SO AM I “PRO-GAY” OR NOT???–Some Clarifications

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...
emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As often as I have struggled with my own path, and it has indeed been often in the last couple of years, I know that such a struggle has been even more so true with people who are not at the same place spiritually which I may happen to be.  And by saying that I am not implying that I have even nearly arrived, believe me, but rather that I do once for all accept fully the Church teaching on all things doctrinal, and that of need must include homosexuality, abortion, the Papacy, the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a host of other questions that Christians might honestly but vehemently disagree about.

I was once asked by someone close to me how I could be a part of a Church that will not let me “be myself,” The  real sand most succinct answer is–this is myself. Who, not what, I am, is a Catholic Christian, a same-sex attracted  (SSA) male but not actively LGBT or “gay” person of Faith, if of course that term is used in the sense of looking for or being subtly open to a romantic relationship with another male, and who honestly believes that celibacy is my calling, and in fact the calling of all single Christians. That is me.

Further I have come to those conclusions not by force or hierarchical pressure but by what are my honest convictions on these matters.  I do not, and I would repeat do not, condemn others who have other conclusions or understandings on these matters. How could I? I spent 15 years, over 1/3 of my adult life, in actively working for the basic rights of LGBT people, and identified as part of that world very publicly during that entire time. And God indeed knows that, at times, I have even struggled with my own beliefs too, several times in fact, as many of you know even since returning to Rome in 2005.

But somehow, somewhere, what resonates most deeply within me is the overall truth of Roman Catholic Christianity and that of necessity includes the whole package, not  just the bits and pieces I am comfortable with. I believe too  that there are Christians of all stripes or spots, and that I am not in any sense a “better Christian” than they are. I know better.

But I also believe and accept that the Catholic Church has the fullness and clearest earthly expression of that Faith.That is who I am at my deepest essence. Not my sexual identity or inclinations, nor my sometimes changing political views, and not my inane interpretation of Pope Francis versus Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or who of them was or is best on which level. Those all can be side issues with various opinions allowed, but my view on such core teachings  as the sanctity of life from conception to natural death and my understanding of  sacramental marriage being between a man and woman are not negotiable as a Catholic Christian (capital C).

That also does not mean  that there are not valid ways, on a civil level, to protect the rights of others to live and let live, no matter what one’s orientation/inclination sexually or inclinations spiritually either. However it does mean I have to follow my Faith wherever it may personally take me, and that at times may be to places that neither my actively LGBT or straight non-Catholic friends or family might ever fully understand.

I know that the common saying of “love the sinner but hate the sin” has gone pretty much totally out of favor among many people these days, but if used and not misused I think it is fairly applicable here. We live in a world and society where we can disagree, and we also can see such thorny issues differently while remaining brothers and sisters in Christ. It is not intolerant for us to do have opposing views. It only becomes intolerant when we quit listening to one another or empathizing with those we may disagree with most.

What we cannot do then is to use those honest disagreements to judge the souls of one another. And that, by the way, is what I believe Pope Francis was saying when asked about “people of good will” who happen to be SSA (although to be fair he used the term “gay” here which has caused more speculation than not on the matter on both sides) and that he had no right to judge them. No more or less.

As to the issue of whether “same sex marriage” should or should not have been passed here in MN or elsewhere, I am not writing this post in order to revive argument on that issue, although I suspect it will to some extent do so. Again, people of good will may strongly disagree on that topic and I have some family and friends who see the issue on squarely opposite viewpoints. I am genuinely happy that LGBT people I know and love now have the protections of law in crucial areas of their lives. I remain convinced however that it would not have ever needed to become a redefinition of marriage in order for that to occur, and I think that both sides failed to dialogue with one another in many instances.  But being happy for people’s protections is not the same thing as suggesting that I agree with the concept. And for the record I do not, and cannot.

Over 100 years ago, Pope Leo XII wrote in his February 10,1880 Encyclical on Marriage (the following quote is from section 19, and emphasis mine):

“Nevertheless, the naturalists,[32] as well as all who profess that they worship above all things the divinity of the State, and strive to disturb whole communities with such wicked doctrines, cannot escape the charge of delusion. Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it a something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature. Innocent III. therefore. and Honorius III, our predecessors, affirmed not falsely nor rashly that a sacrament of marriage existed ever amongst the faithful and unbelievers.[33] We call to witness the monuments of antiquity, as also the manners and customs of those people who, being the most civilized, had the greatest knowledge of law and equity. In the minds of all of them it was a fixed and foregone conclusion that, when marriage was thought of, it was a concept conjoined with religion and holiness. Hence, among those, marriages were commonly celebrated with religious ceremonies, under the authority of pontiffs, and with the ministry of priests. So mighty, even in the souls ignorant of heavenly doctrine, was the force of nature, of the remembrance of their origin, and of the conscience of the human race. As, then, marriage is holy by its own power, in its own nature, and of itself, it ought not to be regulated and administered by the will of civil rulers, but by the divine authority of the Church, which alone in sacred matters professes the office of teaching.”

