Our readers on creating a church that welcomes L.G.B.T. Catholics
In her feature in the last issue of America, Eve Tushnet describes a curriculum she is creating to welcome young L.G.B.T. Catholics. “Our hope is that, by the time a young person begins asking questions about their own sexual orientation, they already trust that there is a place for gay people in the Catholic Church,” she writes, later noting that those contributing resources to the project “accept Catholic teaching in full.” The article elicited numerous responses from our readers.
This is a beautiful article filled with hope. But as a former religion teacher in a Catholic high school, I have to say that what a teacher says in class is subject to the local bishop’s approval or disapproval. So the author’s curriculum would have to have the approval of the bishop, and there are some bishops who would not allow for a more compassionate way of addressing homosexuality and gender issues. Our diocese does hire homosexual teachers but only on the condition that they do not share their sexual identity with students.
As a gay man (and former Catholic) growing up in the 1960s, I have my own “scars” from the Catholic Church. The teaching that it was not a sin to be homosexual but a sin to perform homosexual acts left a seemingly indelible stain on my psyche, which took years for me to heal from.
I admire and support L.G.B.T.Q.+ Catholics who have been able to reconcile with the church or faith of their childhood. In my own attempts to do so, and after much soul searching, I’ve concluded that I cannot belong to a church that offers me only conditional acceptance, a church that says I’m welcome yet tells me I’m wrong for expressing my sexuality.
It is my hope that in the efforts as described in this article, more dialogue will continue until such time as awareness will transcend traditions, doctrine and dogma, and the true teachings of Jesus about God’s all-encompassing and unconditional love will be revealed and taught. It is accessible to all who have the courage and willingness to look within.
I admire and support L.G.B.T.Q.+ Catholics who have been able to reconcile with the church or faith of their childhood.
As a gay Catholic who has pondered long and ever so hard about leaving the church, I can only envision entering any Catholic forum with the defensive posture of a pugilist. For the life of me, I can’t see how Ms. Tushnet’s initiative is going to sweep into view and with a creative flourish pull this off. But I am old now, and correspondingly corroded by my tumultuous time on earth and in the church. I lack their spiritual vision. I have scant wisdom. So, I’ll sit in the shade reserved for the elders and watch to see how this is done.
Jesus told us not to judge others. Unfortunately, some self-described “orthodox” Catholics come across as not having grasped what Jesus himself taught, through words and through his actions. They seem to think it’s all about “right” beliefs, rather than about “right” actions. And since Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, today’s condemnation of homosexuality may not really be “right” belief. Maybe it’s time that those who are so quick to condemn L.G.B.T.Q. people change focus. Maybe they should find another place to direct their efforts. There are many worthy causes.
The notion that a sexual desire is a core part of a person’s identity is wrong. It should not be celebrated or promoted by any Catholic school. Reducing a human being to a sexual orientation makes no sense from a Catholic perspective.
Although there is an aching need for all Christians to practice radical forms of hospitality, the fundamental issue we need to address is related to identity. How, very specifically, do L.G.B.T.Q. people identify themselves? This helps to determine the “welcome” they will be afforded. Are they Catholics who are L.G.B.T.Q. people, or are they L.G.B.T.Q. people who want to be Catholic—but on their own terms? If they truly identify as the former, a greater receptivity can be attained. If they put L.G.B.T.Q. first, making this their primary identity, and not Christ, then further conversation and catechesis is required. A Christian’s primary identity is Christ, and all other identities serve this priority.