The Care of Souls: Sexual Diversity, Celibacy, and Ministry

Fairfield University Conference:  Saturday October 29, 2011, 9:45am-5:30pm

Video of the conference can be viewed online at  Click the “On Demand” tab over the right window, then click “watch” to access the video.

The “Care of Souls” conference addresses 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.  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 “Care of Souls” conference, Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, 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.


Conference Schedule

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

9:45 a.m. Welcome

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: Lunch break

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

1:15 p.m. General discussion

1:45 p.m. Break

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

3:00p.m. General Discussion

3:30 p.m.: Break

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

4:45 p.m. Reception, departure.


Major Speakers

  • 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 Church and 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 CelibacyFaith That Dares to Speak, and Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church.

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