“Reminding those in despair of God’s love”: Father Peter J. Daly

 The young man began to cry. I asked him why he was so unhappy. He said it was because his family would not accept him. I asked why they would not accept him. He answered, “Because I am gay. They are very Catholic.” I started to cry, too.

 Three times in 25 years of ministry I have sat across the room from young men who have attempted suicide because they were gay or feared they were gay. Several other times, especially when I was in campus ministry at The Catholic University of America, I talked with young people despondent over their gay sexual identity.

 I have talked with people who cut or disfigured themselves because they had such a deep self-loathing because they were gay. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released last year, gay and lesbian youth are much more likely than their heterosexual peers to have thought about suicide or to have attempted suicide. Why do they commit suicide?

 Some are bullied at school. Some feel rejected by their peers, their parents and their families. Sometimes they feel rejected by their religion and their pastors. Some feel they are unacceptable to the God who made them. That is a great wrong

and a great tragedy.

 What can people in pastoral ministry say to them?

 First, I think we should say we love them. And so does God.

 Second, we can offer them prayer.

 Twenty years ago, I was asked to represent Catholic University at the reading of names of people who had died of AIDS at the presentation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in Washington, D.C. Each of us was given 20 or so names to read. We were told by the organizers not to add anything or to give any speeches.

 When I got to the microphone, I read my list of names just as I was told. But at the end of the list, something moved me to want to pray for them. It did not seem adequate to merely say their name.

 So I quickly said our traditional prayer for the dead. “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.”

 As I came down from the podium on the National Mall, an elderly couple approached me. They were crying. They said I had read their son’s name. They told me their pastor had refused their son a burial when he had died of AIDS because he was publicly gay. They said that I was the first priest who ever prayed for their son in public and were grateful. I embraced them.

 How could any pastor of souls refuse consolation to the dying and a prayer for the dead? They are part of the spiritual works of mercy. That is our reason for being. If we are not in the business of showing love to God’s children, we don’t have a reason to be in business. I thought of that elderly couple as I sat across the room from the young man who had tears flowing down in his face.

 No one should feel excluded from God’s love. No one should ever be driven to despair. Ever.

- from Catholic San Francisco

Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

12 comments for ““Reminding those in despair of God’s love”: Father Peter J. Daly

  1. Chris Morley
    May 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I’m just not persuaded this priest, who served in the University’s Catholic Chaplaincy, really has a clue.

    Faced with repeated and clear evidence of suicidal, self-harming behaviour and serious depression as a result of deep self-loathing, despondency and family rejection related to LGB sexuality, this priest doesn’t appear to have offered any practical advice or help. No referral to a doctor, or to an organisation like Samaritans, or to a counsellor experienced in supporting people distressed by homophobic reactions by LGB sexuality, or to a campus LGB support group, not even to a Catholic support service for LGB people. He’s not offered to talk with the weeping young man’s ‘very Catholic’ family to tell them the Catechism requires ‘respect, compassion and understanding’ and that Jesus demonstrated loving and accepting others we believe to be sinners.

    He notes some told him they “feel rejected by their
    religion and their pastors …. unacceptable to the God
    who made them,” but doesn’t appear to have acknowledged the Catholic Church’s active teaching role in causing this.

    Telling us and them “that is a great wrong and a great tragedy” really is a hopelessly inadequate response.

    If we have done a “great wrong” we should cease this wrong-doing forthwith, seek forgiveness, try to make good the harm and do penance.

    Instead they get platitudes – he “thinks” we should say we love them, as does God and we can offer prayer. Thanks a bunch but that doesn’t begin to address these LGB people’s needs. He then spends half his column telling us a 20 year old anecdote where he makes himself look good in comparison to the pastor who had refused a funeral and prayers to a gay man who died of AIDS.

    He actually has a powerful message for the Church but doesn’t even realise how this requires action and profound change by the Church:
    “If we are not in the business of showing love to God’s children, we don’t have a reason to be in business.”

