I am constantly in awe of how the church that I tried so hard to continue to make my home – turns its back on me and many LGBTQ+ Catholics. When I started a Master’s in Theology and Ministry at a Catholic Institution years ago, I knew it would be a challenging experience as a LGBTQ+ individual. Despite that, I graduated from that program with hope for the future of the Church.
Over the last decade that hope continues to dwindle. First, more personally, as my wife and I planned and celebrated our wedding, the church ramped up the communication against the LGBTQ+ community. I have felt the hurt and trauma of how, what I considered my faith community, instilled a sense of shame during my youth through passive and explicit communication around sexuality, surface in me in a very real way.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Catholic Services could continue to receive public funds for foster care and adoption placements while discriminating against LGBTQ+ individuals and couples. Though this decision was limited in scope to the specific and limited case against the City of Philadelphia, I fear that it is a slippery slope to future cases on religious exemption that are likely to be brought before the courts in the near future.
My wife and I hope to grow our family through adoption. We know it will be a lengthy and expensive process, one that we will plan and prepare meticulously for. Historically, Catholic Services has been one of the most accessible paths to starting a family through adoption or becoming a foster parent. There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the US. These children deserve happy, healthy, homes with loving families. The God I know, one that Catholic theology describes is not a God of Judgement, but one of empathy and inclusion. The exclusion of LGBTQ+ families is discriminatory, and, in this “theologians” option, against the teachings of the church.
Second, there has been a recent call by some Catholic Bishops in the US to refuse President Joe Biden the Eucharist because of his stance on a women’s right to choose. The Theology of the Eucharist is one that is debated on many fronts but one thing that most Catholic theologians agree on is that the Eucharist a relationship between God and the individual. The priest is only a vessel to deliver that gift to the faithful. The relationship therefore should be between the individual worshiper and God (aka between Joe Biden and the God he prays to).
Most recently, the Vatican is now pressing the Italian Government to stop a pro LGBTQ+ bill – this is an unprecedented effort and shows how far the Church will go to exclude LGBTQ+ individuals.
What kept me coming back to the Catholic Church for so long was this embodied sense of community that the church provided. The familiar structure, the music, the theology of the trinity- all things that resonate with my own understanding of what it means to celebrate a relationship with God. But I am done. A church that does not want me, my marriage and my family is not one that represents the Divine.
It is a Church that has lost sight of what makes faith so powerful – love.