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: Cradle Catholic, priest, and queer
Why I Stay: ‘To Give Peace to Those Full of Self-Hate’
I stay because this is my home, because someone has to give peace to those who come to the confessional full of self-hate because of their sexual orientation or identity. Some one has to tell the crying mothers that they and their children are not to “blame” for being gay, lesbian, or transgender.
I struggle with the fact that many of my gay brother priests are forced to keep walking deep into their closets to the detriment of their own mental health and their relationship with God.
I stay because I was called by God to grow in integrity and help others to do the same.
Name: John Winslow
Identified: Catholic, Gay man, Former Jesuit Volunteer, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (M. Div. ’19)
Why I Stay: ‘Change from the Inside Out’
I stay because of David and Jonathan, Sergius and Bacchus, Naomi and Ruth, Perpetua and Felicity, Joan of Arc, Dorothy Day, and Óscar Romero. I stay because I was taught by the Catholics in my life that nothing matters more than God and that God is Love. I stay because this is the Church of my mother, grandparents, and countless generations of ancestors. I stay because I learned what “gay” meant when I was 11 and for the next nine years of my life I could literally not imagine a world in which I could exist, a world in which I could be whole and complete, a world in which I could be happy. I stay so no other Catholic child in my life grows up believing that God made them to suffer, so no other Catholic child hears only that they are intrinsically disordered and nothing else, so that queer Catholic children know that they can have a life in the Church, that they do not have to cut themselves in half to know Love. I stay because the Church needs me and I need the Church. I stay because I was baptized priest, prophet, and king. I stay for the holiness of Confession. I stay because I was taught to give primacy to my conscience above all else, that in deliberately acting against my conscience – a conscience that has been formed by a lifetime of Catholic education – I would condemn myself. I stay because the rhythm of the liturgical year is the drumbeat of my life. I stay because I am “duty-bound to express [my] opinion on matters which concern the good of the Church” (Lumen Gentium, Second Vatican Council). I stay because the Church has not yet lived up to all we could be, and it certainly won’t if all who love the Church leave it behind. I stay because I can: unlike so many others, I have found more healing than pain in her embrace. I stay because in all my wandering I have found nothing that brings me closer to God than Eucharist. I stay because I’m Catholic.
Name: Shannon G.
Identified: Ally – Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia
Why I Came, Why I Stay: ‘Welcome All With Open Arms’
I followed my heart to Catholicism in my early 40’s. One of the hardest things for me to reconcile, especially as a convert, is the Roman Catholic Church’s treatment of and stance on those who identify as LBGTQI+. I have always been an ally and I now fight the good fight as a Rainbow Catholic. I always remind others: WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) ? He’d welcome all with open arms, regardless of their sexual orientation!
Name: Father Robert Bussen
Identified: Retired pastor
Why I Stay: ‘Change from the Inside Out’
You cannot change the church from the outside in. You can only change the church from the inside out. That’s what I believe and that’s why I stay.
–New Ways Ministry, February 10, 2019