    • Advocatus Diaboli
      May 29, 2012 at 4:17 am

      I am just not persuaded that this comment, which is criticizing the lack of full detail disclosure on everything referenced in a short online newspaper, really has a clue. The priest is making a statement about all of the suffering and that he has seen people experience. To say that the priest “did not offer to help” is nothing less than absurd! he is giving highlights as to the the things he has experienced in his ministry, “what he did to help alleviate the suffering of those specific instances” is way out of scope. How do you know that he did not speak with the family? and if he did not speak with the family, how do you know that the guy asked him NOT to speak with his family?

      And how dare you, someone who is (I assume) is at least one or two decades into self-sustained adulthood (aka over 30 years old), declare that this priest’s words are ‘inadequate’ to the needs of young gay catholics. Are you someone who has turned to self-mutilation and attempted suicide over being gay and spoken with a priest about it while sobbing your eyes out? Obviously you are not. I on the other hand AM. Your perspective is entirely and institutional and politicized one that could only come from someone who is confident and accepting of their own sexuality and deals primarily only with people who are similar. You are an adult, who does not depend on the approval of others for your material wellbeing, and you have absolute confidence in your self and your sexuality – therefore you have a fundamentally different world-view and perspective from those who do not.  It is like the difference between a general practice medical doctor and a pediatrician, a psychologist and a child psychologist. Those who are in different places need different things. 

      Let me tell you, from personally being the 16-25 year old person mutilating their own body and trying to take their own live, and know those in similar positions privately, that doctors,  councilors, and support groups are NOT how you help someone in those situations, at least not as a first response. As someone who (less that three years ago) was sitting in a pew alone in the back of a church crying so hard I could not see straight and choking on my own snot because I had planned to kill myself that night, there is one thing and ONLY one thing that will help a young dependent person in this state: being told they they are loved just as they are by another human being, that they are loved just as they are by God. And let me tell you another thing, those words do not mean anything unless they come from a person who IS OPENLY AND UNAPOLOGETICALLY OF THE SAME RELIGIOUS PERSUASION THAT YOU ARE. 

      Clearly you are someone who does not know, or has at least forgotten, what is it like to truly believe that you are worth less than dirt, that you are a disgusting and repulsive insect. Clearly you are someone who has the privileged of feeling loved and wanted and that you have some value. Clearly you are someone whom the phrase ‘I love you’ has little to know meaning. 

      People in the state that this priest is describing do not want to talk to doctors, they do not want to talk to councilors, they do not want to ‘support groups’. Clearly you have never hated yourself for being gay, because if you were you would know that the ‘support’ of people who are “happy to be gay” means absolutely NOTHING. You obviously have never had to deal with someone in that state, because if you had you would know that shit is not so simple, and you would show a little humility.  The people around me could tell that I was not doing well, and they also knew that I was gay and that my stress was over the fact that I was gay, but they were COMPLETELY POWERLESS TO HELP ME. I refused to talk to them about anything, so they urged me to visit a councilor/psychologist – I rejected such offers countless times. I was well aware of the lgbtq outreach on my university campus, and I loathed the thought of walking into a room full of people who liked the very thing that I hated most. Do you really think that a hardline Republican is going to go visit the Young Democrats groups to cure their stress? How insane is that? I was well aware of the suicide prevention hotline, but why would I call them? All they would try to do is to try to stop me from killing myself, which is the OPPOSITE of what I wanted to do. FInally my parents forced me to visit a councilor (multiple actually), and their attempts to ‘convince me’ to accept my sexuality only made me HATE them – you clearly have never dealt with someone who hates themselves for being gay because if you did you would know that trying to get them to accept themselves is no less than trying to get someone to convert to a new religion. Walk into the Westborough Baptist Church and try to convince them that Islam is the one true religion, and then you will have a clue as to what it can be like to deal with someone who hates themselves for being gay.

