NACHE Drops Bishop Newman As Keynoter
When NACHE (the National Association of Catholic Home Educators) convenes their annual convention in June it will be without Most Rev. William Newman, auxiliary of Baltimore, originally scheduled as keynote speaker. The bishop, a homosexualist (i.e. one who promotes acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle), was cancelled after Les Femmes provided documentation of his support for the gay agenda. Newman gained praise in gay circles for an advent homily delivered at St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Severn, MD on December 10, 2000. (Read the full text at www.stbernadette.org/bishop1200.htm.) “I feel like John the Baptist,” the bishop said, “a bridge connecting the Church Community with you, the gay and lesbian Catholic Community. And Cardinal Keeler and Bishop Bennett add their support….It is a recognition of you already an integral part of our Church. Through the grace of Baptism all of us together are one body in Christ.”
The bishop described John’s call to repentance and forgiveness. It could have been an introduction to Church teaching on homosexuality and he might have urged the congregation to chastity. But no, the sins he had in mind were those of the Church. “I lead the Church Community in seeking the forgiveness of our loving God for the sins individually and collectively the Church has committed against the gay and lesbian community.” He itemized these “sins” asking for forgiveness for “the times we have stripped you of your human dignity…the times we have not accepted you for who you are…the times we have deprived you of…opportunities [to reach full potential].” The homily ended with a quote from the controversial document AOC (Always Our Children) developed by a committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops with input from Fr. Robert Nugent, who was censured by the Vatican in May 2000 for promoting the gay lifestyle. Those undermining Church teaching on human sexuality invariably quote AOC rather than the Catechism or doctrinal statements describing homosexuality as “disordered.”
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NB expressed grave concern about AOC shortly after its release. “The majority of America's Catholic bishops were allowed nothing to say…. Still less were they permitted any suggestions or comments about the "advisers" and consultants used by the committee, who, by their own boasting and the ordinary ‘rumor mill,’ have been detected to be people whose qualifications in this area of moral conduct are highly questionable. The document…is founded on bad advice, mistaken theology, erroneous science and skewed sociology. It is pastorally helpful in no perceptible way.” (Voices Magazine, Winter-Spring 1998)
The document is useful, however, for convincing parents to accept their children’s evil choices. Retreats and evenings for gays, their parents, and friends have popped up all over the country, often based on the false compassion AOC expresses. Among the presenters is Bishop Newman who regularly offers “evenings of dialogue” (one on March 1st), with Fr. Nick Cieri, the pastor of St. Bernadette’s. The parish is notorious for its “open-minded” welcome to the gay community. St. Bernadette’s proudly professes support for “gay pride” and their website boasts the rainbow flag, gay symbol signifying rejection of Church teaching and the demand for lifestyle acceptance. Wearing the “rainbow sash,” gays have disrupted Masses at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., St. Patricks in New York City, and elsewhere. As the fish symbol identified the early Christians, the rainbow and pink triangle have come to identify gay activists who claim sodomy, same-sex “marriage,” and other perversions as rights.
On February 2nd the Washington Post ran an article titled Congregations Reach Out to Welcome Gays to the Fold. Among the churches described was St. Bernadette’s whose lay minister, Ann McDonald, leads programs apologizing to homosexuals and lesbians and welcoming them to reclaim their place in the Church. “We have people who haven’t received Communion for 40 years, who were told they were sinful,” she told the Post’s Mary Otto. “That was wrong.” Was it? Are the homosexuals who attend St. Bernadette’s challenged to live chastely? Not a chance! Among the events planned for the parish gay group are participation in “Baltimore Pride,” a celebration of the gay lifestyle, and hosting the regional conference of NACDLGM (National Association of Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries) a group consistently working to alter Church teaching on the immorality of gay acts. NACDLGM California has been very successful promoting gay approval in Catholic high schools where students are encouraged to “come out.”
The gay community’s reaction to Bishop Newman’s homily was enthusiastic to put it mildly. The National Catholic Reporter, well-known for its dissent, gushed in a March 23, 2001 editorial that “The talk is significant because, in a church where language such as ‘objectively disordered’ should be applied to no one, Newman speaks lovingly and inclusively of gay and lesbian Catholics.”
