Week after speaking at meeting of discredited ministry to homosexuals, USD professor headed to L.A. Religious Education Congress

A dissident University of San Diego theology professor who spoke at the recently concluded New Ways Ministry conference in Baltimore, Maryland, is also scheduled to present two workshops at the upcoming 2012 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim.

New Ways Ministry, an outreach effort to homosexuals denounced by US bishops because it rejects Catholic teachings on human sexuality, held its “Seventh Annual Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality” from March 15-17. Among the speakers at the symposium was University of San Diego professor of systematic theology Orlando Espin, whose topic was “LGBTQ’s among Latinos/as and Latinos/as among White LGBTQ’s.”

The University of San Diego identifies itself to the public as “a Roman Catholic institution.” Espin has been on the USD faculty since 1991.

New Ways Ministry, which calls itself “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics,” was founded in 1977 by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent. In 1999, the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notified Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent that they were “permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons.”

More recently, in March of 2011, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, speaking for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement that said in part, “…in no manner is the position proposed by New Ways Ministry in conformity with Catholic teaching and in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization.”

At last week’s symposium, not a single speaker accepted Church teaching on homosexuality. In addition to Espin, they included, among others, retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Australia; National Catholic Reporter columnist Nicole Sotelo, a one-time parishioner at San Francisco’s notoriously “gay-friendly” Most Holy Redeemer Church; and author Richard Rodriguez, a self-identified homosexual who has made the issue of his sexual identity the topic of two books, Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father, and Brown: The Last Discovery of America.

Also speaking at the New Ways symposium was Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Catholic who recently signed legislation redefining marriage in his state, despite the pleas of his bishop not to do so.

In addition to his work at the University of San Diego, Espin also serves on the board of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. The CLGS, unlike New Ways Ministry, does not even claim to be Catholic. But like New Ways, the CLGS’s position on homosexuality is diametrically opposed to the position of the Catholic Church.

In September 2011, Espin was one of the keynote speakers at the “International Conference of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry.” The conference title was “Setting the Table for LGBT People in a Diverse Church.”

Although he almost never identifies himself as such, Espin is also an ordained Catholic priest.

In 2007, Espin co-edited, with Fr. James Nickoloff, SJ, a book titled An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies.” Like Espin, Fr. Nickoloff actively dissents from Church teaching on the subject of homosexuality. The book received a rave review from, of all people, another Jesuit, Fr. Peter C. Phan, whose own work has been seriously criticized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Doctrine.

Espin has been scheduled to present two workshops at the 2012 Religious Education Congress (REC) in Anaheim, scheduled to begin this Thursday, March 22, and conclude on Sunday, March 25.

The REC is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which describes the annual conference as the “largest catechetical gathering in the country.”



Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 12:15 AM By Bob
Let’s see: we can’t apply Canon 915 to this meeting, it might be on the books, but no bishop excommunicates politicians and clergy. How about scandal? According to St. Thomas, scandal is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another’s spiritual ruin. It fits, but scandal is so prolific, half the clergy gives scandal (including those who attended the Baltimore conference). How about CCC 1867? No, no one looks at the Cathechism anyway. A Mandatum? Between USD, LMU, USF, etc, etc, no California bishop seems to care about what is taught in (pseudo-) Catholic colleges. The Religious Ed. Congress is just another way to spread error and error is contagious.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 3:51 AM By Andrew
So where is San Diego Bishop Brom? Why hasn’t this man been excommunicated not only to teach him / but to stop SCANDAL? The other option the San Diego Bishop has is to remove the name “Catholic” from the University if they continue to hire teachers who do not respect the Catholic Faith.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 4:21 AM By Ski Ven
I preemptively disagree with Mark from PA.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 5:42 AM By Sandra
Read “Defending a Higher Law” by TFP Committee on American Issues, about why we must resist same-sex “Marriage” and the Homosexual Movement. This is the first concise information on the homosexual movement and how well funded and well organized it has become in our culture. The book does an excellent job of clarifying the seriously misunderstood religious and social aspects of a homosexual lifestyle. The ultimate end for the homosexual movement–that homosexuality is viewed as “moral” and “normal”. NEVER.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 6:02 AM By Gabriel Espinosa 
1977 to 1999. 22 years it took!