      There is an “ingroup” “outgroup” psychology at work in the mind of someone in that state and help can ONLY come from the “ingroup”. Those in the “outgroup” are those who enjoy their sexuality and or otherwise promote the idea that being gay is good/ok. the “ingroup” are those who are apart of the source of the reason for hating themselves for being gay. Acceptance by the family, acceptance by the religion, acceptance by God, aka THOSE IN THE INGROUP, those whom they identify with, are the ONLY People who can truly heal the wound. Everything else is like offering to put a bandaid on shattered bone. 

      There is one and only one reason why I am alive today, and it is because the night that I had decided to kill myself, a Catholic Priest found me crying and trembling too hard to stand up straight and refused to obey my commands to leave. After cornering me into a small space and blocking the only way out, and several minuets of inquiry and repeatedly seeing through my lies to make him go away, I finally said what was the matter.  The only reason I am alive today is because that priest, that official representative of my religion, told me that he loved me regardless of my sexuality, that God loved me just as I was, that it was ok that I was gay, and he gave me a sincere and several second long hug; one that was obviously not something ‘just to make me feel better’. This long and sincere hug, which was crucial to me believing what he said by proving to me that he was not afraid to make physical contact to me, glued it all together and saved mylife. In giving this long, firm, full body hug….I cannot describe to you adequately how healing this was….it made me feel that I was NOT a disgusting insect, the fact that he was willing to be that close to me for that length of time proved to me that he really meant what he was saying and was not simply “telling me what I needed to hear”. I was not expecting him to hug me, and when he did I at first though that it was just to be nice and that it would be a brief/light/distanced hug; but when it was not I was deeply moved and the fact that we was not afraid that I was going to contaminate him validated the entire discussion that we had just had.

      THe fact that you think that telling distraught gay catholics in these states that telling them that you love them and that God loves them is “inadequate” is proof that it is YOU who really doesnt have a clue. My parents told me they loved me even if I was gay. It meant nothing to me because it was not them I needed affirmation from; in fact, they knew that I was gay but when they suggested it I became aggressive and made them feel bad for thinking that I was gay. The ‘help’ of “professionals” meant nothing because I didnt give a shit what their opinion on being gay was, they were getting paid to make me feel better so it was hollow and meaningless. The help of support groups mean nothing because people who embraced the very thing i hated were the LAST people I wanted to speak to; actually, I wanted to stay AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE from them.  In fact, if that priest was gay then he was VERY WISE and intuitive NOT to disclose that information to me because that would have effectively destroyed any belief in his claims that God loved me the same whether I was gay or straight, and his statement that he loved me would have been equally meaningless because acceptance from “other gays” is gratuitous in such situations. It would have voided the meaning and effect of his hug as well, and I probably would have interpreted it as trying to take advantage of me for his own needs.

      There is ONE and ONLY one combination that prevented me from suicide that night, and setting me on the path to accepting my sexuality: it is because a STRAIGHT MAN, who was an OFFICIAL OF MY RELIGION, showed me that i was not only worthy of love as a human being but that I AM loved regardless of my sexual desires – Being shown love from a straight man who was not afraid to prove it by initiating and sharing an intimate moment with a gay guy (me) and thus showing that he did not feel that I would contaminate him or “touch” him, love from an official of my own religion, and love from God were what saved me from suicide. Because THAT was not simply “adequate”, it was what I, as a young distraught self-hating gay catholic, NEEDED. These things will vary slightly on a case by case bases, “in group”, the group that the person identifies and seeks love and affirmation from (for me it was masculine/straight males, clergy from my religion, and God; in other words, a Gay or effeminate male, a non-religious Catholic without some measure of authority, or a pro-gay lifestyle person COULD NOT HAVE HELPED ME) 

      Being told, and more importantly being CONVINCED, that they are loved by their own group and by God regardless of who they desire to have sex with  IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO THESE PEOPLE. 

