Prophetic Words from Our Bishop Liaison

stoweCCA is pleased to highlight two pieces of recent writing from our Bishop Liaison, John Stowe, OFM, Conv., Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky.

Writing in the Lexington Herald-Leader at the end of July, Stowe criticized Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program, which include “an increase of premiums, cost-sharing charges and a lock-out period” which would create “significant barriers to obtaining coverage or seeing a doctor, much less a dentist or eye doctor.”

Stowe writes:

State budgets reveal the values of the governing administration; they should also reveal the values of the people. Disregard for the vulnerable weakens the common good. A genuine reform of health care in Kentucky should result in health care that is accessible and affordable for all, and not place more restrictions on accessing it. The mere complexity of the proposed plan will create new barriers to care precisely when the need is to continue expanding access.

And last week, Bishop John offered a series of reflections on mercy to the Conference of Major Superiors of Men at their assembly in Columbus, Ohio. The Conference is the association of the leaders of vowed men’s religious communities in the United States. As noted by Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, Stowe’s opening reflection contained many positive references to LGBT people and issues. Among his reflections, Stowe said:

“Let everything the Church says and does be seen as merciful.” I think bishops need some help to know how—and I think I am in the midst of a group who has the capacity to model this. For every blunt statement of doctrine and categorical condemnation uttered by the church, may religious men be willing to stand with the sinners and gently walk with them on the path of conversion. For every pronouncement about intrinsic evils and disordered sexuality, may religious men be ready to wipe tears and heal wounds and help to rediscover goodness and dignity. For every insensitive reaction to circumstances or perceived threats, may religious men bring the fruit of contemplation and discernment of the Spirit’s movement.

We agree with DeBernardo, who said of Stowe in a blog post:

These reflections by a relatively new bishop signal a new direction for the Church. They offer hope for people concerned with LGBT equality, but they also offer hope for the whole Church. The fact that they were spoken at a gathering of the leaders of men’s religious communities means that Stowe’s–and Pope Francis’–messsage [sic] is being spread to the “middle managers” of the church, the people who can make policy and pastoral practice changes. His words indicate that a message of tenderness is beginning to flower in our Church.

The entirety of Stowe’s opening reflection can be found here.

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