Cardinal Blase Cupich, center, leads a panel at the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin on Aug. 23, 2018. RNS photo by Christine A. Scheller

At World Meeting of Families, Catholic leaders address sex abuse scandal, LGBT inclusion

DUBLIN (RNS) — A range of challenges to family life in the 21st century — from poor communication and alienation to sexual misconduct and the treatment of LGBT persons — dominated conversation at the Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families this week.

Participants in the four-day pastoral congress heard talks by church leaders in the United States and beyond as they sought encouragement in the wake of ongoing abuse scandals and shifting societal attitudes about sexuality.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, at a press briefing at the Pastoral Congress for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on Aug. 23, 2018. Photo by John McElroy on behalf of WMOF 2018

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, addressed the clergy sexual abuse crisis on the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that found child sex abuse by more than 300 priests over a 70-year period. He said that church leaders run the risk of forfeiting moral authority if they don’t consistently stand up for every person’s dignity.

"If each of us do not witness to the truth of our teaching on the human person as a relational being in our own lives, the fundamental dignity of each of us as children of God, then we cannot pretend to teach,” said Cupich.

A standing-room-only crowd packed in to hear American Jesuit priest James Martin outline steps that parishes can take to minister to LBGT Catholics. Martin said that parishioners are as much a part of the church as the pope, the local bishop or the parish priest.

"By not welcoming and by excluding LGBT Catholics, the church is falling short of its call,” said Martin, and is "tearing apart the body of Christ.”

Martin said that LGBT inclusion is a "life issue" in many countries. He encouraged Catholics to be prophetic voices for those who are persecuted for their sexual orientation. In places where LGBT people are marginalized, he said, laypeople can repent on behalf of the whole church.

"If they were harmed by the church, you are a minister of the church. You can apologize," said Martin.

The Rev. James Martin gives a talk entitled, ‘Showing Welcome and Respect in our parishes for LGBT people and their families’ at the Pastoral Congress for the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin on Aug. 23, 2018. Photo by Jonn McElroy on behalf of WMOF 2018

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Many in attendance belong to traditional families, but not everyone. Former nun Becky Duddy-Burke of Boston and her wife, Marianne, were motivated to attend after what they said was a negative experience at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

“The level of toxicity and hate and damaging rhetoric that was coming from the podiums that was not meeting the needs of the people who were attending was stunning," said Marianne Duddy-Burke. "We felt like there needed to be a presence here again so that our stories would be included, and that we could be visible as members of the church."

At the Philadelphia meeting, they said, they were told they suffered from “same-sex attraction disorder," Marianne Duddy-Burke said. In Dublin, people have been welcoming and the message is toned down even if it is essentially the same, she said.

Marianne Duddy-Burke at the WMOF 2018 in Ireland. RNS photo by Christine A. Scheller

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“It’s still consistent that God’s plan for humanity is a mother, a father and their biological children and everything else falls short,” Duddy-Burke said.

Speakers at the event insisted that Catholic teachings hold keys to engaging others with respect and love. What’s needed in their view is not to remake or replace church doctrine but to embrace and live into it more fully.

Cupich, for instance, said he believes there is wisdom in the Catholic tradition that can enlighten and encourage believers in these "disturbing circumstances" of clergy sex abuse.

Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love),” Cupich said, "Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment; it is an interpersonal language wherein the other is taken seriously, in his or her sacred and inviolable dignity."

For families in attendance, the event also provided venues to share how Catholic ministries have made a difference in their lives. That was the case for Leigh and Steve Baumann of Jekyll Island, Ga. They said they began leading separate lives 17 years into their marriage after their two children had grown up and left home.

They credited the peer-led Catholic program Retrouvaille with saving their marriage. Retrouvaille begins with a weekend intensive and is followed by sessions on communication, intimacy and handling conflict and small-group support.

“When you’re in conflict in marriage, you don’t really see down the road,” said Leigh Baumann. “And so for us at that point, we had no way of knowing how important it would be for us to be grandparents together and to see what that next step in our journey was.”


  1. Father James Martin speaks the truth, and this truth elicits rage among a certain set of those who call themselves followers of a Jesus who never said a single word about sexual orientation or homosexuality, but a great deal about love, justice, and mercy:

    Most LGBT Catholics have been deeply wounded by the church. They may have been mocked, insulted, excluded, condemned or singled out for critique, either privately or from the pulpit. They may never have heard the term “gay” or “lesbian” expressed in any positive way, or even a neutral way. And even if hateful comments did not come in the parish setting, they may have heard other Catholic leaders make homophobic comments. From their earliest days as Catholics, they are often made to feel like they are a mistake.

    One important question that should be asked, I think: do these truthful, painful comments elicit so much rage among some people who call themselves followers of Jesus?

  2. This article explains why, in the Age Of Francis, (and his two deputies Cupich & Martin), there’s totally NOTgoing to be any real house-cleaning on this Abuse mess. This level of division and confusion fully rivals the fatal Methodist tragedy.

    Folks, you can either do Burke & McCloskey’s & Smith’s gig, or you can do Cupich & Martin’s & Francis’s gig. But NOT both.

    In other words, you can either set a church-wide goal of:
    (1) “Let’s create an action plan to deal with the John Jay Report 81% homosexual problem, and let’s seriously eliminate the current clergy homosexual culture & networks”
    — or else you can set a church-wide goal of:
    (2) “Let’s approve of homosexual marriage, gay-self-identity and LGBT behavior in every parish & pew, and let’s stop calling LGBT behavior/relationships ‘disordered’, even though that word is clearly what today’s Catholic Catechism says out loud.”

    Gotta choose. Won’t be painless. And if you don’t choose, Mr. Francis and his two deputies will choose for you.

  3. “Father James Martin speaks the truth…”

    …annnnnd no further reading is necessary.

  4. There should be no discussion as said religion is based on a sham resurrection.

  5. Actually, if you’re as rational as you claim, you can’t prove that statement, one way or the other. So you’re not rational at all. Just a pest trying to get attention.

  6. You’re dumb as a rock. The clergy sex abuse problem is not a “homosexual problem” — and even the John Jay Report said as much. The clergy sex abuse problem is a church culture problem. You are every bit a part of that culture. You are every bit a part of that problem

  7. Father James Martin, S.J., says what he thinks.

    It deviates in some ways from the Church seems to think.

    Since you use “manly man” in a derogatory way yourself, I’m not sure you’re not in a glass house with some stones in your hands.

    I know if I were you I wouldn’t go there.

  8. You say it’s not a ‘homosexual problem’, but a ‘church culture problem.’
    Which is precisely what Cupich & Martin preach, of course. But they are wrong.

    “Both the 2004 and the 2011 John Jay Reports, concluded that 80% of the cases of sexual abuse of minors were of adolescent boys. That has something to do with homosexual activity. The current crisis is about seminarians being sexually harassed by their superiors. That has something to do with homosexual activity.”
    — Dr. Jennifer Morse, The Ruth Institute (Catholic).

  9. Let’s get back to the dioceses and open up the files, and let’s just see what the files show.

  10. Mimicing marriage with a false unity – a runt unity if you will – is mocking marriage. And that’s offensive.


    If such priestly advice could so damage the life of one young man,
    imagine the damage Fr. Martin’s words will do to the countless young
    people who earnestly attend the World Meeting of Families. If the Church
    wants to show true respect, compassion, and sensitivity to homosexual
    persons, it must offer them the words of Christ—not Fr. Martin’s false

  12. Abuse survivor Marie Collins, who was raped by a priest at age 13, knows more about the abuse crisis in the fingernail of her little finger than all the armchair cowboys who love to pontificate that the abuse crisis in the Catholic church is all about the gays — serving the interest of the hieararchy covering up the abuse as they engage in that pontification.

    Here she is today at a news conference in Dublin:

    She later told reporters that there is “denial” in the church over clerical abuse. “It is not imaginary, there are people who would prefer to believe that there are multitudes of false allegations, which we know that there aren’t.”

    “They also go along with the myth that it is all down to homosexual priests and they like to think it is a media campaign against the church. They also like to think that survivors like myself, who have spoken out, are just enemies of the church who want to destroy the church. It is more comfortable to think that.” …

    Asked to respond to the growing chorus of church people claiming the abuse crisis was a problem of gay men in the priesthood, Collins rejected the claim as “a red herring.”

    “I certainly don’t agree with it. We have heterosexual predators and we have homosexual predators. When it comes to child abuse I don’t believe homosexuality can be put down as the cause — it may suit some people to think that and they would like to think that, but I don’t think any studies have shown that this is the case.”

    Of course, the homophobic armchair cowboys know better, and think nothing of discounting the testimony of a courageous woman who was raped by a priest at the age of 13, spoke out about it, and has sat on the papal commission on abuse.

    They know better.

  13. He doesn’t read original sources. He reads summaries from sites like The Ruth Report, which is monitored as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the US Justice Department. He and others come here to spout their hatred in the name of a God who doesn’t want anything to do with them. Neither should we.

  14. Sexual assault and rape is not about sexuality, homosexual or heterosexual; it’s about abuse and assault. If you were an actual adult, you would understand this. Your entire faulty agenda is anti-gay propaganda. Quoting biased, prejudiced Catholic sources to match your own bias and prejudice is predictable.