      Just because you are gay does not mean that you have a clue as to what people in these positions are going through/how they think, and it is nothing short of HUBRISTIC for you to think that you know what is better for people in such positions than someone who actually works with them. In this manner, you are an ‘armchair expert’. You are super imposing your world-view on to theirs. In fact, this is defines the very difference in our world-view that leads you and me to disagree so frequently and view the same things in such different ways. Councilors and support groups are for people who are struggling with the daily life of being gay, they are NO HELP for people who do not want to be gay or who hate themselves for being gay. I guarantee you that referring people to such things will be the same as not helping them at all, because they will not have the courage to go at best, and at worst will hate you for suggesting that they “seek help” from the people who embrace the very thing they hate. Councilors and support groups are like step 2 or 3 for people of this state, and the fact that you think that step 1 is meaningless and inadequate (when it is actually the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PART in trying to stop someone from killing themselves)  means that you are WAY out of touch with this segment of the gay population. You are GAY, these people are not GAY, they are simply homosexual. Gay is an identity, one with which they do not identify, so stop thinking that your needs are like theirs.  This is precisely the type of crap that enrages me about the LGBTQ community. They put themselves in a bubble, and they have no idea what is is like to view things from outside of that bubble – institutionalized homosexuals are no less out of touch with lgbtqs who do not accept their sexuality or otherwise embrace the gay-lifestyle than the people in the vatican bubble are with the rest of the church at the parish level. San Francisco and other such liberal bastions in the West are literally “the vatican” of Gay-dom, they dictate the “official stance”, but they have no clue what it is like out in ‘the real world’.

      And another note, nothing gives me a bad taste in my mouth worse than a gay person who shits on the attempts of others to make a difference and promote awareness and healing in places where it is needed most. I once saw a comment on facebook by a gay kid was attending a very conservative christian college and trying to make a difference there. He said it was very difficult but that he was making some slow progress. Then, some older gay man, I could tell by his profile picture, sub-commented that the struggles, hard work, and slow progress were useless and a waste of time; that the student would be much more use to the gay community if he just went to a liberal college instead. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THAT PERSON? So we are just supposed to segregate ourselves off from everyone else (again the San Francisco/vatican/liberal bubble cluelessness)? So we are not to try to spread awareness and try to convert the anti-gay people by showing befriending them because it is ‘difficult and slow going’ and “they wont change”? If so then HARVY MILK WAS WRONG, because that was EXACTLY  what he advocated that we do, and that is the ONLY tactic that was able to achieve a foothold for the gay-rights movement. What an kind of an unimaginable, self-centered, self-righteous, bitter, and hubristic narcissist would shit all over some young kid who is staying optimistic in his struggle to forge out new territory and spread acceptance of homosexuality to new places… No progress, no matter how small and insignificant in the larger scheme, should be attacked or dismissed – ESPECIALLY not in places where there is massive resistance and in the most need of progress (such as in THE INSTITUTIONS AND PERSONNEL OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH).

      I’m sorry that this priest’s comments and actions do not meet your high standards, but you need to wake up to the fact that not everyone and every place is at the same level of progress/development on these issues that you are used to in your  western-european bastion of liberalism. Your perception is distorted from your view point, and it is for that very reason that I am not holding your comments against you. HUmans can only work, think, respond and interpret from the point of view that their experiences and situation give them, and thus it is not their fault if they out out of touch with something that is not of their station – and so while the fact that I am moderately offended can probably be discerned here, I am not holding you personally responsible for the feeling, that would be immature and small-minded of me.

      This is me letting you know that, from the perspective of someone who actually has personal experience with what this priest is talking about, your comments on this issue really come off as a variation of “The people have no bread” “No bread? Bread is worthless, let them eat cake”.  You have to lay a foundation of self-acceptance before the methods of ‘assistance’ that you advocate are effective (they can actually be MORE damaging if someone is not yet ready for them). You clearly have no concept of this. What you have effectively done with this comment is to ridicule someone for bringing water to someone starving of thirst when they should have brought Champagne. Champagne actually increases dehydration, so though it is ‘better’ than water is is actually more damaging than it is helpful; it is likewise with referring someone to doctors and support groups before they can even stand to look at themselves in the mirror (but you wouldn’t know that because you have obviously never been in that position).

      “First, I think we should say I love them. And So does God”. Yes, Let them eat cake indeed.

