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 our Sunday Lenten reflection series has started, the “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed” series will be moved to Saturdays during Lent.
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: Alfred Pang
Identified: Gay Catholic
I have enough reasons to leave the Catholic church. My sexual orientation as a gay person is officially regarded as “intrinsically disordered.” Gay priests are being scapegoated for the clergy sex abuse scandal. No matter how committed I am to serving the church, I could be fired (or not hired) on account of who I love and marry. I’m constantly made to feel that my sexuality renders me unfit to be fully Catholic – that I am somewhat fraudulent despite my desire for authenticity in Christ.
I should have left the Catholic church, but haven’t. But, I cannot say that I chose to stay on either. I remain Catholic not because of the Eucharist, though I still believe in the real presence of Christ in this sacrament. More fundamentally, I remain Catholic because of God’s call through my baptism. God calls me as beloved, to be who I truly am, and to be Christ’s loving presence to others where I am. I reclaim this baptismal promise each day to stay alive and awake in the Spirit, in the midst of much institutional toxicity around gender and sexuality that drowns out the lives of LGBTQIA persons. It is not without struggle that I do so.
Yet, in those moments of anxiety, anger and despair, I have also known God’s gentleness through family and friends who cradle me to life. When we set our hearts to live in authenticity and with integrity, God’s Spirit never leaves us abandoned. In fact, God’s Spirit is transforming my marginality into a sacred place of prophetic witness in solidarity with Christ.
So why haven’t I left the Catholic church? Permitting myself to think about leaving paradoxically keeps me sane in the Catholic church. However, I have not left because of the mystery of God’s call to remain, though the profundity of it eludes me. As Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, “God has created me to do some definite service; God has committed some work to me which has not been committed to another …God knows what God is about.” God’s mission is unfolding in my life, and as the Spirit leads – whether to leave or stay in the Catholic church – one thing is clear: I belong to God whose Spirit in Christ moves me to live fruitfully and courageously in an ever-widening circle of love.
—Alfred Pang, March 30, 2019
Name: Art Dodson
Identified: LGBT Person
I have struggled to reconcile my Catholic faith with my God-given sexuality. It is difficult to accept that the Faith you love rejects you. For a while I became bitter and hostile to the Church and God. I wanted to be an atheist. Then one day in Italy during a religious procession in honor of the Real Presence, Corpus Christi, the priest in the city square blessed the crowd with the Blessed Sacrament and I bowed with everyone else, and for a few moments I felt enormous love and peace and the absolute conviction that God loved me just as I am. My doubts were blown away like grains of sand. I am now strongly Catholic living, as the hymn goes, “in the shadow of His wings.”
–Art Dodson, March 30, 2019