Clarification Regarding Upcoming Retreat
A letter from Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki went out today to our parishes, clarifying some of the questions about the archdiocese’s involvement in an upcoming retreat being held in Racine. Since questions about the connection of the retreat to the archdiocese, of which there are none, have spread farther than the parishes, we thought we would share this with you as well:
In the past few days, there has been some confusion regarding a retreat that is taking place within our Archdiocese. With so many inquiring if this retreat is directly connected to the Archdiocese, which it is not, I felt obligated to clarify.Published:2018-08-09
As the Church teaches, all individuals with same-sex attraction must be treated with understanding, compassion and support. A retreat for “gay priests, brothers and deacons” has been scheduled at the Siena Center in Racine, operated by the Racine Dominican Sisters, sponsored by New Ways Ministries and led by Fr. Bryan Massingale, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, who now teaches at Fordham University in New York. This event is not in line with Catholic Church teaching and is in no way connected to or endorsed by the archdiocese, and New Ways Ministry is not a Catholic organization.
In addition, no permission was requested for such a retreat to be held in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (not that my permission is needed, nor would I have given it) and I was not contacted – even out of courtesy or respect – by the Dominican Sisters, the leadership of the Siena Center, or by Fr. Massingale.
That is disappointing, because it can be confusing for some people as to whether someone with same sex attraction can minister as a priest. As priests who have made a promise and commitment to celibacy, each are called to live holy, chaste lives.
Fr. Nathan Reesman, pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Parish and Saint Mary’s Immaculate Conception Parish in West Bend, has written a very good article about this topic, noting that, “The best pastoral experience of the Church, as well as our consistent teachings about who we are as persons, point to the reality that it is never healthy or holy to act out on same-sex desires, even in the realm of the merely emotional. Much healthier and holier is the attitude that our sexual desires are simply one facet of who we are as persons, rather than making them our dominant marker of identity with a term such as “gay.”
Fr. Reesman is the Chaplain for Courage and EnCourage for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Courage is an apostolate of the Catholic Church that ministers to men and women who experience same sex attraction. You can access his article here.
A number of people have called and written to me asking me “to stop this retreat.” I cannot prevent the Sisters from running this retreat, nor Fr. Massingale from leading it. What I can do, to the best of my ability, is share the truth about the teachings of the Church with the Faithful People of God.