New Catholic LGBTQ+ Book Is a Valuable Contribution to the Church’s Conversation

The pain of belonging to a religion that does not want to recognize your humanity is apparent throughout God’s Works Revealed,” writes Rachel Rastelli in a recent review of a new book on Catholic LGBTQ+ issues written by DignityUSA national secretary Sam Albano. 

Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, Rastelli connects the book, whose full title is God’s Works Revealed: Spirituality, Theology, and Social Justice for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Catholics, to her own perspective as a queer Catholic. She notes all that still must be done for the church to heal its relationship with LGBTQ+ Catholics, especially the lack of LGBTQ+ voices in leadership roles in the church. She empathizes with Albano’s viewpoint, writing:

“As a queer, millennial Catholic, one of the main issues I perceive in the Catholic Church today is the lack of education on all things LGBTQIA+ from the people in positions of authority within the church. Decisions are being made and statements are being released by people who … are not in communion with the LGBTQIA+ community in any significant capacity. In speaking of what they do not know, church officials have created confusion that has led to a lot of pain.

“The pain of belonging to a religion that does not want to recognize your humanity is apparent throughout God’s Works Revealed. However, the author remains respectful in his expressions of dissatisfaction and hurt. This book is not someone railing against an institution; it is a sincere attempt at dialogue from a viewpoint that has largely been ignored by those in positions of authority within the Catholic Church.”

Rastelli writes that while reading Albano’s book, she found herself surprised by how much it touched her because she knew “in advance that Albano and I have differing conclusions about church teaching on the sexual act,* I expected to be somewhat put off by this book.” Then she goes on: 

“I was unprepared for how impactful it would be to have someone speaking within the context of church teaching from and for my viewpoint as a queer person — an all too rare phenomenon in Catholic media.

“Since most church teaching and documents on the LGBTQIA+ experience are written by people who are straight, they tend to sound like ‘us against them’ statements. This is not to say that straight people cannot effectively minister to people within the LGBTQIA+ paradigm; rather, it shows that when all teaching and ministry for LGBTQIA+ persons comes only from straight people it is not life-giving or effective. The queer community are important members of the body of Christ, and leadership in the Catholic Church does a great disservice by ignoring us or not seeking to spiritually shepherd and strengthen us.”

While Rastelli says that she is not sure how she feels about Albano’s book, she does a nice job looking for common ground with the author and describing how important it is for LGBTQ+ people to speak in church—not just to be spoken about by church leaders. And she urges readers to learn from those with whom they disagree, a valuable takeaway for Catholics of all identities.

“The Catholic Church is not meant to be an echo chamber,” she writes. “We need to be listening to all the members in order to truly love and care for each other.”

Her review concludes:

“Even though we have differing opinions, I trust Albano has come to his conclusions after years of prayer and agonizing — indeed, this book is proof! — and I ask the same trust and consideration be given to me. I do not see it as a conflict of interest or a betrayal of my belief system to encourage people to read this book. The Catholic Church is not meant to be an echo chamber. We need to be listening to all the members in order to truly love and care for each other.

“I could have passed over this opportunity or written this book off as leftist propaganda. I didn’t. You shouldn’t either.”

Rastelli’s review is a frank snapshot of the diversity in the LGBTQ+ Catholic community and a comment on the life that has brought to the church when LGBTQ+ people are permitted to speak. 

–Grace Doerfler (she/her), New Ways Ministry, February 10, 2023

*Though Rastelli does not explain what the difference of opinion is between Albano and herself, in the book Albano critiques church teaching on same-gender relationships.

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