LGBT Catholics and their roles and responsibilities in the Church's ministries examined at daylong conference


The care of souls: Sexual diversity, celibacy, and ministry

Image: Paul Lakeland"What are the challenges of the baptismal call to ministry in the lives of LGBT Catholics and how can a more positive and fruitful situation be created." - Paul Lakeland, Director of Center for Catholic Studies, Fairfield University

What: The final event of the four-part series entitled More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church will address the roles and responsibilities of Catholics who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in the Church's ministries. The focus will be on both lay and ordained Catholics at The Care of Souls: Sexual Diversity, Celibacy, and Ministry, a daylong conference to be held at Fairfield University on Saturday, October 29.

Where: Fairfield University, Dolan School of Business, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT (Conference streamed live at on day of event.)

When: Saturday October 29, 2011, 9:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Full conference schedule below.)

Who: Speakers will include:

  • Mark Jordan, Harvard Divinity School, author of The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism and Telling Truths in Church: Scandal, Flesh, and Christian Speech, among many others.
  • Sr. Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, author of Building Bridges: Gay & Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Churchand Voices of Hope: A Collection of Positive Catholic Writings on Gay and Lesbian Issues.
  • Rev. Donald Cozzens, writer-in-residence at John Carroll University in Cleveland, OH, author of Freeing Celibacy, Faith That Dares to Speak, and Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church.

Why: All Christians through baptism are equal members of the Church. How is this equality realized in ministry to LGBT Catholics, and how do their human experience and their gifts enrich the whole community of faith? How are the celibacy of clergy and the Church's sanction of celibacy on LGBT people relevant to this discussion? How do they work for and participate in a church that denies them an essential element of themselves? What are the special challenges they face in their responsibilities towards the whole community of faith, and what are the special graces they bring to pastoral ministry?

In describing the conference, Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University and the organizer of the conference stated:

The Catholic Church has large numbers of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender laity engaged in pastoral work in the Church and many gay clergy. But the official standpoint of the teaching Church makes their status as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender problematic for individuals, their communities, and the Church. This creates conflicts and tensions for many, while hiding the fact that all Christians contribute to Church life because of, not despite who they are. So at the "Care of Souls" conference we will be examining the challenges of the baptismal call to ministry in the lives of LGBT Catholics and looking at how a more positive and fruitful situation can be created.

Fairfield University Conference Schedule

9:15-9:45 a.m.
Registration, coffee etc.

9:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m.
First Plenary Session: Mark Jordan, Harvard Divinity School:
"Imagining a Hierarchy that Wanted to Change Teachings on Homosexuality"
Respondent: Elizabeth Dreyer, Fairfield University

11:00 a.m.
General discussion

11:30 a.m.
Lunch break

12:15 p.m.
Second Plenary Session: Sr. Jeannine Gramick, New Ways Ministries:
"Lesbian Nuns: A Gift to the Church"
: Jamie Manson, Columnist, National Catholic Reporter

1:15 p.m.
General discussion

1:45 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
Third Plenary Session: Rev. Donald Cozzens:
"Gay Ministry at the Crossroads: The Plight of Gay Clergy in the Catholic Church"
Respondent: Gerard Jacobitz, St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia

3:00 p.m.
General Discussion

3:30 p.m.

3:45 p.m.
"More Than a Monologue: Looking Forward": Panel and general discussion

4:45 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

Media contact: Roberta Sklar, (917) 704-6358

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on October 26, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 97

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