“HOME WITHIN A HOME”–An LGBT Catholic’s journey to an Episcopal Parish

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I have two amazing cousins who have been together as a couple for many years, and in the last several were finally allowed to make their union as two LGBT males legal and public—I am proud to have them in my diverse family, and have written this especially for them, but the sentiments are for any out there who are wondering what my views are regarding same-sex marriage. I am for it. It is equally for those who believe I have left the traditions of my Catholic Faith by joining an extremely wonderful Episcopal parish recently—I have not. In short, I am a gay-affirming Catholic Christian who has found a home within a home. And glad I have.

Hey, my cousins and comrades 🙂 

I wanted to share something with both of you, as people I deeply love and care about and who deserve to hear this from me directly. Lately I migrated from Roman Catholic to an affirming Episcopal parish where I can live my life out more freely as an LGBTQ person. Strange to have been “out” for 15 years, then eventually drawn back into Catholicism again after many years away, and during that time endeavoring to live out the many beautiful traditions of the Faith, ultimately realizing that many of the otherwise beautiful and powerful customs there have at the same time held me back from that other side of myself which is equally a part of who I am as a gay man. I feel like I am nearing 62 and just starting over in so many ways, this certainly being one of them. But that is the case it seems.
My journey, unlike many, has always been public, whether by blogging, Facebook, or other social media, and for that very reason I wish to share this leg of that journey in an equally public way. That openness has no doubt at times confused and even exasperated others, some who think I am too conservative overall and others who no doubt think the opposite. I am never going to please everyone, and I do not here attempt to, but I believe I owe a deep apology to you personally as a result. I realize my self-conflicting views were not in the end being true to myself, and likely very unclear to my LGBTQ sisters and brothers on more than one occasion. For that I am truly sorry.
For the record I have always believed in the rights of all, certainly including (though not limited to) my own LGBTQ community, but honestly felt that the redefinition of marriage was not the only way for us to have or achieve equality. I still find it messy at times due to the very real conflicts between two groups of people who are both important to me, that is to my community of Faith as a Catholic Christian and my equally important community of being part of a sexual minority who has been deeply oppressed by the other. That conflict is still very real, and will require yet much dialogue and even legal measures to protect both sides. The battle is far from over.
The bottom line however is that I can no longer quietly stand by and watch people I care about, myself included, be hurt or devastated by even well-meaning Christian people who would shove us all back into the closet or worse. In saying this I am in no way impugning my very dear Roman Catholic friends and family, who are very good people overall and who hopefully will understand my evolution as time goes on, and at very least who still care about me in any case. And thankfully that is most people I know. I mean primarily the overall institution of the Church, the hierarchy as well as others, who have hurt our community over and over with no signs of stopping anytime soon. I will no longer sit back quietly about that injustice, for that is what it is.
I am deeply sorry for any offense that my seemingly contradictory views have caused to either side, but particularly to my LGBTQ loved ones. I hope to spend the rest of my life making up for my own publicly confusing statements on the topic. And, also for the record, I am very, very glad that there is marriage equality. One day I may even meet someone yet who I can share my life with, and I want to truthfully be able to say to that person that I stand fully with my LGBTQ sisters and brothers on the matter and always have. No questions, no compromise.

I recently came across a statement, not mine, but from a Facebook group of Anglo-Catholics who, like me, believe in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church and probably 95% of the traditions I have become graced by over the last 12 years since my return to Catholicism. While not original to me it reflects my understanding of the Faith very closely, and I currently would see myself as both Episcopal/Anglican and Catholic in my faith journey going forward—and only the richer for it.

The statement follows, and is “borrowed” from a FB group by the name of the Anglo-Catholic Resistance:
“We are a group of churchmen, clergy and laity, who, in love and zeal for God’s Church, and in charity for our neighbors, strive to bring about the increase and perpetuation of the Faith.
We affirm the historic doctrines of the English Church, as are encompassed in the Catechism and the Lambeth Quadrilateral. In particular, we affirm the truth of the three historic Creeds of the Church.
We affirm nothing less than the literal, bodily death and literal, bodily resurrection of Christ.
We hold that the Sacraments are central to the right and proper worship of Almighty God.
We believe the consecrated Bread and Cup to be the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, and therefore strive to treat the Mass with the utmost dignity and reverence according to the traditions of the Church.
We hold that no person ought to be denied admission to Holy Communion except that he or she has not been duly baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We hold, likewise, that there is no reason not to admit to Holy Orders or extend the rights of Holy Matrimony to all persons so called, regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
We believe the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, and continually ask her intercession and the intercession of all the faithful departed upon us and upon the Church.
We affirm head-covering by laywomen in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament to be a vocation rather than a mandate.
We hope for a revival within the Church of love for tradition in liturgy and doctrine, proper formation of both clergy and laity, and zeal for the Gospel.
Ultimately, our hope is in Christ, who died and rose again that we might one day also rise triumphant with all the Saints on the Last Day and enter into His presence where death shall be no more.”

I would only add that I see my current self as a “progressive Anglo-Catholic Christian” who has chosen freely to hang my hat and be part of  St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, MN, and am finding, at least thus far, that we meet each other’s needs phenomenally. As to the above Statement of Faith, I find that it too meets my overall needs for purposes of this blog, but in the wonderful Episcopal Church tradition I find myself a part of, reserve my right as a believer to investigate, question, and occasionally change my mind on some individual points as listed here or elsewhere. That is called freedom of conscience, and is a very Catholic idea, by the way.  In that light, below is a further explanation I recently posted on my FB page and add here as well–

I would clarify that I am not “exactly” Anglo-Catholic but my beliefs are closely aligned with many of those who are. I love and connect with the 2000 year tradition of the Church, as well as the earliest 3 Creeds (Apostle’s, Athanasian and Nicene) and see Sacred Scripture (Bible), particularly the 66 books accepted by virtually all Christians, but also the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books, as the final rule of faith and practice for believers. I also see the Bible and tradition, as well as prayerful human reason, working together to provide the 3 main ways (3 legged stool) in which God has revealed, and continues to reveal, Christianity to us. I also highly respect the leadership of the Church, beginning but not ending with Pope Francis, as “first among equals.” Finally, I believe in the freedom of an informed conscience within the individual believer, which in reality most if not all Roman, Anglican, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians each accept on one level or another. In short I am a baptized and believing member of the Church Universal. To me that is what Catholic Christianity is all about.