The Church Needs The "New Homophiles".
I don't think so. Or at least I wouldn't put it like that. Truth be told, the New Homophiles need the Church - just as anyone else - we need the Church to be saved, yes, but also to be trained, guided, taught, corrected, and sanctified. The Crises title misses the mark, but I think I get the conciliatory tone. Homosexual, heterosexual, gay, straight, ssa, msm, LGBTQ-EPIC - whatever one calls oneself - we need the Church.
That said, Austin Ruse has another good article expressing his concerns over the New Homophile movement, (otherwise kinda/sorta known as Spiritual Friendship/Gay-Catholic 'movement'). The article articulates his concerns, as well as clarifies his position, that he is not condemning the 'spokesmen' for the group, nor is he calling them bad Catholics or heretics, asserting they are 95% correct, and so on. Ruse also rebuts accusations made by other writers that his criticism of the New Homophiles was 'appalling' and 'vile'. It wasn't and Austin demonstrates why. (Read the article here.)
Everyone online or off seems to take issue with 'tone'. All of us, straight, gay, ssa, or nuts are so easily insulted and offended these days. It appears the combox can be a form of torture for many readers - be it on my blog, Fr. Z's blog, or on Crises Magazine. Contempt, sarcasm, invective of all sorts is spewed therein - and the blog authors share some responsibility in how all that goes down. Hence, the accusations of appalling and vile rhetoric may be attributed to the whole. Try to get over it.
I originally took issue with tone as well, yet upon closer evaluation and considering past as well as ongoing conversation involving Ruse and the Spiritual Friendship people, I interpreted the 'tone' as a matter of style - rather than a sneering attack. In Ruse's current article - that really is made clear. Sadly, some of his commenters go in for the kill, beating up on Eve Tushnet in particular. That is unfortunate, but Ruse does step in to defend his position, as in this comment:
I hope I made it clear that they do not hold heretical views. They hold views that are not fully in comportment with the Church, but their views are not damnable. For instance, the Church recommends that people not even come out except to a few close friends, confessor etc but never publicly . I quote them pretty fully in previous columns on this subject as do other authors, Jim Russell and Dan Mattson. We've been working on this issue here at Crisis for months!The article clarifies his position, as I said, and it also offers praise and encouragement for the one apostolate that is widely endorsed by the Church - generously promoting Courage Apostolate as the alternative to the Gay-Catholic movement. (One must be aware that there are those in the USCCB who are not in favor of Courage Apostolate as the standard. Courage leaders are aware of that.)
Indeed, Courage is a point of contention for some in the gay-Catholic movement.
As I said at the beginning, the 'New Homophiles' need the Church. Indeed, Ms. Tushnet's book Gay and Catholic will attract the attention of the hierarchy, no doubt, some of whom even endorse her thought and work. Yet this is exactly why it is important for those who differ with the gay-Catholic POV to stop trying to silence these people. I've said it before, but Catholic authority needs to study what is being discussed since their influence is catching the attention of many people who have been educated to believe their so-called sexual orientation is natural/normal, and even a gift from God. The bishops and qualified theologians need to examine their work, and for these folks to remain faithful to Catholic teaching, they need the Church to do that. They are Catholics, they are faithful Catholics, but they cannot change doctrine.
Some Catholics who experience same sex attraction don't even act on it. They do not even participate in any type of gay lifestyle. I know people like this. They've integrated themselves into the Church, they live normal lives, they have jobs, some have vocations, and so on. They don't need Courage because they have a solid spirituality and live a devout life already.
Others may have turned from a sinful past, needed something like Courage and then integrated into the Church. I think the key is integration. Some people may need Courage for a time and then move on - as in SA recovery, or recovery from any addiction. Some may need the support for their entire life, now and then, or find fulfillment in an integrated life - say, serving the poor.
Then there are those who do not like self-help groups. For instance, Eve Tushnet discusses how she never fit into the AA mold. I've known alcoholics who were never able to do AA either, but managed to remain sober more or less on their own or through alternative groups. Matt Talbot exemplifies that type - and grace is available to do that.
