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.
Why I Stay: “Jesus wants me to stay”
I am a priest who decided to leave the active ministry when the Vatican published the document on the ordination of homosexual men. I remember feeling so hurt and angry, as if my ‘mother’ the church were trying to abort me; expel me from the safety of her womb.
I was so angry that I did not hear of a single bishop that possessed the religious maturity to defend me, my honor, and my dignity. I thought to myself: what kind of relationship can this ‘mother’ possibly have with this child? Even more, what kind of relationship can this child possibly be expected to have with such a mother? These were very difficult questions to find answers to.
Jesus lead me into the desert, though, and there he taught me in my heart. He taught me that, ultimately, the only kind of relationship that can exist between the mother church and her children is a merciful one. All relationships are essentially mercy-filled realities. Must not my relationship then with this mother also be one that is merciful and mercy-filled?
I have stayed and have never left the church because I believe that the Church is exactly what it says it is: the mystical body of the living and gloriously resurrected Jesus, active and alive in the world. Either my faith has to be rooted in that truth, or I am building a house on sand, no?
I stay in the Church because my faith must be placed exclusively in Him and not in the fragile and weak humans that lead it or populate it. I stay because, whereas once I was deeply ensconced within the church (and it was a magnificently beautiful life!), I am now on the outside looking in and I am forced to see through my own eyes and experience, in my own flesh, what my LGBTQ brothers and sisters have long seen and experienced because of this institution.
I stay because I know first-hand the power, the beauty, and redemption that is to be experienced in and through this Sacred Body: an experience that I wish every human being could have. This experience is precisely the medicine that every LGBTQ person needs and fundamentally longs for: the ineffable, unconditional, and infinite love of Jesus, our Savior. This is something that every human being has a right to, regardless of what religious leaders’ dispositions are to a particular group of people. It is our right because Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the dead so that we would experience it.
I truly believe in the Church. I always hold on aggressively to my hope in it. I love the church quite mercifully.
I stay for all my LBGTQ brothers and sisters, especially for those who feel that they cannot stay.
I stay for myself, because I must always be true to myself- and my ‘self’ is ultimately grafted on to Jesus.
I stay, then, ultimately for Jesus, who gave His life for me. In a spirit of an obedience that mirrors Jesus’ own obedience, I stay because I know Jesus wills it: Jesus wants me to stay.
—New Ways Ministry, February 17, 2019