      • Advocatus Diaboli
        May 29, 2012 at 4:42 am

        I trust that you will overlook the typos in this comment, I typed it very quickly and somewhat emotional.

        ALSO, this priest was working at CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA in DC. That is THE SINGLE most conservative Catholic University in the United States, and the single most conservative University in the US PERIOD that is still a credible institution of higher education. There is NO ON CAMPUS GAY GROUP (or if it is the it is VERY recent and VERY limited). That school is funded and ultimately run by none other that THE CONFERENCE OF US BISHOPS. This is one of the schools that I seriously examined and even applied to for graduate school, and One of the students that I met while visiting the school that I eventually selected was a graduate of Catholic University of America – he was BY FAR the most hard core conservative in the entire group of Catholics and Protestants from all over the country. Catholic University is rated VERY highly by most university ratings systems, including Princeton’s, but it is kept out of the “overall top tier” groups because its “gay friendliness” rating is basically zero. TO hear this coming from a priest who worked at Catholic University of America is a break through of its own. Not that you would have any perspective or appreciation for this, because you judge everything by your secular life in Gay-Bubble-dom in one of the most liberal and ‘inclusive’ places on earth ever created in human history.

        • Chris Morley
          June 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm

          Your confidence in being able to prescribe what self-identifying as gay young people who are suicidal etc require is humbling.

          I simply offered my perspective as someone who has actually counseled many similar suicidal gay young men calling helplines.

          • Advocatus Diaboli
            June 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

            Well, first, I am not certain if your first sentence is supposed to be sarcastic, sincere, or something in-between. I will assume that it is not sarcastic. But either way, I was not ‘prescribing’ anything, because as I stated everyone needs slightly, and sometimes seriously, different methods of assistance due to the reasons for their suicidal thoughts being a combination of variables. I was stating my annoyance with the “thanks but your/god’s love means nothing” attitude, as well as the “a little progress is no progress” tone. If an alcoholic finally admits to having a problem, is your response “whatever, you’re still an alcoholic so admitting you have a problem means nothing”? No, you recognize the step forward and encourage them to continue the process of recovery; step one is the most important becuase it is the foundation, step 2 is the second most important because you cant do steps 3 and 4 with out it, and so on. 

             People kill themselves for all sorts of reasons. The most common is because of despair, which is is seeing no way out of a predicament. It is generally an escape from one or multiple problems that the person cannot or does not want to deal with any longer. In such cases, it is an escape. The other main reason for suicide, though less common usually, is the ‘no-self esteem/self-hate/i dont fit in’ type of thing.  Religious anxiety over sexual orientation has different needs than ‘I cant pay my bills, my boyfriend broke up with me, and I cant take all of the bullying and hate’ in order to be healed. Calvinist protestants were the first Europeans to really keep regular journals, and this was to assist them in discerning if they were pre-destined for heaven or hell. 16th and 17th century English history, as you might or might not be aware, is a lesson how religiously induced despair leads to suicides and reckless behavior; I believe it was Archbishop Laud who argued that England’s adoption of double-predestination or something like it was impractical becuase it was causing whole handfuls of parishioners to fall into despair thinking that they were damned from the beginning and were powerless to please God and find love from him – such people began giving up on life and disobeying all civil authority and even committing suicide because they thought that they were hated by God. Laud’s remedy was to remove the new “reformed” theology of double-prestination and so give people the hope that God loved them and they could be saved. It is generally little different when a young religious person is in despair over their sexuality – it is not simply a case of “my family is religious and they hate me, but take me away from them and I will be fine”. The source of such a person’s despair with what God/religion thinks and therefore the despair will follow them wherever they go and no matter how many people seem to care for them. Do you see how a internal religious conflict might be different than external/situational conflict?

            I understand that all you did was give your perspective, as I stated in my comment – that is all that humans can do. That also means that the content of my comment was the product of how my perspective dictated that I would interpret your comment. No human has an ‘all encompassing perspective’, and therefore, just as yours seems to not have accurately understood how what this priest might be dealing with could be different than what you are familiar with, my perspective likewise was not fully accurate, as I imagined from the way your comment sounded from my experience that you had not dealt with suicidal people at all. I called you an armchair expert, and I was wrong, and I apologize for that.  