  15. Oh look Tommy Aquinas is back for more closet-inspired revelations.

  16. The Southern Poverty Law Center list of hate groups makes the Southern Povery Law Center itself a hate group.

    The U.S. Justice Department used to rely on them.

    No more.

    As to hate:

    which got a big round of two thumbs down.

    “Knavish imbecility” quoted Hillaire Belloc.

    “The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine – but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.” – Hilaire Belloc, remark to William Temple, quoted in Robert Speaight, The Life of Hilaire Belloc (1957). London: Hollis and Carter, p. 383

    Were I you, I would curb my tongue, knave.

  17. Abuse survivor Marie Collins, who has no particular training in theology, psychology, criminology, or anything else of objective relevance to the discussion, has her opinions.

    William D. Lindsey likes those opinions and loves to quote them.

  18. The SPLC? They used to be an honorable civil rights group, long time ago.

    But now? Now they’re just an Alt-Left.terrorist organization. When they arrested the mass shooter who tried to take out the FRC in Washington DC, what did they find in his filthy pocket? A filthy SPLC map. (Double filth!)

    He confessed he used the SPLC map to pick his target. And that”s no joke.

  19. “has sat on the papal commission on abuse”

    And she had the integrity and moral fortitude to resign from that commission when she realized that it was for-show-only.

  20. Actually she resigned when she found out she didn’t call the shots.

  21. The 81 percent same-sex (homosexual) abuse figure, is objective and unbiased. It appears in both the 2004 and 2011 John Jay research studies. So it’s definitely not a fluke, nor is it propaganda. Cardinal Burke is right.

  22. You are a fluke, and full of propaganda, Your Blackness.

    You’d think that black people would have figured out by now that discrimination is wrong, but no…

  23. Keep your homophobia in the bedroom, Your Blackness.

  24. Cardinal Burke is a homosexual MESS. And you are a dimwitted homophobe. You don’t get it. Blocking your fat ass.

  25. What an example of hijacking a meeting. Make it all about LGBT.

    Such self focus and self pity…and noise….and of course unhappiness. They go together.

  26. The dog foams when he’s mad, which sadly is all the time.

  27. Hundreds-of-thousands of Catholics marched in the streets to protest same-sex marriage.

    None are marching in the streets protesting priest-rape of children.

    So exquisitely brainwashed as children….

    A Catholic Church is a prison where children are sent to do penance for their parents sins.

    And when the parent’s children are raped – they kneel and say ” Bless me Father, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa….”

  28. So the assembled Catholics have decided that homosexuality is ok, worthy of praise and affirmation, not called to repentance. That conflicts with the church’s teaching that it is a sin. I guess conforming to the norms of a pagan society takes precedence over God’s truth and the church’s historical teaching. No wonder people are leaving the church, and have been for some time: it is an association of apostates.

  29. They are leaving because they realize it doesn’t make sense. Not because the Church is saying to accept gays (even this conference really didn’t say that – they said you should accept certain gays, i.e., those who are celibate).

  30. You’re right — she’s a person of extraordinary courage and integrity, and the old boys who want to nullify her and her voice reveal their depths of depravity and total lack of self-awareness in attacking Marie Collins.

  31. Nah. Nothing to do with pagan society, and everything to do with a civilized one that doesn’t demonize people.

    People aren’t leaving the church because of the acceptance of gay people as fully human. It’s just the opposite.

  32. Awww, tommywhineyass. Rand new identity. Did you finally go too far, and get banned?

  33. As has been pointed out to you many times before, the sex of the victims says little about the se Hal orientation of the perpetrators. But you don’t care, because you, like a few others, want to hide your hate behind your faith.

    Every one of these perpetrator was a catholic priest, certified as called to the priesthood by the church.. Everyone of these perpetrators and enablers was a catholic. And everyone of them was a man.

    If you wanted these problems to stop, you would stop calling men to the priesthood.

  34. Well said, Bill Lindsey. Martin speaks of inclusion, respect, welcoming, a recognition of so much that is good in the life of LGBTQI people just as there is so much good in non-LGBTQI people. Jesus would not like the rage, anger, the judgmentalism, the attempt to drive some people out of their communities where they live, where they worship, where they shop, where they work. Better that we look at how we are open to love, respect, kindness and how a person demonstrates that in interacting with others.

  35. Thank you, ATF45. “Jesus would not like the rage, anger, the judgmentalism”: no, absolutely not.

    It obviously comes from a very dark place in the gentlemen lurking on threads like this, to vent hatred of human beings they regard as inferior to their own eminently manly selves. What’s that about, one has to wonder, the need to hate, to feel superior, to demean and other targeted members of minority communities?

