August 17, 2005

Catholocism and the Gay Community

My name is Jim, and I’m a recovering Catholic.

Hi Jim!

I didn’t need a 12-step program to move away from Catholicism. In fact, for a while, it was very good to me. I converted from being a Southern Baptist in 1994, a year after marrying another converted Catholic.

I was, and still am, horribly disillusioned by the right-wing policies the Baptists adopted and have worked very hard to have adopted as the laws of the land. They have been disturbingly successful with this effort and stand to gain even more of a foothold as the character of the Supreme Court changes in the next few years.

The Roman Catholic Church is hardly noted for its liberalism. Rather, its attitudes toward women in the ministry and priests not marrying hearken back to the dark ages. I think what appealed to me in 1994 and for a number of years following was the structure and history of the Church. They were hardly making up the rules as they went along and there were very clear lines of authority. No preachers were running amok on a power trip with their hand out shaking people down for money.

Ultimately, though, what both my wife and I found lacking in the Catholic Church was passion. She had been indoctrinated into a very spiritual parish in Illinois, but we never found one in Maryland that came close to equaling it. Gradually we drifted away from the church and were readying ourselves to look for a new church home. I think she would like where Brenda and I are now, a small, spirit-filled church where the policies of exclusion are denounced and inclusion are practiced.

This all came to mind when I was perusing, a news service focused on gay issues. One of their stories reported on a priest at the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Monsignor Eugene Clark. He had recently resigned after being named as "the other man" in a divorce suit involving his former secretary and her husband. I can’t help but think that at least some Catholics’ first reaction was, "at least he wasn’t doing anything with a little boy." It’s not an easy time to be in the Roman Catholic Church.

The story is relevant in this forum because Clark was known for his repeated attacks on gays. reported that in 1999, Clark told a Catholic Radio audience that gays are "The enemy of Christian marriage." It seems that Clark himself was the enemy of at least one marriage himself. How often have you noticed that, regardless of the issue, the people who are the loudest at condemning people are often covering for some sin or shortcoming themselves?

Can Catholicism actually be good for gays? Columnist Michelangelo Signorile at asks that question and says in some ways it is. He points out that that when a gay Catholic comes out, families tend to be more accepting and work on keeping the family unit together in part because of the teaching of the church.

Signorile also writes that in predominantly Catholic countries like Spain, Poland, and much of South America, gays are gaining more visibility and benefits than many people believed possible. Agree or disagree, this is one of those pieces that will make you thoughtfully rub your chin and go "hmmmm."

Hopefully the Catholic Church will get some new blood in their leadership that will take it to a more open and accepting policy, but I doubt many of us will live long enough to see any significant change. There will always be some common ground with other Christians and Catholics. We all love God and are trying to serve him. That’s not a bad place to start.


  1. Hi, I just came back from holiday and read all your posts since early July. You're a great person. I'm gay and I do feel you're a brother. Thanks for the hope and the affection.

  2. Thank you for sharing that story. I'm contemplating leaving the Catholic Church, having been raised essentially Southern Baptist and joined the Church four years ago, and I think I was attracted to it for the same reasons you cite. It's a hard decision to make, and I feel like I'm betraying something (or God), but I think I joined the Church mainly because it was the first place I ever felt like I belonged. I might not belong there anymore. Maybe that's not betrayal, but growth.

    Guess I'll find out in the end.