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 have been posting a selection of them them over the last few months on Sundays.
However, because of a Lenten reflection series that we will be starting this week, during Lent, the “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed” series will be moved to Saturdays.
To read all the previous posts in this series, click here, or click on “Why We Came. Why We Left. Why We Stayed” in the Categories section of the right-hand column of this page. Many thanks to all the contributors!
Name: Pat Aidan Whittel
Identified: Trans man
Owning the Basic Teachings of Our Faith
I come from a very religious Irish Catholic Family. In fact, once my mother passed, my father became a priest. Growing up I was Catholic because my family was. As an adult I realized I have a strong Catholic faith at my core. I believe strongly in my faith but not necessarily the institutional church.
About six or seven years ago, I became disillusioned because of how the LGBTQ community was being treated by the institutional church. The institutional messages made me feel that in order to be Catholic I had to be someone I was not. I was presented with their version of conversion therapy.
Then I met a nun from my current parish, and I found my spiritual home. This parish is openly welcoming and affirming to all people and we have a strong LGBTQ ministry. As a transgender individual, I am welcomed and treated with dignity. I have learned to look beyond the institutional Catholic Church and to own the basic teachings of our faith for myself.
I Stay to Make the Change
I was raised Catholic and the sexual abuse that I experienced firsthand as a child drove me away from the Church. I had already begun to notice girls, so I’m certain that the abuse had nothing to do with my sexuality. When more and more of my queer friends left the Church because of its homophobia and transphobia, I knew that I had to come back and heal the source of both the abuse and the discrimination. I stay to make the change.
Name: Kyle Christopher Garcia
Identity: LGBT Catholic, Church of St. Paul The Apostle, Brooklyn, NY
Go to church and exist. Be out and proud
As November 8th, 2016 approached, many Americans vowed “If Trump is elected, I’m moving to Canada!”. After Election Day we know that very few people stayed true to that claim. Why is that? As an Asian LGBTQ Catholic, I knew a thing or two about using my existence as a model for change.
I love God, and God loves me. Despite the many things in which I disagree with which the way the Catholic Church is run, I know that things aren’t going to change if I leave. Jesus doesn’t want his people to leave the church because some men haven’t been held accountable for their crimes. God doesn’t want his people to leave the church because some others choose to interpret the Bible as disapproving of those in our LGBTQ family.
I stay because I know God loves all, and that he wants us to fight for equality and acceptance. I have found an affirming Catholic parish with a thriving congregation of warm and loving people. Go out and find one in your area, financially support the ones that exist, or share of these affirming parishes with your local church. I have seen so many people come back to the church after seeing what is possible in the 21st Century. Go to church and exist. Be out and proud and share God’s love through your heart and acceptance. Someone once said “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
—New Ways Ministry, March 3, 2019