Here's a real pastoral question to consider: What place is there for the gay person in the Catholic church? With the warning from the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., that it would pull out of social services in the city rather than accede to a bill that would afford benefits to same-sex spouses, a question, too long neglected, arises for the whole church: What is a gay Catholic supposed to do in life?
Imagine you are a devout Catholic who is also gay. Here is a list of the things that you are not to do, according to the teaching of the church. (Remember that most other Catholics can choose among many of these options.) None of this should be new or in any way surprising. If you are gay, you cannot:
1.) Enjoy romantic love.....
2.) Marry. ....
3.) Adopt a child. ....
4.) Enter a seminary. ....
5.) Work for the church and be open. .....
At the same time, if you are a devout Catholic who is attentive both to church teachings and the public pronouncements of church leaders, you will be reminded that you are "objectively disordered," and your sexuality is "a deviation, an irregularity a wound."
Nothing above is surprising or controversial: all of the above are church teaching. But taken together, they raise an important pastoral question for all of us: What kind of life remains for these brothers and sisters in Christ, those who wish to follow the teachings of the church? Officially at least, the gay Catholic seems set up to lead a lonely, loveless, secretive life. Is this what God desires for the gay person?
Given all this, it's a wonder any gay Catholics are left. (Frankly I think most of them have become Episcopalian--a huge fraction of the GLBT Episcopalians we have met are RC refugees). Seriously. Has the church really admitted that the only place it sees gay people is in self-loathing dark closets?
The whole post is worth reading, as are the comments, which alternately expose the heartache and pain, and the intransigent opposition, of actual Catholics.
One commenter writes,
And it continues to interest me that my brothers and sisters of the center, many of whom have long since accepted the use of artificial contraceptives in marriage, and have critiqued the ethical norms prohibiting that use (which are precisely the same as those prohibiting homsexual activity), remain silent about this challenge facing the churches. And about the ongoing pain of their brothers and sisters who are gay or lesbian, and who will no more go back to that unconvincing little world of ill-considered certainties about everything and misplaced interest in the afterlife than married Catholics using birth control will.
How do churches work themselves into places when such obvious cruelty appears holy?
On these lines, another blog addresses the question of why the bishops are putting their obsession with sex ahead of social justice.
First they threatened to take down health-care reform over abortion coverage. Now they’re threatening services to the sick and poor of Washington, D.C., over same-sex marriage.(my emphasis). I guess that's where the gay Catholics are: working for social justice. You know, what the Roman Catholic church used to be known for.
Edward Orzechowski is the president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. At issue for the church, he said in a press statement, is that the committee drafting the measure in the city council had adjusted the language so that the church would be forbidden from discriminating against same-sex couples in either the adoptions it arranges for the city’s foster-care system, or in the employment benefits it offers to its own personnel.
Many of the people who work for Catholic Charities, Orzechowski told the Washington Post, hail from the LGBT community, so the church would be forced to violate its tenets if the anti-discrimination provision remained in the marriage-equality measure. Just so you have that straight: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are good enough to work for Catholic Charities, as long as it’s okay for the church offer them a lower level of benefits than those conferred on heterosexual couples.
Honestly, Do you suppose those Bishops ever think this stuff through? How out of touch can they be? institutions are by their nature corruptable, of course, but this seems ridiculous, especially given the support of the Average Catholic for marriage equality. You also have got to wonder how many of the Bishops are deeply closeted gays who basically have achieved power through a Faustian bargain denying their own truth. Which is tragic at so many levels.