Some people were upset that the Holy Father met with a group of Italian parents of gay/LGBTQ children. Pope Francis assured them, “God loves your children as they are” and “the church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”
Why would anyone be upset with that? Because the encounter triggered memories of another encounter, when Pope Francis spoke privately with Juan Carlos Cruz, assuring him he is accepted just as he is, that God made him that way...
Juan Carlos Cruz, the man who said that Pope Francis told him during a recent private meeting that God made him gay and that God loves him the way he is, says that his meeting with the pope is a model of how church leaders should welcome L.G.B.T. Catholics, even if he believes church teaching on homosexuality should change. “He said, ‘Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you,’” - America, 05/22/2018
That statement contradicted a lifetime of twisting and squirming on my part - trying to explain how I couldn't be born gay, while attempting to conform to rules regarding language and friendship. Go over my blog archives, and you can read for yourself. So why would the Pope say this - rather than reciting CDF rules and CCC teaching on the unknown genesis of homosexual inclination, while pointing out how disordered and sinful homosexual acts are? Because these parents, along with gay men like Juan Carlos Cruz, as well as Diego Neria Lejarraga, the Spanish transsexual man and his wife, who were received in a private audience with the Pope - have been regarded as outcasts, dissenters, heretics and therefore rejected and condemned - unless they repent. In an interview, the Holy Father - who is against gender ideology and teaching it in schools, explained the encounter with Lejarraga and his wife:
Diego "got married, he changed his civil identity, got married and wrote me a letter saying that for him it would be a consolation to come with his wife, he who was she, but him! I received them: they were happy and in the neighborhood where he lived there was an elderly priest in his 80s, an elderly pastor who left the parish and helped the sisters in the parish. And there was the new (priest). When the new one he would yell from the sidewalk: 'you'll go to hell!' When he (CNA suggests this refers to the new priest but CNS and NCR suggest it refers to the woman) came across the old one, he would say: 'How long has it been since you confessed? Come, come, let's to so that I can confess you and you can receive communion.' Understood?
Life is life and things must be taken as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances have many problems and we must be careful not to say that everything is the same." - Source
The Holy Father accepts people where they are at, in the moment, in the reality they live. At the end of his interview, discussing the encounter with Diego and his wife, Pope Francis assures the interviewer:
"Life is life and things must be taken as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances have many problems and we must be careful not to say that everything is the same. Let's go party. No, that no, but in every case I accept it, I accompany it, I study it, I discern it and I integrate it. This is what Jesus would do today! Please don't say: 'the Pope sanctifies transgenders.' Please, eh! Because I see the covers of the papers. Is there any doubt as to what I said? I want to be clear! It's moral problem. It's a human problem and it must be resolved always can be with the mercy of God. - Source
“The Church must always be like God, always going out."
I'm so grateful to the Holy Father, for making the Church more accessible, especially to those who have been told over and over, they aren't welcome. Those who have been told by Catholics, that although we love the sinner, we hate the sin, and you can't be Catholic if you identify as this or that.
Just today, 20 September, the Holy Father continued to speak on going out, to invite, to welcome the outsider, like the landowner in Today's Gospel (who represents God) "who calls everyone and calls always.”
“This means being open to horizons that offer hope to those stationed on the existential peripheries,” the Pope said, people “who have not yet experienced, or who have lost, the strength and light that comes with meeting Christ.”
He added, “The Church must always be like God, always going out. And when the Church is not going out, she gets sick.” Pope Francis said it is better for the Church to be “going out” announcing the Gospel, despite the dangers, than to grow sick by remaining closed in on herself. “God always goes out, because He’s a Father Who loves – and the Church always needs to do the same thing, always going out.” - Pope at Angelus
This is what the Pope does. "This way of acting, said Pope Francis, “is more than just, in the sense that it goes beyond justice and is manifested in Grace.” Adding, "Those who rely on their own merits “find themselves last,” the Pope explained, while “those who humbly entrust themselves to the Father’s mercy, from being last, find themselves first.”"
The Holy Father is not changing Catholic teaching - rather, I think he is making it more accessible and understandable rather than forbidding and intimidating.
“For gay people, we’ve always told ourselves that when the AIDS epidemic was over we’d be fine. Then it was, when we can get married we’ll be fine. Now it’s, when the bullying stops we’ll be fine. We keep waiting for the moment when we feel like we’re not different from other people. But the fact is, we are different. It’s about time we accept that and work with it.” - The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness
LGBTQ persons are different.
Having said all of that, this post is too long. I intended the above only as a preface to another point, discussing an article I came across, The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, by Michael Hobbs. It was an eyeopener. to read Although not surprising, I found it very helpful as it applies to this discussion on the subject of 'born that way', or 'God made you that way.' Personally, I can accept born that way better. God created us - yet after the fall, though redeemed by Christ, sons by adoption through Baptism, there remain defects - leading to the question of nature or nurture? That can be discerned perhaps - when we understand the reality of our 'fallen nature and fallen nurture.'
Immediately, many raise objections to the thought of born this way, citing all the Church documents and so many scholarly and clinical studies pointing to how that can't be. There is no gay gene, and so on. Contrast that with the experience and self awareness of most of the gay people I have ever met. I'm not here to solve that problem, I just want to point out that human beings are born with all sorts of conditions, physical and mental - so it isn't that far out to assume someone could be gay since birth - or at least have the disposition or temperament to develop same sex attraction. So many people I've known said they can't remember a time when they didn't feel gay - albeit at such an early age they didn't know there was a term for it. Admitting that doesn't mean one is seeking to change Catholic teaching or sanction/sanctify homosexual acts.
On the other hand, many people believe conversion therapy is the answer, to change an unwanted sexual attraction. That may work for some who choose that route, if they are willing to put in the hard work, the psychological testing and so on. Yet conversion therapy is pretty much there to tell the subject they were not born this way. Reparative therapy is there to convince people they can be straight, normal - heal that 'father wound' and all that good stuff. Maybe for some? Not for me. (I have no problem with Catholic teaching - it works for me.)
"My grace is sufficient for you."
That is what Christ told St. Paul. He also told him, “Take courage." I am convinced the Church and the sacraments are sufficient to heal, sanctify and save all who approach in humility and faith. The monastic notion of repentance and conversion of manners is a great remedy. Rather than relegating gay people to therapy to change their sexuality, or insisting they join this group or that group, to use this term or that term of identification, I think the sort of acceptance and love the Holy Father is talking about is more 'holistic' and healing, opening the door to Christ.
I still would like to discuss 'The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness', especially since, despite all the gains and acceptance LGBTQ persons have experienced, many continue to feel that sense of being an 'outsider'. Which suggests to me, that gay people may be born with 'something' which makes us feel so different. Maybe I can discuss that in my writing - because writing helps me think.
“The defining feature of gay men used to be the loneliness of the closet. But now you’ve got millions of gay men who have come out of the closet and they still feel the same isolation.” - The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness