Different, Not Less

Different, Not Less October 5, 2022

Five years ago, if someone would have told me that I would be publicly advocating for the LBGTQIA+ community, especially LBGTQIA+ young people, I wouldn’t have believed it, especially coming from my ultra-conservative religious background.  When I learned that the LBGTQIA+ experience is significantly higher in neurodivergent individuals, I knew my advocacy must expand to their basic human rights and safety as well as the disabled and neurodivergent I have served for many years.  As a practioner, I define neurodivergent as any individual who falls on a minority spectrum of psychology or neurology which diverges from the general population. My journey of parenting Neurodiverse young adults and becoming an affirming Catholic therapist to all minority populations are truly the best things that have ever happened to me as a parent, practioner, and as a Catholic convert.  Discovering Catholic Social Teaching and falling in love with Pope Francis’s love for humanity saved my faith during our current tumultuous political period of American history. Not everyone who is conservative falls into the militarized right-wing which I will discuss more. I know some good conservatives who love God and love humanity. I am only speaking about those conservatives who have married the Church with the right wing of the Republican party over the last 40 years to gain power at all costs, even at the cost of other lives outside the womb who don’t “measure up” to their standards.

 

I had to experience full-blown psychological and spiritual abuse and trauma from the militarized right-wing to understand just how dangerous this group can be towards neurodiverse populations. As a practitioner, I define neurodiverse as any group of individuals who fall minority spectrums of neurology or psychology which differ from the general population.  Other practitioners may define this term a little differently.  As a person with Parkinson’s Disease and ADHD, I describe myself as a Neurodivergent individual.

The Catholic Church is supposed to be a safe place of community, family, charity, love, support, and moral guidance for all Catholics who want to be Catholic, not just some Catholics.  I say moral guidance in that the Catholic Church’s teaching is a framework for how Catholics are supposed to live, not a noose or weapon to abuse and destroy those who are incapable of not “reaching the bar” without significant harm to their faith, health, and/or lives.  And when the Church’s teaching is used as a political weapon to force on all of society, it becomes the fullest danger to everyone who is not conservative, Republican, mostly white, straight, and neurotypical.

During my treatment process of religious trauma recovery therapy over the last year, seeing, and experiencing the magnitude of political power from those in the Catholic right who want control at all costs and the perfect Catholic society, I can honestly say that certain parts of the Catholic Church are simply unsafe for Neurodiverse populations, especially in dioceses where pastoral ministry does not align with current science and proven best practice.  Again, anyone who is not Republican, conservative, mostly white, straight, and neurotypical is vulnerable to harm if they don’t find safe spaces both in the Church and in society.

My conversion to Catholicism was a very long process over a period of years.  Now that I understand how much the militarized right has infiltrated the Catholic Church, I will continually search for and detect safe spaces for Neurodiverse young people to authentically grow into the people God created them to be and do their best to honor him without harm to themselves or others. Progressive Catholic universities and large urban Cathedrals seem to be good places.  God didn’t design my family to fit into a perfect mold.  He designed us to honor Him to the best of our ability and do the work He created us to do. I believe that once the Catholic Church is safe for everyone who wants to belong to the Church Jesus Christ founded, it will be safe for all societies in the world.


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