New Ways “Ministries” is a thorn in the American Church’s side. It’s a gay-rights group thinly veiled as a gay ministry group. Rather than trying to help those who struggle with same-sex attraction live a celibate and holy life, New Ways tries to “teach” the Church that it’s wrong and hateful to consider homosexuality a sin, and actively encourages the sort of lifestyle which the Church and Bible condemn. The Vatican ordered the two co-founders of the group to resign, although they continue to promote their heretical message in other forms. In all, it’s a dreary story of a group too convinced of its own beliefs to accept any correction or any pastoral guidance from Mother Church.
But lately, New Ways and other homosexual groups have started working on forming a counter-Church, with funding from our tithe money. They put out a list of “gay-friendly parishes” here, and one of the churches on the list, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington, put out a similar list. The purpose of these lists is to make it so heretical Catholics never have to hear that they’re wrong — it’s intentional self-delusion.
But these lists, and the numerous ones like it should be huge red flags to orthodox Catholic bishops. It’s pretty simple, really. If your diocese has any parishes are on there, figure out from the parish website if there really is a problem. And if so, don’t be afraid to say something to the pastor or even to the bishop about it. It’s hard to get people into the doors on Sunday; the idea that once they’re in, we’re feeding them heretical nonsense that poisons their soul is just too much to stomach. Most bishops get this, hopefully. If not, make the case forcefully.
Already, we’re seeing changes: one of the churches that was on both lists was St. Stephen’s in Minneapolis. The parish was all sorts of crazy. OLQP’s website notes:
A St. Stephen’s parishioner, whose mother attends OLQP, adds “I’ve been to Queen of Peace and I can attest that St. Stephens has a similar vibe. It is an open and accepting community committed to social justice. It has a large and active gay and lesbian community. Lay people (men and women) act as prayer leaders and co-lead masses with the priest; lay people (men and women) give the homilies three out four Sundays a month. It is a very joyful and life-giving place — which is how I would describe Queen of Peace”.
What’s not mentioned is that the church was frequently left empty so this layperson-run “Mass” could be done in the gym, so no one’s feelings would be hurt that they weren’t as elevated as the priest at the altar. And from what I understand, it’d been like this for four decades. This was viewed as normal by the parishioners. No more. In 2008, the bishop finally (!) had enough, and sent in an orthodox priest to replace the circus performer. The new priest had the gall to suggest that maybe everything wasn’t okay; plus, he advocated the radical idea that a parish could be pro-social justice and still have a Liturgy that praises God in a holy and devout way. A bit too radical for the folks at St. Stephen’s. Well, that’s not quite right. The folks at St. Stephen’s didn’t wait to hear what he had to say. They did a massive walkout, and started a counter-church in a random building a few blocks away, in order to show their tolerance and acceptance. They’ve now set up a separate religion which they’re calling “independent Catholic.”
At its worst points, Mass attendance at St. Stephen’s (the real one) dropped to about a dozen people. This is every bishop’s nightmare: a parish that’s just falling apart. It’s embarrassing. But consider it like this: would you rather use tithe money to help a few people, or hurt a lot? In those terms, it’s obvious. As Jack Handy would say, “I’d rather be rich than stupid.” Seriously, under the old priest, a lot of people were being spiritually harmed by the Liturgy and by the homily. Even if the old parish closed completely, it would have been preferable, spiritually-speaking. Better still to build an orthodox parish, even a tiny one. A small Catholic parish is of far greater spiritual worth than a large heretical one, a notion which finds support in Mark 8:36. Today, as I understand it, St. Stephen’s continues to rebound, and does so without abandoning its Catholicism.
St. Stephen’s is both a cautionary tale to bishops who live in terror of the slightest whiff of controversy, and a tale of hope for those who actively seek to see the Church be purified. And the number of bishops in that second camp seems to be on the rise. That’s cause for celebration. As bishops attempt to clean up decades of heretical mess, lists of the sort New Ways produced may prove to be their undoing. John 3:20-21 is on point: groups like New Ways only succeed if most Catholics are in the dark about the sort of heresy being spouted. Even sympathetic bishops will eventually be forced to act if things get too public, like the unjust judge from Luke 18:1-8.
All involved can use your prayers. Those, like Fr. Joseph Williams, the young priest tasked with restoring and shepherding St. Stephen’s, who have been savagely demonized for trying to follow Christ; those, like the parishoners who abandoned the Church, who have been so damaged by false teachings from Her pulpits; and those, in particular, struggling with same-sex attraction who were given poisonous prescriptions. This is a story with more victims than culprits, and even the culprits can use your prayers for repentance.