Saturday, May 5, 2018

LGBTQ Catholics Are Asked, Why Stay in the Church? My 15-Question Response

A recent conference at Boston College asks LGBTQ Catholics, Why stay? Why do you stay in the Catholic church?

1. The reality is, many of us had no choice about staying or leaving — we were dispossessed, shoved out, fired from jobs in Catholic institutions.

2. Asking the question, Why stay?, tends to mask the ugly realities many of us who have been shoved out of the church face in our experience with the church.

3. The article focuses on the centrality of the Eucharist in Catholic life.

4. Those of us fired at our jobs in Catholic institutions, who have had our vocations shattered by Catholic institutions: in our experience, trying to continue to live Eucharist-centered lives often proves totally impossible.

5. We go to Eucharistic celebrations, and there, standing at the altar, are the very people who shattered our vocations and destroyed our economic lives, claiming to offer us the holy bread of the Eucharist after they have removed our daily bread from our mouths, our healthcare coverage.

6. What can Eucharist possibly mean under such circumstances?

7. Those doing these abominably unjust and cruel things to LGBTQ Catholics: they almost never experience the same dispossession. When they are priests and religious, they always have secure jobs, healthcare coverage, salaries, community support.

8. The Eucharist becomes impossibly problematic under such circumstances: can Catholic leaders who treat fellow Catholics this way really believe in Eucharist? Can they really believe what they proclaim about the Eucharist?

9. And what about all those fellow Catholics who could have spoken up, could have protested, could have stood in solidarity with us, could have helped us find other jobs, when these things were done to us — but did not open their mouths or lift their hands to help?

10. What does Eucharist mean to them, when they permit fellow Catholics to have their lives and vocations shattered in this way, to be shoved from the church, and they stand by in total silence, never opening their mouths, never lending a helping hand?

11. The Eucharist becomes impossibly problematic for those of us who have experienced this kind of shunning, this kind of invisibilization, by Catholic communities, with the implication that we deserve what has been done to us, that we must somehow have merited it.

12. Why, I ask myself, do Catholic groups that claim to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ Catholics never invite those of us to whom this kind of cruelty has been dished out to speak to the question, Why stay?

13. Perhaps what we would have to say would be too shattering, too painful, too convicting even for those groups, who tend to consult very selectively and not widely at all, as they ask the question, Why stay?

14. What does Eucharist mean to LGBTQ-affirming groups within the Catholic church, when they can, in their own way, participate in the invisibilizing and shunning of fellow Catholics whose testimony is evidently considered too blunt, too shattering, to be heard by those groups?

15. These questions have to be asked if all the talk about bridge-building and staying or leaving means anything real at all.

This posting is the first in a two-part series about this topic. Please see this follow-up posting for a continuation of this conversation.

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