Everybody wants Joe on their side.
I said that the other day in my com box - but took it down lest it be misunderstood. Since his presentation at the Michigan Courage Living the Truth in Love Conference, Joe has been the topic of com box and social media discussions all over the place. I'm sure speaking engagements are already in the offing. Nothing wrong with that. (His latest interview here.)
Joseph Prever is young, attractive, spiritual, intelligent, articulate, and apparently well grounded in Catholic teaching - and pretty normal. Try as one might, it is appears to be impossible to find any theological or doctrinal flaws in his message. Except for maybe, he uses the term 'gay'. Janet Smith found him to be just fine, a young man offering new insight for the pastoral care of same sex attracted persons. Most official documents use the term homosexual: e.g. when addressing 'Pastoral Care for Homosexual Persons'.
Although Same Sex Attracted is currently the preferred-official Catholic term, "gay" is in common vernacular usage, as well as international usage. As I always say, the Pope uses the word. Archbishops and Cardinals use the term. Priests and religious use the term. Gays and straights use the term. Ordinary people use the term. Cary Grant used the term in Bringing Up Baby. MSM uses the term. It is the language used today.
To argue the fine points on the term is an interesting academic pastime, and is understandable - even expected in pastoral care conversations emphasizing Catholic teaching, and/or in official Church documents, and so on. Yet with all due respect, I think most people are bored with the argument over its appropriateness, or turned off by insisting it signals some sort of infidelity to Catholic teaching.
As I said in an earlier post, I'm an ordinary guy, writing about ordinary stuff. I'm not an apologist, not an evangelist - just a Catholic guy. I use ordinary terminology in common, every day use. The origins and the development of the term 'gay' has changed over the years - yet general usage today, which is the way Joe Prever uses it - is actually pretty much how it was used originally ... more or less. Gay was preferred to the more clinical term 'homosexual' or the Biblical based pejorative term, Sodomite, and the homo-hating term 'fag'.
I sometimes say 'gay is as gay does' associating it with behavior - not necessarily sexual behavior either. Though the term used to be politically charged, it also indicated sexual preference and sexual practice or behavior. Which is one reason why Prever's blog, Gay and Catholic and Doing Fine is especially startling - because he is chaste and celibate. He explains all that in interviews as well as on his blog. Nevertheless, it troubles religious people. Joe Prever tries to explain why it shouldn't.
I sort of like the one definition I read - gay refers to the 'trait' of being homosexual. Thus it seems to me to be more a personality trait than an identity. But see - I'm getting sidetracked again - on the meaning and application of a very fluid term.
As I've said before, I don't see Prever as a 'change agent' working to change Catholic teaching. I see a faithful young man trying to make sense of his life as a Catholic - trying to fit in, as it were, and help others to do so. It seems to me he's going through a discernment process of self-knowledge that most of us go through. As Janet Smith made clear, he also has the benefit of a spiritual director to help him. He supports Catholic teaching, supports the Courage Apostolate, and so on. Likewise, he holds up very well when challenged and examined. That's admirable.
In the com box of the CWR article the issue of 'coming out' was also discussed. Like the 'gay' terminology, the 'coming out' issue was once definitely associated with LGBTQ politics - the more people who came out, the more general acceptance would be assured. Now however, 'coming out' is seen as psychologically healthy - although USCCB documents suggest it should be avoided - it's a personal choice and a matter of conscience I suppose, though it was never my choice. Truth be told, I was pretty much outed by family (my parents were nuts) and 'friends'.
It doesn't matter though. I know who I am.
Song for this post here.