I have a message for the Catholics around me who responded to the Vatican statement on not blessing same sex unions yesterday, and to other such statements, by gloating. And to the people who gloat whenever the Vatican releases such a statement. Not to the people who just fully realize this was re-stating Church teaching and then go about their business, but to the people who were excited that it hurt the feelings of LGBTQ Catholics whether they’re living chastely or not. To those who expressed the sentiment that this will finally drive away some whom you consider to be “fake Catholics.” I particularly want to talk to people who responded to their hurt with snickers, and something along the lines of “good riddance, we don’t need you infiltrating the Church.” I also want to talk to the people who were glad when my friend I talked about last week left. Anyone who thinks it’s just great when an LGBTQ person leaves.
Here’s something you guys might not have considered.
I guarantee that if you got your wish and all the LGBTQ people in the Catholic Church disappeared overnight, leaving only the straight people, you would lose regular easy access to the sacraments. Remember how awful it was last April when nobody could go to Mass and you had to drive out of your way to find a parking lot confession? It would be like that, all the time.
You would lose countless very good priests– not all, but a lot. I’m not talking about the priests who make you nervous, the ones you “suspect” and gossip about. I’m talking about nice old Father X who preaches such hauntingly beautiful homilies. Young Father Y who is a great youth pastor and so compassionate. Grizzled, crusty old Monsignor Smith. Quiet Father Jones who drives six hours from his monastery to lead the Parish Mission once a year. Father So-and-So whom you’ve never met, who is a hermit in a Carmelite community and says a private Mass for your intentions every day of his life because you once filled out a card asking to be remembered in a Mass. Some of those men are gay or bi. Yes, I know that men with “deep seated homosexual tendencies” are not allowed in seminaries, but that’s a rule that can’t be enforced. Seminaries don’t actually filter them out, and they never have. And the seal of ordination doesn’t somehow not stick to men who experience sexual temptations you don’t. They are priests forever.
You’d also lose a lot of Catholic schools, nursing homes, hospitals and charities. You know how everyone laments the lack of nuns teaching Catholic schools these days? You’d lose some of the few who are left. Also the religious who work in hospitals and run nursing homes, the ones who volunteer in soup kitchens and other places. You would lose intercessors in cloisters who offer up prayer and sacrifice for you every day of your life without your knowing. A lot of those women are LGBTQ as well. And a whole lot of the lay people who minister in those places are LGBTQ.
You would lose catechists. You would lose sacristans. You would lose altar servers. You would lose choir directors, organists, altos, sopranos, tenors, basses. You would lose the people who help decorate the parish hall for parties. You would lose the nice old widow woman in the Legion of Mary who brings Holy Communion to shut-ins. You would lose the maiden lady who always comes to daily Mass and sits silently in the front with the colorful scarf on her head. You would lose homeschooling moms and dads and a number of their adorable moppets as well.
You would lose friends and relatives that you love.
Is that what you want?
You may not realize this, but I am certain that you have friends and relatives– not the ones you coldly tolerate but the ones you truly value, the ones you look forward to spending time with– who are LGBTQ. These are people you pray with. People whose kids you’ve seen receive First Holy Communion. They haven’t brought this up with you, first of all because it’s none of your business. But secondly because they’ve seen the way you talk whenever LGBTQ people are mentioned, and they’re scared. They love you. They see so much good in you. They want to be your friend. They value you as a relative. They wished with all their hearts that when you post a homophobic meme on facebook or spread a rumor about gay communists infiltrating the Church or say “good riddance” about LGBTQ people leaving, that they could blurt the truth out to you and that that would make you reconsider and love them just the way they are. But they know that you’d hate and shun them, so they don’t.
The Catechism tells us that “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.” And that is, if anything, an understatement. We’re an enormous number. I almost said “we are legion” because you treat us like demons. But in any case, there are lots of us, and we’re already here. Some of us, like me, live in heterosexual relationships so you’d never know we weren’t straight. I am bisexual, but gay people and lesbians end up doing that too, and have throughout history. Some of those marriages are nightmares or cold arrangements where the couple “have an understanding,” but some are actually very happy and loving. Some LGBTQ Catholics are striving to live chastely alone or with partners they don’t have sex with– and yes, that’s been done throughout history as well. Some are in convents or monasteries or your church rectory, following the rules. And yes, some LGBTQ Catholics live in relationships the Church teaches are gravely sinful, and I’m not saying they should. Many heterosexual people also live together in partnerships the Church teaches us are gravely sinful. Think of all the Catholic couples who use birth control.
The Catholic Church teaches us that homosexual intercourse is a sin, and that two men or two women aren’t a married couple. That’s what we’re supposed to believe. It’s NOT the official teaching of the Catholic Church that LGBTQ people are scary perverted infiltrators who ruin everything they touch. It’s not the teaching of the Catholic Church that everyone is naturally straight, and having other attractions is a choice. It’s not the teaching of the Catholic Church that conversion therapy really works and the fact that it’s not documented to work and it is known to cause psychological harm is a left-wing conspiracy either. But that rumor has been earnestly spread by so many Catholics that I’ve spoken to non-Catholic Christians who think it’s really part of our doctrine. it’s not the teaching of the Catholic Church that AIDS is a plague sent by God to punish gay men, a plague that just happened to take out a lot of babies, rape victims and hemophiliacs as well, but I was raised to think that way. It’s not the teaching of the Catholic Church that gay communist infiltrators were planted in seminaries by the Vatican during the Cold War, but you’d be surprised how many people believe that or something equally ridiculous.
It’s not the teaching of the Catholic Church that being gay causes child abuse– and indeed, the overwhelming majority of sexual abusers of children are straight. Yes, that includes men who sexually abuse boys. The sick perversion that leads a man to abuse children like that doesn’t come from the same place a man being attracted to a man does. If you got rid of every gay man in the Church, you’d still be stuck with a sexual abuse crisis and a hierarchy that’s guilty of covering it up.
These accusations against LGBTQ people, just for being LGBTQ people, are calumny.
Calumny is a sin against the eighth commandment because it’s lying, but it’s also a sin against the fifth commandment because it kills. Calumny kills reputations, it can kill a person psychologically, and it can actually cause real death of the body as well. LGBTQ Catholics do kill themselves because of calumny about them. Those deaths are grave sins on the consciences of everyone involved spreading the rumors. And if you’ve spread such calumny, I hope you go to confession before presenting yourself for Holy Communion.
You see, everybody sins.
Everyone, gay and straight, is tempted to sin.
All have fallen short.
Nobody deserves the Eucharist. Nobody.
God has created each of us with infinite dignity. He sacrificed Himself on the cross for each of us, because He loves us that much. Each of us has fallen infinitely short of the mark and we all need mercy.
Nobody has ever EARNED Catholicism. It’s not a club you get to join if you’re the right sort of person. It’s not a free pizza you get for reading the right books. It’s not a house you can buy if you have good enough credit. It’s the Ark in the flood, the Narrow Way, the Mystical Marriage, the field hospital, the weird indescribable placenta that connects us to the Body of Christ. Christ has called all of us here because He loves us. Exactly none of us are here because we were good enough to earn it. Everyone, no matter their race or gender or sexual orientation, was created to be a unique icon of God, and everyone has a unique irreplaceable gift to bring to the Church.
If you got what you wanted, the Church would lose that many irreplaceable gifts. You would lose people whose work for the Church is invaluable. You would lose easy, convenient access to the sacraments and to catechesis. You would lose people you love, who love you. And you’d still have the abuse crisis.
Is that really what you want?
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
Steel Magnificat operates almost entirely on tips. To tip the author, visit our donate page.