What I'm saying is that a person maybe just can't do the Courage group thing - at first, later, or ever. What I always recommend is that they use the literature, that they follow as best they can the spirituality of Courage. Doing so can make you a saint. The important point is to integrate oneself into the Church, to be nurtured and consoled by authentic teaching, the sacraments, the devotions, and chiefly, the Eucharist. It is essential to develop a deep spiritual life. To do that one must fall in love with Christ. Ask for that grace and he will grant it.
If you do so, no matter how many fallings and risings, you will eventually attain freedom of spirit. So many people expect total change instantly, or even within a month, a year, or two years. It takes time - for many it takes a long time - several years - even decades. The key is perseverance, patience - divine suffering. Temptations, falling and rising, loneliness, depression - these are purifying trials which unite us to Christ. Every time we fall and turn with humility to Christ, asking his forgiveness and mercy, we are deeply united to him at once. But I digress.
Where was I?
Courage is good - it is excellent - it is superb, but it is not a sacrament, it is not required for salvation. It is a means to an end. The ordinary means of sanctification in the Church is the sacraments. Prayer, Mass, confession, communion, prayer, prayer, prayer. As Teresa of Avila said, 'prayer cannot be accompanied by self-indulgence' - so the faults and sins we have clinging to us are gradually purified - they fall from us through self-imposed, as well as Church sanctioned mortification and penance - and if not entirely by those means - sometimes the Lord is so generous he takes them from us himself. That is why our sufferings and afflictions are so many pledges of his love - it is the purifying torment of his love which removes every encumbrance of sin which clings to us.
Call yourself gay if you want - or don't - just try to be Catholic. Be Catholic. Don't tell others how to live or what to call themselves, just work on the log in your own eye.
When you insist people do this or that, or tell them they can't be Catholic and who they think they are - not a few of these people start living a lie. It exacerbates ordinary depression and neurosis. Especially if they have other emotional baggage in their lives. One also has to remember that not all people need therapy, and even more may not be able to afford it - though being white and gay in America makes one rather privileged and elitist and one presumes they can afford anything. Nevertheless, good, psychological self-help is indeed available - which is why I recommend the Courage website as well as NARTH (I know - that scares people!) as a resource because the research is extremely helpful in understanding the homosexual condition - and yes - people can and do move beyond it.
Nevertheless, many gay people who seek salvation in and through the Church have a host of other problems. They have to be met where they are at. Some guys I know have been in and out of churches - denominations, they've been up and down, in and out with the identity thing - 'I'm gay', 'I'm not gay', 'I'm recovered - I'm not'. They make themselves crazy. They are told do this, do that, deny this, don't tell people that - it's craziness. Herding people into this or that category makes people more nuts. They fall and feel condemned. They rise and are congratulated and think they are fine - then some trick comes along and they fall again. They write their conversion stories and claim they are totally normal only to breakdown and backslide again. This behavior gets reinforced by well meaning church people who bang them over the head with doctrine and terminology they insist they must adhere and conform to.*
The Church does not need these people - these people need the Church.
Why is this so hard to figure out? Where is the Faith? Where is the Charity?
Art: A Cold,Cold Warmth - Tyler Alpern. The artist wrote: "The painting is a visual metaphor for the bullying and personal attacks I endure everyday of my life."
*I am not suggesting any one dispense with doctrine and authentic teaching - God knows I have emphasized Catholic teaching repeatedly on this blog. Most gay-Catholics already know Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage, as well as why terms such as gay and/or gender identity/non-binary language is inappropriate language for the Church to use. Many may even know specific CDF documents which lay all of that out. Thus to simply repeat the citations in order to silence conversation or exclude others is not very productive. Likewise, incessant citing of statistics on gay men's health as a deterrent to homosexual behavior is pretty much useless in the work of evangelization of same sex attracted individuals. They know this stuff already. I hope that explains what I meant.