Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gay Catholics

It seems to be the preferred term now.

Queer theory, queer theology, queer spirituality is taking root, just as I said it would some years ago.  Developing a gay spirituality is in process by gay Catholics.  I'm not speaking of the active-gay-Catholics who dissent from Catholic moral teaching regarding marriage and homosexual acts, I'm speaking of 'faithful' Catholics who choose to retain gay as part of their identity, yet embrace chastity and pretty much the teaching of the Church - depending on what the definition of 'is' is.  And what I mean by that is, some authors are intently studying and debating such things as, what objectively disordered really means.  Nothing wrong with that - but their conclusions are often more ambiguous than the original text they seek to interpret.  Perhaps I will write more about this when I have time - but I'm not sure it is even worth my time to do so.  The new thinking on the subject is becoming quite popular and seems to be following its own trajectory, and my POV, as well as that of Courage apostolate seems to be as unpopular as ever.  (BTW - I do not say Courage is the only way for a person with ssa to live a faithful Catholic life, but so far it seems to be the best support system the Church has to offer.  Nevertheless, one is not obliged to join the group or any group.)

That said, in the case of Courage, I believe many younger 'gay Catholics' reject aspects of the apostolate, in part, because the apostolate rejects the use of the essentially political term, 'gay'.   Fr. John Harvey considered the term indicative of not only the homosexual orientation of the person, but also indicative the person accepts or approves of homoerotic behavior, as well as the homosexual lifestyle.  The Church considers the modern age terms 'heterosexual' and 'homosexual' more or less as novel forms of identity, when in fact the person's fundamental identity is as God's creation, and by baptism, the child of God and coheir with Christ - and thus, a new creation in the image of the Redeemer.  This is one reason why the term same sex attracted, or ssa is used in place of gay.  Some authors argue that the term precludes any possibility of opposite sex attraction, yet that is simply an exaggeration, an absurd notion easily corrected.  (I also understand that it is common parlance in use these days, but I myself continue to consider the person using the term 'gay Catholic' to be either an active homosexual or one who endorses the lifestyle.)

The other reason Courage is rejected is because of the perception the apostolate is aligned with NARTH and therefore promotes reparative therapy to 'get over being gay' - making gay people straight.  Many gay people find the very idea repellent.  It is an obstacle for some people, although the Church does not expect people to seek a cure, but rather to sanctify themselves, and they do this by embracing chastity according to their state in life - this means no homoerotic behavior, no masturbating, no porn, and so on.  Neither does Courage require a person to change his/her orientation, but rather to embrace a life of continence.  If a person with unwanted same sex attraction seeks therapy and has the conviction and will to work through reparative therapy, Courage provides a link to such resources.  Therapy is expensive, and not always reliable, and not all would or could be able to afford it.  Unfortunately today, in some cases spiritual directors are now charging 'clients' for their services, which can also be a deterrent.  Thankfully, Courage is a free support system, a ministry of the Church.

The gay marriage debate in this country is bringing many novel queer theories to the forefront - and it is amazing how popular some of these are becoming.
The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life. - CDF

"Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well."
[This] sentence in section 16 [of the Letter to the Bishops] cautions the homosexual person not to exaggerate the suffering that his condition brings to him: Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well.  I see this as a reference to the tendency found in many homosexual persons to indulge in self-pity, to feel that 'no one else has to suffer the way I suffer.'" - The Homosexual Person, Vatican Document, John Harvey
Not a few are buying into that self-pity, claiming the homosexual person is special and unique, and their sufferings are unlike others' sufferings.  By doing so, you are queering the Church.


  1. This is excellent. Many stand with you, and pray for you.

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  3. Thanks for this Terry. I'm in 100% agreement, and I'm concerned by the recent adoption of the gay moniker by orthodox Catholics both with SSA and not. As I told Nark Shea, why label these Catholics with the same term coined and claimed by the Dan Savages of the world?

  4. I struggle with SSA, and I definitely stand with you on this one.

    I've been wary of recent attempts to try to make this aspect of our lives somehow central or a point of special focus in our spiritual journeys. It seems like many of us have this constant temptation where we try to get others to approve of us through our SSA. We feel that pressing need to reveal it to others (the big "coming out"), we agonize about whether or not people will accept us when they find out (when truth of the matter is that people don't care), and now, we want the Church to acknowledge our value through our SSA. It all seems a bit counterproductive from the stand-point of traditional Catholic spirituality, doesn't it?

    Anyhow, I'm definitely interested in reading more of your thoughts on this, Terry.

  5. Terry, I am with you, for what it's worth.

  6. Thanks Terry. I appreciate the way you handled the writing in this piece.


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