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.