Friday, October 30, 2015

"No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of a Shark": Krzysztof Charamsa on the "Unspeakable Suffering" Catholic Pastoral Leaders Inflict on LGBTI People

In his letter to the pope, Krzysztof Charamsa says that he came out of the closet after a long and tormented period of prayer and discernment because he can no longer tolerate "the violence of the Church towards homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people." He states that, through its pastoral leaders, the Catholic church "persecutes" LGBTI human beings, causing them and their families "unspeakable suffering" and making their lives "hell."

Charamsa also announces that he can no longer bear the "homophobic hate of the Church, the exclusion, the marginalisation and the stigmatisation of people like himself, "whose "human rights are denied" by the church. And to this and all Krzysztof Charamsa's other words, I can only say a sincere Amen, since I have experienced more than a little of that "unspeakable suffering," that "homophobic hate" and exclusion, marginalization, and stigmatization at the hands of my church's pastoral leaders, that violation of human rights. That living hell created for me and others like me by the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church . . . . 

I fully understand Charamsa's enough-is-enough decision, the decision no longer to bear all of this and call it good and holy — the decision no longer to live in connection to it, to facilitate it by being part of a system behaving this way towards a segment of the human community. I can understand the decision of anyone who leaves such a home to have done with the shameful silent complicity of the many "good" Catholics, the well-educated and "liberal" ones, who make excuses for or provide rationales for such hateful destruction of the lives of fellow human beings by pretending that those human beings are fabricating false narratives of suffering, or that they deserve their suffering, or that they are simply invisible, not in the room, out of sight and out of mind and therefore not to be talked about as we go on and on about mercy and welcome and inclusion and human rights.

Enough is enough.

I thought of Krzysztof Charamsa this morning when I re-read Warsan Shire's poem "Home," which opens with the following powerful statement: 

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark

And which proceeds to make another powerful statement:

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet

The dispossession that we who are LGBT and have been at "home" in the Catholic church feel is, of course, not entirely equivalent to the brutal dispossession of refugee populations now flooding Europe from the east, people fleeing with the clothes on their backs to save their lives. It is, however, analogous dispossession.

No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark: and this is precisely what the Catholic church has become for very many LGBTI people (not the closeted, hidden ones in its clerical club, but for most lay LGBTI Catholics and their families) — hence the necessity to leave. When leaders of a major world religion are capable of standing up in their holiest aula and announcing that a segment of the human community is in the thrall of the devil, should be exorcised from the holy aula, are equivalent to murderous Nazis, and when people of good sense and good will stand by in total silence:

It's time to leave.  

It's time to get out of the shark's mouth.

It's time to recognize that, as a priest-friend and theologian-colleague told me years ago, the clerical elite running the Catholic church enact a very special kind of cruelty on LGBT people — on gay men, in particular — because so many of them are. Gay. Themselves. And closeted. And self-loathing.

As I mentioned to you all yesterday, I'll be on a blogging hiatus starting tomorrow. You are very welcome to continue talking in the comboxes here, should you wish to do so. I'll, of course, be reading comments, since I have an obligation to do that, both because I value you and your comments, and because it's my responsibility to try to keep conversations here from becoming needlessly rancorous. 

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