Dear Catholics Who Wish to “Purify” the Church and Broader Society,
Before I start, I want to be clear that I am only speaking to a powerful minority of Catholics in this piece and not the majority, those that will take any measure possible no matter how cruel to “purify” the Church and actively work with the State to enforce Catholic doctrine on larger society, mostly in the areas of abortion, sexuality, and gender. I know many of you are committed to the Catholic Church and extending her reach and power over broader society, even if by force, like in Poland. As Pope Francis says, some traditionalist Catholics are obsessed with abortion, contraception, and sexuality while forgetting Jesus’ second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. You follow all of the rules that you wish to follow with militancy, and you then expect the rest of the Church to do so, even if a large percentage of Catholics are incapable. You expect all Catholics to follow the same rules you do to the same level of militancy with no regard for reality, even if these Catholics have medical conditions, mental illness, disabilities, are from a different cultural background than you, and/or are especially LGBTQ+. Reality check, there are many Catholics with one or more of these identities/labels who are incapable of following all of the Church’s teachings without incurring lasting psychological damage, lasting spiritual damage, or many times death. You expect everyone else to follow the rules to the same level that you follow them or leave the Catholic Church, even if they were born, baptized, raised Catholic, and are doing their best. And if these Catholics who cannot follow all of the rules don’t leave, you have taken it upon yourselves to “Purify the Church” by shoving them out by any manner and means possible, no matter how cruel, hateful, damaging, or deadly. I know several older LGBTQ+ Catholic adults who have stayed with the Church for years and now are loosing the will to live. I know too many Catholic families who have lost gay children to suicide. The primary cause statistically is rejection, not “choices.”
Catholic trads, you have taken this militant purification process even beyond the walls of the Church and expect the rest of the nation to conform through the theocratic laws you implement without speaking to, listening to, and walking with anyone unlike yourself. Yet you say, “I mean no harm.” You are forgetting that there are frail human beings: peoples’ children, siblings, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles, who are on the receiving end of your cruelty, many of who were once in the Church and did their very best but had to leave out of survival and to protect the lives of their “atypical” children. You have forgotten that for a Catholic only, a mortal sin requires three components, so those Catholics who are doing their very best to follow the Church’s teachings but are truly incapable are of living up are most likely not culpable, especially if there is a history of a diagnosed condition and/or attempted suicide.
Melding the Church and State into one flesh has real consequences on every day people in broader society and us “Normal Catholics,” or even “Atypical Catholics” like us. Let me ask you something, are you living the heart and mind of Jesus and the Gospel? Is this the radically-loving Jesus who spent his ministry healing the sick and ministering to sex workers, tax collectors, lepers, and a long list of outcasts? Is this the Jesus Christ who founded the Catholic Church on the Rock of Peter? Do you think Jesus intended for you to oppress, harm, marginalize, and even exterminate those who are unlike yourself or those who are incapable of living by ALL of the Church’s Teachings?
Let me ask you. What about Catholic Social Teaching? Through your militancy, I see you completely dismissing and even discarding the Heart of the Gospel, Catholic Social Teaching, and the 2000 Bible verses which speak of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. I would suggest that you order and read, “The Church’s Best Kept Secret” written by my fellow Catholic writer friend, Mark Shea. Following Catholic Teaching? Brush up on Catholic Social Teaching which is front and center to the Catholic identity. I’m a Cafeteria Catholic as you have called me many times? Please do some self-examination if you have discarded and dismissed Catholic Social Teaching.
Let’s take a look at reality by watching this video from the Polish Catholic Church first to better understand the growth of dangerous fascism around the world. My additional letter below is written to an LGBTQ+ Catholic lay minister.
When you said that I was resilient parent and practitioner, I appreciated the kind words, but now I am seriously doubting my own resiliency.
As you know, the political atmosphere in Texas and in faith communities can be very challenging to navigate when it comes to historically marginalized groups, especially right now. I can truthfully say that for the Religious Right/Catholic Right, the 50-year goal of melding of Church and State into one fascist flesh is now a fully-operational deadly machine. For this powerful minority, it is ready to endanger or even exterminate those who won’t or cannot live up to a set of theocratic dogma forced on the whole nation, particularly in the areas of abortion, gender, and sexuality. I truly believe it is worse for historically marginalized groups of all kinds, especially LGBTQIA+ people and their families, than it was 30 years ago. This is at least partially caused by not separating the Church and State as our founders instructed. Twenty years ago, there were four large Dignity LGBTQ+ Catholic chapters in all four of Texas largest cities of Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin. But now, these pastoral ministry chapters have dwindled because Eucharistic ministry was removed, and these groups were removed from Catholic property. Those who hate our families, want us out of the Church, and even want us dead are sadly winning. The attitudes of those in the Catholic Right have affects on those inside the Church and on broader society in profound ways. Some LGBTQ+ Catholics and their families I know are loosing the will to live, like who I see in religious trauma recovery on a regular basis.
I think that maybe I am seen as a mother and practitioner who is trying to “push a gay agenda” rather than a mother and practitioner who is fighting for the lives, spiritual well-being, health, and vitality of our family and families like ours, those who have neurodivergent, disabled, and LGBTQ+ families members inside the Catholic Church and in broader society.
I will be honest, with pending fascism using the Church as a weapon in certain sections of society, I think serving in a faith community again may not be possible for families like ours. Unless true changes are made, I am afraid for Texas families being fully integrated into society and fully participating in a spiritual community again as Pope Francis supports.
When it comes to baptisms, confirmations. etc….., I don’t think our family and families like ours will be able to participate in anything but just attending Mass/Church in most places in Texas. The only type of Church ministry I want to serve in now is inclusion and LGBTQ+ ministry, preferably Catholic, because the emphasis on keeping the family strong, healthy, and together is like nowhere else than the Catholic Church. Family is everything to our family like it is to many of you, even if our family doesn’t look like the typical Catholic family.
This leads into the breaking point I am at right now. I have been a Christian all my life, became Catholic because I believe that Jesus founded the Catholic Church on the Rock of Peter before I understood LGBTQ+ issue, and I have served in conservative Christian ministry all of my adult life. Sometimes I feel like my faith can barely survive this. If I have to choose between my children and standing with the vulnerable of all kinds or stand with a militant fascist brand of the Church, I will choose the vulnerable and my family. According to Catholic Social Teaching and the Gospel, the Church is supposed to stand with the vulnerable and care for the “Least of These,” not endanger and exterminate them. Catholic Social Teaching is front and center to the Catholic identity. It think it’s the only thing that can move the Catholic Church forward.