    What it’s obviously not about is Jesus and the gospels. These gentlemen have no leg to stand on as they claim a connection to Jesus while engaging in this eminently ugly behavior.

  36. Yes, more grand jury investigations would be welcomed.

  37. Self-focus, self-pity, noise, unhappiness… that’s your closet.

  38. The turnout was abysmal. Even after busing in anyone wearing a nose ring and tats on their neck for James Martin’s talk…the numbers were quite low. Pope take note. Course correction.

    The co-opted agenda mocked the family model that God gave us.

    I can’t wait for the States Attorneys General (most of them liberal) to dig into the data of the gay bishops and their coverups. Like maggot therapy.

  39. You should have “the sex of the victims says little about the se Hal orientation of the perpetrators” tattooed somewhere on your body.

    It is, of course, ridiculous.

  40. No doubt you’ve been watching the church closely.

  41. Martin, like Bill Lindsey and yourself, does fail to not that same sex physical congress is intrinsically immoral.

    I would not want to show my love to someone by assisting them in attaining eternal damnation.

  42. What seems to come from a very dark place is the notion that defending traditional Christian/Catholic teaching is not about Jesus and the gospels.

    I read on RNS today that you and three other posters have decided to characterize disputation with your attempts to undermine the teaching on same sex physical congress as “uncharitable”.

    It is not even going to begin to work.

  43. Pagan societies think they are enlightened while they are quite the opposite. The church that contradicts its own teachings in order to please a disordered culture has lost its reason for being.

  44. For your attention: Both Thomas Aquinas and JPll concluded and stated that heaven is a spirit state, i.e no bodies glorified or otherwise and therefore there could not have been a physical resurrection or ascension or assumption. All three events also fail rigorous historic testing.

  45. Religion ridden societies think they are enlightened while they are quite the opposite. That’s why they called it the Dark Ages. Tha,s Saudi Arabia. That’s Pakistan. That’s imperial Russia.

  46. Don’t hitch your wagon to the Southern Poverty Law Center. That”s one of the real hate groups, bearing no resemblance to its name. It’s nothing but a radical left-wing (more specifically, anti-religion of all kinds) vigilante/guerrilla outfit that slanders conservatives generally, and whenever possible, intimidates businesses to refuse business to conservatives generally. Everything that religious florists, bakers, chicken-sandwich chains, etc. are accused of, the SPLC actually does, and much more. (Note that Newsweek itself has moved to the left fringe of print journalism)

    There are a lot more …

  47. Well, really, that’s classic stuff when it comes to the behavior of the RCC: do it for show.

  48. When a pagan society kills its children deliberately (as ancient Greece and today), when it celebrates homosexuality and persecutes those who support traditional, and true marriage, it cannot make any claim to be civilized.

  49. When a so called Christian society persecutes people who are not bothering anyone because the idea of what someone else is doing with their own genitalia with other consenting adults just upsets the living bejesus out of a bunch of self righteous buttheads who have nothing to else to do with their lives but obsess about sex…

    To the point of murders, jails, suicides, lost jobs, damaged families, destroyed careers….

    To the point where kids commit suicide because of the hate which you call love…

    And then pretends that the So called Christians are the ones being persecuted because someone disagrees with those buttheads…

    While they pretend they are talking about morality…

    Well, you really cannot call such a society civilized. Especially when they used the same ideas to persecute women, witches, people of the wrong color, people of the wrong religion, people who were the wrong sort of Christians.

    Well, YOU can.

  50. You really can’t call a society civilized which wants to turn the clock back to pagan Rome and legalize infanticide, sodomy, and the rest of the rubbish of that depraved society.

  51. You can’t say you’re not bothering anyone when you insist society approve of what you are doing, redefine marriage and teach and pressure others to approve. What you do in your private life is private but bringing it into the public square and making it a point of demanding acceptance, celebration is another matter altogether.

  52. Poor persecuted you.

    I don’t want your approval. I want you out of my life.too bad for you.

    Too late: society already “approves” of me. Too bad for you.

    Marriage hasn’t been redefined. Gay people have. Too bad for you.

    You really don’t like it that the court of public opinion no longer agrees with you. Too bad for you.

    When heterosexuals stop bringing their private business into the public square, you can tell me all about it. Meanwhile, too bad for you.

  53. It is wonderful you don’t want approval.

    We don’t either.

    As the public thanks to the antics of your cohorts wakes up, and the tide turns, keep that in mind.

  54. Ruth Report is now OK with the DOJ now that Trump/Sessions is in charge and not Obama/Holder.

    Race pimps are now OUT at the DOJ, thank God.

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