The Spanish-Catholic magazine Vida Nueva has profiled two gay men who encountered very different experiences within the Catholic Church.
The piece, originally published in Spanish, is titled “I’m homosexual, and not a second-rate Catholic,” and follows the experiences of Roberto Pérez and Arturo Blázquez Navarro as they share the beautiful and difficult parts of being gay Catholics.
Pérez, who is in a long time relationship with another man, says he struggled for many years as an active member of his parish. He was convinced by a spiritual director that his feelings were wrong, and by extension, he was upsetting God. At the urging of the spiritual director, Pérez entered conversion therapy to “cure his homosexuality.” He said:
“They didn’t help me at all. What they did was confuse me, take away my freedom. They wanted my mother to throw me out of the house, renounce me. They said that’s what would be best. But to confront a mother with her son, for being homosexual, it’s terrible. Many priests also denied my confession and communion. They said my partner was the same as the devil, that it was his fault for my rebellion. I sensed my sexuality, but I ignored it. I didn’t want to be this way.”
Eventually, Pérez felt he had to make a choice between his church and his partner. He chose his partner. Pérez said after making that choice, he felt happiness. But the choice has left him disrespected by people in his church. “They’ve shown me sharp contempt, they say I’m no longer Catholic. It hurts, but that can’t take away my faith,” he said.
Pérez continues in his faith journey with support from a few priests in his diocese. Unfortunately, many of these sympathetic priests are retired. He feels he has been made a “black sheep” in his community, but he knows he is not alone:
“It’s really them who do not know how to take care of their flock. They only seek to control everything. They don’t care that they have alienated many people.”
The other man profiled in this piece, Arturo Blázquez Navarro, left Spain to live in Germany with his partner. He was able to marry his partner in an official Lutheran ceremony. Navarro says that being Catholic and an openly gay man has always caused him to live in a state of contradiction:
“It’s thinking very hard about which parish to attend, with who to do confession, what to say when somebody asks me about my wedding ring. It’s also confronting that I am part of a church whose catechism says my relationship with my spouse is inherently wrong.”
He says his sexuality and his faith have always gone “hand in hand,” having grown up in a practicing family. Yet, by the time he arrived in Berlin eight years ago, he had become an atheist. When he met his future husband, a practicing Lutheran, he laughed at the thought of believing in God, thinking it was absurd. But he began to attend church with his partner, and soon, the absurdity became doubt, and the doubt became hope:
“I felt it in my flesh the call of God, who is God of the living, and who loved us so much that he bore our same sufferings and contradictions. I returned to the Father’s house… I returned to my church, the Catholic Church.”
Navarro recognizes that there are other churches, such as the Lutheran Church, that are LGBTQ affirming. However, he says he “can’t change who he is” and that his “way of believing is Catholic.” He says even if he decided to become Lutheran, he’d always be Catholic on the inside. Additionally, he says he has found a parish which accepted him, and even invited him to be a catechist. But he says he also has one more reason for staying in the Church:
“I want to help our Church be more accepting of LGBTQ people. Not out of compassion; but in the belief that in Jesus Christ, there is no Greek or Jew, neither man nor woman, nor homosexual not heterosexual. We are all one in Him.”
—Melissa Feito, New Ways Ministry, January 19, 2020