There is a place where even the liberal Catholic press fears to tread. The relative lack of serious discussion about homosexual desire casts into spiritual darkness a tribe of believing Catholic men and women who must fend for themselves in their quest for a serene emotional life, for companionship, and for the comfort of sexual love. For “the teaching church,” the subject is untouchable.

There are few intellectuals, lay or clerical, who will take it on, for it is risky to bring into the public forum the notion that there are Catholics who practice their faith with diligence and who love those of their own sex and have known the joy of that love. I am such a Catholic. I have discovered that such a love is easy to bear, complete, and holy.

So, I will offer some thoughts I have about a homosexual’s life and its difficulties, its spirituality, its struggles with desire and the church’s punitive silence.

If I obey the church, there is only a life of absolute celibacy open to me. I must accept my lot, hope for the best, cross my fingers, and “offer it up.” What “the best” is, the church does not quite say, but it cannot be sexual.

Everything must be avoided that might lead to the discovery of the beloved: no flirtations, no gathering together with other homosexuals, no dating, no risk of arousal. If such constrictions were imposed on heterosexuals, there would be no marriages.

No priest will bless a union between homosexual Catholics, no matter how committed the couple is to a long fidelity, for the church forbids the homosexual an erotic life. An erotic life sets the homosexual beyond the communion of the sanctuary.

And if that is it, a Roman Catholic homosexual, devoted and faithful, believing and rigorous in the practice of his faith, after long suffering and neglect, might just say the hell with it and welcome love and live outside the sanctuary.

Could it be that there is a band of men and women set apart by God who will never know the fullness of love within the life of the church? That question does not give comfort. I have known men who have married so that they might have a place in the church and in society, knowing that they were turning their back on the truth of their sexuality. They abandoned the love they had for other men and entered into marriages that failed, and devastation was soon everywhere—children, wives, families all in ruins.

What, then, does the church do?

It seems that the church has decided that there is nothing to do. So upon this tribe of men and women exile falls with a mighty thud. Perhaps the only way for them to live a life of faith and fullness is to live the life of the outlaw and renegade, trusting in the Lord and his consolations.

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Published in the 2008-12-05 issue: View Contents
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