Friday, January 20, 2012

Resources for Catholic Conversations with Gay Folks: Phil Ewing's Blue-Eyed Ennis Site

Fra Bartolommeo, "Christ Appearing on the Road to Emmaus"

As the work week ends, I want to take notice of several valuable resources that have appeared recently at Phil Ewing's beautiful Blue-Eyed Ennis site.  As I noted in a posting several days ago, Fr. James Martin recently posted a piece at the America blog site, calling for Catholics to give renewed attention to the catechetical teaching that gay and lesbian persons should be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.  My brief response to Fr. Martin's posting is at the first link above.

Phil has chosen to follow Fr. Martin's posting by doing a considerable amount of online research to gather together valuable resources from powerful contemporary gay Catholic thinkers including Michael Bayly and James Alison.  Her posting gathering these resources together is here.

I like very much Phil's statement about why she cares enough to spend time she had earmarked as down time doing this online digging, when she herself is not gay.  As she notes, she has a number of friends who are gay and who have shared with her their pain at being defined by a Christian institution as objectively disordered.  A common thread in the stories she hears from her friends is that they began to have inklings that they were gay when they were very young.

And so Phil asks, What harm do Christian communities do to young people who are beginning to sense that they are gay, when these communities define gay people as disordered? for

Phil cares--as a faithful Catholic, she walks along with fellow human beings who happen to be gay--because a great deal hinges, for young, developing human beings, on what the church teaches and does vis-a-vis those who are gay.  And how people of faith behave towards those who are gay.

A study done by the Public Religion Research Institute in the U.S. finds that two-thirds of Americans believe that the messages given to gay young people by faith communities contribute to the phenomenon of gay teen suicide.  We cannot unlink the statements and behavior of people of faith from what happens to young gay and lesbian persons.  We cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility for the young by pretending that this link does not exist--and that what we say and do regarding these issues does not have  significant implications for young, developing human beings.

And these insights, which Phil develops in the posting to which the link above points, are further developed in a follow-up posting she's just made, drawing her readers' attention to a series of videos produced in 2008 when the group Acceptance Sydney sponsored a forum for LGBT youth during the Catholic World Youth Day in Australia.

I haven't yet had a chance to watch any of the videos to which this link points (and I haven't, in fact, had a chance to re-read most of the resources to which Phil's first posting leads--I've read most of them in the past).  I do look forward to watching the videos, though, and re-reading Michael Bayly's and James Alison's essays, both which I found full of wisdom and inspiration when I first read them.

Most of all, I'm grateful to Phil for being a compañera (Luke 24:13-35) who cares enough to walk along with her brothers and sisters who happen to have been created gay.  As I note in my response to Fr. James Martin's welcome words about respect, compassion, and sensitivity, nothing much will change as long as the considerations remain at the level of words.

Solidarity requires action.  It requires walking along with others on the margins--in this case, with those who are gay.  One's ears can't really be open to the testimony of those who are gay until one walks a while alongside someone who is gay.  Until one walks the same road in the same pair of shoes for a while.

As Phil says, this is imperative, when it comes to gay young people.  It's imperative if we care about whether those young people will have any kind of bright future at all.  If we care about whether they will even have a life.

I'm deeply grateful to Phil for caring, as a Catholic woman of faith (who also happens to have one of the most moving and gorgeous Catholic blogs anywhere on line, one that makes me wonder, every time I visit it, why on earth I'm wasting my time piddling with this blog when the likes of Blue-Eyed Ennis is out there to feed people's spirits.)

No comments: