Monday, July 1, 2013

The Gospel and Truth-Telling: Inability to Proclaim Good News in a Church Whose Leaders Attack Gays

What the world really needs to hear, and what we so deeply need to hear, is a message of loving mercy and inclusion, rather than judgment.  The language of "objective disorder" has proved to be very problematic, to say the least. On one level, all that LGBT people in the Catholic Church are asking for is an affirmation of who they are as human beings, people whom God loves. If you say anything like this in church, people come up to you and say, "Thank you Father for being so courageous!" Well, it’s not courageous, it’s just the Gospel!

Fine words. I applaud them. They retrieve the gospel, the good news, for LGBT people, and link who and what the Catholic church is to the gospel, which is the raison d'être of the church, after all.

But I wonder who will really listen carefully to such fine words. I freely admit that I don't.

I hear the gospel from the leaders of my church right now with half-stopped ears and diverted attention. With a heart closed to further pain, since the leaders of my church have, for years now, managed to inject hurtful poisons into my gay heart as they tell me I'm "loved" and "welcomed," and so I've learned to dread "apologies" like the one that Cardinal Dolan issued, faintly, to gay Catholics on Easter day this year.

And I suspect I'm hardly the only gay person in the world in this situation, or hardly the only person in the world who knows and loves someone who is gay and has walked away from the Catholic church in recent years due to this seriously disturbed, seriously disordered, pain-inflicting behavior by too many Catholics.

Words are well and good. They convey power to change things. They can hurt or heal.

But when they're never backed by actions commensurate with what's being proclaimed, what's their worth? When the calls for "welcoming" gay folks are never attended by the creation of dialogue spaces within the Catholic church for the church officials who talk down to us and about us to listen to the people they've so glibly defined (and demeaned) for so long, what's the meaning of the empty words about "welcome" and "love" and "inclusion"?

As Michael Bayly implicitly asks at his Wild Reed site recently, who's going to resurrect the gay dead who have been used, abused, thrown away, to bring us to the point on the journey we've reached today? Who's going to salve the wounds of those that church leaders have opened up to violence--and continue to open to violence--by their glib, hurtful statements about their fellow human beings who are gay? Who can salve those wounds in the case of those who have now died, their wounds untreated?

Does a church whose intellectual elite can chatter seriously--seriously?--about Mother Angelica as the leading light of American Catholicism in the last fifteen years even begin to get the pastoral problem here? Does it get the problem that the very existence of LGBT human beings poses for the church as it tries to proclaim good news that anyone believes, if this is the level of intellectual discourse of the best and brightest in the American Catholic church today? 

Does a church represented by a deacon who publicly invites an openly gay Catholic to email him and talk to him about why gay Catholics feel unwelcome in the church, but who totally ignores the email sent to him in response to that invitation, represent any credible good news at all for LGBT human beings? Do dialogues about the place of LGBT Catholics in which that Catholic deacon can continue to participate without any shame at all after having behaved this way afford any hope to LGBT Catholics?

Meanwhile, Steve and I grow old; we struggle with problems that aging people with our educational backgrounds and socioeconomic situations almost never have to struggle with as they reach our age, solely because we're gay, an openly gay couple, in a part of the U.S. that affords no legal protection from discrimination to gay people in the workplace, in housing, in healthcare.

And the possibility of turning to our own Catholic community for understanding and support as we continue fighting these battles while we age and our strength wanes? Laughable. Unthinkable. A measure of the extent to which the church's claim to represent the gospel is really meaningful in the real lives of many real-life LGBT human beings throughout the country.

What good news?!

(Later: I meant to credit Dennis Coday's "Morning Briefing" column in National Catholic Reporter for the link to Michael O'Loughlin's interview with Fr. Paul Crowley, and then forgot to do so. I'm correcting that oversight now with this addition to this morning's posting.)

No comments: