In Malta, just days after a priest published an anti-gay essay, the leader of a group for Catholic parents of LGBTQ children responded with an op-ed which speaks of the deep love and faith of families like hers which support all their children.
Louisa Grech, who coordinates Drachma Parents, wrote about her experiences of having a 30-year-old gay son. In her commentary, published in the Times of Malta , she describes her son as “exhibiting certain beautiful characteristics and values that I was very proud of,” a child who people “loved being around” and who “made everyone feel special.” But, in high school and after he moved abroad, Grech noticed shifts in her son:
“Since his secondary school days, there were moments when I could see that he was different. I began to understand, but not truly accept, that he might be gay.
“I did not want it to be true, not because of who he is but of the suffering he would encounter because of who he is. It pained me that he would be judged, he would be sidelined, he would be rejected and insulted and hated.
“I was pained because I loved him so much and I did not want to see him suffer.
“When the truth was finally out, I hugged him and kissed him and told him I loved him with all my heart, my soul, my being.
“How could it be otherwise? He was a part of me. I gave him life. I was there for him when he was a baby, a toddler, a child, a teen, an adult. And I will continue to love him all the days of my life and beyond. How can it be otherwise? He is my child, my son!”
Grech described her son’s wedding last year as “a magical experience, an experience of love” during which the couple’s family and friends surrounded them. She concludes:
“God was awesomely present throughout this journey and will continue to be with us all throughout the rest of our lives!”
But a priest’s Times of Malta op-ed just two days before Grech’s essay was published shows the homophobia that is still active in the church. Fr. Patrick Pullicino has been criticized for his op-ed published reacting to the pope’s civil union comments.
The priest writes that same-gender sexual activity is “harmful to society at large” and “contrary to natural law.” Pink News explained that Pullicino cited anti-gay figures like Cardinal Raymond Burke, Franklin Graham, and Tony Perkins, writing:
“[Pullicino:] ‘Those who actually identify as homosexual often argue that it is important gay people are treated equally. Conservatives, however, believe that people who identify as homosexual should and do enjoy all the same rights as any other citizens.’
“Pullicino continued by with the played-out claim marriage equality ‘undermines marriage’ and halts the ‘cycle of life’, saying that LGBT+ people treat children as ‘possessions’.”
LGBTQ advocates, including Désirée Attard who works on the country’s proposed Equality Bill, said the priest’s words were “over and above hate speech” with “serious implications and repercussions” for LGBTQ people. Attard added, “It’s one thing to say what the church says, it’s another to call another community unnatural.”
Malta Today reported on opponents of the nation’s Equality Bill that would strengthen already superb LGBTQ protections, describing thme as “a virulent mixture of religious conservatives, Catholic traditionalists, evangelicals, pro-lifers, and also members of the political far-right.” These opponents of equality are vocal in a nation which is majority Catholic, many of whom remain quite active on all sides. To read more about the opposition, click here.
The contrast between Louisa Grech and Patrick Pullicino’s perspectives is the contrast known by so many LGBTQ Catholics and their loved ones: the experiences of love they know is far more compelling than abstract condemnatory theories. The good news is that even when church officials fail to reflect God’s love, to paraphrase Grech, God remains with us.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 11, 2020