Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry
MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland—By all accounts, Fr. Warren Hall has been a caring, compassionate, and faithful Catholic priest. But there’s one more important adjective to describe him: courageous. He has courageously stood by the LGBT community, taking personal risks to let them know that God loves them unconditionally.
Fr. Hall first leaped into the pages of the news in 2015 when he was fired from his chaplaincy at Seton Hal University. His supposed crime: on Facebook, he supported the “NOH8” campaign, an LGBT equal rights campaign with a strong anti-bullying focus.
Later he took a more personal and courageous step by coming out publicly as a gay man.
Throughout the media blitz that ensued, he also continually professed his love for the Church and for his priesthood. Fr. Hall has ministered to and with LGBT people in the New York City metro region, being a sign of hope and welcome to many.
Archbishop Myers’ decision to remove Fr. Hall’s faculties exposes a weakness: by doing so, the archbishop is saying that his church fears associating with LGBT people—a fear which is contrary to the gospel. Myers’ authoritarian style, evidenced by his years as archbishop of Newark, is one that is on the wane in the U.S. church, and around the globe.
Fr. Hall’s ministry with LGBT people is in line with the Church’s own authentic teaching that its ministers must reach out to all those who have been marginalized.
He is in line with Pope Francis’ more pastoral and welcoming approach towards LGBT people.
It is painful that Fr. Hall has had to suffer such an unjust penalty from an archbishop who is soon to be replaced because of his looming retirement. Our God, who is a God of surprises and blessings, surely has some good in store for this priest who has been such a good and faithful servant to the Church community.
New Ways Ministry is proud that earlier this summer Fr. Hall agreed to lead a workshop on the topic of gay men in the priesthood and religious life at our organization’s Eighth National Symposium on Catholicism and LGBT People, to be held in Chicago, April 28-30, 2017. Because of this latest ordeal, his presentation will further show his strength of character, faithfulness to God, and devoted service to those shunned by dictatorial Church leaders.
Photo by George Martell via flickr