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 6:43 AM By Ted
That REC has been a training ground for dissidents for several decades. Cardinal Mahony never did a thing to restrict the speakers to orthodox teachings. Archbishop Gomez has had time to do so, but evidently doesn’t choose to do so. If he neglects to defend the faith, a vital part of his ministry, it’s safe to conclude that he will be as irresponsible as was his predecessor. He’s had time, and has shown that to be a sad fact – he’s Mahony Part Two. What a shame !

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 6:49 AM By JMJ
If the good Cardinal wants us to buy his book, then maybe he should start using Canon 915 and show us pew-warmers that he means business. I know, it is just a dream. +JMJ+

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 6:57 AM By Sue in soCal
This is an example of why I have not gone to this congress in years and years. I refuse to support this garbage with my money. I am perplexed why our new archbishop has done nothing apparent to bring this congress to orthodoxy.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 7:16 AM By peter
“At last week’s symposium, not a single speaker accepted Church teaching on homosexuality” Wonderful news! Church teaching on homosexuality is wrong.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 7:57 AM By Tm
I really don’t understand how our bishops in LA think. Do they really care about the salvation of souls? Are they simply to lazy to look through the roster of speakers and do some vetting? Or are they passively working to destroy the Church through allowance of heresy presented as authentic Catholic catechesis? No wonder so many Catholics lose the faith.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:04 AM By Catherine
There is nothing new under the sun! New Ways Ministry = Age Old Rebellion Against God. Why is Archbishop Gomez still allowing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to sponsor speakers who hate God? Shouldn’t the Archdiocese be setting the table for Fidelity to all Church Teaching? This continuation of allowing heretical speakers is a great scandal. There are absolutely no more excuses for allowing these speakers. It truly looks like these heretical speakers are desired by the Archbishop or else it would have stopped. This example creates an even bigger scandal. “It is much safer to obey than to rule or govern”….”A man is hindered and distracted in proportion as he draws outward things to himself.” ..St. Thomas a Kempis LGBT should mean *Love God Before Thyself* “Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us unto Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God….St. Thomas Aquinas

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:05 AM By Theresa
May God have mercy on the members of New Ways Ministry who lead others astray. They refuse to believe that homosexuality is a disorder and under no circumstances can homosexual act be approved. Instead, they selfishly pander to others in their effort to convince them that God laws and the Church’s teachings are wrong. New Ways Ministry is uncharitable and insensitive. They should join the many Courage members who have found freedom and happiness living in conformity with God laws and the Church’s teachings.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:06 AM By Cody in Tucson
Is this article about Espin one of your series of articles about “the most dangerous people in the state of California”? You know, the series that included the mayor of LA and the congressman from Beverly Hills.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:10 AM By MD
I don’t understand why a Catholic school would hire someone who teaches such garbage and opposes her Catholic teaching. Even more, I don’t get why Bishop Gomez has not put the kibosh on this yet. We need to pray for people who so vehemently oppose the Truth. A lie is a lie and satan has twisted the truth of human sexuality so badly that people cannot recognize the lie being presented in our world today. Pray…God Love you.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:17 AM By hosemonkey
The poisoned well of the L.A. REC is still attracting dissidents like flies to rotten meat. When will this tainted legacy of Roger Mahoney finally be closed down?

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:23 AM By JimAroo
Nothing has changed at Heresy Central (the Religious Education Congress of the LA Archdiocese) – same people running it… same dissidents speaking… But look at the bright side: It is only 14 years, 9 months, and 6 days until Archbishop Gomez reaches the age of 75 and must submit his resignation. Let the countdown begin.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:26 AM By Laurette Elberry
Is Cardinal Mahony still pulling the strings on this annual conference? If not, why is this New Ways Ministry-related travesty taking place?

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 8:30 AM By Larry
Is the line still “give Archbishop Gomez a break–he’s new on the job”?

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 9:08 AM By grampsc
Fr. Pettingill and Vat 2 misinterpreters would attend, are the seats free?

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 9:20 AM By ED
It’s time for Archbishop Gomez to take control of the LA Religous Ed Conference by disinviting this enemy of the faith from spreading his poison.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 9:27 AM By FrMichael
Larry– no. I did something more constructive this morning. I emailed the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (at three email addresses) and asked for the speaker to be removed, citing the link to the NCR article. I doubt things will happen with a lone email, but perhaps a number of emails might cause LA to reconsider.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 9:43 AM By Maryanne Leonard
Archbishop Gomez has either failed to pull the plug on this or is in concert with it. Either way, this is a huge disappointment. We expected much more of him, frankly, and we’re still waiting for him to deliver. When do we get the true Catholic leadership for which we have been waiting so long? The praise and welcome he received appears to have been premature, based, no doubt, on hope and widespread relief at seeing Cdl. Mahony go. If these sorts of abuses are not addressed soon by Archbishop Gomez, we may as well stop throwing stones at Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco, as we are on the way to that sort of disgraceful state of affairs ourselves. I call on Archbishop Gomez – dare I ask? – to please do his job! If it’s not too much trouble.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 10:12 AM By Bud 
Why do all of these bishops not excommunicate? If they don’t want to, I do believe very very much that they should tell us the lowly laity why! The are doing nothing but undermining the faith. If there is a logical and religious reason why are such double standards used? Then they wonder why so many are beginning to fall for the propaganda of bishops not being responsible!!!!

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 10:28 AM By MD
Laurette-I have heard that the LA Congress speakers for this year and the next couple/few years are already set up, so we will probably see some horrible speakers still. I agree with Fr. Michael though and think that the diocese should pull the plug on any speakers who are not faithful to the Magisterium. Lets pray for a good outcome. God Love You.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 10:44 AM By East Coast Tom
Nickoloff is no longer a Jesuit; he quit the order and the priesthood but continued to teach at Jesuit Holy Cross College and then retired to Jesuit Santa Clara. Along the way he “married” a former male student (Jesuit seminarian?) whom he taught at the Jesuit Weston School of Theology formerly in Cambridge sharing facilities with Episcopal Divinity School–but now at Jesuit Boston College. Phan was never a Jesuit but teaches at Jesuit Georgetown.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 11:29 AM By Clinton 
The LA Religious Education Congress: A place for the National Catholic Reporter set to come and whine and moan about the true teachings of the Catholic Church. In other words, aging hippie priests and nuns who want women ‘priests’, homosexual clergy, folk music ‘Masses’, ecumenism (ie religious indifference), no talk of sin and its consequences, everyone gathered into a circle around the altar and sing Kumbaya. The sooner this V2 generation is gone, the better for the Church Militant.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 11:37 AM By k
Wonder why the website for the REC is down?

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 1:17 PM By Dave N.
It’s waaay past time that Abp. Gomez should be given a simple pass on this absolute mess; he could have began to pull the plug on this travesty already a year ago. Even if action (in the worst case) would cost the archdiocese some money, so what? Better than misleading the faithful.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 2:21 PM By steven
Disgusting! Why would someone even send their kid to any Catholic school other than Franciscan or Ave Maria. The Bishops should ‘defrock’ these schools!

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 2:26 PM By Mark from PA
Ski Ven, I haven’t even made a comment yet. It is discouraging to read many of these responses. I realize that many here dislike gay people but it would be nice if some could tone down the rhetoric. If it will make you feel any better, most dioceses don’t have any ministry for gay people. Is it any wonder why with the reaction it gets from those that don’t like gay people? Some Catholics want gay people to be quiet or leave. I think a lot of bishops are afraid to touch this issue for fear of being labeled. The attitude of many is silence.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 3:14 PM By Maryanne Leonard
Yes, Dave N., you are right. Just because someone was booked to speak a long time in advance is no excuse to expose the poorly catechized, and sometimes gullible, laity to such disgusting detritus, who may leave believing that this is the new teaching of the post-Vatican II Church. Father Michael, thank you for showing us the way on how to deal with this effectively. Deluging the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with e-mails demanding the removal of this unworthy speaker is the responsible thing to do. Let’s all follow Father Michael’s example on this righteous action in defense of the faith! “Dear Archbishop Gomez, . . . “

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 5:43 PM By Ski Ven
To Mark from PA: What rhetoric needs to be toned down? Who dislikes homosexuals? How do you know? Can you give examples from this thread?