In December, Bondings 2.0 invited readers to share the stories of their relationship with the Catholic Church by writing on the theme of “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed.” We “borrowed” this topic from a feature that Commonweal magazine published recently. We felt it was important for LGBTQ people to share their own stories, so we made the invitation to our readers.
We asked contributors to keep their contributions under 500 words, and also asked how they would like to be identified in terms of name and gender/sexual identity, location. Anonymity was offered as an option.
We received many responses, and we will be posting a selection of them them over the next few months on Sundays (barring any important breaking news). Many thanks to all the contributors.
Identified: Lesbian Catholic
Why I Came, Why I Stay: Being Outwardly, Shamelessly Ourselves
I am seventeen years old.I am a lesbian. I am a Catholic.
Last Easter I received the sacraments of initiation and became a member of the church. That was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made due to the way I’ve grown in my faith. The people I’ve met have changed my life.
It’s difficult to maneuver in this world as both a lesbian and a Catholic because many of my connections at church balk idea the idea of my girlfriend, while many of my LGBT friends have experienced so much pain at the hands of the church that it strains our relationships.
I stay because even for all the flaws the church has, there is no faith like the Catholic faith. I cannot go to another church and receive the Eucharist, pray to my patron saint, and experience the Easter Vigil. The church is flawed, but the faith is beautiful. If everyone who disagrees with the church’s stance on female priests or LGBT equality leaves, we will have left a concentration of the people who oppose these ideas.
The church needs lesbian Catholics, transgender Catholics, gay Catholics, female Catholics. She needs us to stand by her, and be fiercely visible. We are the change we need in the church, and the first step is being outwardly, shamelessly ourselves.
Jesus preached a radical gospel of love. Jesus was a dissenter: He challenged old laws and corrupt church leaders. He calls us to do the same. e pray to Him as our ultimate ally.
Identified: LGBT person
Why I left: Hurt and Betrayal
Two events led to my leaving. The first was the announcement from the Vatican in 2005 that even celibate gay men could no longer be considered for the priesthood. That felt like a slap in the face. I was 50 at the time. I had lived my life according to the dictates of the church. Never had been in a same sex relationship. Remained a virgin. Faithfully attended Mass every Sunday and had pursued a career dedicated to helping others. Yet I was judged unworthy to be a priest!
The second was my decision to come out in 2009. That decision, triggered by loneliness and fear for the future as my parents aged (they were my only source of emotional support having put all my energy into a career), led to a two year period of tears and depression. To me, to feel no longer broken and ashamed, it was essential to leave the Church. About the time I began this struggle, my counselor told me about a local Episcopal parish that had an active LGBT community. Attending services there was a revelation. LGBT individuals were not only welcomed, but they were also in leadership positions. Slowly but surely, for the first time, I came to terms about my sexuality.
Today I am living with my partner of seven years. I am out to my family (although it wasn’t until my father passed last year that I came out to all my extended relatives). But a sense of hurt and betrayal with regard to the Catholic church remains. For me, there is no going back.
–New Ways Ministry, January 27, 2019