Rome Sweet Rome
By: Levi Rowland
The gay Christian community is widespread, dynamic and growing; however, there is something I see going askew with it. Due to the liberal nature of most gay-affirming churches and groups there is a tendency towards a very, for lack of a better word, "protestant" feel. Gay Catholics are more and more marginalized as they are looked down upon by conservative members of their own religion and misunderstood by other non-Catholic GLBT people. We must understand that as Catholicism is the largest branch of the Christian faith there are, logically, a large number of gay Catholics in this world: something I think many gay and lesbian people forget.
As a gay Catholic, one of the most common things told to me is that I need to "just leave." This is easy for someone outside my faith to say, but I hold the RCC very dear to me and the idea of being anything else is just horrifying. Gay Christian groups can be very cruel regarding Catholicism and almost hostile, calling it, "evil, bigoted, outdated, etc." but they are missing some very important points. Something not very known to people is that Catholicism is one of the few branches of Christianity to believe homosexuality to be something one can be born with. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls homosexuality, "intrinsic." This is a huge step away from the Evangelical churches that set up camps to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. Catholicism also does not believe that innate homosexuality is a sin, just the sexual acts associated with it. To "be gay" is not the sin according to Rome, just homosexual activity is sinful and although as a homosexual I disagree with this and shudder to think that we should damn a whole group of people to a life of bitter loneliness, I still am proud of Rome for admitting that homosexuality cannot be cast off like a bad habit.
There is a wonderful and popular gay Catholic organization that I'm sure the readers of this are familiar with (Dignity) but my problem with Dignity is that it shouldn't be the only one out there. ALL gay Christian groups should realize that there are many gay Catholics out there looking for somewhere to feel safe, communicate with others and share their faith. It is not just Catholicism as well but her sister religion Eastern Orthodoxy. We as Americans tend to completely forget about this faith group even though it is one of the largest in all of Christendom and there are gay Orthodox who I'm sure are in the same boat as a lot of GLBT Catholics.
The MCC and the UCC are wonderful organizations, but for a Catholic these are simply not options and nothing can replace the sanctity and beauty of the mass for us, so where does this leave us? Should we leave that which brings us closer to Jesus? Should we be alone our entire lives so as to conform to Roman teachings? Should we just buckle and join a more liberal, affirming church? These are all good questions but they can't be answered or even discussed if gay Catholics are seen as some sort of side-show freaks by GLBT Protestants. The famous and beloved John J. McNeill (gay Jesuit priest and author of the amazing The Church and the Homosexual) was offered a job as an MCC preacher and denied it because in his eyes he was a Catholic through and through no matter how they had treated him. We as gay Catholics (Father McNeill talks about this) suffer so much and it is in this suffering that we are brought closer to the Lord, closer to his sufferings on the cross and brought into a unique relationship with God via a personal passion. The rosary, the liturgy, the devotion to Mary, these are all part of us, an integral part of us and we cannot simply throw it all aside because, as some gay Christians believe, "The Roman Catholic Church will never accept us - they HATE us!" This simply is not true. A good Catholic hates no one. Mother Theresa said, "If we judge people, we never have time to love them."
Know this, when you see a crowd of six thousand people in front of St. Peter's Basilica on the television, how many do you think are GLBT? I would bet more than you think. We are here, we pray as you do, cry as you do, seek comfort as you do and we cannot and (in my case at least) will not leave our Church just because so many people tell us it will never be good for us. If we accepted that, where would our faith be? Next time you start a gay Christian organization or write something for gay Christians, don't forget that among that flock there are many of us, fiddling with our rosary beads and thinking, "What about me?"
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