The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

I was raised Catholic, and I stand by Jesus' radical teachings of love and acceptance for all.

As a young queer person, I felt displaced by the church. My church taught me that being gay was something to feel ashamed of. I struggled with self acceptance for many years. I'm now a proud gay woman, but I want to do more for women's rights and for LGBT rights in religious communities. I'm so glad I found a group of other Christians who truly understand that this religion is supposed to be about love and not hate.

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I am a lesbian, born and raised Catholic, from a loving family of parents who raised 7 children, who came from families of 7 or more children….also Catholic….from the Midwest diocese of St. Louis…..born in the 50’s and aware of my gift in the 70’s….I received welcoming and nurturing counsel from the Newman Center run by Vincentian Fathers…..on return to archdiocesan parishes I received support and acceptance from the group Dignity….. Archbishop John May provide offices in our diocesan headquarters……later in the 80’s after Archbishop May and others became victims of a severe “right” turn of political fervor by the “right to life” hijackers….this I believed caused a great chasm … the 1980’s thru today … the role of ministry of the faithful in parishes around the country…..We have been polarized….lied about…mistreated and even killed for the ignorance that persists in the name of God….by those who know better than most the Truth of the Nature of God……I was a Catholic school teacher until my “controversial” beliefs…not practices….caused a group of teachers and parents to begin the process of sabotaging my career with fear mongering and innuendos…..for political purposes… pastor and principal tried to be supportive but in the end the process was causing so much stress… health became a concern…hate causes stress…even if it based on ignorance and lies…..I chose to leave but the rumors and toxic waves of gossip continued to plague that parish school for years after…..Several people contacted me to apologize for the behaviors of others and encourage me to continue my vocation to teach…but the damages to my family required I not return to a position where so much scapegoating may be heaped on one perceived as weak and unable to protect others…..I have forgiven all involved and pray everyday for the Church and leaders within to come to Jesus….My last hope is for this Jesuit Pope…..Pope Francis…..for the love and leadership needed to bring an end to the great chastisement that is ravaging our Church…!!!

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As a Catholic student in the seventies and eighties, it would have then seemed incredible that we should have now reached this impasse in the Church, where posturing is preferred over truth-telling, denial over pastoral care, scape-goating over integration and so on and so on. I suppose I should have realized that all was not as it should be when I was waiting for a public audience with Paul VI, and a priest in a cassock tried to solicit me in St Peter’s claiming he was conducting a survey into sexuality. That grubby encounter was prophetic in a way that Humanae Vitae was not. The problem is the clergy. At best there is a cognitive dissonance; more often a shattering absence of integrity. Martin Leahy below rightly asks this at the highest level: what on earth could Pope Benedict XVI have been thinking when he announced that homosexuals could not be ordained? Where had he been living? To his credit, Cardinal Nichols at least showed a sense of humour when he secured his red hat finally by kicking out the LGBT community from the Assumption, London, and handing the church over to the Ordinariate – a positive hotbed of heterosexuals, I don’t think.

It is painful now to recall that in the years after the Council, churches of many denominations were often safe houses for meetings of gay groups meeting to discuss what were and remain issues of civil rights, justice and peace. Churches were often ahead of civil society. Now priests in the UK think it incumbent upon them to sign a letter to The Daily Telegraph warning of the danger of gay marriage or a petition demanding that the traditional teaching on marriage be upheld at all costs. At all costs to whom? One of the Catholic priests, who had put his signature to both, had not so long ago offered to perform the ceremony should I wish to marry another man. I confess that I had become so used to the ways of the clergy that I expressed scarcely any surprise at this inconsistency – that would be just for the poor suckers in the pew.

We cannot continue in this poisoned vein of dishonesty. The need to maintain so called traditional teaching on gay relationships, contraception and divorce has become idolatrous, a false god, a god not of the living but of the dead. The late Oxford Dominican, Gareth Moore, wrote a book which deserves to be better known, which he called simply “A Matter of Truth”: no special pleading, no appeal for tolerance, just detailed forensic debunking of the Biblical and Natural Law arguments imposing upon same sex couples nonsensical and intolerable burdens, which are not necessarily kept by those who demand them.

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The Catholic Church along with society has almost always condemned the LGBT community. In my ignorance I too found these people wrong……until becoming acquainted with some and have realized that these people have the same needs and desires that the rest of us have. This is not a choice, this is how God made them. I belong to a Catholic community where many gays and lesbians are fully participating and many are more spiritual than other Catholic’s. I also know of a lesbian couple who were very faithful Catholics that left the Church because they did not feel welcome. They are educated, generous, loving and would be an asset to their community. I also have many friends who have children that are gay or lesbian and have been tortured by the Church’s stand because they totally love these family members! We must love and accept these people. Follow Christ’s admonition to love your neighbor as yourself.

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