A few people have asked why I decided to participate in “Owning Our Faith,” and my thoughts on the trailer for the film. Here you go!
1. What’s been released is a trailer for a longer film. The filmmakers have told me that my views (and presumably those of the other participants) will be explored more fully in the film itself.
2. I pretty much try to always say “yes” when people ask me to appear or speak. It’s no secret that I disagree with most (maybe all? I don’t actually know) of the other OOF participants on questions of sexual ethics and obedience to Church teaching. But they made an effort to ensure that somebody who is openly gay and accepts Church teaching would be included in the film. They didn’t have to do that. The perspective of people like me is completely invisible in mainstream culture. Many people have never even considered the possibility of obedient gay Catholic life which is fruitful rather than self-hating or repressive. Whenever and wherever I can suggest that this is possible, I try to do so.
3. I will say that the other participants in the film also raise questions the Church needs to grapple with. What are the best pastoral responses to people who come from the other perspectives expressed in the film?
When I entered the Church I was fairly willing to trust Her as a teacher and obey, or at least try to obey. (Or at least try to try!) It was a relief to trust and surrender to Jesus and act as a child of His Church in all areas, even though I was not thrilled that “all areas” included sexual ethics.But lots of people who are genuinely drawn to some aspect of the Catholic faith face much greater challenges than I did: For example, they may have had much worse experiences in Christian communities, which makes trusting the Church on this issue exceptionally difficult (not solely for emotional reasons–anti-gay attitudes in the Church also raise epistemological problems, since they make it seem like the most obvious explanation for Church teaching is that it’s the result of bigotry or ignorance); they may not be as naturally attracted to obedience as an aesthetic category as I am; or they may not see any possibilities for fruitful celibate lgbt life, and know that Jesus didn’t call anyone to a life without love. They may have done a lot of reading and investigation and concluded that they reject Church teaching. They may feel like rejection of Church teaching in this area is simple common sense. I’m sure a lot of other reasons and starting-points will be articulated in the full “Owning Our Faith” film.
How could your parish both welcome and shepherd people who are coming from those places? There isn’t only one right answer. This post offers some of my initial thoughts on the question, but it’s only a beginning. Still, I don’t think the best answer is, “Well, they can come back when they’re ready to do as they’re told.”