Hello, my name is Steven. I was viewing the Bilerico website and saw your blog. I have a question in hoping you may assist me. First of all, I am a Roman Catholic and have been for over two years now. I love the church and do attend mass; however, I am a 45 yr old gay man. According to the church, gays are not allowed to practice their lifestyle. I thought I could simply ignore how I feel, but I cannot. God created us and if he did not want us to have these "feelings" , then we wouldn't experience them and want to seek out companionship with a member of the same sex. If I confess to my priest how I feel and would want to establish a loving and stable relationship with another man, would be I facing excommunication from the church?
I hope I can find a peacable solution as to what to do. I understand some catholic churches do accept GLBT couples.
Peace be with you always,
There are no Roman Catholic Churches that are really totally open to your lifestyle. Some are more gay-hospitable than others, but NONE of them are going to tell you that you can have gay sex, although you'll find plenty of priests who will privately tell you it's OK - and then suggest dinner to "discuss it further".
The question with the big shoulders is "Why did you join this religion two years ago, and what did you hope to derive from being a Roman Catholic?"
At the time of your conversion, surely you were given a catechism that outlined the particulars of this organization. Surely you were schooled in the words of the Creed which is a detailed but basic list of the components of belief that every Roman Catholic MUST own.
I have an idea that your response to this would be that sexuality is not treated SPECIFICALLY in those vehicles and you'd be right in your response, hence the current hand-wringing and harumphing and condemning that constitute American Catholic leadership.
Let's jump to the conclusion of the crowd: most folks reading your letter will impatiently say "What's his problem? He should just leave that church and join a better one. Get over it. They will never like or accept him. He probably subconsciously joined a church that he knew would tell him he is a bad boy. He's probably guilt-ridden and wants to be whipped for his dirty little secret."
My response will be slightly more patient. You joined the Roman Catholic Church because there was something expressed in its 2000 year old tradition that made you feel good and closer to God through its delivery of Jesus Christ, right? What you are now wrestling with are the rules and regulations that silly old men have devised over centuries in their effort to bottle up and contain and dispense the free-flowing and overwhelming goodness of that very Jesus. You have a choice. You can remain a Roman Catholic and ignore the voices of nonsense (including the Pope and bishops who claim extreme authority in their insane proclamations) or you can leave it and find a better way to discipline yourself spiritually. You seem thoughtful. I am rather sure that you can find Jesus without joining one of his fan clubs that exact heavy dues for no return.
That's right. The Catholic Church has become a fan club. Jesus is the star. There are dues to be paid. Jesus doesn't see a penny of the dues collected, and most of it goes to maintaining the fan club rather than extending the mercy that Jesus spoke about. (You do know, don't you, that you can perform good deeds and acts of mercy and kindness without a fan club card?)
Regarding your question about excommunication, you would really have to make some huge headlines to be worth all the effort that goes into excommunication. Almost nobody gets excommunicated these days. Even Catholic politicians who deserve it don't get it. Even if you were to bring your boyfriend up the center aisle of the church wearing shirts that say "We're queer and we have queer sex with each other twice a day" the folks next to you in the pew may not want to shake your hands during the "kiss of peace" but you would not be excommunicated. I myself have not been excommunicated or even suspended, so go figure.
Ultimately, it boils down to this: are you comfortable with a double standard, and can you laugh at hypocrisy? If you are and if you can, you will find some wonderful benefits to be derived from the roots of Catholicism - not its current leafing.
If you choose to discuss this with your priest, keep in mind that different priests give vastly different answers. You'll want to find one who will say "Your conscience is informed, now make your personal decision. If you choose to commit what your church calls sin, and then regret it, you can confess it and God will forgive you." That is rather at the heart of Roman Catholicism: sin and forgiveness. The soiling and the laundering. Questioning and direction. Nonsense and enlightenment. Being of the world vs not of this world. Wanting to be like Jesus and frequently falling short of a great imitation. Seeking, losing and finding one's way.
Steven, I am convinced that nobody ever found peace by fearing God or the clergy. I do not think God wants our fear (although the clergy certainly does.) I think God finds the concept of "God-fearing people" stupid. If you are not going to fear God, why should you fear a pope, a cardinal, a bishop or a priest? Look within yourself. God is there, empowering you to be the best Steven imaginable. Unleash it either within or without the Roman Catholic Church and you'll be OK. Oh and another thing God does not want: your worry. There is nothing in the gospels to make us think that Jesus was a worrier. He seemed to be relaxed in the way that people who have set in place their personal convictions and live accordingly are relaxed. He had only one recorded moment of anxiety and that was the night before he died. He wasn't much looking forward to the next eighteen hours but he bit the bullet and remained true to his convictions. Do the same, and no one or nothing will harm the essential you.