English: Maggie Gallagher at the Cato Institute

For some reason, the idea of one man/one woman marriage predating the Church and existing in all other cultures and such seemed to me perhaps just a nice quick, “Maggie Gallagher” type of argument against LGBT people, and I tended to regard it as such in the past. But it is the quintessential historical teaching of Christianity.  Reading the rest of this particular Encyclical is indeed an eye-opener, and I have linked it below. This societal fight about the nature of marriage did not begin in the 1960s or 70s–but has always been a tension between Church and state, and nearly 125 years ago Pope Leo found it important enough to address and warn of the future deterioration of the institution with easy divorce and the state having more authority than the Church on what is essentially a religious institution.  Indeed a man ahead of his time.

English: Pope Leo XII
English: Pope Leo XII (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://thealexanderhouse.org/encyclical-of-pope-leo-xiii-on-marriage/

So there it is. My view. And hopefully, as best as I know how to express it, the view of the Church. We do indeed love each and every person, and must treat all people with the dignity that God Himself has given them. And that includes protecting people in employment, unless that employment is against the religious values of an private organization, equal housing, hospital visitation, and (I personally believe) Social Security benefits for long-term committed relationships, whether sexual or not. But in doing so we do not have to deny or diminish  the natural or sacramental state of marriage. And that is indeed between one man, and one woman. And that concept was not my idea–it was God’s. And I am through fighting Him.

And, in answer to the original question posed, I am indeed “pro-gay” if by saying so we are referring to caring for and loving actively LGBT persons, but not “pro-gay agenda,” if that same term is being used to promote so-called “marriage equality” and other such twists and turns on society. And that is my view in a nutshell.

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7 Replies to “SO AM I “PRO-GAY” OR NOT???–Some Clarifications”

  1. Richard — I would like to chime in if only to offer my support, as a member of the clergy, in your excellent explanations of the historical stance of the Church and marriage. I would also like to commend you on your explanation to Rebecca about interpreting the Bible in the context of the time and the community to which certain passages were addressed. As a Religious Studies professor, it is important to me that my students understand the history of the cultures to whom the books and epistles of the Bible were written. It is unfortunate that so many Christians do not understand the Bible to be a compilation of 73 or 66 books, depending on whether you are Catholic or Protestant, written over several centuries to many different cultures.

    I attended church with a Protestant friend this morning. Their pastor was dressed in a clerical shirt and collar. As he began his sermon on, “The Radical Jesus: Jury Duty”, he commented that each person, within 10 seconds, made a judgement of his attire. The scripture reading was Matthew 7:1-6 — “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. . . . ” As I said in my blog, while believing the Catholic Church must stand her ground on the issue of marriage, I also believe the State must recognize equal civil rights for all. Churches of all denominations must retain the freedom to practice their beliefs without the interference of government. That would include church sponsored businesses such as hospitals, orphanages, and other social services. If our politicians in Washington, D. C. could get their acts together, there could be a resolution to the divide in our country, allowing churches to maintain their freedom to practice their doctrines while finding a means for the more liberal constituents to practice their beliefs.

    Maybe, we should turn the clock back to the “Ozzie and Harriet” days. 🙂 Nope, that wouldn’t work, either.

    God bless you, Richard, and all that you do with your “ministry” of sharing your life experiences.

    Fr. Michael

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  2. Ok not entirely convinced that you follow the teachings of the bible in full. I’m sure some practices are even outlawed- ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’; it is now illegal to hit children for discipline.
    ‘Do not wear clothes of more than one fabric’- polycotton much?
    ‘Anyone who curses or blasphemes god should be stoned to death by the community’ – one of the most popular terms (OMG) doesn’t seen to deserve brutal death.
    ‘If anyone, even your own family suggests worshipping another god, kill them’ – religious freedom?

    I just think that nobody can claim to follow the bible in it’s entirety- on another note- many of these quotes are from Leviticus, so why is there so much emphasis on homosexuality and not these other (inane) issues?

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    1. Hi Rebecca Joanne and thanks for responding…I am not sure where you get the idea that I claim to follow the Bible in full or exactly word for word, not something I claim here or elsewhere.

      I also agree that there are many other very important issues, and if this is your first time to my blog take a peek at earlier posts, as I cover a fairly wide variety. God bless, and thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Rebecca I would further add that, as Roman Catholics, we believe that the Bible is indeed the Word of God but must be interpreted in context of the time a verse or passage was written, who it was addressed to, and why. Actually most Protestant Christians would agree as well.

      Where your examples fail is that those words were written to a society, much like many within the Muslim world, that is more theocratic than democratic. The ancient Jewish people did not separate church and state, and read in that context those laws mean something very different than to the modern Christian today.

      As to homosexuality, I stated and will say again that I do not condemn those who disagree with me, nor am I in a position to judge anyone’s soul. But I do have to look out for my own. And my understanding of the Sacred Scriptures as well as long-standing Church Tradition does not allow me to support fully the causes of many LGBT activists.

      I also pointed out in the article that I want basic rights for all people and I do. It would be severe self-hatred if I did not, since I too am from that background. But that does not mean I must support the way it is being done. So again I thank you for reading, and again I agree with you that the Bible must be read in context and not used as a battering ram against others.

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  3. Now, I think it’s fair to say you’re taking (or have taken?) the bitter medicine the Church is giving you. Just pray for me that I can do the same, as courageously as you. (We each have our own medicine to take …)

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    1. I am surely trying to anyway…I think sometimes we take the medicine in small doses, and as the Catechism says we “gradually and resolutely” grow in holiness. But in the mean time we grow, rather than sitting stagnant. I will gladly pray for you and would humbly ask the same. God bless.

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