Sunday, July 07, 2013

Mass Chat: So, is the Church guilty of a "pastoral failure toward homosexuals"?


A few gay Catholics seem to think so.  They complain homosexual sin is singled out but contraception, divorce and remarriage is not - although there are support groups for divorced and remarried, evidently there is nothing for gay and Catholic.  Of course there is Courage, but one writer complains it is not in every diocese, other writers complain Courage isn't a one size fits all solution for gay and Catholic.  It is very difficult to discern just exactly what gay people want or expect.

Many - up until recently, myself included, have complained they are forever the outsider - damned if they do and damned if they don't.  That they have a sort of scarlet letter with which they are branded.  They do not feel welcomed at church, in the parish, and so on. 

I don't know.

Looking back on my own life, I think I often alienated myself, I projected onto other people my own conflicts.  I separated myself many times, withdrew from family, coworkers, fellow Catholics.  In several instances, it was a good thing, since I was able to avoid giving scandal to others.  At other times I just didn't want to have to offer an explanation or get involved in a debate.  It was easy to convince myself that people would probably reject me if they knew my history - despite the fact that those who knew accepted me already.  But. I. Still. Did. Not. Fit. In.  Or so I convinced myself.

Last evening I had dinner with a couple of friends, and they talked about how they were bullied and shamed during high school, how they hated gym, were always the last to picked for the team and so on.  Though there were elements of that in my experience - except I was never bullied or called a sissy, my family were the only ones who did that to me - in school I was always treated well.  If I wasn't good at a particular thing, the coach-gym teacher excused me saying, "Terry you don't have to do that."  No one shamed or demeaned me or bullied me.  But I wasn't interested in boys either.  So maybe that's why.  Did I feel like an outsider on the inside?  Pretty much - but I wanted that - I wanted to be an artist.  To suffer!  Little did I know...

Part of the experience of gay culture is the desire, the image, that one is unique or special - set apart, different from other mere mortals or muggles.  Therefore I have to wonder, 'what are those who identify as gay Catholics really asking?'  Especially when they insist upon identifying themselves as gay Catholic?  (By doing so - they have already set themselves apart for special reference, special treatment or consideration.) What more can the Church do or offer other than what the Church offers for every man and woman?  Are priests expected to be psychologists and therapists?  Aren't the sacraments enough?  Isn't a parish community enough? 

In my parish I believe there are gay people who work there.  I also know there are parishioners there who dissent from Church teaching.  I know there are very traditional parishioners as well.  It is a microcosm of the Church.  People get along, accept one another, pray together, do works of charity together - it is a parish.  The church has special groups, Social Justice, Mission, Youth, AA, all sorts of stuff.  The Archdiocese supports a Courage group.  What more is needed?  What do gay people want?  You see what I'm trying to say?  If I felt like an outsider, it was because I didn't join in, I didn't participate.  I was still accepted however - I was still allowed to be there - indeed, welcomed to be there.

Methinks they protest too much.

I think what I'm trying to say, after years of experience, that gay people make it difficult for ordinary people to even know how to respond.  Today, as never before in history, the Church is literally on its knees seeking to minister to persons with same sex attraction - we have cardinals and bishops wringing their hands, claiming the Church must do more.  While at the same time, other dissenting gay Catholics assail Church teaching and condemn the Magisterium as being out of touch.  There is something really screwed up with that - and the problem is not with Church teaching.

I'm not writing a book here, nor a magazine article, this is pretty much just my comment on a post Mark Shea did: Interesting letter from a gay Catholic, the letter is from Eric Brown, who also wrote this elsewhere:
It seems that homosexual Catholics hardly get the support they need from their Catholic brothers and sisters. It is absolutely true that Catholics have an obligation to build a moral and just society. However, there seems to be a hypocrisy in the way Catholics and other Christians make extraordinary demands on homosexuals in American life on the basis of “loving them”, yet the amount of effort spent in offering support and educational awareness of the plight of homosexuals and how to accommodate them sensitively within a Catholic moral framework is very disheartening. How many chastity resources for homosexuals can one think of that is secular, that may appeal to homosexuals who have struggles with approaching anything religious? What are non-religious homosexuals to do? Moreover, just how much do we actually think of the concerns and journey of homosexual people when considering public policy? - Eric Brown

What are non-religious homosexuals to do?

What is any non-religious person to do?  What is this all about?  What do homosexuals want?  What exactly do they want the Church to do for them?

