Sunday, January 15, 2012

James Martin on the Church and Gays and Lesbians

James Martin, S.J. -- who is always worth a read -- has written an especially worthwhile piece ("Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity") on how the Church deals with, and often fails to respect, people who are GLBTQ.  Martin's piece appears in the current edition of America magazine.

A quick quote to motivate you to click over and dig further into Martin's essay.
What would it mean for the church to listen to the experiences of gays and lesbians?  First, it would mean willingly and honestly listening to what it is like to grow up as a homosexual child and adolescent.  It would mean paying attention to the voices of young people who feel persecuted or who are bullied.  It would mean taking seriously the heightened threat of suicides among gay and lesbian youth, which is, after all, a “life issue.”

Also this:
Some Catholic leaders lead off with the “thou shalt nots” and never get to the “thou shalts.”  If all gays and lesbians hear about is the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage (to the exclusion of anything else about gays and lesbians), then it’s perhaps not surprising that many would report feeling rejected.  This way of proceeding has always struck me as surprising.  It would be as if the first thing that a priest said to a group of married Catholic couples at a retreat was not “Welcome,” but “No extramarital sex!” Or if a group of Catholic business leaders was greeted at a luncheon by a bishop who said, “No unfair wages!”  Or if a group of Catholic physicians was told at the beginning of a conference, “No abortions!”  Gay people sometimes feel as if the “thou shalt nots” are the entirety of the church’s teaching on who they are.  Because sometimes that’s all they hear. 
I like to imagine that folks like James Martin are the future leadership of the church in North America.  Not betting lots of money on that -- but hoping, yes, I'm willing to hope.


Thom, OFS said...

I was encouraged by Fr. Martin's article. There are a few bright lights left in the US church, and he is one of them. I am disappointed by the fact that he didn't take on the Church's erroneous assertion of "objective disorder." Baby steps, I guess.

Steve said...

Yes, I agree, Thom. Someone like Fr. Martin gets people thinking (including -- am I kidding myself here? -- perhaps a few archbishops and cardinals), and then maybe things start to improve from there. Long road!

Meg said...

+Dear sir, I'm a married grandma (not gay) and I have not had communion for over 20 years and yes it hurts. I am divorced and remarried. I will not get an annulment. I will not approach the communion rail. And, now, I am confused more than ever by the Catholic church. The latest issue this week has rubbed me raw. From so many Catholic blog comments I hear "obstinacy, evil conduct, grave evil, persevere in grave sin, mortal sin!, alienated from God, a scandal to the faithful, damaged soul." I don't have to be gay to feel personally judged, condemned and terrible, as if Jesus does not want me, only the perfect people.

Steve said...
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Steve said...

Meg, thanks for stopping by and for your comment as well. There's a streak of harsh judgment that one frequently encounters among those who profess to be "good Catholics." I'm very sorry to hear that you've encountered that attitude first hand and that it has made you feel less than fully welcome in God's house.

For what it's worth, I'm confident that Christ is about a thousand times more understanding, more loving, and more forgiving than even the most charitable Christian we might run into on earth. I pray that you will at some point have a strong experience of God's loving care for you, your soul, and your family. (Those who would condemn you are NOT being very Christ-like, are they? And they shouldn't get the final say in your relationship with God.)