In Response to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith | April 10, 2021 Essay

Apr 6, 2021

In light of the recent document released by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), I feel compelled to write something to the parish. In general, this response to the dubium, or doctrinal question, of whether same-sex unions can be blessed, says nothing new. The CDF confirmed the orthodox point of view that same-sex marriages cannot be blessed. The wording in the explanatory note, however, was quite harsh, equating committed loving relationships of persons of the same sex with sin. Understandably, the members of our LGBT Catholics & Friends ministry were left with emotions that ran the gamut from anger to sadness to talk of leaving the church.

We know that cars, buildings, sports teams, fences, even weapons can be blessed. The document stated that “individual persons with homosexual inclinations, who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching” can be blessed. But our legal unions cannot be blessed. To be clear, this was not about the sacrament of marriage. This was only about a blessing for unions.

We are people of deep faith who want to remain Catholic. Being born gay has its cross to bear repeatedly. Not only does this decision from the hierarchy open old wounds, but it adds fuel to the fires of hatred coming from a minority of Catholics who do not have a gay person in their lives. The reasoning focuses solely on sex and ignores the other facets of a relationship.

My son was recently married to his husband. The marriage could not be held in the church, and their nuptials could not be blessed. My son and son-in-law are in love. They were married in their twenties like their friends around them. They have dreams and aspirations like any newly married couple. Thank goodness our large Christian family surrounds them with love and support. Actually, our church community too…this community of St. Ignatius Loyola. And quite frankly, I have needed support as a mother of this gay child, now married in this world/climate. Like any parent, I want the best for my child and his safety too. I have found much support here in the community of St. Ignatius Loyola.

After the statement from the CDF was released, we held a ministry meeting for our members to voice their responses. Fr. Yesalonia joined us, along with our regular advisor, Fr. Hilbert. We opened with a meditation about the Old Testament character Esther, which focused on the phrase “for such a time as this.” We closed with a solemn reading from the Book of Job, and a closing prayer encouraging us to remember God’s gracious love for us so that we may share it with each other. In between, we each voiced our reactions, which speak of our faith and love of Catholicism. Here are a few selections from the many reflections:

– My son, who is also gay, asks why I keep banging my head against the wall because the Church doesn’t want gay people. But I refuse to believe that.

– We need more straight allies engaged as advocates so that the Church can’t write LGBT people off as a small minority.

– I want a full marriage for my son, not just a blessing!

– The CDF is spinning this only from the sex point of view. From the outside, people don’t realize how faithful this community is.

– We need more women in leadership positions in the Church. That’s our hope to make it more compassionate. I’m not leaving the Church. But I am rebranding myself as a Jesuit Catholic, rather than just Catholic.

– I don’t care what the hierarchy in Rome says. My faith has nothing to do with that. But it’s very damaging to many people, especially the young.

– I’m absolutely furious at the denigration of our relationships! We need to be more visible. We owe it to the kids!

– We need to help LGBT people in less supportive places. We should engage our own St. Ignatius community and other “little c” churches to change the “big C” Church.

– Jesus walked against the current. We have the opportunity to live the gospel from our reality. The LGBT community needs to feel the unconditional love of God. They need to see another face of the Church, and we are this face.

I’d like to ask a question of the parish in general. Would you consider expressing support for the LGBT members of our church? Many LGBT Catholics are just beginning to feel welcome for the first time in our parishes. How can you show that you value them and the gifts they bring? Maybe it’s making a statement of your own or signing a petition. Maybe it’s sharing your concerns for LGBT Catholics with clergy or members of the church government. Maybe it’s offering friendship and welcome to an LGBT person in your life whom you haven’t gotten to know well yet. Maybe it’s participating in parish activities sponsored by our ministry, or inviting us to participate in your events. What concrete actions can you take to show your support and love for your LGBT brothers and sisters? We have gotten through the pandemic and have grown in many ways. Please keep the LGBT Catholics of our parish and their friends and families in your hearts.

– Ellen Long Stilwell, Parent Member, Co-Chair with Bruce Rameker, LGBT Catholics & Friends Ministry