My secular gay friends reject Church teaching.  But they don't want to be religious.  They don't care.  They don't believe.  I'm their friend.  They can't read my blog without going ballistic, so they don't read it.  We are friends.  We talk.  I'm not better than they are, though sometimes they think they are better than me because they are free of the burden of the Faith, but we remain friends.  I pray for them - that they will be saved.  I don't pray, 'make them Catholic', 'make them straight', 'make them this or that'.  I pray for their salvation.  They know me and accept me.  They don't make demands on me, I don't make demands on them. 

So what are non-religious homosexuals to do?  Whatever they want. 

I'm sure this post will be taken as mean-spirited, bigoted, narrow minded, homophobic, and on an on.  I'm just being honest and realistic however.  I do not want to offend the authors of the posts cited above, but after reading so much about these matters lately, I really think gay people have to get over themselves.  If they are constantly finding problems with the Church and her ministers, they really should take a closer look at themselves.

"We should not predicate 'homosexual' of any person, that does a disservice to the dignity of the human person by collapsing personhood into sexual inclinations.” - Fr. Paul Scalia

Duck and cover.



  1. On the 4th, my Godparents were in town visiting and my Uncle asked me why I wasn't in the Knights of Columbus. I said my parish really wouldn't want my kind around, and he said that's ridiculous; we're all needed (he knows my issue, btw). I realized I am still sticking to this narrative that 'they' (read: the parish, although I'm not sure who all "they" are) would reject me if they knew all about me. The thing is, why would they have to, unless I or someone close to me made it known? Why would it *have* to be known any more than someone else's particular sin? It would not have to be known, and I could go joint any group I wanted. Except that I have this internal self-disclosure mandate for some reason; as if I don't disclose, I'm somehow lying or being disingenuous. Why is that? (just thinking out loud, Ter, unless you really want to answer). My spiritual director told me once that not everyone needs to be burdened with the truth of my issue, so I try to keep that in mind. Still, I keep the parish at an arm's distance. I participate in Eucharistic Adoration, but that's it. I guess if I blame it on the parish -- defensively detach -- then I'm free to still do what I want, when I want, free of the burdens (and commitments) of parish family life. I guess part of me still doesn't buy the reality that a person with SSA, while really part of the family, is accepted and loved and valued as part of the family. Nevertheless, we are loved into being as much as anyone else. So yeah, I need to get over myself.

  2. I thought of you in writing this because we've kind of discussed this before - I've really come to believe the separation is more my choice than any rejection by others. I've been amazed how accepting people are at the parish - the retired sacristan is gay - that is how he identifies - and of course he disagrees with Church teaching on some aspects - he's always at the table in any event at the parish. So you see...

    I could never be a Knight - I hate the outfits. What?

  3. Hi Terry, I have a question and I don't want to hijack your posts or the comments - is your email address somewhere on this blog?

    1. Ang - it used to be in the profile - I'll have to post it like Larry does. in the meantime it is here:


      you know the dot stands for . and the at stands for @ of course.

  4. DB, I don't know how old you are, but in my parish the KofC all seem to be old enough to be fossilized. I told Terry a long time ago that the Church is focused on families so those who are single for whatever reason are an afterthought.

  5. It's just as uncomfortable one the other side of the "sexual purity" fence that, during a typical modern party or conversation, I might be outed as a "good girl" at my age. It was much worse as a teenager.

    Nobody fits in. I've never known a single soul who said they feel like they do. I think everyone would feel better about themselves if they knew everyone feels like a freak.

  6. Do you really think that's true, Nan. Our parish has no family group. It has a Bible Study, an RCIA program open to both those exploring the faith and those who want to learn more more, an outreach committee (service to the community) that welcomes anybody as a volunteer, several prayer groups. How are any of those things ignoring singles? I think everybody has to get over him or herself. Too much navel-gazing and whining. And I'm the worst of the bunch -- finding myself having pity parties.

    I've begun reacting to my own self-pity by imagining decorating for the party with black crepe, violins, crying towels, etc. It helps me get a grip and laugh at myself.

    1. Mary Ann, what about the religious education classes for kids? Baptism prep? Marriage prep? These things are a huge focus and are about families. Mom's group? Families.

  7. My young adult group (where "young adult" means anything from 21-40 years old) had a discussion about this recently. One of the members of the group asked if there was something we could do to be more welcoming to homosexual people. She had invited someone to join our group, and that person said he didn't think he would be welcome. She assumed that the burden was therefore on us to be more welcoming in some way. She didn't have any suggestions, and most of the group were mystified as to why any young Catholic would think we wouldn't welcome him, regardless of what kind of issues or temptations he might have. It seems to me like it was a case of the type you're talking about--a person who assumes that he will be excluded, and so voluntarily isolates himself.

