Claiming that you believe in LGBT individuals’ inherent dignity and, in the same breath, telling them that their consensual love is fundamentally disordered requires a peculiar brand of cognitive dissonance, at best. Hypocrisy, at worst.
The Catholic Church describes same-sex attraction as “objectively disordered,” “a strong tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil” and essentially self-indulgent. Kieran Raval (“God’s Plan on Sexuality, THE HOYA, A3, Oct. 19, 2012) glosses over this harsh language in his depiction of the Church’s teachings.
This is neither the language of civility, nor of love and compassion. Church leaders have invoked this language to talk about people like me far more often than they cite the alleged pleas for acceptance found within “Always Our Children.”
Moreover, appeals to natural law and normative language cast LGBT individuals like me as inferior, living outside the bounds of what is “normal,” which is synonymous with “good.” For some, this is all it takes to justify actions of hatred and discrimination against me, no matter what the Church urges. You can dress it up in philosophy all you like, but the sense of superiority and judgment seeps through. Dialogue becomes impossible when one party insists that it holds a monopoly on truth and refuses to acknowledge another’s experiences as valid.
Trotting out a pastoral letter does not let the Church off the hook when it fails to practice what it preaches.
At a funeral service in Maryland, when Barbara Johnson approached the altar, Fr. Marcel Guarnizo covered the bowl and said, “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the Church.” She was first in line. It was her mother’s funeral. When she delivered the eulogy, he walked off the altar. He refused to administer the final blessing at the gravesite, claiming that he felt “sick.” How did his actions show compassion for a grieving daughter?
In matters of civil divorce, heterosexual cohabitation and premarital sex, the Church renders unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. State recognition of same-sex marriage clearly falls under the purview of secular government. But the Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus have contributed at least $1.1 million to the fight against marriage equality in Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington State this election season. Considering that I have yet to see such substantial sums dedicated to the prohibition of civil divorce or heterosexual cohabitation, sins that the Church claims also go against God’s plan for sexuality, it’s hard not to feel personally targeted.
Studying abroad at Villa le Balze two summers ago, I overheard some classmates debating same-sex marriage. When someone cited Leviticus, I felt grateful to be at the other end of the dinner table, unable to respond. Such verses provide a rationale for every hate crime committed against my community with the concluding clause: “They shall be put to death.” I remained closeted and distanced during my stay there, which puzzled some of my classmates. It is hard to open up to people who quote verses that call you an abomination.
While the Catholic bishops may claim to be aware of the alienation that LGBT Catholics suffer, they do little to stem it and often actively participate in it. Archbishop John Myers of Newark recently urged practitioners who support same-sex marriage to refrain from receiving the Eucharist. He was not speaking to Catholic politicians, who have the power to set public policy, but to ordinary lay people who hold the opposing opinion. As the archbishop of my diocese, he was speaking to me.
I will abstain from Communion, but not out of respect for Archbishop Meyers’ words. I can no longer participate in a church whose actions and teachings on homosexuality introduce a moral inconsistency to the larger body of its doctrine. The call to chastity relegates us to life alone in a faith community that celebrates marriage as the highest expression of God’s love for us. Further, it meddles in public policy that touches the lives of non-Catholics. The Church does not attempt to bar childless or infertile heterosexual couples from state-recognized marriage due to their unwillingness or incapacity to bear children. I deserve more than “disinterested friendship.”
I admire my LGBT Catholic friends who continue to engage in dialogue with the Church. I live in hope that the Church will listen to them and set aside its ancient prejudices to become the truly welcoming community that Jesus envisioned. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I firmly believe that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It bends toward equality. However, I cannot patiently wait for the hierarchy to rediscover its conscience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear you speak.”
The Catholic Church’s actions have deafened me.
Julia Maddera is a senior in the College. She is the vice president of community affairs for GU Pride.