          • Chris Morley
            June 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm

            Thanks AD
            I completely get that suicidal feelings as a result of religious despair / feeling rejected by the Church because of identifying as gay, is different from some other situational suicidal feelings.

            We’ve both looked at this from rather different perspectives. The priest wrapped up many people in different situations and gave a single solution, which seems to have put us at cross purposes.

            I’ve learned to listen very carefully to what people actually say in counseling situations, and not to make assumptions regarding what someone is talking about. Each individual needs a personally tailored response.

            I would take you back to this priest’s own description of the young man at the very start of this: “I asked why they [his family] would not accept him. He answered, “Because I am gay. They are very Catholic.”

            This is a young man who self-identifies as gay and there is nothing in what the priest tells us about him which tells us he was actually in religious despair, or felt pre-destined to hell.

            The priest also mentioned that some people, but not this young man, “feel rejected by their religion and their pastors. Some feel they are unacceptable to the God who made them.”

            You’ve chosen to focus on the needs of those people.
            I didn’t make plain that I was talking with particular reference to the young gay man the priest described at the start.

            The problem the young gay man gave to the priest was that his (very
            Catholic) family rejected him because he was gay. That family rejection
            (not a rejection by the Church, or God), made him feel suicidal.

            My initial response, based on my experience of dealing with young self-identifying gay people with families that had rejected them (or whom they feared would reject them), was to find the priest’s response wanting. If the young man had told the priest that he didn’t think God loved him, or that no-one loved him, of course I would have contradicted that thinking as wrong, just as the priest suggested. But that wasn’t the situation. His family have the problem with his sexuality, not the young man.

            Solutions to his suicidal feelings following family rejection need to be
            - practical help to assist him avoid killing himself now, while we / he works for a longer term solution
            - specifically address the family rejection: the priest talking to his family about the Catechism’s teachings about treating gay people with ‘respect, compassion and understanding’ seems highly relevant and real practical help when the young man’s attempts to be listened to and accepted by his family has failed;
            - offering referrals to gay etc helplines is likely to be appropriate since he has accepted his sexuality; being rejected by family is a very common situation and talking with other gay people can be supportive and help him consider what else he may do. He might well learn from talking with others that even ‘very Catholic’ families can become accommodating and accepting in time, if they have support and encouragement, particularly from a priest.

            You are right that an entirely different response would be needed if the young man was one of those the priest had met who “sometimes … feel rejected by their religion and their pastors, … unacceptable to the God who made them.”
            I still think one of the responsible things to do, is for the priest to acknowledge the reality: the Church has some responsibility for people feeling this way because of what the Church teaches about sexuality and the clumsy and insensitive way it is often presented or ‘heard’ by gay people. A priest can apologise for that, if not for the teaching content. A priest can also acknowledge how it feels: ‘it must be very difficult for someone who feels they are gay to accept the consequences of the Church’s teaching – of being expected to live a celibate, sexless life without a life partner’. If someone is feeling suicidal, the priest needs to find a way to end the young person’s sense of isolation, being alone with this.

            The priest knows that he is in the ‘business of showing love to God’s children’ and he needs to always find effective ways to demonstrate that to each of these troubled young people.

          • Advocatus Diaboli
            June 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

            thanks for this comment. I am glad that we were able to come to this. Again, I hate the severe limitations of online communication… 

            I also like how you noted the “clumsy and insensitive way it is often presented or heard by gay people”. Personally, the church’s teaching is not “flawed”, it just has a fundamentally different point of view, which causes people to misinterpret both its meaning and its intentions. The Church’s traditional world-view (and indeed that of Buddhism and most other religions), is “I desire, but I must resist”, where as the modern world-view is “I desire, therefore I must seek”. 

