Sunday, July 4, 2010

Un-orthodox Love

There is a wonderful blog, titled Ad Dominum, which I often visit. Recently blogger Thom Curnutte posted an impassioned and wonderfully articulate note that a Catholic friend of his had posted on Facebook in response to the anti-gay pronouncements of an acquaintance. There were several comments to this post, one of which came from Jacob, who claimed to be “a small voice of orthodoxy tarnished minimally by vice and personal agenda, guided by a spirit of love.”

As my comments on Thom’s post are rather long, I have decided to post them here rather than take up space on Ad Dominum.

I loved what Laura wrote. I believe that she speaks honestly and passionately the words that are in the hearts of most, if not all, gay Catholics. As Thom has pointed out, she has made “many fantastic points.”

And as a gay man who has left his parish in protest over the institutional homophobia he perceives in the Church in general and in particular in his own archdiocese, I both admire and envy her active involvement in her own parish.

Jacob’s response to Laura brings two issues to mind. The first is that I do not think a straight white male can in any way understand what it is like to be gay (I use the term gay here to refer to all LGBT people), let alone to be gay and Catholic. Jacob simply cannot imagine how it feels to read a homophobic article like that which was recently published in the Boston Pilot or to read the outrageously misleading “information” about homosexuality in the literature of the Courage apostolate. How could he even begin to comprehend the feelings of gay parents who are told their children may not attend Catholic school because of their relationship? So speak as he might about “female anthropology” and “the sacramental union between one man and one woman,” Jacob’s words are empty semantics to those who know that God created them gay and that the Church denies them their full humanity. There is a distinct disconnect between this profound self-knowledge—which can come from no other source than from God—and the doctrine-based arguments against gay marriage (and therefore against the sacredness of gay relationships based on love and mutual commitment) made by a straight person.

Laura has made the courageous decision to be an active Catholic in spite of the very difficult and ongoing dilemma this presents for her. The choices she has made—both to return to the Church and to be an active parishioner—can only have come after a great deal of thought and with a profound and no doubt pained awareness of the teachings of the Church on homosexuality. So I find that there is a kind of arrogance in a person who would presume to lecture, however gently and lovingly, on the “correctness” of his point of view to someone like Laura.

The second issue is this: In his response to Laura, Jacob says the following: “It’s taken a long time for me to find the humility to submit myself to the Authority of Christ and his Church and its Magisterial teaching…. I have always found that the Church has well-thought detailed reasons for everything it teaches, despite that those reasons are not readily apparent, and may be contingent upon the acceptance of something that I haven’t yet learned.” Orthodox Catholics work on the assumption that the Church was established by Christ and that it cannot therefore be in error. Only those who disagree with its teachings are wrong. This is an assumption that is supported neither by scholarship nor by reason. Even if Christ did found his Church upon the rock of Peter—and there is research that shows this in fact did not happen as it is reported in Matthew—it is simply childish to assume that either Peter, a man of weak character and little faith, or any number of his successors could be trusted to carry the pure message of Jesus to the children of God without at some point allowing it to be contaminated by the stench of greed, lust, and pride or losing it altogether in rigid institutionalism. One only has to look at the shameful mess the medieval popes made of the Church to see that what we know as the Catholic Church of those times—and of today—has little to do with the life and the message of Christ.

Christ was about love, not authority and Magisterial teaching.” In fact, his whole preaching life demonstrated his disdain for the attempts of the “authority” of his time to trump love with the Law. Why can the modern Church not see this? Why must faithful Catholics like Laura struggle daily to have their love accepted as legitimate by their Church?

I honour Jacob’s sincerity, but I have boundless appreciation and empathy for Laura’s courageous struggle and only great good wishes for her journey.

Thank you, Thom, for posting her story.


  1. Thom:

    I would be very interested in learning more about Laura's active involvement with her church and how that works for her socially, psychologically, and spiritually. Perhaps she could guest blog on Ad Dominum again and enlighten us on her unique journey.

  2. "The first is that I do not think a straight white male can in any way understand what it is like to be gay (I use the term gay here to refer to all LGBT people), let alone to be gay and Catholic."

    What's his race got to do with it? Evidence of cant
    and groupthink. You think a straight black male would be more sympathetic? Then you don't know too many.