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Open Letter to Bishop Earl Fernandes

August 30, 2022


August 30, 2022 

Most Revd Earl K. Fernandes 

Bishop, Diocese of Columbus 

197 E. Gay Street 

Columbus, OH 43215 

Bishop Fernandes: 

It was with dismay that LOVEboldly and the undersigned organizations and individuals received the news that after 66 years of faithful service to the Catholic community at Ohio State and in Central Ohio, the Paulist Fathers would no longer serve as leaders of the St. Thomas More Newman Center at The Ohio State University. We appreciated the invitation from your office to the Paulist Fathers to remain on staff as chaplains. 

The Paulist Fathers have courageously created a home for LGBTQIA+ Roman Catholics at the Newman Center while faithfully ministering to generations of Catholics as pastors, leaders, and witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ. Though we may not always agree on Church teaching regarding LGBTQIA+ people, the Roman Catholic Church has a long history of defending the dignity of all people, including members of the Queer community. Indeed, in the 2019 PRRI American Values Atlas, 76% of Catholic respondents supported or strongly supported nondiscrimination laws for the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Recently, we learned that the Newman Center sign, which read “All are Welcome,” had literally been painted over, removing the invitation that Jesus himself issued to those that followed him. Further, it has come to our attention that the Newman Center will soon host meetings of Courage International, an organization that advances a dangerous ideology, including the requirements that Catholics refrain from attending same-gender weddings, that LGBTQIA+ people embrace chastity, and that LGBTQIA+ people deny their fundamental identities. While Courage International officially does not require or refer members to reparative or conversion therapy, there are nevertheless deep ties between Courage and the discredited work of reparative therapy proponents including Joseph Nicolosi. 

As fellow Christians and people of faith who identify as LGBTQIA+ and care deeply for LGBTQIA+ people, we urge you to take steps to renew the affirming ministry of the St. Thomas More Newman Center at Ohio State to all people, particularly to LGBTQIA+ people. Further, we urge you to stop the hosting of Courage International groups at all sites in the Diocese of Columbus. 


Dr. Ben Huelskamp 

Executive Director 


Brian Peebles 

Volunteer, Parishioner, Active Member 

St. Thomas More Newman Center 

Kathy Barkhurst 

Former Member of the Newman Resident Community 

Kelly Sollinger 

Former Staff Member and Resident Community Member

St. Thomas More Newman Center 

Rachel Dew 

Board Chair 


Heidi Weaver-Smith 

Founder/Board Member 


Rev. Becky Piatt 

Senior Pastor 

King Avenue UMC 

Rev. Andrew Burns 

Associate Pastor 

King Avenue UMC 

Sheri Lytle 

Board Member 


Gwen DeRosa 

Director of Student Ministries 

King Avenue UMC 

Rev. Dan Clark 

Ohio Director 

Faith in Public Life 

Alana Jochum, Esq. 

Executive Director 

Equality Ohio 

Joe Graves 


Central City Church 

Mary Counter 

Justice Seeker 

Jon Osmundson 


Hilliard United Methodist Church 

Lisa Vahey

Community Volunteer 

Honesty for Ohio Education & Forest Hill Church 

Rev. Dr. David Long-Higgins 

Conference Minister 

Heartland Conference United Church of Christ

This statement can be attributed to LOVEboldly;

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