            My question in all of that is, by what standard/basis do we decide which ‘desires’ are “ok to pursue without restraint”, and whether desire itself is good or bad. It certainly cannot be the standard modern “everyone chooses for themselves”, because there remains no point for religion/moral teaching (not to mention, it just leads to reptilian-brain behavior and anti-intellectual debasement of humans) – which ultimately makes the state the sole provider of “right and wrong” and the provider of the means of “happiness” (aka satisfying urges), rather than simply a structure to ensure stability and order. Also, the modern period is focused on “material wellbeing and possession = happiness thinking.” But we need to ask ourselves if having modern conveniences and ‘rights’ and satisfying all of our urges (such as desire for sex with a certain body type) is “spiritually” healthy. I fail to see in the Bible where Jesus says that having everything or even anything you want (which includes a “life partner”) leads to the kingdom of God. I fail to see where it says having a sexual partner, having the ability to vote, being “equal” in political power and status, etc is what is important to the spirit and God. As far as I am aware, no metaphysical religious system teaches that having earthly things is the point/focus of life, rather quite the contrary.  I guess my question is, how do we start to objectively discern what is considered “good” in this life is actually “good” in the next?. How do we decided what “God’s” world-view is, so to speak, the traditional Catholic/Buddhist view of desire is delusional and restraint/abstination is the way, or is being happy and “living well” in this life the ultimate aim (as was the belief of pre-christian pagan and Jewish religion, except Buddhism and possibly hindu)

          • Chris Morley
            June 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm

            We don’t live in theocratic states, so my response to the question in the 3rd paragraph is the answer you reject – ‘everyone chooses for themselves’.

            We are autonomous beings, and the Church teaches us that we have choices, free will.

            The Vatican currently has a restrictive prescription for expressing sexuality; there are many good expert moral theologians who take quite different views; other Churches and religions provide other teachings. Psychology and other contemporary world expertise provides other insights.

            In the modern pluralist world with people exercising autonomy and free will, how the various societies in the world evolve in terms of expressing sexual behaviour ultimately turns on which ideas are most persuasive as principles for living for most people.

            The prescription the Vatican is offering has a limited and shrinking take up, even among Catholics. You say it’s about how ‘we decide’ or ‘discern God’s’ view and by that I assume you mean the Vatican.

            I think the Vatican must listen to contemporary moral theologians and other world experts, hear their insights and respond to them without replaying its refrain ‘our sexuality teaching has always been this … and so shall it remain for ever’.

            That isn’t working, persuades very few, and lots of good moral Catholic people are expressing what the the Holy Spirit is telling them and it is different.

  2. May 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

  3. May 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I appreciate this article. More than fifty years ago, I thought about suicide because even in grade school I knew I was gay. I decided that I really did not want to hurt myself. I talked to the parish priests about my orientation. There were no good answers in those days. My solution was to go to a private high school where the chances of bullying were reduced, and I would get a good education. Then, I opted for the Roman Catholic priesthood because it was a great cover for not getting married. Now, I wonder how common that story is?
    Today when I look out on the scene in the Roman Catholic Church and what the pope and the cardinals and the bishops especially in the United States are saying and doing, I can only shake my head. Nothing much has changed for them. In the meantime the world has changed. Even as the sex abuse crisis continues, I only wonder what the future holds because the church continues, at the official level, to be blind to issues related to homosexuality. The official church has never embraced the human sciences.
    I have visted the quilt several times when it was in Washington, DC. For awhile in my coming out days, I volunteered on the AIDS Ward of Illinois Masonic Hospital. One year in Washington, DC I saw the huge panel from that hospital with the names of those who had died of AIDS. I think it was there the year Jody Powell was reading names from the quilt. He was Jimmy Carter’s press secretary. That was a profound moment. I think I was always on the verge of tears as I walked the aisles of the quilt with all those names of beloved persons.
    The jouney continues. I have real hope for the future, if not much for Benedict and his church.

  4. Advocatus Diaboli
    May 29, 2012 at 1:48 am

    oh dear, this made me have a flash back. I my throat got tight at the third sentence and I was crying by the middle of the second paragraph. It was difficult to get through.

Leave a Reply