As often as I have struggled with my path to truth and holiness, and it has indeed been often in the last few years, I know that such a struggle has been true even more so for people who are not at the same place spiritually where I may happen to at long last be. By saying that I am not in the least implying that I have even nearly arrived, believe me, but rather a reiteration that I do now, and once for all, fully accept the Roman Catholic 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 various groups of 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 and most succinct answer is simple–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. The real one.
Further I have come to those conclusions not primarily 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 afterwards wrestled with my own beliefs including since returning to Rome in 2005. So I do get the struggle.
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 sincere and deeply spiritual Christians of all stripes or spots, and that I am not in any sense a “better Christian” than they are. Trust me I know better.
But I also believe and accept that the Catholic Church has the fullness and most clear earthly expression of that Faith.That again 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 the understanding of sacramental marriage being between a man and woman are not negotiable as a Catholic Christian (capital C). And C is me.
That also does not mean that there are not valid ways, on a civil or legal level, to protect the rights of others to live and let live, no matter what one’s orientation/inclination sexually or inclinations spiritually may happen to be. It does however mean that I must 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 here on this earthly journey.
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–meaning their souls. No more or less.
As to the issue of whether “same-sex marriage” should or should not have become law here in MN (or now the entire United States of America as of 6-26-15), I am not writing this post in order to further kindle bitterness or battles 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 far too many instances. But being glad for people’s protections is not the same thing as suggesting that I agree, at least fully, with the entire concept. And to be clear I do not.
Over 100 years ago, Pope Leo XIII wrote in his February 10,1880 Encyclical on Marriage (the following quote is from section 19, and emphasis mine):
“Nevertheless, the naturalists, 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. 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.”
For some reason, the idea of one man/one woman marriage predating the Church and existing in all other cultures and such once seemed to me perhaps just a nice quick, “Maggie Gallagher” (who, incidentally I have come to deeply respect over the years once I began to actually listen to her) 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 surely an eye-opener, and I have linked it just 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 XIII 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.
So there it is. My view. And hopefully, as best 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 all people in employment, unless that employment is specifically against the religious values of a private organization, equal housing, hospital visitation, and (at least perhaps) such societal helps as 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. Nor does that need to mean a subtle endorsement of concepts of family we cannot in good conscience agree with. And marriage is, from Genesis to Revelation and beyond, between one man and one woman. Nor was that concept 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 all aspects of so-called “marriage equality” and other such twists and turns on society. And that, in word and essence, is my “Catholic stand” on the topic.
AND, last but not least, a video from Blackstone Films, “The Third Way,” explains it better than I ever could…check it out and again many thanks for reading…
Related Articles (from various views, NOT always mine):
- Does the New Papal Encyclical Comment on LGBT Issues? (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Are Catholics Against Gay Marriage? (iowntheworld.com)
- Rhode Island Gay Couple Denied Communion at Parish (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Pope Francis Didn’t Say Anything Radical About Homosexuality, So Stop Pretending He Did (patheos.com)
- It’s Not What the Pope Said About Gays, It’s How He Said It (world.time.com)
For Further Reading
- CELIBATE BUT NOT CHASTE??? CHASTE BUT NOT CELIBATE??? A Quick Catholic “Snapshot” of SSA Theology (https://catholicboyrich.wordpress.com)
- Excommunicated Priest Suing Diocese is Inspired by Pope Francis (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Does the Catholic Church really respect women, or the men who support them? (washingtonpost.com)
- LGBT Catholics Cautiously Encouraged by Pope’s Tolerance (advocate.com)