Connect with us

National

Vatican official speaks at online LGBTQ event

Queer Catholics invited to participate in worldwide Synod consultations

Published

on

Sister Nathalie Becquart. (Screenshot courtesy New Ways Ministry)

In what organizers say was a first-of-its-kind appearance, a nun who serves as the Undersecretary of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops in Rome spoke to on April 3 to a worldwide audience of over 1,000 LGBTQ people who participated in an online webinar sponsored by the U.S. LGBTQ Catholic group New Ways Ministries.

The Mount Rainier, Md., based group said people from 37 different nations including the U.S. registered for the Zoom event entitled “Synodality: A Path of Reconciliation,” in which Sister Nathalie Becquart was the keynote speaker.

Becquart, a native of France, told participants that the Synod of Bishops is an international deliberative and advisory body for the Catholic Church created by the Vatican in the 1960s. Church observers say Pope Francis has strengthened the Synod’s role in advising the church on sometimes controversial issues.

According to Becquart, at Pope Francis’s direction, the current Synod taking place from 2021 through 2023 has for the first time ever invited Catholics of all walks of life rather than just Roman Catholic bishops, to participate in Synod sessions taking place in Catholic dioceses throughout the world.

“I am truly grateful to have this opportunity to be with you today, listen to you, share with you,” Becquart told the online gathering. “And it’s my joy to be with you with New Ways Ministry and all of you who are here to hear more about the Synod,” she said. “That is a very important part of the church today. So, I am delighted to have this time with you.”

Among other things, Becquart presented a video explaining the role of a Synod in the Catholic Church and the unique role of the current ongoing Synod that has been expanded to include lay people as well as church officials. Becquart said she believes that Pope Francis “truly” would like the full diversity of Catholics, including LGBTQ Catholics, to participate in the local church Synod sessions.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s executive director who served as moderator of the event, presented questions to Becquart after she completed her presentation in what he said was a distillation and summary of hundreds of questions submitted by participants in the U.S. and other countries.

“People have been saying as members of the LGBTQ community they have often not felt respected by church officials,” DeBernardo told Becquart. “So, the question that they ask is can we trust that our perspective will be heard this time by church officials as part of the Synod?”
Becquart thanked the participants for that question. “We can recognize that,” she said. “And as I said, you know Synodality is a way to recognize reality, the wounds. And it’s a call to be very humble,” she said.

“And I can’t say in advance what will happen,” she said, but added that the expanded scope of the current Synod would bring in new voices of support for those who are calling for reconciliation among all the diverse members of the Catholic Church, including the LGBTQ community.

“So, you can be confident that we will try to have you contribute and give your voice to find this dialogue,” she said.

“I think that during the question period, a lot of the pain and sense of rejection that many LGBTQ Catholics experience from the church was expressed,” DeBernardo told the Washington Blade. “I think it was important for Sister Nathalie, the highest-ranking woman in the Vatican at this time, to hear these emotions and challenges,” he said. “How can we be sure we will be heard? Will our speaking out do any good?”

Added DeBernardo, “My sense from her answers is that she genuinely wants to reach out to all people, including LGBTQ people, to participate in the synod consultations. For her, the synod is a form of reconciliation, and she was very sincere in encouraging LGBTQ people to participate.”

He noted that in the U.S., while many Catholic dioceses and church parishes are organizing synod sessions and reaching out to the community, many are not. “Here in the Archdiocese of Washington, I know that both St. Matthew’s Cathedral and Most Holy parish in Georgetown have done specific listening sessions for LGBTQ people,” DeBernardo said.

He said New Ways Ministry has conducted two virtual synod sessions and will be hosting another one on Sunday, April 24. A video recording of the April 3 webinar with Sister Becquart will be available on the New Ways Ministry website soon, DeBernardo said.

Access to the upcoming New Ways Ministry synod session on April 24 can be accessed at the New Ways website.  

Continue Reading
Advertisement

The White House

White House: Fla. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law is ‘discrimination, plain and simple’

Statute took effect on Friday

Published

on

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement Friday as Florida’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law took effect, saying “[…] state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.”

President Joe Biden also tweeted about the law prior to leaving for Camp David to spend the July 4 holiday weekend, calling the law “the latest attempt by Republicans in state houses to target LGBTQI+ students, teachers and families.”

In her statement, Jean-Pierre said:

“Today, some of Florida’s most vulnerable students and families are more fearful and less free. As the state’s shameful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect, state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.

“Already, there have been reports that ‘Safe Space’ stickers are being taken down from classrooms. Teachers are being instructed not to wear rainbow clothing. LGBTQI+ teachers are being told to take down family photos of their husbands and wives — cherished family photos like the ones on my own desk.

“This is not an issue of ‘parents’ rights.’ This is discrimination, plain and simple. It’s part of a disturbing and dangerous nationwide trend of right-wing politicians cynically targeting LGBTQI+ students, educators, and individuals to score political points.

“It encourages bullying and threatens students’ mental health, physical safety, and well-being. It censors dedicated teachers and educators who want to do the right thing and support their students. And it must stop.

“President Biden has been very clear that every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom.

“The Department of Education will be monitoring this law, and any student or parent who believes they are experiencing discrimination is encouraged to file a complaint with the department’s Office for Civil Rights.

“Our administration will continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family — in Florida and around the country.”

Continue Reading

The White House

Megan Rapinoe among 17 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

White House ceremony to take place July 7

Published

on

Megan Rapinoe (Screen capture via U.S. Soccer YouTube)

The White House on Friday released President Joe Biden’s selection of recipients for bestowing the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7.

Included among the seventeen honorees are Megan Rapinoe, the out Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQ rights.

