Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Going out to the existential peripheries...

The so-called 'New Homophiles'.  

I haven't quite been able to understand them.  Thanks to the new video series the group is developing, and listening to their conversation - which is easier to understand than some of their writing and which can be challenging at times - many of my reservations have been quieted.  (I still don't like 'genderqueer' - but I kinda sorta get the intent.)  "They" may not all be comfortable with everything either.  From Joseph Prever, aka Steve Gershom:
My own position within the Side B world is, I think, a little weird. Ruse’s piece made me uncomfortable and annoyed, largely because it made us seem more heterodox than we are. Some Side B stuff, on the other hand, makes me uncomfortable and worried, because bits of it bear the smell of, or the smell of the danger of, self-deception: the line between “my homosexuality is a gift and a blessing because of all the gifts and blessings that have come with it” and “my homosexuality, per se, is a gift” is blurrier than I’d like. In some cases it’s not blurry at all, but just nonexistent. I don’t think I’m okay with that, but I have yet to formulate exactly why. - Source
It all kind of clicked for me when Eve Tushnet describe the church she attends in Washington.  She described it as a faithful Catholic church where all sorts of same sex attracted people attend - including some who may not be comfortable with the entire content of Catholic teaching on sexuality - yet.  The point is they are there and people like Tushnet and the others are there to meet gay people where they are at in today's reality.

It's very Franciscan - in the Pope Francis sense.*  It seems to me they are on the peripheries.  I'm more a Courage kind of guy, but there is room in the Church for another approach - so long as it is faithful.  Especially if we want avoid 'tying up burdens too hard to carry - without lifting a finger to help them' for people.  It's a different approach than Courage - but I don't think their work is a negation of Courage - just another approach.  I say that, because their video conversations really sounds like stuff Courage people discuss, and certainly what many young people discuss when it comes to living chastely and celibately.

I had a really nice lady write to me about one of her children who recently 'came out'.  That's a critical time for someone - especially the new found sense of freedom one experiences.  Naturally, most people see the Church as restrictive and rejecting to gay people.  My friend is worried, as any parent would be.  What to do?  Someone just coming out may not be ready, or interested in the Courage format when they 'just come out' - but they might be inclined to listen to - or at least watch the videos offered by the Sexual Authenticity-Spiritual Friendship group.   It may help them understand they are not excommunicated for discovering in themselves an a homosexual inclination or attraction.  (Courage doesn't teach that either, but neophytes may still be in identity celebration mode, and not interested in being told, "don't say you are gay".)

That said, I think we have to avoid segregating people and groups.  Our evangelization efforts should not be 'sectarian' as it were, or devolve into factions such as the EF vs OF Mass issue.  My point with this post is to point out that I see nothing contrary to Catholic teaching in the videos promoted by this group.  Not long ago I was accused of  being a 'new homophile' - a term now becoming more or less pejorative - so I know what it feels like to be accused of not being a faithful Catholic or embracing some sort of 'homo-heresia'.  I may not agree with everything these folks say or how they express themselves, I may not always understand it, but I believe they are faithful and uphold Catholic teaching in their work.

*I want to include some things Fr. Paul Check said in an interview not long ago, which may be helpful in understanding where I'm coming from - Fr. Check was commenting on something the Holy Father said, and I think what Fr. Check said may relate to the Spiritual Friendship group:
Fr. Paul Check is Director of Courage Apostolate, and in a recent interview with CNA, Fr. Check shares his insight into what the Holy Father may have intended with his comment. Fr. Check's words are very helpful and may offer a more spiritually hospitable and conciliatory understanding of the attitude taken by the Holy Father, while putting at ease those who think the Pope made a mistake - or was indicating a change in Church teaching.
In the Scriptures, Jesus does not hesitate to teach doctrine and basic truths to large groups, as in the sermon on the mount. Yet he also “engages people in another way, a very personal way, one at a time.”

“I think that the emphasis Pope Francis is bringing to us right now is on the second way: very personally, listening to people and speaking with them and 'walking with' them, guiding them, bringing them to Christ,” explained Fr. Check.

“I am not an authoritative interpreter of the Pope's comments,” he cautioned, “but here's the way I understand them.”

The priest then turned to the story of Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well who has had five husbands.

“Our Lord knows well that there is a moral question here that's involved, and indeed it's a chastity question. The woman is living in an 'irregular' way. But he doesn’t begin the conversation with her about the moral problem. Instead, he talks with her about her interest – and more than her interest, her desire for God.”

“So he engages her in a very personal way about something that is already resident in her heart…he speaks with her about God, and then he speaks with her about the life of God…(and) also about her desire for eternal life, which is something that we all have,” Fr. Check continued.

Jesus “engages her in this very lovely sequence, and he keeps the conversation going with her until he reaches that point when it is appropriate to say, and when she can receive, what it is that she’s about to hear about the irregular condition in which she’s living, and she doesn’t deny it.”

“But he has established a relationship with her, and I think this is very much what our Holy Father is suggesting: that we are to walk with people, to get to know them, (although) of course, we don’t have the benefit of knowing what’s in someone’s heart the way that Jesus does, so all the more reason that we have to take care,” Fr. Check noted.

“I think that personal engagement, the walking with, is something that he is proposing,” and “I think the Holy Father is very prudent and charitable in wanting to think about how people receive the message of the gospel today and to find ways in which that teaching can be announced in a way that people can receive it.” - Finish reading here.

When Pope Francis talks about evangelization, he acknowledges there will be mistakes - but they can be corrected. Pope Benedict said something similar when speaking of priests who work in youth ministry, that in searching for a way to convey Church teaching sometimes mistakes are made - but they can be corrected. Sounds a bit lenient in our day when errors abound, but 'that's the way love goes'... I think.

Just a reminder:  I'm a Roman Catholic, a single man - I'm not part of any group, sect, movement or cult.  Every thing here is simply my personal opinion and observation.

Honey!  This sounds like a cult!


  1. She was talking about alcoholics unanimous.

    1. LOL! Photos from that scene are nearly impossible to find.

  2. Beautiful reflection, Terry, and a very informative post. The whole "new homophile" thing is new to me, but you helped me to understand it better. If I do understand, it sounds like what you are describing is what we have seen in some Catholic circles when some bloggers have their "coming out" online, while at the same time affirming their acceptance of Catholic teaching. Is this too simplified? Further, am I right to point out that where the divergence lies between this group and those who support the Courage approach, is that the "new homophile" Catholics feel a need to make known their sexual orientation to others? I'm still foggy on a lot of this and I'm trying to understand. I don't feel so bad when it seems you are still trying to get a grasp on it too.

    I'm sorry to hear your position was misrepresented.

    1. Diane - I'd say you got it right.


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