Gay Catholics struggle to maintain faith

Gay Catholics struggle to maintain faith

Some news stories blatantly cry out for blogging but the sheer magnitude of the stuff in there that needs analysis makes me keep putting it off until I have the time for it. That’s the case with this story from yesterday’s Boston Globe about gay Catholics “struggling to maintain their faith.” But since the Sox and Yankees are playing at 4 pm today and I have a magazine to put together, if I don’t do this now, I never will.

Here are some thoughts (with kudos to Kelly Clark for inspiring some of these thoughts.[/url] All comments, mistakes, and analysis are mine. Don’t blame Kelly.)

As you might expect, the article is not about faithful Catholics afflicted with same-sex attraction (SSA), trying mightily to live the Church’s teachings. No, what we are treated to is a whack on the Church from people who want it both ways. They want the ritual and tradition and good feelings of remaining in the Church of their youth, while picking and choosing from the doctrines she transmits to us from God.

first, we have Grace Kelemanik, Catholic lesbian, who had her daughter baptized in her parish, serves on church committees and teaches religious education, all apparently without receiving the slightest hint from her pastor that her lesbian relationship and views are intrinsically disordered. The parish isn’t mentioned, but I have a good idea which “suburban Boston parish” would be so welcoming.

‘‘I was raised Catholic,’’ said Kelemanik, 41. ‘‘It’s my faith. And I know it might sound ridiculous—I feel like it’s almost getting more ridiculous these days—but I believe God made me as I am, and that’s not a bad thing. . . . It’s not like I could just go and pick another religion: `Oh, I’ll be Episcopalian.’ It’s what I believe and who I am. And [other Catholics] get to see me and my family, and know we’re not all crazy sexual deviants.’‘

She’s half right (or maybe a quarter). You can’t go pick another religion. There’s only One True Faith (which is an unpopular truth these days of irenical ecumenism). But because that faith is True, that means that its dogmas must also be True. If they are not true, then why shouldn’t you go find the “true” faith?

The Jesuit Urban Center and Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton are mentioned as particularly gay friendly (i.e. unfriendly to the Church’s teachings.) Charles Martel is a gay parishioner at the former.

But Martel, 49, has decided that the only way to change attitudes in the Catholic church is to remain visible within it.

‘‘It is our church, and so the idea of leaving it has this whole, being pushed out [feeling],’’ he said. ‘‘I think that’s why it’s so important to stay, but to be visible and vocal. If you remain silent, that’s how you integrate the sense of shame and self-hatred, so you have to take an active role. I know in time, as other things have changed, the church will come to understand [it was wrong about same-sex marriage]. Some future pope will have to realize this was an error.’’

Can you imagine a more tortured view of the development of doctrine, a more error-filled understanding of Truth and the Deposit of Faith? Sorry, Charles, but it isn’t going to happen.

Of course, Fr. Walter Cuenin, pastor of Our Lady’s, weighs in. He gives the obligatory statement that “sexual activity between gay people is not approved,” yet he never outright states that Church teachign should be upheld. Has he ever preached about the Church’s teaching, has he ever called people with SSA to fight the temptation or the even the attraction. No, in fact, he testified before the state Legislature that the Church’s teaching on human rights demands same-sex marriage.

Finally, one of the gay men speaks truth, but not the way he meant it: “‘I answer to a higher person than the Vatican,’ said John F. Kelly, also a member of the Jesuit Urban Center.” Yes, John, but that higher person is not God, but yourself. You have made your own views, your own desires the higher power in your life.

1 comment
  • Thank you, Dom. As you say, there is so much going on in this story. Thanks for whittling it down. I simply couldn’t do it.

    John Hearn also echos some of my thoughts on reading this particular story, along with reading and hearing so many mixed-up messages that priests, in particular, are putting out.

    For example, Father Cuenin’s (one senses, rather reluctant) admission that sex between members of the same sex is “not approved,” is made as if he were talking about some liturgical bit of minutia, rather than a potentially eternal life-or-death matter. Given his testimony, along with his open “welcoming of gays” in his parish literature, is it any wonder that this statement, such as it is, might be intrepreted as something like “it’s not really `approved,’ per se, but what the heck”?

    For me, the saddest—and most telling—line in the article is:

    “…Kelemanik and other gays and lesbians feel mostly comfortable in mainstream parishes across Massachusetts, just as divorcees and abortion rights supporters whose beliefs diverge from church teachings do. “

    What price are they—and we—to pay for this temporary “comfort?”