    At least, I hope it's that, and that our group is not somehow projecting an aura of "you're different--stay away!" We have single people, married people with kids, married people without kids, priests, seminarians, future nuns, and a former nun in our group, so it's not like it's a matchmaking service. It shouldn't be awkward.

    1. Jane - excellent comment - thanks very much. It adds to what I am trying to say.

  8. While we're at it, the Church should do more to make blacks feel more welcome.

  9. Anonymous10:02 AM

    "What is this all about? What do homosexuals want? What exactly do they want the Church to do for them?"

    I think they want the Church to change the teaching, to accept the sin, the lifestyle, to get with the times, to progress, to listen to (what they believe is) the 'Holy Spirit' speaking still, as Mack said on another post and like a sign I saw out front of a Protestant church yesterday.

    The Catholics who want this do not understand the Church, I don't think.

  10. "I've begun reacting to my own self-pity by imagining decorating for the party with black crepe, violins, crying towels, etc. It helps me get a grip and laugh at myself."

    That's excellent.

    Nan, I couldn't joint KofC. I left the lifestyle to get away from sashes and feathered hats. ;)

  11. I'm starting to think Catholic blogs are addicted to sex. Or at least talking about sex. It's getting kinda creepy (unwelcoming?)

  12. Terry, hope you and everyone who reads this blog had a great Fourth of July and celebrated our great country with family and friends!All of our guests are finally gone and instead of doing what I should be doing, cleaning the place up (I think I should have one more pass under the arboviteas to make sure no was is unaccounted for and passed out from the weekend...) I am reading and posting on Terry's blog.

    Terry, I have to say you are confusing me with a post about gays who seem to alienate themselves when just a few days ago you posted about gays who appear to be "normal," and how strange that is. Which is it? It seems that your problem is with gays period if they go hide in a corner and wear a hair shirt or if they walk down the street with their partner : )

    "Part of the experience of gay culture is the desire, the image, that one is unique or special - set apart, different from other mere mortals or muggles. " Wow, I really can't speak to that as I have never felt that way or seen that. While granted I have never been a part of "gay culture," did I grow up in a bubble? Anyway, I think we are all unique and special creations of God. I have never felt alienated or different of set apart and I still don't. If someone doens't like me because of who I love that is their problem not mine and I have always felt welcome at Church and the parish have since I was a kid, I went to Catholic grade and high school was an altar boy, played football in h.s. I need to be more contemplative and thankful to God for the graces I had and be more open and patient with people who have had different experiences. I need to pray on that.

    What do "gay Catholics want?" Well, first of all I only say I am a gay Catholic on a blog like this to let people know where I am coming from. In "real," life I am a Catholic who just happens to be gay just like I just happen to have blue eyes and right handed. Its part of me but its not the whole ME. So in that I totally agree with church teaching and in that I would think that church should supply support and encouragement to all its parishoners based on their needs not their sexuality. If someone is depressed, unhappy, dealing with an addiction problem based on sexuality or not, the church should minster to them and I don't think there should be a special "Gay," program as their should not be a special "straight," program. I have always felt welcomed and loved by the Church but that may be because they accept me as an individual not with a label on my head.

    1. Mack, obviously you are an exceptional human being. This post was a commentary to another post - I link to the post in the body of the text. I was addressing the lament of a particular individual - I even cite the paragraph detailing his lament. I also allude to a group of 'gay-Catholic' bloggers who complain about similar problems. What I have written in my post - once again, a response to another post, not by you - is based on my personal experience(s)and observations which you have already made clear you disagree with. Therefore, I'm not sure why you would take this so personally since you are already so happily placed in your life and in the Church. Your life and faith sound nearly perfect.

      Perhaps you should create and write a blog based upon your personal experience - I'm not kidding - you sound so completely well rounded and have such a healthy self-image, and apparently are such a good Catholic, I think you would be a tremendous help to Catholics who identify as gay/queer. I'm not being sarcastic either. It appears the only difficulty with your outlook is that you disagree that homosexual acts are sinful, in the sense that sin = evil, and or, disordered. Not the person of course. The acts are.

      You are a remarkably well integrated individual and obviously have a lot to say on the subject. Hence the suggestion you start a blog. My blog is not well known, it's rather low profile, very few readers, and frankly, I don't have the best reputation in the blogosphere. No one ever picks up my posts or links to them, and I fear your insights may be wasted on such an insignificant blog.

    2. Someone pointed this out to me. I will only say one thing: I really feel as if you misunderstand what it is I was articulating, especially with this whole emphasis on being "special." That reflects very little of my own personal life.

