In many circumstances today we see the letters L.G.B.T. used on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Political candidates have indicated their L.G.B.T. support. National attention was recently drawn to the Orlando nightclub shooting where the victims were identified as belonging to the L.G.B.T. community. During my retreat last week at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, one of the many talks presented to the priests, deacons and seminarians concerned the Catholic Church and its teachings and relationship with people who identify themselves by one of these designations.
I was particularly moved during the presentation by David Prosen, a member of Courage, an international apostolate of the Catholic Church ministering to persons with same-sex attractions (SSA). David told his personal story, the conclusion of which can be summarized as follows: “I know that I am a Catholic man. That’s my identity. I used to think I was gay. I’m not gay. I am David, a Catholic man.”
In essence, David no longer labeled himself as gay, but rather saw himself in light of his baptism into Christ Jesus. David was an adopted child of God, first and foremost. His same-sex attraction—which he has struggled with all his life and he continues to have— did not make him who he was.
David’s testimony led me to do some homework. He gave us a list of materials and encouraged us to look into the matter in more depth. I refer you to a 40 minute online video entitled: The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church (www.blackstonefilms.org). This relatively recent film (4/27/14) accurately captures the Catholic Church’s teaching and provides a beautifully, pastoral approach to understanding people with same-sex attraction.
More than likely, we have known someone who has a same-sex attraction. Whether they are “out” or not is irrelevant. We all need to remember that people are greater than their sexual attraction. All normal human beings have a sexual attraction. Yet, my sexual attraction does not primarily define me and your sexual attraction does not primarily define who you are. Rather, I am Fr. Ed, a baptized Catholic man and an ordained priest. I attempt to live a chaste life, as we are all called to live chastity. This is done by a married person being completely faithful to his or her spouse lifelong. For a single person, a religious or a priest it means not engaging in sexual activities or having relations outside of the marriage covenant, regardless of sexual-orientation.
(What is written here does not attempt to explain fully the reason the Catholic Church cannot sanction gay marriages. That is a topic for another day.)
However, I encourage all people to see each other in a manner similar to St. Paul: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3: 28)
Fr. Ed Namiotka