Also selected by the president for a posthumous recognition was Richard Trumka, the powerful labor leader and longtime Democratic ally of the LGBTQ community who passed away last August. Trumka had led the AFL-CIO since 2009 and who throughout his career, was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ Americans, social and economic justice.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the U.S., world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.

Presidential Medal of Freedom (The White House)

The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Simone Biles
Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. Biles is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system and victims of sexual assault.

Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell is a member of the Sisters of Social Service and former Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization. She is also a prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform and healthcare policy.

Julieta García
Dr. Julieta García is the former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville, where she was named one of Time magazine’s best college presidents. Dr. García was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president and dedicated her career to serving students from the Southwest Border region.

Gabrielle Giffords
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona state Senate, serving first in the Arizona legislature and later in Congress. A survivor of gun violence, she co-founded Giffords, a nonprofit organization dedicated to gun violence prevention.

Fred Gray
Fred Gray was one of the first black members of the Alabama State legislature since Reconstruction. As an attorney, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP and Martin Luther King, who called him “the chief counsel for the protest movement.”

Steve Jobs (posthumous)
Steve Jobs (d. 2011) was the co-founder, chief executive and chair of Apple, Inc., CEO of Pixar and held a leading role at the Walt Disney Company. His vision, imagination and creativity led to inventions that have, and continue to, change the way the world communicates, as well as transforming the computer, music, film and wireless industries.

Father Alexander Karloutsos
Father Alexander Karloutsos is the former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. After over 50 years as a priest, providing counsel to several U.S. presidents, he was named by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as a protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Khizr Khan
Khizr Khan is a Gold Star father and founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center. He is a prominent advocate for the rule of law and religious freedom and served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom under President Biden.

Sandra Lindsay
Sandra Lindsay is a New York critical care nurse who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials and is a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for health care workers.

John McCain (posthumous)
John McCain (d. 2018) was a public servant who was awarded a Purple Heart with one gold star for his service in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He also served the people of Arizona for decades in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and was the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

Diane Nash
Diane Nash is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who organized some of the most important civil rights campaigns of the 20th century. Nash worked closely with Martin Luther King, who described her as the “driving spirit in the nonviolent assault on segregation at lunch counters.”

Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is an Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights.

Alan Simpson
Alan Simpson served as a U.S. senator from Wyoming for 18 years. During his public service, he has been a prominent advocate on issues including campaign finance reform, responsible governance and marriage equality.

Richard Trumka (posthumous)
Richard Trumka (d. 2021) was president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade, president of the United Mine Workers, and secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Throughout his career, he was an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice.

Wilma Vaught
Brigadier General Wilma Vaught is one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military, repeatedly breaking gender barriers as she rose through the ranks. When she retired in 1985, she was one of only seven women generals in the Armed Forces.

Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.

Raúl Yzaguirre
Raúl Yzaguirre is a civil rights advocate who served as CEO and president of National Council of La Raza for thirty years. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Barack Obama.

Continue Reading

The White House

U.S. orders 2.5 million more monkeypox vaccine doses

CDC has reported roughly 350 cases

Published

on

(Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that it has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s JYNNEOS, an FDA-licensed vaccine indicated for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox, for use in responding to current or future monkeypox outbreaks and as part of U.S. smallpox preparedness.

Deliveries from this latest order of the Bavarian Nordic‘s Jynneos vaccine will begin arriving at the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) later this year and will continue through early 2023 HHS said in a statement.

“We are working around-the-clock with public health officials in states and large metro areas to provide them with vaccines and treatments to respond to the current monkeypox outbreak,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This order of additional JYNNEOS vaccine will help us push out more vaccine quickly, knowing that we have more doses on the way in the coming months — and is only possible because of our longstanding investment in smallpox and monkeypox preparedness.”

The order announced today is in addition to the 500,000 doses of government-owned vaccine the company is producing in 2022 for use in the current response to monkeypox in the U.S and brings the total vaccine doses to be delivered in 2022 and 2023 to more than 4 million.

The company will produce these doses in liquid frozen form using vaccine already manufactured in bulk under an existing 10-year contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; that contract was part of ongoing national preparedness efforts against smallpox.

“The medical countermeasures available to help respond to the current outbreak are the result of years of investment and planning made possible through the ongoing work between HHS and private industry,” said Gary Disbrow, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. “We are pleased that we have been able to work with our partners at Bavarian Nordic to accelerate delivery of vaccines that can help keep people safe and stem the spread of the virus.”

BARDA supported the development of JYNNEOS, which is approved by the FDA to prevent smallpox and monkeypox. The U.S. government owns enough smallpox vaccine — JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 — to vaccinate millions of Americans, if needed.

As of June 24, ASPR’s SNS held approximately 65,000 doses of JYNNEOS in immediate inventory with delivery of an additional 300,000 doses in the coming days. On June 28, HHS announced that it would immediately make available 56,000 doses and soon after would make available 240,000 additional doses. The SNS also has more than 100 million doses of ACAM2000 which was developed with SNS support and is approved by FDA for use in preventing smallpox. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently has an expanded access Investigational New Drug protocol which allows use of ACAM2000 for monkeypox.

In addition, the SNS has over 1.7 million treatment courses of the smallpox antiviral drug TPOXX, which was developed with BARDA support and can be used to treat individuals with monkeypox under an appropriate regulatory mechanism. CDC currently has an expanded access Investigational New Drug protocol which allows its use for monkeypox.

As of June 29, the CDC has received reports of approximately 350 cases of monkeypox in the U.S., primarily among men who have sex with men.

To learn more about monkeypox, visit cdc.gov/monkeypox.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]