      Yes, I am openly gay, but in a very non-flashy and prudent way. I have been Catholic for seven years now. In parish life, I never ask anything "special" or any recognition. I'm just another Catholic. "Coming out," is often a matter of prudence, and I usually only state it when it is already discerned, when directly asked, or like the previous commenter, to state where I'm coming from.

      Do I think the Church ministers to homosexual? Yes. Perfectly? No. Could things be better? Certainly. Do I have all the answers? No, I don't.

      Also, your piece makes it seem like I dissent from Church teaching. I don't. Are homosexual acts evil? Yes. Is homosexuality a Cross? Yes. Should gays marry? No; it's impossible. Should gays adopt children? No.

      You disagree with me, but perhaps, just perhaps, there is something to my point that this struggle is not like any other struggle. So perhaps you shouldn't so belittle that point and it does not require that I get special attention or a "sticker" because I have a specific struggle. And I am certainly aware there are greater struggles and I thank God that I have gotten what I can bear and no more.

      In reference to your quoted portions, I had a particular thing in mind when I wrote it. I don't believe there can be "secular" help for gay people to live chastely. Secular society is not interested in that. But I do know gay people who are put off by religion because of bad experiences; and this is sometimes not the fault of religious people. Hard truths are hard truths.

      But I know, for instance, a lesbian couple who have been together for nearly two decades. They're both decent people, though I don't approve of their homosexual relationship. One thing that strikes me is that for people like this, our philosophical argumentation that homosexuality telelogically contradicts human nature and therefore they should be celibate is not going to change their mind.

      Rational arguments at the end of the day isn't enough; for me, it wasn't. I needed grace. So, I suppose my whole point has to do with tone, a great deal of charity, and patience.

      That's all I'll say. Have a blessed day.

    3. Thanks Eric for commenting. I'm not sure how or why you think my 'piece makes it seem like you dissent from Church teaching.' Did I say that or infer it? That wasn't my intention - so I apologize if that is how you took it.

      People have a lot of problems 'with tone' - it a perennial complaint, and I attribute it, in part, to immaturity. My apologies if that strikes you as insensitive.

      I have several friends who have been together for years, much like your lesbian friends. They cannot be convinced either. My friendship, my faith has had no impact upon them - that I can see at least. BTW, I've lived with the same man for 35 years, 33 of which have been lived celibately and chastely, like brothers. People can do that if they want to, if they respond to God's call - he provides a way.

      My conscience wouldn't allow me to continue in a sexual relationship. Together my friend and I supported one another in living a chaste and celibate life. Together we gave ourselves to the performance of good works, in accord with Catholic teaching and the Gospel. Quietly and hidden, supported by the sacraments and prayer, and as I said, good works.

      So you are correct, it is grace and not rational argument which convinces. That is why we pray for one another.

  13. Lol..okay your point I do tend to go on and on and intention was not to try and dominate your blog or put out in any way I am "special" Just adding another perspective.

    1. I'm serious - this is not a popular blog and I'm not read by many people. And you do sound remarkably well adjusted.

  14. Thanks..wasn't looking for people to read me as much as having a convo with you and the people who read you. You have a bad rep in the blogosphere? I like that there is something bad about you Terry :-)

    1. Thanks again Mack - feel free to comment any time you like then.

  15. Terry this was brilliant. I'm tired of all those who are hand wringing and navel gazing over this issue. The Church teaches and forgives. Ledt all people who sin choose, and i know no one who doesn't sin.

  16. "Therefore I have to wonder, 'what are those who identify as gay Catholics really asking?' Especially when they insist upon identifying themselves as gay Catholic? (By doing so - they have already set themselves apart for special reference, special treatment or consideration.)"

    Saying that gays in the Catholic church have set themselves apart is utterly duplicitous. Gays do not set ourselves apart; rather we were set apart the first time someone calls us "sodomite" to "f@gg0t." We were set apart when as we are reach puberty and read the Levitican death sentence, we feel born into an enemy camp. We chose another name because as we reject the judgement of those who don't even know us and seek the comradeship of those who do, be they gay or not.

    As for "special treatment," whether I am celibate or not, I still need housing, education, and employment. Federal law mandates that you Catholics be allowed to pursue these in fair competition. That is what I ask. If it is not a special right for the religious who choose their condition, then it is certainly no special right for me because I never chose mine.

    1. federal law already gives you the same rights and protections.

    2. That's not true. Federal law gives additional rights to Catholics. They are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education, by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the case of employment see Title VII

    3. Yes it is. Unless you are suggesting gay as a religion now? Religious organization are allowed some exemptions, but gay people have all the protections against discrimination other individuals have.

      Watch the lawsuits over gay wedding cakes.

    4. I forgot to remind you that there is just discrimination and unjust discrimination.


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