Look, it’s 2020, so I’m just going to say it: the Catholic Church is wrong about gay people.
To put a finer point on it: it is my opinion that the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church, as it applies to homosexuality and same-sex relationships, is mistaken and ought to be revised.
This has been my opinion for a long time, but I’ve been quiet about it, for a couple of reasons. First, who cares what I think? And second, why should I make trouble? The answer to the first question is probably still “nobody.” My position on this matter is not especially consequential. That’s why I can say it. As for the second, I still don’t have much of an appetite for trouble. But avoiding the subject for civility’s sake has begun to feel cowardly.
I don’t think the view that the church is wrong about gay people is a radical opinion. I think a lot of Catholics agree. Some are afraid to say so publicly, because it could make real trouble for them, especially if they are contractually obligated to uphold orthodoxy. What will it cost me, besides a little awkwardness? A few years ago, I was invited by a parish in my hometown to give a talk about Vatican II. I was then uninvited: the bishop told them to find someone else. When I asked for a reason, he expressed vague concern about providing a forum for criticism of the church. It’s funny, because I am seldom more positive about the Catholic Church than I am when speaking about Vatican II. But anyway, since I’m already blacklisted in Scranton, what have I got to lose?
So much for keeping quiet. Here are my reasons for speaking up. It has been my experience that same-sex relationships can be occasions of grace and manifestations of deep, self-sacrificing love, just like opposite-sex relationships can. I have seen how the church’s claims to the contrary can damage children who are developing a sense of their own identities and worth. I have known the wounded adults those children grow up to be, whose grudges against the church strike me as entirely just. And I have seen LGBTQ people so drawn to Christ’s presence in the church that they look past all the dismissals and insults to fight for their place at the Eucharistic table. Their faithfulness inspires and challenges me. Their witness convinces me the church is wrong to condemn them.
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