The St. Joan of Arc parish website in Minneapolis, MN includes excerpts from the bishop’s sermon in an article about Ron Joki, a member of the parish who lives with his “life partner,” Jay Pearson. Among his other activities in the parish Joki “guides and instructs the communion volunteers, each Sunday, at the 9 o’clock Mass.” A photo of Jay and Ron carrying St. Joan of Arc’s banner at the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, and Transgendered) Pride Parade accompanied the article. Both St. Bernadette and St. Joan of Arc apparently have little concern for scandal or for sacrilege against the Holy Eucharist.
The gay community’s reaction to Bishop Newman’s homily was enthusiastic…
NACHE’s connection to the Baltimore diocese caused a firestorm in 1997 when they invited Cardinal William Keeler to keynote the convention in the midst of a serious scandal in his diocese over explicit sex ed. In the ensuing battle Seton Home School, the largest Catholic curriculum provider in the world, was banned from the NACHE convention (See THE TRUTH, vol. 7 # 1, Just Say No to Homeschool Guidelines, on our website). Fr. Hardon, whose name is featured prominently on NACHE’s website as their spiritual advisor, attempted to mediate the dispute to have Seton reinstated. The NACHE board refused. At a retreat in 1998 Fr. Hardon was asked about the split in the homeschool community. He said NACHE no longer sought his advice or spiritual direction. Many homeschoolers do not trust NACHE to defend their interests. Those who protested the invitation to Cardinal Keeler in 1997 were criticized for distrusting bishops, a naïve position affirmed by subsequent scandals in the Church. This latest false step does nothing to restore confidence. Newman’s cancellation is welcome, but he should never have been asked.
Eileen Miller, a homeschooling mother of four from Gaithersburg, contacted Les Femmes to express her grave concern over NACHE’s action. Mrs. Miller has a lesbian sister-in-law about whom she cares deeply, but her first concern is her children. “We need to keep our children safe from thinking this is okay,” she said. “We have chosen to severely limit our four young children’s relationship with her as this very grave sin promotes showing physical affection to the wrong people. If our children were to establish a close relationship, they would certainly come to agree that homosexuality is even a good thing. This is gravely wrong!” Mrs. Miller found Bishop Newman’s homily scandalous. “They say, ‘we welcome you into the Church,’ but always leave out the part that [homosexual sex] is a sin. Instead they say it’s the Church’s sin, and that’s not the case.” Catholic doctrine teaches that the Church is indefectible; she cannot err, a truth apparently lost on Bishop Newman and Ann McDonald.
If nothing else the recent sex scandals in the church should make the faithful vigilant in promoting Church teaching on chastity. Tolerance of homosexual behavior threatens the very fabric of our culture. ZENIT news service reported in mid March that five states are debating legal recognition of same-sex unions, and in Boston, seven gay couples are suing for the right to marry. “Behind this activity is a well-planned national push to expand homosexual rights, explained the Globe [the Boston paper]. The first step is to achieve the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. The second is to challenge the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which says marriage can only be between one man and one woman, and allows one state to refuse to recognize a homosexual partnership that is recognized in another state.” (Zenit.org, Weekly Analysis, March 15) Bishops who aid and abet this cultural shift by separating “compassion” from the truth that homosexual acts are evil, seriously undermine the faith. They must be challenged on every front, particularly by organizations that claim to represent and defend the family.
Tolerance of homosexual behavior threatens the very fabric of our culture.
Out of this concern, Les Femmes contacted NACHE on March 13th alerting them to the problem with Bishop Newman. Two days later all names of speakers and vendors for the June convention had been removed from the NACHE website. After a second contact board member Miki Hill sent a brief e-mail on March 17th saying the board was “taking action.” Later the speaker’s list reappeared with a new keynote speaker. We asked for more information and whether Bishop Newman would participate in any other capacity, but NACHE did not respond.
We applaud the decision to drop Bishop Newman, but NACHE’s action demonstrates once again an uncritical attitude to the hierarchy that is irresponsible. At best NACHE is clueless, at worst they enable unfaithful shepherds. We cannot recommend NACHE. An alternative is the Immaculate Heart of Mary conference, June 13-14 at the Hilton Hotel Conference Center, Dulles Airport. Visit their website at http://www.ihmconference.org/.