As I ponder the events of 9/11, one of the echoes in my mind is this song from Melissa Etheridge about Mark Bingham, an openly gay man who was one of those who tried to wrest control of Flight 93 from the terrorists. She points to an American who stepped up, "even though he could not marry, or teach our children in our schools," and appeals to our nation's best self: "Can you live with yourself, in the land of the Free, and make him less of a hero than the other three?" (Oh, the sample included in the song underscores the message--it's from a railroad crew song picked up by civil rights (and well-known children's) singer Ella Jenkins.)[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Mychal Judge, OFM"][/caption] Of course there's also Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, NYFD chaplain and an openly gay celibate priest, a longtime member of Dignity, who rushed to the scene on 9/11 ministering to the dead and injured until he was killed himself. "Objectively disordered"? Was he, as a gay man, "in a situation that gravely hinder[ed him] from relating correctly to men and women," as the Vatican Instruction barring gay men from ordination insists? Or was he a challenge to all Christians to be a witness to the power and courage of Christian love, even in the face of horror? As Judge often asked, "Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love?"Two heroes of 9/11 who speak to us still. One invites us to examine ourselves in light of our shared vision for America as a land of freedom and equality, the other in light of our call as Christians striving to love well, courageously, wholly and truly. In light of both visions, as the crowd shouts in Etheridge's video "Let's roll."
Lisa Fullam is professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).