than the Catholic end. As you will see, they are affiliated with members of New Ways Ministry. We all know by now that New Ways does not have the blessings of the Church. In case you don’t, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/new_ways_ministry_not_approved_by_catholic_church_cardinal_george_states/
Chicago, Ill., Feb 14, 2010 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- The New Ways Ministry for homosexual Catholics does not present an authentic view of Catholic teaching, Cardinal George has said. Rather, it confuses the faithful about the Church’s efforts to defend traditional marriage and to minister to homosexual persons.
Why do I say they are affiliated with New Ways? In short, past events like this one https://www.questia.com/newspaper/1P2-36264653/rainbow-catholics-in-christ-plans-weekend-retreat which brought in New Way’s darling Sr. Marian Durkin. https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/tag/sister-marian-durkin/
New Ways Ministry is not trying to teach the LGBTQXYZ crowd the authenticity and beauty of the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality and how to help people with same-sex attraction to embrace that. They seek to undermine it. They go with moral relativism. You know, a heresy. Somehow I don’t think
Did you notice this part of their retreat announcement?
The meetings maintain a strict element of confidentiality but are open to everyone in the LGBT community, “not just members of St. Mary’s,” said Pam Thoren, who was among the founding members of the organization. Do you find this description in other parish support groups?
According to their mission statement, “Rainbow Catholics seek to ease the pain of alienation and rejection and to promote reconciliation between the church and any individual oppressed because of sexual orientation.. to educate ourselves and our church community to the existence of unexamined prejudice as well as the consequences of injustice.. (to build) bridges of cooperation and understanding within and outside the church community.”
The Church is not alienating them. They may be alienating themselves from the Church by their moral actions but the Church welcomes all. The Church most certainly is not oppressing anyone. She is trying to save their souls. This is what that little group Courage/Encourage is all about but, as you will see, they’re not interested in that.
How about this description of the group? http://www.examiner.com/article/evansville-catholics-support-gays
Every third Thursday of the month, a group of Evansville Catholics, called Rainbow Catholics in Christ (RCC), meets to support its gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. The group welcomes all members and supporters of the gay community who wish to stand together in Christ. RCC intends to educate the church community, as well as those outside the community, about the harm of discrimination and to embrace diversity. Participants of RCC are provided a safe place to openly discuss issues within the gay community and where the Bible actually stands regarding homosexuality. All individuals are asked to maintain confidentiality.
Most Catholic Churches teach that homosexual acts are violations of divine and natural law. Because of these teachings, many people are turned away from the Catholic Church feeling unwelcome and disconnected from the faith. RCC provides a place of worship for those seeking faith in a welcoming Catholic Church. The group provides guidance and assistance with a modern Catholic perspective for individuals, parents, families and friends struggling with issues regarding sexual orientation.
Um, I’m pretty sure the Bible actually stand exactly where the Church says it stands. Believe me, people, the more you look the worse it gets. What the heck is a “modern Catholic perspective”? I kinda thought the perspective of the Church is what is found in her teachings on the subject. Silly me.
Lastly, during my research, I ran across this letter to the editor. It once again proves that this group has done nothing to bring its parishioners to Church teachings.
Rejection of Rainbow group leaves parishioner without a church
For years, St. Mary Catholic Church in Downtown Evansville has been known as a safe space for all people, including LGBT+ Catholics. This is no longer the case. The Rainbow Catholics in Christ group, which ministered to LGBT+ Catholics, was recently rejected by the church’s new pastor, Father Gordon Mann.
Father Mann claims that RCC’s teachings are not in compliance with the Catholic Church’s teachings. However, RCC ministered openly for twelve years with the knowledge and consent of multiple pastors. Furthermore, how can a group which teaches that God loves all people be against God’s teachings? As 1 John 4: 7-8 says, ” … everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”
So the group must be OK because it was there for 12 years? Yeah, because organizations that were really, really wrong have never been in existence for that long. Also, honey, pleases see the “Lord, Lord” verse referenced above.
I was baptized and raised in the St. Mary community. Until this year, I had always found it to be a welcoming safe space. As soon as I was old enough, I participated in many ministries, from greeting people at the church doors to teaching First Communion classes, because I wished to contribute to this wonderful mission of God’s love. Due to the church’s change of heart, I have had to resign from my multiple ministry positions. As I said in my resignation letter, “I cannot in good conscience continue to teach at a parish which excludes. Even if I do not explicitly teach exclusion, by remaining a First Communion teacher, I would be complicit in such exclusion.
Short letter and already we’ve said “safe space” twice. So annoying. Can I please remind you that Christ died on a cross? People are dying all over the world for the faith and you think people feel threatened because people don’t accept homosexual acts? Safe spaces aren’t the priority of the Catholic Church. How many saints are there and how many of them were martyred? Bringing souls to Christ through authentic teachings of Christ as put forth by the Church is the Church’s mission. By the way, I am soooooooooo thankful that you quit your position teaching children. Maybe a few of them will be saved from the “safe space” mentality.
I am currently in search of a church which will be more reflective of God’s all-encompassing love. In the meantime, I encourage anyone who is grieving about this change, as I am, to reach out to groups such as the Tri-State Alliance; the TSA has information on the future of RCC and other LGBT+ ministries. All people are created in God’s image. All people deserve an inclusive worship space.
No, honey, all people deserve to be guided in the authentic, reality based teachings of the Church. The teachings of the Church are aimed toward all and truly include everyone. Nobody gets special “snowflake” status because they want to keep sinning. Again, that’s called moral relativism. Look it up. Understand it and get a grip on reality before it’s too late.